22 October 2021
This is not the reflection I’d planned to share this week.
But then the DC chapter of national climate action group Sunrise Movement publicly declined to participate in a Washington voting rights rally, based solely on the inclusion of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; three Jewish groups Sunrise referred to simply as “Zionist organizations.” As the statement from the DC chapter of the Sunrise Movement noted, “Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance, and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology.”
I was astounded by the hypocrisy in this statement. We recognize that across ideologies, people disagree on actions and policies. We recognize people have different perspectives on local, national, and global issues. But this effort to vilify, blame, and exclude the Jewish community from participating in civic life based on their support of Israel and to hold an entire people responsible is not only wrong. It is blatantly antisemitic. The statement is not about policies, but about the existence of the state of Israel. As such, there is an underlying premise that the only people not entitled to self-determination are the Jewish people.
While this may be only one position articulated by one small organization, these positions set a dangerous precedent. That is why on this and any instance of antisemitism, we cannot be silent. They must be denounced comprehensively not only by our community, but by broader American society and our local and national leadership.
I am heartened by the thoughtful responses from organizations across the full spectrum of our community, from all three of the named organizations, to our partners at the JCRC, and The Jewish Federations of North America, as well as J Street, Americans for Peace Now, ADL, and others. You can read many of their full comments in The Forward or Jewish Insider.
I, and Federation, join these groups and encourage others to condemn this and all acts of antisemitism and hatred anywhere. And as we head into Shabbat, we pray for peace, a shared commitment to dialogue, and a society where no community is excluded based on their beliefs.