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) said 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 out 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 critique of 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.”
“Due to overwhelming support for our objective, our numbers grew and we evolved into a watchdog and action group. Maintaining affiliations with persons or organizations that promote homophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, and transphobia or Islamophobia is unacceptable for any progressive group,” the group’s website states.
The petition warns 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.”
WMFA called on the DNC to “take seriously the concerns of the Jewish community” by endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by 31 countries and describes antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” Examples shared by the IHRA include advancing “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
“Most Jews are both Democrats and Zionists (i.e. supporters of Israel’s right to exist),” the group noted. “Jews have successfully led, and fought for, progressive causes in this country for centuries. Jews have earned the respect and support of the Democratic Party, which must take seriously the concerns of the Jewish community.”