The more things change at the Women’s March, the more they stay the same.
This week, in an article entitled “Women’s March replaces three original leaders, after anti-Semitism accusations, with 16 board members” The Washington Post suggested a link between those charges of antisemitism and the group’s recent leadership changes. But read that article or The New York Times’ follow-up, and that heartening explanation falls apart.
The departures of Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland are much better explained by the “infighting and financial mismanagement” The Post cites or the insularity of the New York-based leaders mentioned by The Times. While those central cast members have departed, the organization’s antisemitism remains remarkably intact.
If The Times and The Post were interested in inquiry rather than public relations, there are numerous questions they might have asked that would disprove the idea that the organization’s problems with antisemitism are now relics of (recent) history. But since they didn’t, let’s take our own look.
First, consider the oddity of Carmen Perez-Jordan remaining. If antisemitism were truly considered problematic by this crowd, she’d be out too.
Perez-Jordan is a woman, The Times reported in December, who responded to activist Vanessa Wruble’s milquetoast comment that “her Jewish heritage inspired her to try to help repair the world” by insisting with Mallory “that Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.” Like Mallory, Perez-Jordan “attended the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in 2015, which [racist Nation of Islam leader Louis] Mr. Farrakhan planned.”
In their exhaustive December expose, Tablet reported that at the group’s first meeting, “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.”
Lest anyone think this reverence for Farrakhan’s poisonous ideology exists only at a distance, Perez-Jordan posted a picture of her smiling and holding hands with the man himself.
Among the new board members is Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco office. Yes, that’s the same CAIR named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case.
As for Billoo, she’s tweeted, “I’m more afraid of racist Zionists who support Apartheid Israel than of the mentally ill young people the #FBI recruits to join ISIS.” She has also compared Israel to the Nazis, repeatedly called Israel a “terrorist state” with an army “no better than ISIS,” declared that she “is weary of fellow Muslims who collaborate with or normalize Zionists,” questioned whether Zionists can be “nice” because they allegedly “support Apartheid, racism, murder, war,” described the Anti-Defamation League as worse than Hamas (the latter a group Billoo admires), and called the White House “a Zionists’ shelter” where “bad happens.” The comments are endless.
There’s also Samia Assed, a board member from the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. Assed, who has now locked her Twitter account, tweeted as recently as April that she doesn’t “believe in how Israel exists now” and approvingly quote-tweeted a comment that “Israel = worse than the devil.”
Charlene Carruthers, the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), has a problematic history too. She has repeatedly tweeted favorably about Farrakhan, has asserted that “Jerusalem should not be listed as being in Israel,” advocated for tuition-paid community college instead of (or in addition to?) the “billions” Carruthers says we give “Israel to fund apartheid,” cited the “righteous fight for BDS,” and complained about Rep. Ayanna Pressley voting for the House’s anti-boycott divestment sanctions resolution this year, possibly unaware that Pressley also co-sponsored Rep. Ilhan Omar’s pro-BDS resolution.
As for the new Jewish members, one is Ginna Green, chief strategy officer of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. Readers may recall that amidst the fury over antisemitism before January’s march, Ellie Bufkin and this writer contacted Women’s March partners. At the time, Green told The Federalist through a public relations representative, “We affirm our participation, and remain focused on the threat that unites us all: a growing white nationalist movement, emboldened and embodied by this President and his enablers in Congress.”
But that’s the rub. While white supremacists represent danger for American Jews, so do the anti-Zionists of the left, regardless of how much those on the political left would prefer to pretend it’s not true. New York Times writer Bari Weiss is right when she writes that antisemitism, typically under the cloak of anti-Zionism, has infected the political left and represents an existential threat. The problem is real, and looking away won’t fix it.
The women actively involved with the Women’s March keep telling us who they are. How long will it take for us to believe them and to accept that for them, the antisemitism is a feature, not a bug?
UPDATE: Billoo is no longer on the Women’s March board. Thread here:
Since this is going to be in your newsfeeds in the morning – here’s a thread about me being voted off the board of @WomensMarch tonight 1/
— Zahra Billoo (@ZahraBilloo) September 19, 2019