The first Women’s March in 2017 was an event that will take its rightful place in history as one of the most notable mass-protests of the era. This march started a movement that fought for inclusivity, equality, and a variety of other great causes. And yet, recent accusations of anti-Semitism led to some serious damage to the Women’s March movement as a whole. The result of this is that there are now two separate marches taking place in New York City in 2019.
Women’s Marches in New York City: Where Do the Anti-Semitism Accusations Come From?
Women’s March is not some kind of structured corporation with a single CEO. Instead, there are dozens of small Women March groups all over the world, each with its own leader. And it was one of these leaders who inadvertently started the ball rolling with the anti-Semitism accusations. As it often happens in the age of social media, the situation snowballed from there.
This was a major surprise because it’s hard to think of New York City today as anything but inclusive. There are so many cultures and religions present here, one will be hard pressed to find which of the global representatives are missing from the mix. There is no shortage of Jewish landmarks as well as Jewish events and synagogues, so every Jew in NYC can learn about their nation’s history, culture, and traditions. They can practice their religious and cultural rituals without fear of scorn. They can enjoy traditional foods, music, and dancing in every borough of New York.
Therefore, it’s all the harder to understand how Women’s March, a movement which has inclusivity as one of its core values, managed to break down over anti-Semitism accusations. In fact, it’s not merely ‘hard’, it’s ‘impossible’ to imagine such a thing. And that’s because those accusations were not really at fault.
This whole ordeal with Women’s March NYC movement being aggressively separate started when the director of Women’s March Alliance Katherine Sieminoko couldn’t reach an agreement with Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the National Women’s March group in New York.
Both parties made press statements at the time explaining their positions. However, they were unable to resolve the issue and therefore, Women’s March NYC never got a chance to proceed with an actual march because Women’s March Alliance is the only one holding a parade permit.
The anti-Semitism accusations, however, had no bearing in this situation at all. But they initially targeted Tamika Mallory, a co-leader working alongside Ms. Sarsour. It turns out that Ms. Mallory openly offered her public support to Louis Farrakhan.
Is Women’s March Truly Anti-Semitic?
Associating with Farrakhan was the mistake, which turned Women’s March from being a hot topic for women’s rights activists to a center of anti-Semitism scandal. All of that because the leader of the Nation of Islam, has been quite open with his anti-Semitic comments.
Ms. Mallory stepped up to condemn those, but that happened only after the fires have already been burning all over media. Even then, she condemned the anti-Semitism, but not Farrakhan. The public didn’t recognize this position as genuine remorse and the problem has grown from there.
Accusations of associating with known anti-Semitists as well as making some bigoted comments personally started bombarding Women’s March leaders from various sides. So far, statements about being inclusive and public invitations for Jews to join the cause, which come from various chapters of Women’s March and other associated organizations, seem to be falling on deaf ears.
As of now, the National Council of Jewish Women has removed its support from the Women’s March of 2019. That happened in spite of some Jewish community leaders’ public support of Ms. Mallory. Where this situation will end up is hard to tell, but it has become obvious that Women’s March has a big chance of not surviving much longer.