How Anti-Semitism Infiltrated the Women’s March

December 12, 2018 | Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel
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In the past few months, the anti-Trump women’s march movement has been subject to increasing scrutiny due to the connections of three of its long-time co-chairs—Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez—to Louis Farrakhan. The scrutiny first led the organization to distance itself somewhat from Sarsour, who has a history of particularly sordid statements about Jews, Israel, and other topics. In a careful investigation of the organizing body behind the march and the origins of what is now Women’s March, Inc., Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel have found that all three were connected to each other prior to November 2016, and were brought in to insure racial diversity among the nascent movement’s organizers. Moreover, write McSweeney and Siegel, anti-Semitism was a problem from the march organizers’ very first meeting on November 12, 2016, at which Perez and Mallory were present:

[A]s the women were opening up about their backgrounds, . . . Perez and Mallory allegedly first asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade. These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—“the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. . . .

[Not long thereafter], questions also began to emerge about the ideological values upon which the movement was being built. On January 12, 2017, the women’s march made public its Unity Principles, which asserted: “We must create a society in which women, in particular women—in particular Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and queer and trans women—are free . . . ”. Numerous observers noted the absence of “Jewish” from the list. . . .

[Following the initial 2017 march], there was an official debriefing at Mallory’s apartment. In attendance were Mallory, Perez, Evvie Harmon, Breanne Butler, Vanessa Wruble, Cassady Fendlay, and Sarsour. They should have been basking in the afterglow of their massive success, but—according to Harmon—the air was thick with conflict. “We sat in that room for hours,” Harmon told Tablet recently. “Tamika told us that the problem was that there were five white women in the room and only three women of color, and that she didn’t trust white women. . . . At that point, I kind of tuned out because I was so used to hearing this type of talk from Tamika.

“But then I noticed the energy in the room changed. I suddenly realized that Tamika and Carmen were facing Vanessa [Wruble], who was sitting on a couch, and berating her—but it wasn’t about her being white. It was about her being Jewish. ‘Your people this, your people that.’ I was raised in the South and the language that was used is language that I’m very used to hearing [about blacks] in rural South Carolina. [Except it was here being used about] Jewish people. They even said to [Wruble], ‘your people hold all the wealth.’ You could hear a pin drop. It was awful.”

Mercy Morganfield, a life-long activist who was involved with the march from its early days, but has since broken with the organization and spoken forcefully about its ties to Farrakhan and his supporters, put it succinctly in an interview: “they have been in bed with the Nation of Islam since day one.”

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