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Progressive Jewish groups join new initiative to defeat Trump and the far-right

Coalition includes avowedly anti-Zionist and pro-BDS groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Linda Sarsour’s MPower Change

US President Donald Trump speaks on stage during the first day of the Republican National Committee convention, August 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump speaks on stage during the first day of the Republican National Committee convention, August 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Calling for a “united front against (President Donald) Trump and far-right extremism,” eight leading racial justice organizations and five progressive Jewish groups have teamed for a new initiative against racism and anti-Semitism.

“Far-right extremists in government, media, law enforcement, business, and militia groups have spent the past four years escalating the violence and harm they enact on our communities,” according to a statement on the homepage of the United Against Hate website. “They have murdered Jews, Muslims, Black folks, Latinx people. They have tried to ban us, deport us, cage us, blame us for the inequality and injustice they profit from, scapegoat.”

United Against Hate, which launched publicly on Friday, is in coordination with the IfNotNow movement’s new campaign, Jews Fighting for Our Future, a Jewish youth campaign “to defeat the right in November,” according to its homepage.

The organizations involved in the new initiative include Dream Defenders, the Movement for Black Lives, Mijente, MPower Change, United We Dream, Emgage, the Arab American Institute, and People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation, in partnership with IfNotNow, The Jewish Vote, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Never Again Action and JVP Action.

Illustrative: Jewish Voice for Peace activists protest outside the New York Birthright office, December 5, 2017. (Twitter account, #ReturnTheBirthright)

The move comes about a week after several of the groups in the coalition launched a campaign urging progressives to boycott the Anti-Defamation League, long seen as the Jewish community’s chief opponent of extremism.

“We all see that the same extremists and white nationalists who hurt communities of color also hurt Jews — and we know that our communities aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Rachel Gilmer, co-director of Dream Defenders. “We all have to pick a side, and Dream Defenders is proud to make it clear where we stand: with Black people, with immigrants, with Palestinians, with Muslims, with Jews, with everyone fighting back against white supremacy.”

Linda Sarsour, who has been embroiled in multiple controversies over her activism related to Israel, including statements seen as crossing the line into anti-Semitism, is executive director of one of the groups in the coalition, MPower Change. Joe Biden has disavowed Sarsour, a backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, as are some of the groups in the United Against Hate initiative.

Linda Sarsour speaks at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Washington Square Park in New York City, April 13, 2016. (D Dipasupil/WireImage/Getty Images via JTA)

JVP Action is the political arm of Jewish Voices for Peace, which advocates a boycott of Israel and identifies as anti-Zionist. IfNotNow, according to its principles, does “not take a unified stance on BDS, Zionism or the question of statehood.” Both groups have defended US Rep. Ilhan Omar in the face of claims that she employed anti-Semitic tropes, saying many of her critics were fueled by racism and Islamophobia.

On Tuesday, the new coalition will hold a virtual panel discussion on anti-Semitism and racism.

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