By Rolene Marks
In 2017 a movement was born. The Women’s March sprung to global consciousness with a host of well-coordinated marches in cities across the United State. Decked out with signs, banners and some highly questionable head gear (pussy hats anyone?), it looked like a movement that was poised to take on the important issues facing women today like gender parity, equality and sexual harassment.
You could bet your knitted pussy hat that every “woke” woman wanted to be a part of this. At last there seemed to be a collective voice and the leaders seemed so articulate, the issues were important, and all women could identify and there were celebrities! Lots of them – in questionable headgear.
But then it changed.
It seemed that this noble feminist movement met hatred at the intersection of consciousness and antisemitism. ‘Intersectionality’, which is the latest buzzword in understanding how all aspects of social and political identities discrimination overlap, made its way to the March. It is not necessarily a bad thing because it is important that we examine and look for solutions where issues such as race and gender meet but in an age of rising antisemitism, it seemed that not all hatred were deemed equal.
At a number of these marches and their offshoots which included the Chicago Dyke March, it became evident that Jewish women who identified as Zionist were effectively not welcome. On this occasion, rainbow flags with a Star of David on them were banned. The reason given was that it the Star of David “looked too much like the Israeli flag” and it was a symbol of “violent nationalism”.
But it was the leadership of the movement that caused the greatest controversy – and concern.
It is important to have allies that support your cause but what happens when your allies are people like Louis Farrakhan?
Three of the original leaders, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez used antisemitic language and blamed Jewish people for exploiting people of colour. They denied this charge but refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a blatantly antisemitic and anti-gay conspiracy theorist with whom Mallory and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour have considerable ties.
Mallory referred to Farrakhan as the GOAT – Greatest Of All Time.
Accusations of in-fighting, antisemitism and mismanagement of funds, eventually led to all three stepping down as leaders of the Women’s March. However, their replacement was hardly an improvement.
Zahra Billoo – famous for statements like blaming Hamas for firing rockets at (Apartheid) Israel which was like “blaming a woman for punching her rapist” – was their replacement. Billoo was appointed on a Monday and then quicker than you can say let’s knit a pussy hat, was booted out on the Wednesday.
Billoo hit out after her firing claiming to have been targeted by an “Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists” as a retaliation for her “support of Palestinian human rights.” She declared that her heart was broken upon seeing the leaders of the Women’s March “casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman.” She defiantly affirmed that she stood by her words, as she had “told the truth.”
Just when you thought that their course had been corrected, more shocking news was released early 2020.
It has now come to light that notorious anti-Israel organization, Code Pink, is listed as co-founders of the Women’s March. Code Pink are known for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which is anti-Israel as well as supporting a nuclear Iran and Hamas. Oh the irony! If they only knew how women were treated by Iran or Hamas……
Why is this all important? As movements like the Women’s March, #MeToo and many others that are fighting justifiably so for gender equality are gaining momentum, so too, is global antisemitism.
There is hardly a day that goes by without appalling incidents occurring all over the world, and in the USA alone, antisemitism has risen dramatically – and violently.
Having notorious antisemites on the roster does not bode well for a movement that prides itself on being “woke”.
If the Women’s March wants to regain a sense of credibility when it comes to advocating not just for gender equality for social justice across the board, they need to lead by example and take a stand against antisemitism. Failure to do so is a great injustice to the women’s movement and all who claim to fight for social equality.
Perhaps it is time the “woke” wake up!