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Sunrise Movement DC boycotts voting rights rally over participation of 'Zionist organizations'

Before pulling out, Sunrise Movement DC asked Declaration for American Democracy, one of the rally's main organizers, to remove the three Jewish groups from a coalition sponsoring the event.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

The radical Sunrise Movement, which advocates for climate change action, pulled out of a voting rights rally due to the "...number of Zionist organizations" which would be taking part.

The Freedom to Vote Relay-Rally, scheduled for Saturday, features a bike ride to the US Capitol from West Virginia, the home state of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin is a sponsor of the proposed bill the rally is named for.

Before pulling out, Sunrise Movement DC asked Declaration for American Democracy, one of the rally's main organizers, to remove the three Jewish groups from a coalition sponsoring the event.

They specifically named the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), the Reform movement's Religious Action Center (RAC) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), saying that these groups support the existence of Israel, which Sunrise DC called a "colonial project."

The group accused Israel of illegally occupying Palestine and engaging in "...violent oppressive tactics that go against the values we advocate for as a hub."

Sunrise DC said in a statement posted on Twitter, "Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology. Zionism is incompatible with statehood and political sovereignty."

Ironically, the three Jewish groups cited by Sunrise DC are not Israeli or Israel advocacy groups and all back a two-state for the Middle East conflict. NCJW and RAC have sister groups in Israel that advocate for the rights of minorities.

The national Sunrise Movement did not respond to requests for comment on the DC chapter's statement from multiple media outlets. Instead, the group attempted to bury the tweet by posting many other times during the day. Twitter users were quick to comment on the subsequent posts about the statement by the DC chapter and accused the organization of antisemitism for singling out the Jewish organizations.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York tweeted, "Refusing to participate in civic life with Jewish groups- especially those groups who are committed to social justice here in the US, in Israel and around the world- is misguided, unproductive, offensive and wrong."

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League tweeted "This is vilification of Jewish nationhood and a litmus test for all who support it. This is antisemitic — plain and simple."

The backlash to Sunrise's statement was so severe that by Wednesday night, the group had protected their tweets.

A deeper dive into the Sunrise Movement’s website revealed the group to be a law enforcement "abolitionist" "intersectional" organization, that is "anti-capitalist."

On their website, the Sunrise Movement demanded "…land back for Indigenous people and reparations for Black and brown people." The irony of the group advocating to remove Jews from Israel who have a connection to the land traced back for thousands of years was not lost on pundits and social media users.

The group, which advocates for DC statehood and claims to advocate for "indigenous people," has apparently no plans to return the land to the original Native American tribes which were indigenous to the land, the Piscataway and the Nacotchtank. Rather, the radicals plan to only use the initiative to pass radical legislation in Congress to further their agenda.

Sunrise also claims to "…center, support, uplift, and protect Black, indigenous, POC, femmes, queer, trans, disabled, unhoused folx, and all other marginalized groups," yet fail to realize that many of the groups they mention have few, if any rights in most countries in the Middle East. Homosexuality is illegal in Gaza and many other Muslim countries. Women are forbidden from even driving cars or going out alone at night.

The Declaration for American Democracy coalition includes the Arab American Institute and Code Pink, two groups highly critical of Israel, yet neither has so far objected to being part of the coalition with the three Jewish groups cited by Sunrise DC.

Each of the Jewish groups named by Sunrise DC said in statement to the JTA that they would not be deterred from attending the rally on Saturday.

According to the JTA, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of RAC said, "As an organization committed to social justice and our progressive Zionist values, we will continue to work toward the passage of comprehensive voting rights legislation."

The outlet also quoted JCPA Senior Vice President Melanie Gorelick. "In keeping with our 77-year history, JCPA will continue our ongoing engagement on voting rights efforts in coalition with interfaith and diverse communities."

National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz said "National Council of Jewish Women works for the safety and wellbeing of Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians. We fight for access to the ballot, an end to gender-based violence, increased equity, and for women to build power despite systemic barriers at every turn.

"All of this work is done in the coalition, often led by impacted communities, to center those with lived experiences. Our commitment to working across lines of difference includes our willingness to engage in dialogue with groups that take issue with our policies. Let’s move forward together to advance human rights and dignity for all people."

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