Debbie Wasserman Schultz splits with Women’s March over anti-Semitism concerns

January 18, 2019

A former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee announced Friday that she would not participate in the Women’s March, citing concerns about the leadership’s record on anti-Semitism.

“Today, sadly, I must walk away from the national Women’s March organization, and specifically its leadership,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who participated in the 2017 Women’s March, in a Friday op-ed for USA Today.

“While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march’s leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry,” she said. “I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate.”

Ms. Wasserman Schultz, who led the DNC from 2011 to 2016, represents the most prominent elected Democrat to repudiate publicly the Women’s March, although other Democratic and progressive groups have distanced themselves.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz condemns #WomensMarch leadership due to ties to antisemitism https://t.co/xz5LHBdVV8 StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) January 18, 2019

The DNC confirmed this week it would not partner with the 2019 Women’s March, nor send any speakers to the third annual march Saturday in Washington, D.C., without offering an explanation.

Other groups that have pulled their partnerships this year include EMILY’s List, the Human Rights Campaign, the Center for American Progress and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Women’s March, which still enjoys the support of groups including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, posted Friday statements of support from Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Sisters supporting sisters! Thank you for adding your voices to the wave. #WomensWave, @KamalaHarris @CecileRichards @NNUBonnie @AOC pic.twitter.com/N9g4j0Pv6I Women’s March (@womensmarch) January 18, 2019

Ms. Wasserman Schultz cited the refusal of Women’s March national co-chair Tamika D. Mallory to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, described by the Anti-Defamation League as “America’s leading anti-Semite.”

Women’s March leaders, who have denied allegations of anti-Semitism, moved this week to mend fences by placing three Jewish women on the 32-member steering committee and touting the support of “Jewish women of color” and the endorsements of nine liberal Jewish rabbis.

Organizers took out a permit for 10,000 participants, a far cry from the half-million who flooded the National Mall in 2017, and moved the starting point this week from the National Mall to Freedom Plaza, a smaller venue.

Several hundred “sister marches” are scheduled to take place nationwide on the same day, although some of the events are being organized by groups such as the Women’s March Alliance that have rebuked the Women’s March and anti-Semitism.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz said she would march with a group unaffiliated with the Women’s March.

“Instead, this weekend, I will join a movement of women around the nation who are participating in local marches that have distanced themselves from those national Women’s March leaders who still ally with bigotry,” she said.

Another Democrat, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, is scheduled to speak Saturday at the Women’s March Iowa in Des Moines, after appearing at the 2017 and 2018 events in Washington, D.C.