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August 13, 2018 5:09 pm

Progressive Feminist Group Calls on Democratic Party to Adopt Definition of Antisemitism

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avatar by Shiri Moshe

Protesters attend the Women’s March on Washington in January, 2017. Photo: Mobilus In Mobili.

A liberal women’s rights group is calling on the Democratic National Committee to adopt an official definition of antisemitism to combat a “rising tide” of anti-Jewish discrimination in the party.

In a petition launched on Friday and signed by some 120 people, Women’s March For All (WMFA) warned that antisemitism — “often cloaked as anti-Zionism” — “has now become a serious problem in liberal movements worldwide,” including in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The group was formed as an offshoot of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, after the movement’s leaders — Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez — came under fire in March for their praise of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has railed against “Satanic Jews” and been accused of sharing misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic views.

An official statement distancing the Women’s March from Farrakhan was dismissed by some as insufficient, with several regional chapters criticizing movement leaders and nearly 4,000 people signing a petition calling for their replacement.

Nisi Jacobs, who helped draft that petition, later went on to launch WMFA. The group has since drawn attention for its opposition to antisemitism in left-wing spaces, as well as for its fundraiser on behalf of the Occupy Lafayette Park protests outside the White House, which has raised more than $13,000.

“Being anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic if the person claiming to be anti-Zionist is not against self-determination for any other oppressed group,” the WMFA petition read. “If one supports Palestinian self-determination, or Armenian self-determination, or Kurdish self-determination, but not Jewish self-determination (Zionism), that would be antisemitic.”

It warned that some candidates from the edges of the Democratic Party “have made horrible and libelous remarks about Jews and Israel,” including Maria Estrada — who accused Israel of “genocide” and expressed support for Farrakhan — and Leslie Cockburn, who wrote a book that a New York Times reviewer said suggests that Israel is “somewhere behind just about everything that ails us.”

Also identified are Julia Salazar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, two candidates affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, which supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel — a Palestinian-led movement whose co-founder has rejected the notion that Jewish people have a right to national self-determination.

Noting that “most Jews are both Democrats and Zionists (i.e. supporters of Israel’s right to exist),” WMFA called on the DNC to endorse definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), whose member countries include the United States.

The IHRA describes antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes examples such as advancing “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”

“Jews have successfully led, and fought for, progressive causes in this country for centuries,” WMFA emphasized. “Jews have earned the respect and support of the Democratic Party, which must take seriously the concerns of the Jewish community.”

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