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Sunrise Movement Addresses DC Chapter: “We Will Always Welcome Anyone Who Acts on Our Principles”

Sunrise Movement’s statement addressing their D.C. chapter read: “Our work on behalf of all humanity is rooted in the value of human dignity and we reject all forms of discrimination, including antisemitism and anti-Palestinian racism.”
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October 21, 2021
Photo by Charles Edward Miller / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

The climate group Sunrise Movement issued a statement on October 21 addressing their Washington, D.C. chapter’s decision to not participate in a voting rights rally because of “Zionist organizations.”

Sunrise DC cited the participation of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA), National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) in the October 23 Freedom to Vote Relay – Rally at the Finish Line as being “in alignment with and in support of Zionism and the State of Israel.” “Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance, and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces that ideology,” they said in a statement.

Sunrise Movement’s statement addressing their D.C. chapter read: “Our work on behalf of all humanity is rooted in the value of human dignity and we reject all forms of discrimination, including antisemitism and anti-Palestinian racism.” They added that they had not seen Sunrise DC’s statement before it was published.

“As a national movement that supports freedom and dignity for all people, we will always welcome anyone who acts on our principles and chooses to join the fight for collective liberation,” Sunrise Movement’s statement concluded. “We believe that the rights of Palestinians are a part of that struggle and are committed to embracing that struggle together.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Sunrise’s statement “doesn’t do it.” “Saying you reject #antisemitism is not the same thing as rejecting anti-Jewish hatred as it happens in real life. Not to mention you failed to clearly and unequivocally condemn the antisemitic call to exclude Jewish groups.”

The Jewish Democratic Council of America tweeted that Sunrise Movement’s statement is “woefully insufficient. The failure to call out blatant antisemitism only leads to further division at a time when we all need to unite to protect our democracy.”

Stop Antisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez said in a statement to the Journal, “Not posting their apology to social media (their main line of communication with followers) [Sunrise Movement’s] condemnation of antisemitism and othering the Jew hatred espoused by their mid-Atlantic hub, DC, is quite troubling; a more firm and transparent stance must be taken for anyone to take this seriously.”

Sunrise’s chapter at George Washington University, Sunrise GW, condemned Sunrise DC in an October 21 Twitter thread.

“Standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people is morally just and not antisemitic,” they wrote. “Singling out explicitly Jewish organizations despite non-Jewish organizations in the coalition holding similar stances on Israel is unquestionably antisemitic and has no place in our movement.” Sunrise GW added that they will never “place a litmus test on Jewish students or any students to be a part of our movement at GW.”

Several Jewish groups have condemned Sunrise DC’s statement as being antisemitic; the progressive Zionist group Zioness called the statement “explicitly antisemitic” because “it calls these leaders ‘Zionists,’ but ascribes ideological positions to them by virtue of one thing: their Jewishness. It targets Jewish leaders in a way that Sunrise would not––and should not!––target leaders from any other group. It focuses exclusively on the demonization of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. It attempts to pit the entire progressive movement against progressive Jews. It attacks them not for their support of any actual policy or action of the Israeli government, but for their belief that the State of Israel has the right to exist at all.”

Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Grace Meng (D-NY) are among the members of Congress who denounced Sunrise DC’s statement as “offensive and wrong.”

Jewish Insider reporter Gabby Deutch tweeted that she had not heard from any members of Congress who had been endorsed by Sunrise on the matter, though one of her colleagues later received a statement from Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY) saying: “I condemn the call for the exclusion of these Jewish organizations from this event. We must focus on building a broad coalition to support our democracy, not excluding groups for unfair & arbitrary reasons.”

Sunrise DC has protected their tweets, but the Journal did obtain a screenshot of the DC climate group retweeting an October 20 tweet stating that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism and “#FreePalestine.”

UPDATE: On October 22, Sunrise Movement tweeted out a photo of their October 21 statement, writing: “To be clear, Sunrise DC’s statement and actions are not in line with our values. Singling out Jewish organizations for removal from a coalition, despite others holding similar views, is antisemitic and unacceptable.”

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