Did you know that Zionists cannot be feminists?
That’s the position of the U.S. affiliate of the grassroots group, International Women’s Strike, whose platform calls for “the decolonization of Palestine” and dismantling “all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.”
One of the movement’s high-profile leaders is Palestinian-American Linda Sarsour, a BDS activist who asserts that Zionism and feminism are mutually exclusive. Sarsour, one of the featured speakers at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., told The Nation in an interview: “It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
Such attitudes are a prime example of how intersectionality — the notion that various form of oppression, based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disabilities, etc., are dependent on each other — has been exploited, marginalizing supporters of Israel from affiliating with other minority groups.
This form of anti-Israel bias is felt most acutely on campus today among Jewish students who say they have been rejected in their efforts to identify with groups opposing the discrimination of blacks, gays and other minorities.
As noted in Hannah Dreyfus’ report this week on the front page, women leaders in the Jewish community are expressing various degrees of frustration in response to the anti-Israel position taken by spokespersons for the emerging feminist movement speaking out against policies of the Trump administration.
The fact that many in the Jewish community applauded Sarsour’s efforts, despite her BDS activism, to raise funds to restore the St. Louis cemetery where Jewish headstones were defaced, is proof that intersectionality is a falsehood. Appreciating Sarsour’s good deed does not absolve her from her anti-Israel animus, just as one’s support for Israel must not prevent him or her from speaking out for oppressed minorities.
To insist otherwise is to promote a rigid ideological outlook that ignores the complexities — indeed the humanity — within each of us.