When Alyssa Milano spoke out about her disappointment with the leadership of the Women’s March for inadequately addressing anti-Semitism, it sent shock waves through the country. An issue that Jewish people had not forgotten, but nearly everyone outside the community had stopped addressing, had made its way back into our Twitter feeds.
For those not following along, members of the Women’s March leadership have associated with and supported Louis Farrakhan, a known anti-Semite and bigot. Even after Jewish women made their concerns known, neither the Women’s March movement or those specific leaders denounced him.
[Read more on anti-Semitism in the Women’s March movement]
But soon following Milano’s statement, Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland were faced with new pressure to acknowledge that just because they were done talking about their repeated betrayals to Jewish women, the rest of us are not.
The Women’s March has since issued a more concrete statement condemning Louis Farrakhan’s bigotry. Was it perfect? No. Was it acknowledging that anti-Semitism coming from the Women’s March leaders and their allies is a conversation that needs to be had? Yes.
For the first time, Linda Sarsour openly noted that Louis Farrakhan “has said hateful and hurtful things and that he does not align with our Unity Principles of the Women’s March” rather than shifting blame or defending Nation of Islam (led by Farrakhan).
But the question is: Why did it take a woman who wasn’t Jewish to get organizers to address blatant anti-Semitism that Jews have been talking about for over a year?
Alyssa Milano’s voice mattered so much because when it comes to identifying anti-Semitism, Jewish voices don’t. Now, I don’t say this to demean our achievements, eloquence, or abilities, but when it comes to speaking out about anti-Semitism, how Jews feel always seems to be the last thing considered.
Just this week, when Zionist, anti-Zionist, liberal, and conservative Jews called out Linda Sarsour’s Facebook post in which she implied that Jews had secret loyalties to Israel over democracy (which, as the AJC pointed out, is one of the oldest anti-Semitic tricks in the book), Shaun King was quick to tweet out that Jewish people don’t have the right to call something anti-Semitic, but he and Linda do.
“The rush to paint good men and women who speak out on the human rights violations of Israel as anti-Semitic is disturbing. No nation is beyond legitimate criticism,” King wrote.
“As long as you enthusiastically call for boycotting the world’s only Jewish state, while bending over backwards to avoid condemning and ostracizing Louis Farrakhan, don’t be surprised that most people doubt your principled opposition to anti-Semitism,” Jewish writer Yair Rosenberg wrote in response to King. “If you only confront anti-Semitism outside your own community and only when it’s politically convenient, you don’t really care about anti-Semitism. You just like using it to your own ideological advantage.”
Though Rosenberg writes on Jewish issues daily, and Shaun King has been accused of minimizing anti-Semitism himself, guess who’s voice was more amplified?
King received 3,808 retweets for his definition of anti-Semitism. Rosenberg had 318.
Though of course, this scenario is not a case study on all moments anti-Semitism is defined by people outside the Jewish faith, it speaks to a greater issue. Anti-Semitism is what prevents Jews from defining it from themselves.
The stereotypes of the whining, plotting, manipulative Jew from the reign of Adolf Hitler lives today in the modern progressive movement. Rather than listening to Jewish people and educating themselves on anti-Semitism the same way they ask white people to make space for the voices of people of color when discussing racism (which we all should), the Women’s March leaders have chosen to demonize their critics.
They play into anti-Semitism to avoid facing consequences for their anti-Semitism.
By claiming Jewish people calling them on their Jew-hatred are either racist, whining, prisoners to Israel, engaging blood libel, or in a powerful conspiracy to undermine their moral movement, anti-Semitic progressives can carry on without having any accountability.
So, it must come down to people who are not Jewish, like Alyssa Milano, to be our guardian angels. Did the Women’s March paint her as a white feminist? Sure. But as an Israel-owned conspirator in a mass “globalist” effort to destroy the movement for women’s rights? No. Because they couldn’t. It is beyond imperative that other non-Jewish voices join hers, and not just white women.
Those who hate Jewish people are never going to listen to us. So we need allies who will.