Members of the Palm Beach Jewish community have expressed deep concern about widespread reports of antisemitism and anti-Zionism within the leadership structure of the national Women’s March, and asked for more information about the local Women’s March, Women’s March Florida, ahead of the march on January 19 in Orlando.

Members of JCRC met with the leadership of The Women’s March of Florida to express our concerns about the antisemitism of the leadership of the National Women’s March (Women’s March, Inc) and to ascertain their position. We learnt that the local Women’s March is a separate entity from the the national Women’s March, and, following the first revelation of antisemitism in March 2018, they issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

They have not found it necessary to make any additional statements or disavowals of the national Women’s March.


Anti-Zionism and antisemitism in the National Women’s March

It was not long after that first march that anti-Semitic and Anti-Zionist rhetoric began to emanate from the leadership of the Women’s March.
Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism (New York Times)
In March, 2017 one of the leaders, Linda Sarsour, essentially saying that Zionists are not welcome in a feminist organization and their unity principles, until very recently (no doubt in response to pressure) included all groups, except Jews, as having the right to seek self-determination and safe haven from oppression.

Another leader, Tamika Mallory, has close connections to the notoriously antisemitic leader, Louis Farrakhan. She has been criticized for attending Nation of Islam’s Saviour’s Day, where Minister Farrakhan promoted vicious conspiracy theories about Jews. Other national Women’s March leaders went to social media to praise this relationship and Tamika Mallory justified her behavior with this Tweet, which many took as intentionally hateful: “If your leader does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader.”

JCRC’s Perspective on the National March

Through words, actions and equivocations, the national Women’s March leaders have discredited themselves, harmed the vision of an inclusive movement for women’s equality and revealed themselves to the anti-Semitic. They are deserving of universal condemnation. Further, the continued intransigence of those individuals in unequivocally refusing to renounce leaders who preach this vile rhetoric is unacceptable.

The zero-sum attitude – that one cannot be Zionist and feminist, that one cannot be Zionist and for Palestinian rights, that a Zionist cannot be included in the feminist movement – is hypocritical. Calling for intersectionality but disallowing Jews from expressing our multiple identities is antisemitic. Furthermore, Zionism is the belief in the right of Jews to self-determination and sovereignty in their ancient homeland of Israel. It does not presuppose support for any specific government policy in Israel, nor views on women’s rights or Israel’s foreign affairs. When the Jews alone – among all ethnic and religious groups – are assessed the litmus test of disavowing a fundamental component of their creed before being allowed into a social justice coalition, this is antisemitism. Anti-Zionism, the rejection of the right of Israel to exist as the homeland for the Jewish people, has become a cloak for antisemitism on the far left.

American Jewish women and their allies should not have to feel torn between their identities as proud Jews and Zionists and as Americans advocating for justice and equality. A movement that truly honors the rights and self-determination of all people should not be led by individuals who praise peddlers of hatred and who undermine the dignity and integrity of their Jewish peers, thereby contravening the very unity principles they claim to espouse. JCRC will not participate in coalitions which espouse prejudice or hatred toward Jews or any other group. Doing so would be anathema to our values of inclusion, pluralism and civility. Antisemitism and bigotry must be opposed whether it is in the national Women’s March on the left or in the Charlottesville white supremacist march on the right.

What You Can Do

The choice to participate is yours.  The local march has disavowed  antisemitism and are not members of the national Women’s March.

Although Jews who observe Shabbat may not be able to physically get to a march or may not feel comfortable marching, we encourage Jews who do attend to do so while proudly expressing all aspects of their identity, including being Jewish.

Make your feelings known to the local march.

We hope this information and guidance proves helpful. Please feel free to contact JCRC VP Josephine Gon at josephine.gon@jewishpalmbeach.org with questions or concerns regarding the Women’s March.

Further Reading