Blames 'blatant bigotry' of Bland, Mallory, Sarsour, Perez

Washington state Women’s March chapter shuts over anti-Semitism concerns

‘We can’t betray our Jewish community by remaining a part of this organization,’ writes chapter head Angie Beem in wake of Farrakhan controversy

Linda Sarsour speaks onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images/via JTA)
Linda Sarsour speaks onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images/via JTA)

The Washington state chapter of the Women’s March has shut down over concerns of anti-Semitism by the national leadership of the movement.

Angie Beem, the Washington State Women’s March board director, made the announcement in a Facebook post last week, slamming the “blatant bigotry” of national leaders Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez.

“I and my team can’t sit idly by and ignore the antisemitism the four National Team co-chairs have supported and continue to support,” Beem wrote. “We can’t betray our Jewish community by remaining a part of this organization.”

“Because of the events happening at the national level and their refusal to acknowledge and apologize for their anti-Semitic stance, we have decided to dissolve our Women+s March on Washington State organization in order to separate from the National message that is being sent, both from a social justice standpoint and a financial standpoint,” she wrote.

The move comes weeks after Women’s March co-founder Teresa Shook called on the current organizers to step down, saying they “allowed anti-Semitism.”

The controversy surrounding the Women’s March arose from Mallory’s ties to anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Earlier this year, Mallory was criticized for not speaking out after she attended an event during which Farrakhan said “the powerful Jews are my enemy” and accused “Satanic Jews” of having a “grip on the media.”

The organizers later said Farrakhan’s statements “are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles,” but also defended Mallory against criticism.

Farrakhan has a history of making anti-Semitic, homophobic and transphobic statements. Last month he was widely criticized, including by Chelsea Clinton, for a tweet that compared Jews to termites.

Women’s March co-founder Teresa Shook. (Facebook screenshot)

Following the 2016 presidential election, Shook created the Facebook event that eventually turned into the Women’s March on Washington. She became one of several Women’s March co-founders, including Bland, Vanessa Wruble and Evvie Harmon. Wruble recruited Sarsour, Mallory and Perez to serve as co-chairs of the movement, alongside Bland.

Earlier in November, actress Alyssa Milano cited the organizers’ stance on Farrakhan as a reason she won’t speak at the next Women’s March.

Protesters fill the streets of downtown Los Angeles during the Women’s March against President Donald Trump, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Sarsour, a Palestinian American, has come under fire in recent days for appearing to criticize American Jewish liberals for putting their support for Israel ahead of their commitment to democracy. Some said her comments echoed charges that Jews have divided loyalties.

“Accusing Jews of dual loyalty is one of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic tropes,” the American Jewish Committee wrote in a tweet.

Sarsour later released a statement apologizing on behalf of the Women’s March for causing harm to the movement’s Jewish members and for being too slow to show its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism.

“We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We regret that,” said the statement, issued Tuesday afternoon. “Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.”

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