Sunrise DC Apologizes for Singling Out Jewish Groups: “We Now Understand the Way Our Action Has Fueled Antisemitism”
October 25, 2021
Sunrise DC had cited the participation of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA), National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) in the October 23 Freedom to Vote Relay – Rally at the Finish Line as being “in alignment with and in support of Zionism and the State of Israel.”
The Washington, D.C. chapter of the climate group Sunrise Movement issued an apology on October 24 over their refusal to participate in a voting rights rally because of “Zionist organizations.”
Sunrise DC had cited the participation of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA), National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) in the October 23 Freedom to Vote Relay – Rally at the Finish Line as being “in alignment with and in support of Zionism and the State of Israel.” “Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance, and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces that ideology,” they said in a statement.
Following backlash over the move––including the national Sunrise Movement calling it “antisemitic”––Sunrise DC said in a statement that they “unequivocally apologize” for singling out the three Jewish organizations. “We now understand the way our action has fueled antisemitism, which benefits white nationalism and political movements that build power by dividing us, and endangers Jewish people drastically.”
They added that they “continue to stand against Zionism, antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and all other forms of oppression” and called Zionism “the ideology that has led to Palestinians being violently pushed out of their homes since 1948 and Israel’s continued violence and systematic oppression today.”
Various Twitter users criticized Sunrise DC’s statement.
“If you can’t even apologize without pushing your political agenda, it’s not really an apology, @sunrisemvmtdc,” StandWithUs tweeted. “You’re right that Zionism is not a theoretical concept, but your dehumanizing smears certainly don’t help anyone understand it better.”
In subsequent tweets, the pro-Israel educational organization added that the Israelis have constantly offered deals for Palestinians to have their own state, but “Palestinian leaders said no to every major peace offer, choosing a path of war, terrorism, and endless conflict instead” and that “to equate support for Jewish rights with antisemitism as ‘forms of oppression’ is incoherent, ignorant, and hateful.” “Palestinians and Israelis have suffered enough, and you’re not helping them build a better future together,” StandWithUs wrote. “All you’re doing is fueling more hatred and division in your own community.”
The American Jewish Congress similarly tweeted: “Instead of retracting its antisemitic statement & apologizing to the Jewish community, @SunriseMvmtDC is persisting. Rejecting Israel’s right to exist & equating Jewish self-determination [with] racism is repugnant & shows how anti-Jewish bigotry is allowed to flourish.”
Stop Antisemitism tweeted that Sunrise DC’s statement essentially said, “We stand against antisemitism and the 95% of Jews who are Zionists.”
Jeremy Schulman, a senior news editor for Mother Jones, tweeted, “How is any of this helpful for combatting climate change, protecting voting rights, achieving DC statehood, or helping literally *anyone* in Israel or the Palestinian territories?”
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