The Linda-Sarsourization of Feminism: Anti-Israel BDS an “Intersectional Feminist” 1st Date Requirement
Dating Advice from Everyday Feminism author Lara Witt, who also thinks “White People Are Evil. Whiteness is Evil.”
For some years we’ve been reporting about how Jews are being ostracized, intimidated and even physically assaulted based on their identification with Israel.
As we’ve documented, on some college and university campuses, the harassing conduct of anti-Israel and pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) groups is so severe and persistent that it’s starting to interfere with the ability of Jewish and Zionist students to benefit from the educational and extra-curricular activities and opportunities offered at their schools.
There’s also a growing trend to suppress debate and to minimize opposition to BDS by intentionally limiting the participation of Jewish students in campus affairs:
- Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus (Film Review)
- With campus shut downs, first they came for the Jews and Israel
- New Report: Anti-Israel activism on campuses more “aggressive, sophisticated”
Basically, Jewish students are being told that they must disavow their Zionism and attachment to the land of Israel—a central aspect of the Jewish faith, and so a huge chunk of their identity—before they can participate in campus life, especially when it comes to progressive social justice activities like anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events, and LGBT and women’s rights advocacy.
Israel’s detractors are constantly inserting themselves into these causes on campus, using every opportunity to hijack totally unrelated agendas and to redirect them against Israel. This cannibalizing of the progressive left on campus by BDS is now so complete that demands are now being made to expel Zionist students, Anti-Israel Rally at U. Illinois: “No Zionists, no KKK, resisting fascists all the way”.
Off-campus the situation isn’t any better.
Pro-BDS organizations repeatedly insult, defame and work to isolate fellow progressive Jews (and non-Jewish activists too, including people of color) who disagree with their “anti-Israel crusade”, Anti-Israel activists attack progressive St. Louis Rabbi who supports #BlackLivesMatter.
The uptick in the harassment is a clear indication that BDS aims to silence not only Israeli voices but just about anyone associated with mainstream Judaism or Zionism. But now it appears that it’s not enough to push Zionists out of the progressive movement—they also have to be drummed out of its dating scene.
This signals that we’re reaching a new level in the obnoxious trend to exclude Jews from the nation’s social justice and civil rights conversations.
— Everyday Feminism (@EvrydayFeminism) December 9, 2017
Everyday Feminism publishes Lara Witt’s dating advice
At issue is an article published by the feminist magazine Everyday Feminism, “10 Things Every Intersectional Feminist Should Ask On a First Date.”
Everyday Feminism is an “independent feminist media site, led entirely by people of color”. It has 97.9K followers on Twitter. The article initially appeared in Wear Your Voice (WYV), another feminist magazine which self-describes as “prioritizing the perspectives of Black and brown folks, especially queer, trans and non binary people of color”. It’s a smaller media outfit with just over 6,000 Twitter followers.
Lara Witt, WYV’s Managing Editor, authored the article which went live on December 8. She depicts herself as a “queer femme of color” and an “intersectional feminist writer”, digital media consultant and activist based in Philadelphia (her byline also notes that she moved to the U.S. in 2010, graduated from Temple University, and was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland).Witt has garnered controversy in the past, including for social media postings in which she described white people as “evil” and claimed that “straight, white men are generally trash.”
Oh just realized you're this person.
You're delightful. pic.twitter.com/COo3lPnNGy
— バリ (@StillJustBarra) December 11, 2017
In her latest essay, she provides some rules for heterosexual dating.
It’s a list of 10 questions that she advises her fellow “accomplices in the fight against white supremacy, queerphobia, and misogyny” to ask on a first date in order to be sure that their potential boyfriend fully supports and values “marginalized folks”:
- Do you believe that Black Lives Matter?
- What are your thoughts on gender and sexual orientation?
- How do you work to dismantle sexism and misogyny in your life?
- What are your thoughts on sex work?
- Are you a supporter of the BDS movement?
- What is your understanding of settler colonialism and indigenous rights?
- Do you think capitalism is exploitative?
- Can any human be illegal?
- Do you support Muslim Americans and non-Muslim people from Islamic countries?
- Does your allyship include disabled people?
Over the last few days, Witt’s essay has been heavily ridiculed, with many observing that if “intersectional feminists” followed her advice to grill and interrogate men on their first dates, then they’d pretty much be guaranteed to never get a second date:
Many of the critics reported on social media that they were preemptively blocked from Witt’s Twitter account (including LI authors, and just about every other conservative and quite a few liberal feminists on social media too):
Maybe it’s a wise decision on her part, because the criticism has been pretty brutal, and this way she can keep pretending that her piece has been well-received.
It’s easy to make fun of this essay.
But it’s also really sad that America’s civil rights agenda is being perverted by such a confused hard-left activist like Witt who thinks that state “borders” are inherently “inhumane and despicable”; that capitalism promotes “systemic racism”; and that promoting prostitution is necessary for “dismantling the patriarchy” among other ridiculous commentary packed into this short op-ed (my personal favorite: commendably calling out discrimination and acts of “cruelty” against the disabled, but then advising readers to “walk away” from any date who uses “ableist slurs”).
A lot of people rightly concentrated on these nonsensical aspects of Witt’s essay. But some also focused on her first date Question #5.
Lara Witt’s First Date Advice: Reject Anyone Who Won’t Support BDS
Elaborating on Question #5, Witt writes:
BDS stands for “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions”–an effort to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. I grew up with Jewish (Israeli and non-Israeli) friends and Palestinian friends. Before even understanding how power and oppression worked together, we understood the trivial hatred that colonized and put in constant danger the lives of Palestinians every single day.
Eventually, I learned about Apartheid from a theoretical perspective, and I began to understand the terror, trauma, and stress of having everyone you love and care about get killed, simply because one nation has the military backing and power to destroy your land for them to settle on. Being pro-Palestine is not the same thing as being anti-Semitic. I shouldn’t even have to express that, but being pro-Palestine and BDS is a necessary part of intersectionality.”
Based on this advice, pro-Israel speaker and writer Hen Mazzig asked Witt via Twitter if he’d pass muster on a first date:
@Femmefeministe Hey Lara, I’m a queer Israeli Zionist North African/Iraqi & Jewish, opposes boycott of my country&the calls to fight me& my national rights. Will U say a feminist can date me or not because of who I am? What do you call that…bigotry?yeah!https://t.co/eBjycxpXMs
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) December 10, 2017
Brooklyn, NY-based writer John-Paul Pagano also alerted his social media followers to Witt’s prior observations about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s important to know where she’s coming from:
The reality is that no self-respecting progressive feminist or any decent person should want to have anything to do with BDS.
As we’ve noted in dozens of posts, BDS is an antisemitic movement that originated in Iran and crushes the livelihoods of Palestinians while oppressing true Palestinian peacemakers and human rights activists.
Its leadership routinely denies self-determination for the Jewish people; uplifts the killers of Jews and stands proudly with heinous terrorists; and actively promotes modern day blood libels and traffic in age-old negative canards and tropes about Jewish money and power.
Pro-BDS organizations and leading activists have even on gone so far as to call for the slaughter of Jews via Islamic battle cries and chants at their rallies and demonstrations, as happened several years ago in Miami and this past weekend in New York City’s Time Square (for a video of the Times Square event, see this link):https://twitter.com/Doranimated/status/940242847973945349
In addition to Question #5, it’s also worth noting Witt’s underhanded effort to minimize antisemitism while decrying Islamophobia in her suggested first date Question #9.
I can’t think of any other religion which has been vilified and lied about more than Islam in a cultural and systemic way”.
It’s a ludicrous statement that echoes well-known leftist activist Linda Sarsour’s own problematic history of minimizing antisemitism (she too thinks it’s “different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic”).
Bottom line: Witt’s dating advice is shameful not only because of it’s exclusionary stance toward Zionist Jewish men. It’s also terrible because, if enough “intersectional feminists” follow her advice, it would prevent an honest and clear-eyed conversation about the danger that radical Islam poses for Jews. So it would be damaging to the cause of fighting antisemitism.
Intersectionality is a radical leftist theory positing that all forms of social oppression and victimization are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing.
Once a perspective with some merit for understanding the relationship between race, class, and gender, intersectionality has today morphed into a kind of non-falsifiable “conspiracy theory”. You can watch here a short video by feminist scholar Christian Hoff Sommers in which she explains the paradigm, how it has evolved, and the negative impact it’s now having on academic fields in the Humanities, especially Women’s and Gender Studies:
Sommers gives a number of examples in her video.
But probably nothing can beat Lara Witt’s checklist for dating in terms of demonstrating just how impoverished this analysis has become. For “intersectional feminists” like Witt, you can’t care about the rights of the disabled, or immigration issues, or reforming America’s prison system unless you also package and bundle up those problems with a call to eradicate the Jewish state.
Basically, it means illogically singling out for censure a country that has the most advanced women’s rights in the Middle East while refusing to condemn sexism in the Arab and Muslim world and treating as allies anti-Israel Muslim governments and organizations that subject women to honor killings.
But it’s important to remember that the intersectionality paradigm isn’t just directing people to demonize Israel. It’s also providing the rationale for its adherents to target Zionist Jews, by excluding them from liberal causes that they care about—and now even from the dating scene.
Bottom line: Intersectionality is a paradigm that’s helping to generate some pretty wacky forms of anti-Israel and antisemitic bigotry.
Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Inaugural Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 65 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also frequently speaks and writes on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MiriamElmanDONATE
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