(April 19, 2018 / JNS) At what point do critics of President Donald Trump realize that they can’t go on being associated with a group that is fatally compromised by its association with hatemongers? That’s the question Americans who have taken part in demonstrations organized by the Women’s March need to be asking themselves again this week after the latest outrageous statements issued by their leaders, in which they have shifted their focus from attacks on the president to a war on a company because it chose to associate itself with the Anti-Defamation League.
The Women’s March leadership is calling for a boycott of Starbucks. But what’s interesting about their all-out assault on the ubiquitous chain of coffee shops is the reason for their anger.
They’re not boycotting the company over a notorious incident last week at one of their Philadelphia restaurants, when two black men were arrested without reason. Starbucks has always been associated with liberal causes, and no one who knows anything about it can conceivably believe it is guilty of practicing systematic racism. Yet the company has reacted—or perhaps overreacted—to the incident not merely by firing the manager responsible for that unfortunate controversy, as they should have. Instead, they are planning to shut down all 8,000 of their stores on May 29 and subject all of their 175,000 employees to “racial bias” training, including educating them about so-called “unconscious bias.”
Women’s March leaders are fine with Starbuck’s reaction to the incident. What they don’t like is the inclusion of the ADL among the consultants who will help organize the employee re-education program.
The ADL is best known as the group that monitors anti-Semitism in America. As such, it performs the essential task of assembling information and statistics, even though they are guilty at times of hyping their findings in such a way as to make it appear that Jew-hatred in the United States is out of control when, in fact, that is not the case. The ADL has also been guilty of jumping to conclusions about Trump’s role in fomenting anti-Semitism, which is not supported by the facts though likely satisfies many of its liberal donors.
Yet to its credit, the ADL has also been willing to take on leaders of the march regarding their soft spot for anti-Semitism.
The Women’s March is the principle engine of the mass protests that have symbolized the “resistance” to Trump and its administration. Earlier this year, many people who took part in their events were shocked to learn that Tamika Mallory, the group’s president, was a supporter of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semitic hatemonger. Others were concerned over the comments of Linda Sarsour, another leader, in which she demonized the State of Israel and its supporters, and claimed Zionists could not be true feminists. Along with many other people of good will on both the left and the right, the ADL criticized the pair.
So when Starbucks announced that the ADL would be part of its race education program, Mallory and Sarsour pounced. Mallory denounced the ADL on Twitter for “CONSTANTLY attacking black and brown people.” Sarsour echoed that smear and chimed in with her own indictment of ADL for supporting programs in which U.S. law-enforcement personnel are given training in Israel, as well as for the ADL’s criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement’s attacks on Israel as an “apartheid state,” calling for ending all U.S. aid to Israel.
No one with even a cursory understanding of the role that the ADL has played in the civil-rights movement and in promoting bias education in recent decades can possibly take the statements from Mallory and Sarsour seriously. The ADL’s “No Place for Hate” campaign in schools and elsewhere has been an important resource for communities seeking to combat racial and religious bias. It is about as unlikely a target for those who purport to care about the fight against prejudice as can be imagined.
However, in a leftist mindset in which intersectional theories that link worries about lingering racism in the United States with the war to destroy the Jewish state, even a liberal-oriented group like the ADL must be considered beyond the pale because of its willingness to stand up against anti-Semitism.
Not satisfied with that, Mallory suggested that Starbucks replace the ADL with Jewish Voices for Peace, a group that she said fights “racism of ALL kinds every day.”
JVP is clearly the Women’s March’s idea of a good Jewish group since it opposes Israel’s existence (it endorses the Palestinian “right of return” and opposes Birthright Israel trips for Jewish youth). It also promoted a campaign that blasts Jewish organizations for promoting security cooperation between American and Israeli police. (The results of which can be seen this week in a city council vote in Durham, N.C., which banned local police from training with Israeli law enforcement.) In doing so, it engaged in what can only be described as an anti-Semitic blood libel, seeking to blame Jews for police shootings of African-Americans.
Yet the problem here isn’t so much the outrageous statements of Mallory and Sarsour, and their vile allies in the JVP. It’s that many otherwise well-meaning Americans haven’t drawn the proper conclusions and cut ties with the Women’s March.
For many on the Jewish left, antipathy to Trump is the only thing that matters. While they may find Mallory and Sarsour distasteful, they believe that building a coalition with them is the priority right now. Yet treating the Women’s March as kosher despite its affinity for anti-Semites is neither reasonable nor good politics.
The time has come for all decent Americans to tell the Women’s March to either get rid of their anti-Semitic leaders or be subjected to their own boycott. At this point, anyone who chooses to work with Mallory and Sarsour is sanctioning Jew-hatred. No political cause—not even the liberal crusade against Trump—can possibly be worth that.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS — the Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.