Monday the Women’s March announced it was cutting ties with three of its four co-chairs: Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, and Tamika Mallory. No specific reason was given but if you’ve followed this story, you know the issue was allegations of anti-Semitism. At the same time, the group announced it was adding a bunch of new people to the board including Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco chapter of CAIR. You can see her on the bottom right in this tweet:
We’ve cultivated the leadership of grassroots organizers across the country to make Women’s March a leaderful movement, and now we’re growing. We couldn’t be more excited to announce our new board who will continue moving Women’s March forward. https://t.co/WYvXyqBUhT pic.twitter.com/6yDFK5anuj
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) September 16, 2019
Earlier today, just three days after her appointment to the board was announced, Women’s March said Billoo had been removed from the board effective immediately:
Zahra Billoo has been removed from board membership effective immediately. We found some of her public statements incompatible with the values and mission of the organization. Women’s March will continue to build an inclusive and effective movement that holds space for all women.
— Women’s March (@womensmarch) September 19, 2019
Which statements? And how were they incompatible? Women’s March doesn’t say, but once again, the unspoken issue is anti-Semitism. Tuesday, Forward published a piece titled “The Women’s March Finally Dumped Linda Sarsour – And Replaced Her With Someone Worse.” That piece highlighted several of Billoo’s past tweets about Israel which seem pretty far over the line of legitimate criticism, especially this one from 2012:
Apartheid Israel kills children as a hobby.
— Zahra Billoo (@ZahraBilloo) June 23, 2012
Who has killed, tortured, and imprisoned more people: Apartheid Israel or ISIS? pic.twitter.com/y94rDyqV6i
— Zahra Billoo (@ZahraBilloo) September 6, 2016
It’s interesting that Billoo hasn’t deleted these tweets even after this announcement she has been dumped. I wonder if she was given a chance to apologize and simply decided she was unwilling to do so. Either way, she’s doesn’t appear to feel any regret about these comments.
Given that allegations of anti-Semitism were behind the shake-up in the first place, you would think that Women’s March would have taken extra care to avoid selecting anti-Semites as its new board members. Somehow that didn’t happen.
Beyond the obvious failure to vet its new board, there’s also the broader question of why Women’s March won’t say plainly discuss the problem. At least Justin Trudeau said racism is wrong when apologizing for appearing in blackface. Women’s March seems to think a vague reference to unidentified statements should be good enough.