I Did Not March for Hate

On Jan. 21, I was part of the Women’s March in Washington D.C. I was thrilled to share this historic day with members of my family. I marched to show my disappointment with the results of the presidential campaign in which a candidate was elected who had a history of leering sexism, groping hands, barely coded racism and regressive policies that scapegoat vulnerable groups for political gain.

And I marched to show my faith in America and in democracy, knowing that is up to us to organize, mobilize and win the next time.

I was proud to be among the marchers. But I am not proud of what I’m seeing now: attempts to highjack the Women’s March in support of a very different kind of politics.

So let me be clear, I marched because I believe that women’s rights are human rights. I did not march to show support for hateful, divisive language that tries to expel Zionists like myself from the women’s movement by defining feminism as available only to those who deny Israel the right to exist.

With so many countries that still deny women even basic rights, why would leaders of the Women’s March aim their attacks only on Israel — a country in which women’s rights are written into law?

I did not march to show support for Rasmeah Odeh, who was convicted in an American court of lying about her previous conviction for terrorism and yet was embraced by some Women’s March leaders until she finally had to accept deportation.

I do not support Assata Shakur, convicted of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper and now living in Cuba, who was cheered by the Women’s March Twitter feed. And I certainly did not march to endorse an attack on the CNN newsman who challenged the salute to Shakur and was immediately condemned as “alt-right.”

I did not march because I agree with the expulsion of women holding Star of David flags from a march for LGBT rights on the astounding claim that this historic symbol of the Jewish people is threatening to some people.

Last January, millions of women and men came out to speak up for our vision of a better, stronger, united America. We did not endorse divisive anti-Israel rhetoric then, and we do not now.

We marched to show our support for inclusive policies that mean a better future for every one of us — like the historic coalitions that brought us women’s suffrage, workers rights, civil rights, and LGBT equality — efforts that welcomed the participation of Jewish women and men.

We will continue to speak out for our values. And we will keep marching.

Ann F. Lewis is president of the JAC Education Fund.

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