The Washington, D.C., chapter of climate-activist organization Sunrise movement canceled its speaking appearance at a rally for D.C. statehood and federal voting legislation over Zionist Jewish groups’ participation in the event.
Sunrise DC cited the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism as groups that support Zionism and the State of Israel in its withdrawal letter.
“Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance, and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology,” the statement read.
The organization then accused Israel, which it called a “colonial project,” of illegally occupying Palestine and engaging in “violent oppressive tactics that go against the values we advocate for as a hub.” Sunrise DC then claimed that Israel treats minorities such as Palestinians and black and brown Jewish-Israelis as second-class citizens as well as disenfranchises them from civil society and government.
“We also believe that the fight for statehood and sovereignty are incompatible with Zionism and the political erasure of Palestinians that the ideology calls for,” the statement added.
Sunrise DC then urged the Declaration for American Democracy coalition, one of the sponsors of the upcoming march that has advocated for the Democrat-backed Freedom to Vote Act pending in Congress, to revoke the Jewish groups’ membership from its network.
In response to the statement, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said: “It’s unfortunate that any organization would refuse to join together to protect voting rights. The work of our coalition to ensure that every American has access to the right to vote is too important not to remain in partnership as we push Congress to act.”
Amid the rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the United States following the flare-up in conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, many Republican lawmakers have made the case that anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism, especially when political violence is perpetrated in the name of the former.
Progressive representatives, namely squad members Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib, have used similar rhetoric to the Sunrise movement’s that Israel is an “apartheid state” exploiting U.S. military assistance to commit atrocities against civilians and children. In June, Omar came under fire from Jewish Democrats in Congress for equating the U.S. and Israel to Hamas.
The Jewish groups are still believed to be participating in the scheduled rally to promote the D.C. statehood cause and the Freedom to Vote Act, on which Senate Republicans voted to block debate Wednesday, arguing that the law represents an unconstitutional federal takeover of elections that should be managed by states.