Women Must March on the Right Road

Political theater in the United Nations is often in the wrong time and the wrong place in the wrong style.  In her farewell speech in the U.N. General Assembly on December 18, 2018, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley spoke of the anti-Israeli bias of United Nations bodies and of the anti-Semitic boycott they had approved.  The lack of any form of objectivity by the U.N. Human Rights Council regarding Jewish citizens has been a continuing display of thoughtless and automatic malevolence.  Expecting otherwise is like being at a Chekhov play, waiting for something that's not going to happen.

At one point, it was hoped that U.N. conferences on women might concentrate on and be limited to the problems facing women.  Sadly, the women's conferences, starting with the first one in Mexico City, June-July 1975, diverted from appropriate objectives to focus on condemnation of Israel and the elimination of Zionism along with "racial discrimination in all its forms."  A resolution in Mexico City condemning Zionism was approved by the UNGA, 107-1 with 26 abstentions.

The subsequent women's conferences, in Copenhagen, July 1980; Nairobi, 1985; and Beijing, September 1995, included the demonization of and calls for the isolation of Israel, condemned as a colonial power.  Would the latest private women's organization, formed around 2017, be different?  This is the Women's March (W.M.) organization, a group, created in opposition to the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president, that organized a highly successful protest march on January 21, 2017 that attracted an estimated 500,000 in Washington, D.C. and many in other U.S. cities.

The group immediately became celebrated, and its organizers were featured in prominent journals like Glamour and Fortune.  The organizers were praised in Time's Most Influential People's List 2017.  The entry for them in the story was written by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Dem-N.Y.) who commented that the W.M. was "the most inspiring and transformational movement I've ever witnessed in politics."

This has led to national media coverage of the four women recognized as co-leaders of the W.M.: Tamika Mallory, Bronx-born, black American; Linda Sarsour, Palestinian-American activist, who worked for some years with the Arab-American Association; Carmen Perez, self-defined Chicana or Mexican-American, who co-launched the Justice League in 2013; and Bob Bland (Mari Lynn Foulger), fashion designer.

Jet Magazine called Linda Sarsour "the Sojourner Truth of our time."  The magazine appeared to ignore the fact that she supported Assata Shakur, former Black Liberation Army commander, convicted of murder, who had fled to Cuba. 

The W.M. continued its existence, organized another March in 2018, plans another in D.C. in January 2019, and trains activists.  The W.M. purportedly claims to give a voice to women in government, media, and politics.  It claims to fight bigotry and discrimination in all its forms. 

An organization genuinely interested in helping all women is to be welcomed.  However, from the start, allegations of anti-Semitism among this organization's leaders and refusal to allow Jewish female activists to be part of that leadership have been voiced.

There is no secret about the progressive political leanings of the leading organizers.  Mallory admired Fidel Castro.  They were vocal in criticism of Trump the day after his inauguration.  They were conspicuous in attending the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and in their support of Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse.  They were critical of Starbucks in April 12, 2018 for the behavior of staff in its Philadelphia branch when two black Americans waiting to meet someone were arrested on suspicion of trespass.  Starbucks closed is stores to train its employees in a company-wide program against racial bias.  Sarsour, longtime director of the Arab American Association of New York, led a coalition to close NYC public schools for observance of two of Islam's holiest days.  Sarsour has asserted that "the same people who justify the massacres of Palestinian people and call it collateral damage are the same people who justify the murder of young black men and women."

Most of the focus has been on Mallory and Sarsour for alleged anti-Semitic remarks, or sympathy toward anti-Semites; for statements that the creation of Israel was a human rights crime; and above all for friendship with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam and acknowledged anti-Semite, whose meetings they attended.

Whatever one's views of the Nation of Islam, it is undeniable that Farrakhan is a hateful person.  The organizers of the W.M. are not naïve.  Mallory attended the Farrakhan meeting, his annual Savior's Day, on February 25, 2018 in Chicago, where he referred to the "Satanic Jew" and declared that "the powerful Jews are my enemy."  He reiterated that the devilish Zionists must be confronted.  Mallory, even if she did not agree with Farrakhan, did not separate herself from his racist remarks and beliefs.  Indeed, she congratulated him on his birthday.

Mallory has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the University of North Carolina's Asheville celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Week.  She should remember that King in 1968 remarked that "when people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism." She might compare this with Farrakhan's diatribe that Jews control the media, Hollywood, the FBI, most of Europe, and Mexico.  Does she accept Farrakhan's view that the "white people running Mexico are Mexican Jews"?  Or his view that "whites are a race of devils" and that "the Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation"?

Farrakhan's record is well known.  He regards both Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford, "who was called an anti-Semite," as "very great men."  In his 2015 Savior Day keynote address, he informed the world that Israel and the Jews orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and that Jews had foreknowledge of them.

A photo of Mallory and Carmen Perez was posted holding hands with Farrakhan.  Mallory is not alone in attending Nation of Islam meetings.  Among others are members of Congress, one of whom referred to Farrakhan as an "outstanding human being."  At least three of the W.M. organizers appear to accept Farrakhan's arguments that white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy; that Jews are not trustworthy; and that Jewish women are part of the privileged white majority.  They may not completely believe, as does Farrakhan, that Jews were prominent in the slave trade and "the prison industry," but they have not refuted him. 

The W.M. organizers may be aware of Farrakhan's book, The Secret Relation between Blacks and the Jews, emphasizing the Jewish control of the slave trade, but are they aware that Henry Louis Gates called it the "bible of the new anti-Semitism"?  It is disappointing but consequential that the W.M. organizers agreed that security for their next march was to be provided by the leaders of the Nation of Islam.

The revelation of support by the W.M. for anti-Semite Farrakhan has led to alternative groups such as March On, a diverse coalition.  Since the W.M. organizers have persisted in manifestations of sympathy for anti-Semites, U.S. judicial authorities might follow the example of France at a critical moment. 

Paul Marchandeau, French minister of justice, November 1, 1938 to September 1, 1939, in the government of Edouard Daladier, was the author of the decree of April 21, 1939 that amended the law on the freedom of the press of July 29, 1881 by allowing prosecution "when defamation or insult committed against a group of persons, by their origin, race, or religion, will have been designed to arouse hatred among citizens or residents."  It was repealed by the anti-Semitic law of the Vichy government of August 16, 1940.  But Marchandeau remains as a model to be followed.  Anti-Semitism must be punished.  The W.M. must find the right road.