(CNSNews.com) – The Women’s March movement is under fire again, following a liberal German non-governmental organization’s decision not to present its annual human rights award to its organizers, who have been criticized for associations with Louis Farrakhan and anti-Israel sentiment.
As they plan another march in Washington, D.C. on January 19, Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are back in the spotlight over links to the controversial Nation of Islam leader.
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a political foundation linked to Germany’s Social Democratic Party, announced this week it was suspending Monday’s planned award presentation, after an FES working group had raised the alarm.
The working group had criticized the awardee choice, citing “an insufficient understanding of anti-Semitism on the part of the organization,” FES president Kurt Beck and Secretary-General Roland Schmidt said in a statement.
“According to the critics, the movement excludes Zionists, and members of the board have repeatedly been involved in anti-Semitic incidents.”
Beck and Schmidt said the FES was “unable to assess with certainty the validity of the charges against individual members of the organization’s leadership” and had decided after careful consideration to suspend the award ceremony “and allow an independent body to investigate the matter.”
The working group’s condemnation of the award decision was harshly critical of the Women’s March leaders.
Sarsour, it said, “is notorious for her propagation of anti-Semitism towards Israel,” citing among other things her statement in March 2017 that feminists could not be Zionists, and her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign.
The working group also said Sarsour, Perez and Mallory “have attracted attention due to their long-standing support of the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who, among other things, called Adolf Hitler a ‘very great man’ [and] recently compared Jews to termites.”
“An organization that may support feminism, but discriminates against Jews and Zionists and denies Israel’s right to exist should not be honored by a democratic foundation that advocates diversity and speaks out against discrimination,” it said.
‘The real cause of violence and oppression’
The FES decision comes in the wake of recent criticism by liberal actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who expressed disappointment in the Women’s March leadership for not denouncing Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism or anti-LGBT remarks.
Milano’s stance won the public backing of Will & Grace star Debra Messing, who is Jewish.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Friday, Women’s March defended its leaders and said it does not support Farrakhan’s statements “about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities” – but also charged that the real cause of “violence and oppression” is Republican rhetoric.
“Women’s March wouldn’t exist without the leadership of women of color, and we stand with Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory,” the statement said in part.
“It’s important to remember that many on the right are thrilled to use any tool they can find to divide and undermine our movement,” it said.
“We all know the real cause of violence and oppression of our communities. This is well-documented and inspired by vile rhetoric coming from the Trump administration and from members of the Republican Party.”
Last January, Perez was quoted as saying people need to understand the “significant contribution” those like Farrakhan have made to people of color.
The following month, Mallory was criticized when she was acknowledged from the podium by Farrakhan during a speech in Chicago in which he said that “the powerful Jews are my enemy.”
As the Anti-Defamation League drew attention to her presence at the speech – and to other Farrakhan-Women’s March links – Mallory tweeted on March 1: “I am not a slave. I am a strong black woman who will not live in fear of any man or woman. You can try to take everything I have, but only GOD can have ME.”
Sarsour then defended Mallory, writing on Facebook, “I stand with Tamika Mallory every day, with every fiber of my being because she has so much of what we need in the movement right now to win.”
Writing at the time, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro noted, “Mallory is black; Perez is Mexican-American; Sarsour is Muslim. This means that we’re supposed to ignore their anti-Semitism. Were these characters all white Christian Republicans rather than minority Democrats, this would be front-page news each day.”
Sarsour advises white women
Some disaffected Jewish activists have noted that, in its “unity principles,” the Women’s March organization invokes a range of groups – but not Jewish women.
“We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments,” the principles state.
Concerns about anti-Semitism prompted the formation of a new group, Women for All, advocating for similar issues but distancing itself from “the Farrakhan-affiliated Women’s March” and stressing its opposition to the BDS campaign, its support for a two-state solution in the Middle East, and a belief that “a safe, secure and sovereign Israel must exist as anti-Semitism is too great a threat to Jews worldwide.”
After the recent criticism from Milano and Messing, Sarsour posted a message arguing that white woman historically have at times “been used to uphold the patriarchy and white supremacy, consciously or subconsciously.”
“Don’t be the white women who will show up in Black and Brown Movement spaces and/or stand up to rally against Trump but don’t have the courage to stand up against members of your family who are supporters of Trump,” she advised.
“Don’t be like the white women who erase decades of hard work of women of color because you have critiques of them and tear them down when you know in your heart they are the leaders we need right now.”
Instead, Sarsour suggested they should “[b]e the white women who doesn’t join other white women to tear women of color down but instead seek information and understanding.”
“Be the white women that understand that there is a divide and conquer game being played and not fall for it.”