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Debbie Wasserman Schultz Chooses Sides in the Democratic Party’s Anti-Semitism Rift

January 19, 2019 - 6:00am
The Women's March and Debbie Wasserman Schultz
The Women's March and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The Women’s March, which has risen to prominence with the election of Donald Trump, is beginning to fracture. A number of its leaders have displayed or spoken anti-semitic positions, and it's led to major controversy within the party. Falling prey to the inevitable conflicts of intersectionality, there have been groups beginning to disavow the organization.

March leaders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory have made routine anti-semitic comments, as well as lending vocal support and making contacts with Louis Farrakhan, an avowed anti-Israel Muslim leader. 

A number of the state groups from Women’s March have separated from the national organization. In addition, some prominent activist partners have pulled their support, including NOW, NAACP, Greenpeace, Emily’s List, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Joining the growing list of fleeing groups was the Democratic National Committee -- which can't be read as a blanket separation of the entire Democratic party.

Following the DNC announcement, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz put out an op-ed in USA Today to declare her own condemnation of the national group. 

"Today, sadly, I must walk away from the national Women’s March organization, and specifically its leadership. 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. I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate."

As commendable as these positions are they are not necessarily shared by all Democrats. The anti-semitism that has reared up in the Women’s March is quietly cleaving the party, as various party members and liberal factions are put in the position of having to choose where their support now must lie.

The reason this rift is “quietly” taking place is, the press has not been so enthusiastic in its recording of the strife, both within the March and the Democratic Party. The controversial figures and their stances have been given passing mention at best. The ensuing conflicts, and the various supporting groups that have stepped back from support are not given the usual breathless coverage. Some news outlets are even grappling with the way to cover the conflicting positions.

The Democrats are no more settled. As Debbie Wasserman Schultz has taken a firm stand in opposition, other party leaders have been more taciturn. Another politician with questionable anti-semitic opinions has been Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. The incoming freshman had numerous controversial anti-Israel opinions prior to her election, and she went so far as to actually defend those comments after her election. 

Not shying away from the controversial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi figured to score demographic marks by appointing the Muslim female to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It is bordering on the remarkable that she would grant that position to someone with a past of anti-Israeli rhetoric, while serving on the committee that oversees U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid.

Another prominent Democrat who will be looked at for taking the opposite stance is Christine Gillibrand. The senator has recently announced her intention to run for president in 2020. She exemplified the difficulty in decisions within her party by also announcing Thursday that she would be attending The Women’s March. She framed her declaration with firm words against anti-semitism, showing the difficulty in straddling the fence on this very issue.

Gillibrand’s equivocating becomes more difficult when, afterward, Wasserman Schultz makes such a firm gesture of opposition to the March. The party itself will continue to grapple, as The DNC and party leadership take differing positions on the controversy simmering within an activist group they have embraced in whole in recent years.

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.

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