By Josefin Dolsten
January 15, 2019
NEW YORK (JTA) — Alyssa Weinstein-Sears and her husband, Joe, try hard to empower their 11-year-old daughter and teach her about being politically involved.
“In the 2016 election, she was very pro-Hillary and I took her into the voting both with me, and I let her push all the buttons. And we think it’s really important for her to stand up for women’s rights,” Weinstein-Sears said.
That’s why the 28-year-old considered taking her daughter with her this year to the Women’s March, either in Washington, D.C., or in Houston, where they live.
But Weinstein-Sears, who works as an educator at Houston’s Holocaust museum, and her daughter will not be attending the march on Saturday after all.
The reason: Weinstein-Sears can’t get on board with a movement whose leaders she feels have failed to adequately condemn anti-Semitism.
“It’s really difficult to be supportive of a movement that has anti-Semitic undertones when I’m trying to raise a strong Jewish daughter,” she told JTA on Monday.
She isn’t alone. In the past year, celebrities, activists and community leaders — Jewish and otherwise — have said they will not attend the march and called on the national organizers to step down over claims that they have not done enough to disavow anti-Semitism.
It all started when Women’s March co-founder and organizer Tamika Mallory attended a speech by and praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of making anti-Jewish and homophobic statements. Though the Women’s March organizers eventually disavowed Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, many believed their response took too long and did not go far enough in denouncing him.
More recently, a report in Tablet said that Mallory and fellow organizer Carmen Perez had made anti-Semitic statements at two Women’s March planning meetings, claims the organizers deny. On Monday, Mallory appeared on “The View,” where she failed to outright condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments.
A number of organizations have cut ties with the group: The National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, for example, are no longer sponsoring the Washington march.
“In an ideal world we’d love to be able to endorse [the national Women’s March], but in the real world there are concerns,” National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman told JTA last month as her organization was weighing whether to sign up as a 2019 sponsor.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the prominent liberal political action committee Emily’s List also have stopped supporting the march, the Daily Beast reported last week.
Jeff Migliozzi, a communications assistant at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told JTA that the organization believes “supporting the local communities around us with their marches is of greater priority at this time.” Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is designated as a hate group by the center.