Statement to L.A. women’s march: ‘Featuring a pro-Zionist celebrity destroys progressive unity — so we’re out’
The following joint statement from the International Action Center and Workers World Party in Los Angeles was issued concerning the women’s march there on Jan. 20.
In Los Angeles, Workers World Party and the International Action Center, in solidarity with Palestinian organizations here and the established and growing boycott of the event, will not be attending the Jan. 20 Women’s March. The two organizations will, however, be attending women’s marches in other areas around the country.
Here in Los Angeles, march organizers chose to invite Scarlett Johansson as a featured speaker. Given the escalation of attacks on the Palestinian people — from the planned moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, to the added child abuse with the state of Israel imprisoning of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi (recently denied bail), and the dangerous escalation of violence against Palestinians encouraged by the Trump administration — it is a direct slap in the face to Palestinian people and especially Palestinian women, in addition to anyone who believes in basic human rights, to feature a pro-Zionist speaker who in reality acts as a spokesperson for the racist, apartheid, occupying state of Israel.
Johansson, disregarding protest, continued to be the face of the advertising campaign of SodaStream, which produced its product in an illegal settlement built on land stolen from Palestinians in the West Bank. The humanitarian group Oxfam forced Johansson to step down after she had been working with the charity for eight years, due to her commitment to SodaStream. In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Johansson for her stance against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement’s campaign for Palestinian rights.
For this reason, Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and PAWA, the Palestinian American Women’s Association, have chosen to boycott this year’s women’s march in Los Angeles, since it obviously does not reflect the concerns of marginalized or oppressed women, especially in regards to Palestinian women.
It is unfortunate that we will be unable to do outreach during the march to most of the attendees, who will be there for the right reasons. However, it is more important to stand with those who are targeted by a specific oppression and take their lead, especially when it has the chance to expose and reject reactionary actions that discourage unity.
The actions of the organizers — inviting a celebrity with wide reach and who supports Israel’s oppression — is most disunifying to the women’s movement. Any movement that denies the most oppressed is a fractured movement, and must be challenged.
We remain forever in solidarity with Palestine, along with the many progressive women, LGBTQ, Black, Brown, Asian, white and Jewish voices against U.S. imperialism, the apartheid state of Israel and racism.
Rebecka Jackson, Workers World Party
Maggie Vascassenno, International Action Center