Statement of Carolina Jews for Justice Regarding Tamika Mallory’s Appearance as Speaker at UNC-A

January 9, 2019 | Carolina Jews for Justice is a grassroots network committed to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina through education and advocacy.  An important part of our mission is to create a community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive of all.  We are dedicated to combatting all forms of racism, religious bigotry, ethnic discrimination, homophobia, and other cases of invidious hatred and prejudice. 

We are aware that a public controversy has arisen over the invitation to Tamika Mallory, a co-leader of the national Women’s March, to be the keynote speaker at the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s observance of the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.  We want to share our position on that issue as Jews committed to the struggle for racial justice as well as to the struggle against anti-Semitism.

Carolina Jews for Justice unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism in any form; through the millennia of our history, we have witnessed how bias can grow into harassment, harassment into violence, and violence into mass murder.  There is no safe amount of anti-Semitism, no tolerable level of it that can be brushed aside.  No one committed to an inclusive society should hesitate to condemn anti-Semitism without reservation; all who express this vile hatred should be held accountable.

Carolina Jews for Justice is also committed to the principles of free expression that are enshrined in the American Constitution and in our common values as residents in a democracy.  Ours is a land of many voices, and the healthy pluralism of our land is well served when we are willing to hear the voices of those with whom we disagree, provided those voices are not inciting violence.  We must not be afraid of robust debate. 

Moreover, just as we abhor prejudice, so must we not ourselves prejudge.  Some have rushed to condemn the University of North Carolina at Asheville both for inviting Tamika Mallory and for refusing to rescind that invitation.  Some have characterized Ms. Mallory as an anti-Semite and as a supporter of a more notorious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan.  We do not pretend to know the full extent of Ms. Mallory’s views.  She has written that she believes that “as historically oppressed people, Blacks, Jews, Muslims and all people must stand together to fight racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”  We agree with that statement.  The Women’s March that she co-leads explicitly includes Jewish women among the victimized categories listed in its Unity Principles, and the leaders have also stated that “emphatically we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.”  We welcome this statement. 

We also welcome the opportunity, which the University has arranged, for members of Asheville’s Jewish community to sit in dialogue with Ms. Mallory and to hear each other’s viewpoints, without prejudging.  We are committed to investigating the ways in which racism and antisemitism are intersecting at this time, and looking for opportunities to overcome these oppressions together, and so we will be represented at that meeting.   In keeping with our Jewish tradition’s openness to inquiry, we will ask Ms. Mallory questions and will expect to answer hers, and we hope and expect that we all will learn from the dialogue.  

Honoring the traditional Jewish mandates to pursue justice and to repair the world, we strive to build bridges of understanding and communication both within our Jewish community and beyond.  We work with diverse partners to create a just, democratic, and respectfully pluralistic society.  That work requires that we reach across the illusory barriers of faith, race, gender, and wealth to bring to reality our vision of a pluralistic society that benefits everyone.  We hope to build trust across those barriers, and hold each other accountable to our deepest commitments to work towards a multiracial, multi-faith, democratic America.

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