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Foundation shelves human rights award for Women’s March over anti-Semitism charges

November 14, 2018

A German foundation has cancelled an awards ceremony to honor the Women’s March after a group of affiliated scholars objected, accusing the progressive advocacy group of anti-Semitism.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank associated with Germany’s Social Democratic Party, announced Tuesday that it would suspend the presentation of its Human Rights Award pending an investigation into the allegations against the Women’s March leadership.

The organization, which nixed the Nov. 12 ceremony, is known in Germany as Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, or FES. “Stiftung” means “foundation” in German.

“The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is working to combat antisemitism around the world and cooperates closely with Jewish organizations,” said the foundation in a statement. “On the basis of the evidence submitted, the FES is unable to assess with certainty the validity of the charges against individual members of the organization’s leadership.”

As a result, “the Executive Board of the FES has therefore decided, as a first step, to suspend the presentation of the award and allow an independent body to investigate the matter.”

In an open letter, members of the Working Group of Scholarship Holders of the FES Critique of Antisemitism/Jewish Studies called for the foundation to revoke the honor.

“We believe that the Women’s March USA does not meet the criteria of this award, as its organizers have repeatedly attracted attention through antisemitic statements, the trivialization of antisemitism and the exclusion of Zionists and Jews since Women’s March USA establishment in 2017,” the four-page letter said.

The working group pointed to Women’s March organizers Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Tamika D. Mallory, saying they have “attracted attention due to their long-standing support of the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who, among other things, called Adolf Hitler a ‘very great man’ while recently [comparing] Jews to termites.”

The group cited several controversial comments by Ms. Sarsour, including her statement that Zionists cannot be feminists, as well as her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement.

“Linda Sarsour, a member of the board and former president of Women’s March USA, is notorious for her propagation of antisemitism towards Israel,” said the letter.

Two months ago at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention, she implied that the Anti-Defamation League sponsors a program in which Israeli police train U.S. officers to ”[s]top and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country,” as reported by Algemeiner.

″[A]n organization that may support feminism, but discriminates against Jews and Zionists and denies Israel’s right to exist should not be honored by a democratic foundation that advocates diversity and speaks out against discrimination,” the letter said.

The decision to suspend the award comes with the Women’s March facing growing scrutiny over its attitudes toward Jews, Israel and Mr. Farrakhan as the advocacy group prepares to hold in January its third annual march in Washington, D.C.

At least two celebrities Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing have said they will not participate unless the group’s leaders condemn Mr. Farrakhan’s bigotry and anti-Semitism.

The Women’s March posted a statement last week on Twitter saying that its leaders “reject anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

“We recognize the danger of hate rhetoric by public figures,” the Thursday statement said. “We want to say emphatically that we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.”

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