Leyla Martinez, Columbia University graduate, the founder and president of the Beyond the Box Initiative, a student organization for current and prospective students who have been directly or indirectly impacted by mass incarceration, and a criminal justice reform advocate is also an avid antisemitic racist. Alongside co-founding the National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (National Council), Martinez supports antisemitic conspiracy theorist Jared Owens and his antisemitic conspiracy theories.
After this bizarre incident, I roundly condemned Leyla Martinez for supporting and defending a vile antisemitic conspiracy theorist and his theories. She retorted with the usual, that I am a Zionist (I am not, not and not). In the past, Martinez has found herself defending her friend Linda Sarsour, who has openly embraced Martinez’s other co-activist, Tamika Mallory, an avid support of the one-and-only Louis Farrakhan.
“In a February 2018 speech, Farrakhan said, “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”
Mallory attended the speech. She once posted a picture of herself embraced by Farrakhan, referring to him as “the GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time). So when she pointedly refused to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT comments after being asked, it was no surprise.” (Source)
Of course, this comes at a time when Farrakhan has compared Jews to termites. And after the worst antisemitic attack in US history, the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, less than three week ago. And yet, the likes of Martinez, Sarsour and Mallory take no umbrage with antisemitic hate speech; they actually, in some cases, endorse it. This is dangerous. Alyssa Milano is right to boycott the Women’s March this year, until Sarsour and Mallory are removed or apologize. As for Martinez, she embraces the worst (and tired) antisemitic tropes, deeply embedded in Euro-American philosophical, historical and political discourse.
Let me be clear, one can, and should, oppose the illegal, brutal and terrible Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip, and call it what it has become: Apartheid. And, one can and should also condemn antisemitism. Representing the world’s Jews, Israel does not. As is evidenced with Israel’s apoplectic condemnations of Natalie Portman’s decision to boycott the Genesis Awards in Israel; Portman made a moral statement by boycotting the event, bringing up her concerns about Israel’s use of force against Palestinians as a central reason for not attending. Or Israel’s deportations of Jewish people critical of Israeli policies. Or the disenfranchisement of Ethiopian Jews within Israel, and the outright banning or restricting the amount of Ethiopian Jews from entering Israel. The nuance isn’t hard to find, and I suspected other public figures in the “criminal justice reform movement,” to condemn Martinez.
Unfortunately, Johnny Perez, a public criminal justice reform figure who openly sparred with Martinez for accepting an invitation to the Trump White House, patently refused to condemn Martinez’s antisemitism, and stated that he and his family were deeply affected by the fallout from his confrontation with Martinez. His response indicated deep apathy about the issue at hand, and a desire for respectability, access and – an odd – fear of Martinez. The situation is bizarre, yet aside from the background static, the task of politically walking and chewing gum shouldn’t be hard for these “woke” activists. Martinez, should be condemned based on her endorsement of the nonsense shown above, but more importantly, the entire Left must reject these xenophobic, cliched antisemitic conspiracies, which are right out of the far-right’s playbook.
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