The Women’s March kicked off Saturday in Washington, D.C., shortly after leaders released a sweeping policy document that includes opposition to legislation targeting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The 71-page Women’s Agenda took a stand against anti-BDS bills, passed in 26 states, that prohibit government agencies from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.
The agenda took issue with anti-BDS legislation on First Amendment grounds, arguing that such efforts represent “[o]ne of the biggest threats to speech today.”
“Whether it’s the attempts to create federal or state laws banning political boycotts or criticism of Israel (including the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions tactic), targeting environmental protest or preventing students and faculty on college campuses from expressing their views or engaging in peaceable assembly, the silencing of one side of the debate is precisely what our First Amendment protects against,” said the document.
The pro-Israel group StandWithUs blasted the policy, calling anti-BDS efforts “crucial to ensure American taxpayers are not complicit in the BDS Movement’s discrimination against Israel.”
“Anti-BDS legislation is about ensuring that states will not do business with companies that engage in discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Nothing more, nothing less,” said StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein.
“It is hypocritical for BDS activists to claim the mantle of free speech, while they themselves frequently try to stop those they disagree with from speaking,” she said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed that Women’s March Inc. has taken this misleading and divisive stance, which taints an important movement for social justice.”
At the same time, the Women’s Agenda included a reference to Jewish women, who were not mentioned in the group’s original Unity Principles, although they have since been added.
“We must create a society in which all women — including Black women, Indigenous women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Jewish women, Muslim women, Sikh women, Latinx women, Asian and Pacific Islander women, lesbian, bi, queer and trans women — are free and able to care for and nurture themselves and their families,” said the agenda.
The document also includes support for a host of left-wing policies, including Medicare for all, providing federal funding for abortion, canceling all federally held student debt, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and achieving 100 percent renewable energy.
“It is telling that while this new document commits to opposing hatred against Jews, it makes no mention of anti-Semitism on the far left,” said Ms. Rothstein. “Anyone who cares about supporting Jewish communities must acknowledge and fight this racism on both sides of the political spectrum.”
The Women’s March has lost support among Democrats and progressives over allegations of anti-Semitism, which the leaders deny, stemming from the leadership’s associations with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, described by the Anti-Defamation League as “America’s leading anti-Semite.”
Leaders countered this week by touting the support of nine rabbis and more than 100 “Jewish women of color,” although national co-chair Tamika D. Mallory fueled another round of criticism by refusing in interviews to condemn Mr. Farrakhan’s statements and affirm that Israel has a right to exist.
The 2017 Women’s March drew an estimated half-million participants to the National Mall, but this year’s event took out a permit for 10,000 people and moved the venue to the smaller Freedom Plaza, instead of the National Mall.