Tamika Mallory speaking in New Orleans, July 1, 2017 (Photo/JTA-Paras Griffin-Getty)
Tamika Mallory speaking in New Orleans, July 1, 2017 (Photo/JTA-Paras Griffin-Getty)

Vallejo Jews urge Women’s March to purge anti-Semitism

In January 2017, a contingent of Vallejo Jews fell in with the Women’s March, which drew millions of protesters in cities across the country and the world.

Now, women in that contingent warn that unless the national movement addresses charges of anti-Semitism among some of its leaders, they ain’t marching anymore.

In an open letter, members of the Vallejo Jewish community, including those who have participated in the Women’s March, demanded that the movement’s national leadership — specifically co-founder Tamika Mallory — denounce the incendiary anti-Semitic rhetoric of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, which Mallory had enthusiastically embraced earlier this year.

Lucinda Lees of Vallejo said she felt compelled to let the Women’s March leaders know that the anti-Semitism within its ranks has to go.

“Tamika Mallory has refused to disavow her longstanding relationship with Farrakhan,” Lees said. “This means that one of the leaders of the national Women’s March publicly abides a man who is open about his bigotry, homophobia, transphobia and wild anti-Semitism.”

In their letter, the Vallejo women wrote, “[We] condemn unambiguously and without reservation the toxic and divisive hate speech — the homophobia, bigotry, misogyny, transphobia and anti-Semitism — of Louis Farrakhan that is being given room to fester and take root in our movement.”

If Women’s March Vallejo pulls out of the national movement over the anti-Semitism issue, it won’t be the first group to do so.

In May, the Associated Press reported that the Rhode Island chapter separated from the national organization over the issue.

In response, the national organization posted a statement to its website saying it is working to resolve the problem.

“We condemn … expressions of hatred in all forms,” the post says in part. “Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles.”

Vallejo Jews say they’re hoping for a stronger response from the national group. They say they’re encouraged that nearly 30 people, some of them prominent local march participants of various ethnicities and religions, have signed the letter.

Vallejo resident Shelee Loughmiller, one of the local march organizers, said she “signed immediately, since anti-Semitism and/or bigotry in any form is disgusting.”

Local Democratic Party activist Susan George added, “We hope we can come together as a Vallejo community, in all its diversity, and stand together against all the hateful bigotry. To stand against this kind of overt hatred should be an easy task, especially in a social justice space.”

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen is a longtime Bay Area journalist and co-author of the book "Jewish Community of Solano County." She is a wife and mother of two grown sons and grandmother of three.