While the rampant anti-Semitism among the coordinators of the now-annual Washington, DC Women’s March has finally cost it the support of many individuals and institutions, some local groups that had disaffiliated from the national organization nonetheless held their own simultaneous demonstrations on Saturday. Nicole Guzik, a Los Angeles rabbi, spoke beforehand with the leaders of the march in her city and received assurances it would not be allowed to become a platform for anti-Semitism. Unfortunately those promises proved hollow, as she writes in an open letter to the organizers of the Los Angeles gathering:
I was assured by . . . the founders of this march, [repeatedly], in a private meeting, that . . . in Los Angeles (unlike at the national march), Israel would not be attacked, labeling Israel as an apartheid state would be unwelcome on the stage, and if a speaker went off- script, the managers of the program would raise the music. In the very first hour, . . . all those promises were broken.
Marwa Rifahie, representing the Council on American-Islamic Relations, used her allotted time [addressing the gathering] to focus on the Palestinian agenda, a [subject] that I was told would not be a focus [of speeches]. I waited. When she called Israel an apartheid state, I waited. Where was the music? Where was someone asking her to remain on-script? Who vetted this speaker? Why was I assured that anti-Semitic statements would not be permitted or tolerated in this anti-hate arena? Why was someone allowed to defend the organizers of the march in Washington? . . .
If you want me back at next year’s march, someone like me [ought to] vet and screen your speakers. Someone like me must be willing to say that anti-Zionist speech is the language of hatred and won’t be allowed on stage. But until you take this course of action, it will be quite a while until I give someone like you the benefit of the doubt. I held a sign that read, “Jewish and proud Zionist standing for women’s equality.” . . . I hoped to find a place where those signs would be welcome and not attacked. It’s with the heaviest of hearts that I admit I was wrong. This march was clearly not meant for me.