Know Who’s Marching With You
Editor’s Notebook

Know Who’s Marching With You

Be careful about the groups you support in response to certain Trump actions

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

AJT Editor Michael Jacobs
AJT Editor Michael Jacobs

It’s easy for the millions who marched against the Trump administration Jan. 21 to look at the week that followed and say, “We told you so.” There’s not much to like in talk of 20 percent tariffs on Mexican goods, the omission of any reference to Jews in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, efforts to block legal immigrants and refugees, and the addition of Steve Bannon to a National Security Council that no longer necessarily has room for the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence.

But, as Lee Corso likes to say on “College GameDay” on ESPN, “Not so fast, my friend.”

President Donald Trump has proved his words and actions must be closely monitored, but the pro-Israel community faces threats within the amalgamation of people and causes most active against the administration.

Go back to inauguration day, when the Georgia January 20th Coalition — composed of more than two dozen groups, including local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, Black Lives Matter and the Council on American-Islamic Relations — issued a lengthy list of demands related to turning Atlanta into a sanctuary city and a haven for progressive causes great and small.

Seventh on that list was the return of a demand that includes nothing less than a blood libel: “That the City of Atlanta stop participating in the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), a program that sends city police to Israel to receive training in repressive and racist policing tactics.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed wasted no time in rejecting the same demand amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the fall, and there’s no reason to think he’ll even waste time responding to this ad hoc coalition. But it’s worth knowing that at least some of the people who took to the streets in Atlanta believe and/or want to spread the lie that Israel trains American police to kill U.S. citizens.

That anti-Israel attitude goes to the top of the Jan. 21 marches in the form of one of the organizers, Linda Sarsour.

Sarsour, a Palestinian-American, put herself forward as one of the faces of the women’s marches, an observant Muslim woman in a hijab standing up for religious freedom and equal rights for fellow Muslims. Never mind that she has minimized Saudi Arabia’s oppression of women and seemed to align herself with those who felt that the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo got what they were asking for two years ago.

The point here is that she has a record of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, from calling Zionism creepy to refusing to work with people who back Israel.

Sarsour is on the right side when it comes to the treatment of Muslims in the United States, but she’s not someone I would want speaking for me. Beware of steps down the road of intersectionality, adding Palestinians to the list of the oppressed who need a broad-based progressive coalition to come to their defense.

Finally, be careful about the groups you support in response to certain Trump actions. Slate suggested nine organizations worthy of donations for their work with refugees and legal aid to people in need. I’m leery of giving money to any U.N. agency right now, but the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is on Slate’s list. More troubling is Oxfam, an active supporter of anti-Israel boycotts.

None of this is meant to suggest people should stop protesting administration actions. Just beware of your intersectional bedfellows.

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