One of the co-founders and leaders of the Women’s March movement in the United States told The New York Times that white Jews are among those who “uphold white supremacy,” while also being oppressed by it.
Tamika Mallory, a black activist who has been at the center of claims that the movement’s leaders have anti-Semitic leanings, was responding to comments made by Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist, who, together with Mallory, was among the handful of women who initiated the January 2017 Women’s March on Washington, one of the biggest demonstrations in US history.
Top leaders of the organization have been accused of engaging in or condoning anti-Semitism, and failing to heed the concerns of its thousands of Jewish backers. Controversy surrounding the march also arose from Mallory’s ties to anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of making anti-Semitic and homophobic statements.
Wruble told the newspaper that she felt marginalized and eventually pushed out of the Women’s March movement by co-leaders Mallory and Carmen Perez, in part because of her Jewish heritage. At a first meeting with Mallory and Perez to discuss plans for a mass march, the two women tried to impress on her that Jews had to answer for what they claimed was a significant role in the black slave trade to the US, she said.
“Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it,” Mallory said in a statement to The Times.
“I was taken aback,” Wruble said of the conversation. “I thought, ‘Maybe there are things I don’t know about my own people.’”
A search on Google led her to a book written by Farrakhan claiming Jews bore particular guilt for the slave trade.
Wruble said she had other concerns when Perez, together with a group of other activists, put out a set of “unity principles” for marchers that stated, “We must create a society in which all women — including Black women, Indigenous women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women — are free.”
Wruble noticed at the time, she said, that Jewish women were not included. She eventually parted from the other organizers and set up her own activism movement.
Perez and Mallory denied that there was any mention of the slave trade at their first meeting, the report said.
According to the report, before she left, Wruble texted a senior adviser to the organization writing, “The one thing I would suggest you discuss with them is the anti-Semitic piece of this. Their rhetoric around this stuff will hurt the movement.”
Last month, the Washington state chapter of the Women’s March shut down over concerns of anti-Semitism among the national leadership of the movement.
In November, Women’s March co-founder Teresa Shook called on the national co-chairs to resign, saying they “allowed anti-Semitism” and other hateful rhetoric. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano also said that she would not speak at the march if asked.
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 of the march later said the Nation of Islam leader’s statements “are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles,” but also defended Mallory against criticism. Mallory has defended her own and her family’s association with Farrakhan.