The Women’s March unveiled its new policy agenda on Friday, a day before its third annual event — and one of its priorities is fighting against laws designed to thwart the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The 71-page Women’s Agenda includes 13 policy priorities, including ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and enacting universal health care. One section, crafted by a “civil rights & liberties committee,” includes a section on ensuring voting rights, as well as on “opposing attempts to silence free speech and expression.”
“One of the biggest threats to speech today are the attempts to silence social movements, including those advocating for Palestinian rights, Black liberation in the United Sates, Indigenous rights and environmental progress,” the document states. “Whether it’s the attempts to create federal or state laws banning political boycotts or criticism of Israel (including the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions tactic), targeting environmental protest or preventing students and faculty on college campuses from expressing their views or engaging in peaceable assembly, the silence of one side of the debate is precisely what our First Amendment protects against.”
More than half of all states have passed laws banning state governments or pension plans from investing or contracting with people or businesses that boycott Israel. Some of these laws have been struck down by courts for violating boycotters’ free speech rights.
One of the four co-leaders of the Women’s March, the Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, is one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of BDS.
The document also calls for stiffer laws against hate crimes and better reporting of their occurrences by police departments. This measure would likely benefit the Jewish community, as FBI statistics show that Jews are the victims of the majority of religion-based hate crimes.
The document states that more than 70 organizations collaborated on the policies. Among those listed as policy committee members included a member of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, the progressive political advocacy organization that has been advising the Women’s March on issues of anti-Semitism. It also says that endorsement of the agenda “does not necessarily mean that the organizations approve of or are actively working toward each priority listed in the Agenda.”