The election of President Donald Trump led to millions of women from all walks of life to take to the street to protest policies they believe to be anti-women. This new surge of the feminist movement, headed by women such as Linda Sarsour, organized events, including the Women’s March on Washington, to protest the new administration.
But there are already some major disagreements emerging from within the massive movement. Sarsour, who is also an outspoken Palestinian activist, has found that many Jewish feminists disagree with some key tenets of the new feminist movement.
For example, Sarsour believes that feminism and Zionism cannot coexist.
She explained her position to The Nation in a recent interview:
“When you talk about feminism you’re talking about the rights of all women and their families to live in dignity, peace, and security. It’s about giving women access to health care and other basic rights. And Israel is a country that continues to occupy territories in Palestine, has people under siege at checkpoints…
It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, “Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?” There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
But now “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik is firing back at Sarsour’s “all or nothing” approach to feminism. In a post on her website GrokNation, Bialik found herself forced to defend her own religion:
“Zionism is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous state in Israel,”
I am a Zionist. Feminism is the belief that a woman-driven movement can bring about race, class and gender equality and that women deserve all of the rights and privileges afforded to men. I am a feminist.”
The 41-year-old actress continued:
“As a feminist Zionist, I can’t believe I am being asked to choose or even defend my religious, historical and cultural identity. The ‘left’ needs to reexamine the microscope they use to look at Israel, and we all need to take a step back and remember we are stronger together: women, men, lovers of peace, and lovers of freedom and justice.
Accusing Zionism of being incompatible with feminism is exceptionally short-sighted. It smarts of a broad-stroke bias against the entire Jewish people for the violations that occur in a state that was founded on the principles of Zionism. That’s not good. Bad things happen when we paint with such a broad brush. It’s bigotry.”
This is not the first time Bialik has defended Israel and her religion. She has addressed criticism numerous times over the years and has not backed down from her position.