On January 24, 2018, Resolution 50-R-27 was presented to the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). The resolution was entitled, “A Resolution to Establish a Committee to Investigate OSU’s Investments in Companies Complicit in Human Rights Violations”. The resolution called for the creation of an ad-hoc committee to further investigate the investments of the Ohio State University.
After a five and a half hour meeting, the vote went to a secret ballot, a practice not normally utilized in this setting. Despite the length of debate, the resolution passed.
During the meeting, several students addressed the Senate chamber expressing their concerns, either in favor or against the resolution. In total, thirty-eight students spoke against the resolution, while only eight spoke in favor. A petition signed by nearly 800 undergraduate students in opposition to the resolution was also presented to the chamber.
The initial resolution held many points with direct mention to the Israeli military and Palestinian life. Similarly, the resolution named several companies that have been accused of being complicit human rights violations (the GEO group, CCA/CoreCivic, HP enterprise). As the Student Union was closing shortly, the meeting became more rushed. During this rushed period, several amendments to the resolution were proposed, discussed, and decided upon. The direct mentions of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and Israel were removed from the final resolution. However, the companies that were initially listed, as well as other campuses from across the country in which similar resolutions were passed (i.e., The University of Michigan, University of California- Davis, and DePaul University) were left in the resolution.
Earlier this month, Jewish and pro-Israel students in Ottawa were shocked to learn of a motion by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) to endorse the campaign to “boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS).”
While BDS portrays itself as a non-violent form of protest, its founders reveal its main goal: to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state.This is documented by BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti on numerous occasions, including an interview with The Electronic Intifada, where he said his advocating “the return for (Palestinian) refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
By bringing the pro-BDS motion forward, the SFUO sent a highly charged and negative message to Jewish and pro-Israel students.
The BDS campaign does not acknowledge that Israeli Arabs are the most free in the Middle East in Israel with all the rights of an Israeli citizen, including the right to vote, attend university, receive treatment at hospitals and serve in parliament. Barghouti himself is a Palestinian currently working on his PhD at Tel Aviv University in Israel, the same school from which he earned his Master’s.
A political movement targeting any minority group would be deemed racist and immediately denounced, therefore, it’s no different when Jews are the victims. When you solely blame the Jewish state for a complex issue and an entire group’s suffering, you are not just wrong, but also blatantly racist.
Following the news of the motion, Jewish and non-Jewish students from both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University worked together to fight it. Despite an obscure location, inconvenient timing and an hour delay, over 50 students attended the meeting. After emotional speeches and discussions on both sides, the SFUO amended the motion to exclude BDS, and it was changed to a pro-peace approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This was a huge win, but still left Jewish and pro-Israel students reeling as it came after the SFUO’s attempt to revoke the club status of the Israeli Awareness Committee (IAC) and Hillel Ottawa. Hillel is the Jewish student club, and it works to create a vibrant Jewish life on campus, while IAC encourages peaceful discussion about Israel.
Despite the clubs’ statuses being reinstated, the SFUO took a stance on this contentious issue and showed disregard for the pro-Israel and Jewish students whose interests they are supposed to represent. The student administration is not living up to its goal of providing an equitable space on campus, and this is demoralizing for pro-Israel and Jewish students, as they are forced to contemplate what other acts of anti-Semitism will slip through the cracks next?
It is troubling that the motion to endorse the BDS campaign was ever on the table. It is a racist movement that seeks to demonize one country—the only liberal democracy in the Middle East—while turning a blind eye to Arab nations who deny their citizens fundamental rights that we take for granted in Canada like voting, criticizing the government, gender equality and more.
Why does it not choose to boycott Lebanon, for instance, where, according to Human Rights Brief, Palestinian refugees are forced into overcrowded camps lacking basic plumbing? Despite living in Lebanon for generations, Palestinians there are deprived of fundamental freedoms, unable to work, and treated like second-class citizens.
The BDS campaign claims to stand for freedom, justice and equality, yet it does not treat all countries equally, promotes ignorance, and demonizes the Jewish state.
The ability to criticize Israeli policy is a democratic right, similar to finding fault with Canadian policies, but boycotting an entire country unjustly advances de-legitimization.
By attempting to bring BDS to campus, the SFUO singled out Jewish and pro-Israel students and fanned the flames of anti-Semitism by promoting a cause that drives Palestinians and Israelis further apart.
On Sunday, a ceremony will take place in Paris to mark the 75th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv, the mass roundup of 13,000 Parisian Jewry during the Holocaust who were arrested and sent to their deaths. Naturally, new French President Emmanuel Macron invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the event. Yet pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting his attendance.
Let me repeat, pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting the attendance of the Prime Minister of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event in France. The justification? This is the statement from the president of the French Palestinian Solidarity Association. “In what way does this event concern Israel? The state didn’t exist at the time [of the Holocaust].” Those two sentences show everything that is wrong with the BDS campaign and its supporters.
Vel’ d’Hiv memorial in France (Wikipedia)
First, it is a continued denial by BDS supporters of the link between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. “In what way does this event concern Israel?” How ignorant can you get? In Israel over 100,000 Holocaust survivors reside, the largest of any number in any nation, and a significant percentage of the Israeli population are descendants of survivors. To say an event marking the Holocaust has nothing to do with Israel is to say an event marking the Armenian Genocide has nothing to do with Armenia.
Secondly, to say Israel not existing at the time of the Holocaust somehow means Israel is not relevant to Holocaust memorial is equally absurd. One of the reasons the Holocaust was able to occur and so many Jews were murdered, was that there was no safe haven for Jews at the time. If Israel were to be around during the Holocaust, a significant amount of Jews who perished may have been saved. This once again shows the blindness of the BDS campaign. Its supporters do not see the need of the Jewish state to exist, despite the horrors of the Holocaust. It is clear BDS supporters have still not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.
French Jews being rounded up during the Holocaust (Pinterest)
The BDS campaign claims to be a movement that is fighting for justice, yet protesting the presence of the leader of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event is far from justified. The statement reveals the true colors of the BDS campaign, not to further the rights of Palestinians, but to delegitimize the State of Israel and take away and deny the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.
A University of Delaware professor who said that student Otto Warmbier, a victim of the North Korean regime, “got exactly what he deserved,” after he was held and possibly murdered by North Korea, is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort which seeks to delegitimize Israel.
Otto Warmbier crying in a North Korean court, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (NBC News)
Kathy Dettwyler, an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, wrote on her personal Facebook page that Warmbier was “typical of the mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my class.”
Warmbier was a University of Virginia student visiting North Korea on a January 2016 trip. Accused by North Korean authorities of stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel, he was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. On June 13, 2017—to his parents’ shock and horror—Warmbier was returned to U.S. soil, unresponsive and in a coma. Six days later, Warmbier—who was reportedly in good health at the time of his trip—died from his injuries, having been in a coma for at least 15 months.
Gordan Chang, a foreign affairs analyst who specializes in North Korea and China, pointed out that although Pyongyang claims Warmbier had contracted botulism, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, which examined the student upon his return, “found no traces of botulism but did find dead brain tissue”—likely the result of severe trauma.
In her Facebook post, Dettwyler justified the young man’s death at the hands of a brutal, authoritarian regime. Writing for the News Journal, reporter Jessica Bies noted some of the professor’s troubling remarks:
“These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade … His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it’s Ottos’ parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives.”
Dettwyler is also a BDS supporter, according to research by CAMERA that found that she was a signatory for the “Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.”
The movement’s co-founder, Omar Barghouti, has stated that the purpose of BDS is to permanently end Jewish self-rule in the region; he advocates a Palestinian Arab state to replace the Jewish one, not a “two-state solution.” (“BDS, Academic/Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Omar Barghouti,” Feb. 24, 2010, CAMERA).
As CAMERA has noted (“J Street’s Unreported Pro-BDS Partner—‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’” June 18, 2015), the “Palestinian civil society groups” behind the founding of the BDS movement include U.S.-designated terrorist organizations Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah and non-Palestinian Syrian extremist movements. The charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews.
Indeed, in his April 19, 2016 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Jonathan Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury Department terror analyst, highlighted ties between the BDS movement and Hamas-linked charities. Schanzer testified that the U.S. Coalition to Boycott Israel (also known as the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine) is led by a Chicago resident named Ghassan Barakat, a member of the Palestine National Council (PNC), and its coordinator is Senan Shaqdeh. Shaqdeh is a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and a self-described founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-BDS group.
Given her support for BDS, Dettwyler’s decision to blame the victim of an autocratic, anti-Western regime, seemingly on the grounds of his racial/ethnic makeup, is perhaps unsurprising.
Amid calls for Dettwyler’s dismissal, the University of Delaware has stated that the professor’s “distressing” comments “do not reflect the values or position” of the school.
Last week, two Jewish students at the University of Western Ontario were blocked on Twitter for challenging a Huron professor expressing their support for BDS on Twitter. Huron professor Wendy Russell retweeted a post by the handle @BDSmovement calling Gaza an ‘open air prison’.
Huron Professor Wendy Russell endorses the BDS Movement
Jewish students then challenged her effective endorsement of BDS, expressing their concerns that BDS is at its core anti-Semitic. Rather than debate or discuss the issue at hand, the professor blocked the two Jewish students in less than two hours, without responding to the concerns raised.
Jewish students challenge the professor on her endorsement
Professor Russell reacts by blocking the Jewish students
CAMERA on Campus Statement:
It is painful for Jewish students who support Israel to see college professors endorsing the BDS campaign. Rather than engaging with the Jewish students who expressed concern over Dr. Russell’s decision to side with the hateful campaign, Dr. Russell chose to block these concerned Jewish students on Twitter, therefore shutting down any dialogue.
Universities are supposed to be a place where ideas are debated and challenged, yet shutting down debate and dialogue has been a repeated tactic of the BDS Movement and its supporters on campus.
We call on UWO to take action to ensure that the concerns raised by these students are taken seriously.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Daniel Kosky, with files from UWO student Ryan Greenspoon.
Ishmael Khaldi speaks to students at UCAI’s first event. (Emily Kramer)
The CAMERA-supported UCAI’s declared goal is to be “an inclusive, pro-active, and pro-Israel voice that promotes open dialogue about Israeli history, culture, and politics at the UChicago campus.” They advocate “for the existence of the Jewish and democratic state” and “work to build relationships with various on and off campus partners in order to form a more educated and informed pro-Israel community.”
Ishmael Khaldi was born in a Bedouin village in northern Israel and began working for the Israeli Foreign Ministry in 2004. In 2009, he was appointed policy adviser to at the time Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The Bedouins are a nomadic Arab tribe which live throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Within Israel there around 200,000, mainly living in the Negev in southern Israel. The Bedouins living in Israel suffer from extreme poverty, with 66% living under the poverty line. Unemployment is also an issue within the Bedouin community, with 65% jobless, the highest percentage of any sector in Israeli society. Therefore, Khaldi’s rise to Vice Council of Israel is fairly remarkable.
A traditional Bedouin settlement in southern Israel. (Alana Perino/Flash90)
Khaldi lived in a Bedouin tent until he was 8, growing up on a farm with his family. In the early days of the state of Israel’s existence, Ishmael Khaldi’s grandmother grew up with Jewish neighbors, and consequently knew some phrases in Yiddish. Khaldi informed the audience about the challenges and successes of the Bedouins in Israel. He expressed hopes that the Bedouin community will become more integrated into Israeli society, primarily through education and employment.
Khaldi also discussed the political situation in Israel, stating that the majority of Israelis support the two-state solution, and the reason for little movement in recent years on the peace process has been down to the failures of the Palestinian leadership. Khaldi also dismissed the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) as a threat to Israel’s economy or security, claiming support for the movement is loud but in-fact very small in numbers.
UCAI’s first event was very successful with a great turnout, attracting many new students interested in supporting an Israel group on campus. UCAI collected names and emails and have started to build a strong Israel community at UChicago. University of Chicago Alliance with Israel plans to hold another, more-informal event in the near future.
SodaStream had always prided itself on hiring both Israelis and Palestinians at its factories. Despite the fact that SodaStream is an island of peace and co-existence, this did not stop the radical BDS campaigners trying to get SodaStream’s West Bank factory shut. Last February, BDS scored a “victory”, when they managed to get the factory closed, causing 350 Israeli Jews, 450 Israel Arabs and 500 Palestinians to lose their jobs.
At that stage, one would have thought that Western supporters of BDS might start asking themselves some hard questions. How does causing 1,500 Jews and Arabs who work together to lose their jobs make peace more likely? Isn’t a factory where Muslims and Jews work together, form friendships, and contributing to the common good of the world, what we should be striving for? And by what merit do you in the west have the right to decide that these people should “make the sacrifice” and lose their jobs, as part of the “struggle for Palestine”?
The Palestinian workers who lost their jobs at Sodastream were devastated
But there was some good news this week – 74 of the Palestinian workers who lost their jobs then received their permits to be able to work in the Sodastream factory in southern Israel. The workers are delighted – Ali Jafar, one of the workers at the facility, told the Jerusalem Post that “Sodastream is our second home.” Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said that “We are delighted to welcome back our 74 devoted Palestinian employees, who are able to join their 1,500 friends at our Rahat facility in the Negev.” One third of the employees at the Rahat facility are themselves Israeli Bedouin Arabs.
Though it sounds ridiculous, the BDS campaigners are probably upset that Palestinians have gone back to work. There, in a line, is everything you need to know about this radical movement, that seeks to divide, rather than to unite, Palestinians and Israelis.
This article was originally published on May 15th.
A Jewish student leader at the City College of New York (CCNY) has called on school administrators to take disciplinary action against anti-Israel protesters after an event last Thursday featuring a prominent Israeli government official “devolved into shouting and screaming.”
In footage of the event, Dayan is seen being repeatedly heckled and interrupted while replying to questions from the audience — including responding to charges that Israel has murdered children in Gaza — before dozens of individuals break into chants of “free, free Palestine,” with one holding a Palestinian flag, toward the end of the program. Students from both sides were drawn into heated exchanges, some of which Hertz said threatened to escalate into violence.
Hertz alleged that the school’s student government president, Safat Chowdhury, was personally involved in the disruptions, an act which he said “violates the president’s office.”
He is now demanding that SJP be reprimanded and that Chowdhury — recently voted into office in an election that, according to CCNY Campus Magazine, included multiple reports of voter fraud — be removed from his position.
“The next morning [after the event], we met with the vice president of student affairs [Juana Reina] to file an official complaint that an event with a foreign dignitary, that had been planned according to everything on the books, was deliberately disrupted by members of SJP,” Hertz said. “They yelled antisemitic slurs and made disturbing references to the Holocaust. When we got to the office of student affairs, we heard that SJP had gone the night before and claimed they had been silenced [by us].”
Hertz vigorously rejected that charge, and said that “if CCNY would live up to its own standards of safeguarding an open forum of ideas on campus, known as the Henderson Rules, it is common sense that there should be consequences for SJP and [Chowdhury].”
Neither SJP nor Chowdhury responded to The Algemeiner‘s requests for comment.
The administration has scheduled a meeting with SSI, SJP and CCNY Interim President Vincent Boudreau for later this week, with the hope of “encouraging open dialogue,” according to a university official.
But Hertz said, “I have no idea what we’ll be doing or what the point is in sitting down with a group that completely delegitimizes you, a group that doesn’t want to have a free exchange of ideas.”
He also claimed CCNY’s SJP “has a policy of anti-normalization, like SJPs across the country — so it won’t deal with us under normal circumstances, but pretends to when the administration is watching.” Hertz said SJP members have repeatedly turned down SSI overtures “to sit down for coffee and talk about these issues.”
SJP at Vassar College sold this T Shirt justifying the actions of terrorist, Leila Khalid
A university official said the administration — which has an ongoing investigation into the night’s events — was “not aware” of an SJP anti-normalization policy.
In a letter sent out to the campus community on Friday, posted on Facebook by SSI, Boudreau wrote that universities must “thread a narrow line between providing a forum for academic freedom and shutting down actual hate speech.”
Boudreau went on to provide an example of on-campus Islamophobic hate speech and noted that Dayan was “a well-known advocate of expanding Israeli settlements in the contested territories, a position that generates great opposition and anger among some in our community,” before stating that the “extremely heated argument[s]” that arose from Dayan’s appearance “were unruly and ugly.” He added that complaints of both “anti-Semitism and anti-Palestinian speech acts” have been raised, and that he was now “trying to decide what was in bounds and what was not.”
Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA’s director of campus programming, called on the administration to identify SJP as a “hate group that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, that [has] regularly spoken out in defense of terrorists and defended terrorism.”
“If the administration truly cares about creating an atmosphere that is tolerant and welcoming to pro-Israel thought and students, they would sanction this group,” Skolnick said. “This is not a free speech issue, this is an issue of making sure Jewish students are comfortable on campus. If an event was disrupted by a KKK-affiliated group, the reaction would surely be different.”
Dayan told The Algemeiner: “Last week’s incident was just one example of Jewish students on campus being exposed to harassment and intimidation by BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] thugs. College administrations are not doing enough to ensure a student can safely exercise his or her right to assert their Jewish identity, including their love for the Jewish national homeland.”
“It is my intention to redouble the efforts of the consulate to raise this problem with senior academic leadership and to empower pro-Israel students on campus to stand up for their rights,” Dayan continued.
This was the second SSI chapter to have an event disrupted by anti-Israel protesters — again, allegedly, by SJP members — last week, with University of California-Irvine students calling campus police to escort them safely from a program featuring IDF reservists, after tens of protesters filled the room and the corridor to the main exit.
Ilan Sinelnikov, founder of the national SSI movement, said the organization is considering strategies to respond to disruptions of its programming.
Let’s talk about justice – a term that has been hijacked by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) over the course of their existence. Justice is defined as “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness or moral rightness”. Students for Justice in Palestine, however, might have forgotten to look up that very important word when selecting the right title for their national organization. It seems like in their eyes, morality and righteousness is equivalent to disrupting events, shouting threats for support of terror such as, “Long live the Intifada” and calling for the ethnic cleansing of Jews in the form of chants “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” across college campuses in the United States.
SJP at Vassar College sold this T Shirt justifying the actions of terrorist, Leila Khalid
When we speak about justice, or to be more precise- the lack of it, we have to acknowledge the consistent bullying and intimidation strategies that SJP has been using against pro-Israel organizations on American colleges. One particular place seems to hold the record for these kinds of incidents- the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Its history goes way back to hosting Amir Abdel Malik Ali in 2006 who accused the Jewish state of perpetrating a genocide against the Palestinian people (whose population has quadrupled since 1948). He also described Israel as the “Fourth Reich” and described Jews as the “New Nazis.”
In 2010, activists disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. This action prompted the arrest of eleven members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU). In response to this disruption, UCI suspended the chapter for a year, but in the long-term nothing changed.
Two years later, UCI’s student government became one of the first in the nation to pass a the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel. Following those events, SJP has been a pioneer in organizing an “Israel Apartheid Week” each spring and a leader at disruptions of Israel events on campus. On May 18, 2016, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) hosted the film screening “Beneath the Helmet,” which told the stories of five IDF soldiers. SJP aggressively disrupted the event, blocking exits and entrances, which caused the students in the room to be escorted out by the police. The day after the disruption, Chancellor Gillman sent out an email, stating that the incident that occurred on campus had “crossed the line of civility.” In response, legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) commented that “allegations against SJP at UCI are part of a larger ‘“concerted effort’” to intimidate and silence activists for Palestine.”
The NLG portrayed SJP activists — who denied the rights of their fellow students to host events — as victims.
It is common sense to conclude even before an official investigation has been conducted that if students gathering for a peaceful assembly need to be escorted out by police for their own safety because of SJP, the intimidated and silenced group of people might just not be Students for Justice in Palestine.
Three months later, the UCI administration came out with a statement acknowledging that SJP violated student conduct policies, however, they were only given a written warning which included a requirement for them to host an educational program.
A similar disruption took place again the following year. In May 2017, SJP once again disrupted an SSI event through organized chanting and sporadic yelling, refusing to permit the invited IDF soldiers their right to speak on the campus. For the second time in recent memory pro-Israel students had to be escorted out by police out of concerns for their safety. As if SJP did not get enough space and attention on campus to delegitimize and spread lies about Israel during their own series of events, they aggressively prevented the pro-Israel voice from responding to their false accusations. If anything, this incident highlights that written warnings issued to SJP are not effective.
One of the countless differences between pro-Israel groups across the nation and SJP is deeply rooted in their respective definitions of success. While one group celebrates the existence of its nation, the other is preoccupied with false victimhood and constant attacks. After SJP’s disruption in 2016, the group didn’t take too long to post on their Facebook page that “they have successfully demonstrated against the presence of IDF soldiers on campus”. The same situation took place again after their disruption of SSI’s event in 2017. The following day, SJP was standing loud in the middle of campus, once again proudly chanting that they had shut down another IDF panel for a second year in a row. In short, they bragged about denying the rights of their fellow students to speak.
Whenever SJP disrupts a pro-Israel event, the immediate reaction by many is that they are exercising their First Amendment rights. However, it is important to remember that their First Amendment cannot come at the expense of our First Amendment right for peaceful assembly. One does not have more legitimacy over the other, and should not be given a free pass for continuous harassment and intimidation. The University has to take the appropriate disciplinary measures against an organization that has violated free speech for too long on campus.The UCI community cannot tolerate pro-Israel students being escorted out of their own event for the third time in a row.It is high time that justice is served at UCI. SJP must finally experience the true meaning of the term; another written warning will simply not do.
Linda Sarsour is a New York-based, Palestinian-American activist who is highly adept at promoting herself. She seems to always be at center stage, availing herself of photo-ops, and procuring prestigious platforms from which to preach, including an invitation to be commencement speaker at CUNY’s School of Public Health.
How does she do this? She attaches herself to trendy, progressive causes, like “Occupy Wall Street,” “Women’s March on Washington,” or “Black Lives Matter,” proclaiming herself a “person of color” – although she is white; a “feminist” – although she is an apologist for sexism in Islamic countries; and a crusader for whatever cause du jour is in vogue.
The way you raise the profile of an issue, is by making the issue cool and relevant in pop culture. And if people are seeing it on Twitter, if they’re seeing Russell Simmons tweeting about police brutality, and getting people involved, at the end of the day young people are going to come out for that.”
So Sarsour presents herself as an all-embracing champion of “cool issues” in the name of solidarity. “Anyone who wants to call themselves an activist cannot be selective,” she declares. ( The Nation, March 17, 2017)
But this is just a cynical front. Far from the tolerant, inclusive bridge-builder she pretends to be, Sarsour seizes on contemporary issues to catapult herself to prominence, seizing leadership roles and using them as tools to draw more attention to herself and her own narrower ambitions – promoting Islam and Palestinian self-determination.
Speaking to fellow Muslim and Palestinian activists at an American Muslims for Palestine conference last November, Sarsour revealed the limits of her tolerance for solidarity and collaboration:
“We have limits to the type of friendships that we’re looking for right now and I want to be friends with those whom I know have been steadfast, courageous, have been standing up and protecting their own communities, those who have taken the risk to stand up and say – we are with the Palestinian people, we unequivocally support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) when it comes to Palestinian human rights and have been attacked viciously by the very people who are telling you that they’re about to stand on the front line of the Muslim registry program. No thank you, sisters and brothers.” (Sarsour, American Muslims for Palestine Conference, Chicago, Nov.25, 2016)
Presuming herself the arbiter of participation in the feminist movement, she rejects anyone who supports Israel:
“Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement? There can’t be in feminism.’ (Sarsour, The Nation, March 13, 2017)
She downgrades other causes – even those she claims to espouse – as less compelling than her own, which she inflates with no regard for the facts.
On Anti-Semitism: “I want to make the distinction that while anti-Semitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-Black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” (Sarsour, Jewish Voice for Peace Video)
On Racism Against Blacks: “Racism against blacks in the United States is very different from intolerance against Muslims. Speaking or showing racism against blacks is publicly rejected in the United States even if it is in secret, but unfortunately intolerance against Islam is perfectly acceptable, and promoted by the media…” (Sarsour, CNN Arabic, May 19, 2012)
On Islamophobia: ‘Twenty-two states with anti-Sharia bills trying to ban us from practicing our faith, Mosque oppositions. We`re fighting zoning boards across the country. Our kids are hearing this rhetoric. We have people, mosques being vandalized, kids being executed, Islamophobia.” (Sarsour, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, Feb. 18, 2015)
Muslim children being executed on American streets? U.S. laws prevent Muslims from practicing their religion? Sarsour does not even try to back up her glibly outrageous pronouncement with any facts or figures.
The fact is that the latest statistics on hate crimes in the U.S. published by the FBI, completely contradict Sarsour’s implication that Muslims are the most victimized: Blacks were the most frequent victims of hate crimes based on race, while Jews were the most frequent victims based on religion. There were 1,745 attacks targeting Blacks, 664 anti-Semitic attacks, and 257 anti-Muslim attacks.
Cultivating a persona of “universal victim” from which to advance her own activism, Sarsour, a Palestinian Caucasian who grew up in a comfortable, middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood, redefines herself as a “woman of color.” It is with this appropriated identity that she takes on a leadership role in the feminist movement while rejecting – not only supporters of Israel, but – those she labels as “white.” Sarsour cunningly wields these labels as tools to promote herself and to attack anyone who raises issues that she is not prepared to address.
Example 1: “If you’re in a movement and you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement.”(Sarsour,at an anti-Trump rally in New York’s Washington Square Park)
In this way, Sarsour attempts to silence those who shed light on misogynic practices and to avert criticism from the societies that tolerate or encourage them. She is particularly obsessive and malicious in her disparagement of Somali- born feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim, who campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM), honor killings and child marriages that are prevalent in some Muslim communities. Sarsour repeatedly smears and agitates against Ali.
Sarsour went so far as to attack Ali, a victim of FGM, in cruel and mysogynistic terms, in a 2011 tweet that was widely criticized and which Sarsour later scrubbed from her twitter feed. (It is preserved in archives and screenshots):
When confronted about her vulgar tweet by a student at a college event where she spoke, Sarsour immediately retreated to her identity politics defense, suggesting that the student had no right to speak:
“So let’s give some context here because this is an event organized by an Asian-American, celebrating a community, talking about communities of color, who are being directly impacted at this moment, and I have a young white man in the back, who is not directly impacted by any of the issues that I mentioned. Let’s give some context here.” (Dartmouth College, May 12, 2017.)
In much the same way, she tries to deflect attention from a feminist film, Honor Diaries, that examines gender inequality in Muslim-majority societies, by attempting to discredit the messenger and suggesting that the profiled women’s rights activists, who include Muslims and black women, are not entitled to present their views.
“We don’t need Islamophobes to talk to us and tell the stories of oppressed and abused Muslim women,” she said. ‘It’s just disingenuous.” (Al Jazeera America, April 14, 2014)
Sarsour similarly attempts to deflect criticism from the sexism and oppression within Muslim patriarchal societies, while confining her own rebuke of Islamic countries to their not accepting sufficient numbers of Muslim refugees or other general human rights issues.
Sarsour positions herself as “a racial justice and civil rights activist” and an opponent of all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. She garnered headlines (and established her bona fides as a combatant of anti-Semitism) by raising money to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery, and she finds common cause with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a radical group that shares Sarsour’s extreme anti-Israel, BDS views. But Sarsour redefines the concept of “anti-Semite” to mean the bogeyman of minority or disadvantaged groups:
“… we have anti-Semites basically in power in the White House…. the same people who hate Jews hate Muslims. They hate LGBTQ people. I mean they’re usually pretty anti-Black and unconditionally pro-law enforcement. So there’s a connection among these groups of people.” (Sarsour, Jewish Voice for Peace Video)
She separates anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism by redefining the former to mean “criticizing Israel.” This way, she can claim to be an opponent of anti-Semitism while engaging in anti-Zionist activities. But that is simply being disingenuous. Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people and anti-Zionism is the denial to Jewish people of the right to self-determination in their historic homeland.
Indeed, Sarsour attacks Zionism in malevolent terms, echoing the infamous 1975 “Zionism is Racism” UN General Assembly resolution, sponsored by Muslim states and subsequently revoked.
Although she tries to present herself as simply a critic of Israel, what Sarsour is really campaigning for is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state:
Pressed by Haaretz to detail her views, Sarsour said that she believes in a one-state solution that, experts agree, will not be a Jewish state because the larger population will be Palestinian. “My hope is that it will be one state, one man one vote, that everyone is treated equally. Then you can say that part of the world is a true democracy.” (Ha’aretz, Jan. 25, 2017)
When it comes to a Palestinian state, however, she does not talk of “one man one vote” but a state that is wholly Palestinian:
“It is our generation that ignited the revolutions in the Middle East, it is our generation that will change US Foreign policy, it is our generation that will bring back a Palestinian State for the Palestinian people…” (Sarsour, blog post response to political columnist Ray Hanania’s post about extremist Arabs)
In other words, what she advocates is the replacement of the Jewish state with a Palestinian one.
To that end, Sarsour is a strong proponent of the venomous Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state— a campaign that is widely recognized as anti-Semitic in nature.
In addition to the BDS activists’ articulated goal of eliminating a Jewish state, their actions frequently demonstrate anti-Semitic motives rather than a quest for civil rights. Here are just a few of the numerous examples of how BDS activists have singled out Jews for bullying:
As part of its “Globe to Globe” festival in May 2012, London’s Shakespeare Globe Theatre invited companies from around the world to perform Shakespeare’s plays in their native languages. After the Palestinian Ashtar company performed Richard II in Arabic, BDS activists attempted to shut down the Israeli Habima company performance of The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew.
In August 2013, BDS activists protesting the performance of Israeli jazz musician Daniel Zamir at Johannesberg’s Wits University, chanted and sang out “Shoot the Jew.”
In August 2015, BDS activists in Spain pressured organizers of a music festival to exclude singer Matisyahu from performing unless he publicly denounced Israel and declared his support for a Palestinian state. The American performer, who was singled out solely because of his Jewish identity, refused to cooperate and his performance was canceled. But following fierce criticism by the international press, Spanish government and others of this overtly anti-Semitic action, organizers reinstated the Jewish singer’s participation in the festival. A Spanish court has now admitted a criminal complaint against the BDS activists, filed by an association of human rights lawyers fighting against anti-Semitism.
The German CDU party passed an anti-BDS resolution comparing it to the Nazi boycott of Jews in 1930’s Germany, noting that, “Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse anti-Semitism.”
In France, BDS is considered a hate crime; The French Supreme court upheld the anti-BDS Lellouche law that considers promoters of BDS guilty of anti-Jewish hate and discrimination.
In Canada, Ontario’s legislature rejected BDS, saying it promotes hatred against Israel. Similar anti-BDS legislation has been passed with bi-partisan support by nearly 20 U.S. states thus far, including Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California. The legislators recognize BDS as “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” as Tennessee’s anti-BDS legislation explains. All 50 US State governors signed a condemnation of BDS as “incompatible with the values” of the U.S.
Yet, Linda Sarsour continues to defend, justify and promote BDS, characterizing it simply as a “free speech” issue.
Arab civil rights activist Linda Sarsour…says the proposed [anti-BDS] resolution violates the right to protest.
“Whatever happened to, ‘I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend your right to say it?'” said LInda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and a BDS supporter. (“Cops remove dozens from fierce City Council hearing over measure condemning movement to boycott Israel,” New York Daily News, Sept. 8, 2016)
Sarsour attacks US politicians who support Israel, in language evocative of conspiratorial anti-Semitism.
And when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Sarsour encourages violence, glorifying a photo that encourages Palestinian children to attack Israelis.
It is not only children throwing stones whom Sarsour celebrates. She expressed her “honor” at sharing the stage at an anti-Israel event with convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh.
Sarsour embraces convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh at JVP event
A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group, Odeh was convicted by an Israeli military court for her role in terror attacks, including the 1969 attempted bombing of the British Consulate and the bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket in which two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, were murdered.
In 1970, Odeh was sentenced to life imprisonment by an Israeli military court, but was released in a prisoner exchange ten years later, and moved to Jordan. She subsequently immigrated to the U.S., concealing her past imprisonment and conviction. In 2014, the PFLP terrorist lost her U.S. citizenship after she was found guilty of immigration fraud by a U.S. court, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. But she appealed, alleging that her original signed confession of guilt in terrorist act was false, extracted through sexual abuse and torture by Israeli investigators, and that she was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when she lied on her U.S. immigration papers. Odeh was released on bail while a new trial was scheduled to take place in May 2017. Evidence for Odeh’s original conviction of the terrorist bombings, however, is not based solely on her signed confession but also on physical evidence of bomb-making materials in her home and testimony by her co-conspirator. In addition, her trial in Israeli military court was deemed fair by International Red Cross observers.
Unlike the first immigration fraud trial where evidence for Odeh’s role in the terrorist bombings was not relevant, the new trial was to hear the prosecutions’ position that Odeh’s excuse for lying on immigration papers – her proclamation of innocence and torture – is the issue in question, and would weigh the evidence to that effect. But shortly before the trial was to have taken place, Odeh agreed to a plea bargain whereby she would plead guilty to have knowingly lied on immigration papers, be stripped of her U.S. citizenship and deported. (Law Professor William Jacobson has followed Odeh’s legal battles closely and has set out the details of the case in numerous entries on his blog. The Investigative Project has also examined the detailed facts in Rasmea Odeh’s case, showing how a terror convict became celebrated as a feminist victim.)
Sarsour supports and embraces Odeh and her modus operandi.
Like Odeh, Sarsour tries to garner support among liberals and innoculates herself from criticism by playing the victim card and attacking her critics as her persecutors.
Who is Linda Sarsour?
She is a woman who has two sets of standards.
She poses as a universal activist who embraces all marginalized people, but she excludes anyone whose views do not completely align with hers.
She is a white woman who poses as a woman of color, but she denies other white women the stage she seizes for herself.
She poses as a black feminist, but she refuses to fight for women’s rights in Muslim societies and tries to silence other black and Muslim feminists who expose oppression against women.
She poses as an opponent of anti-Semitism and a proponent of racial justice who fights for Palestinian national self-determination, but she denies Jews the same right.
She demands free speech for herself and for her BDS campaign, but shuts down the free speech of anyone who disagrees with her.
In summary, Linda Sarsour is a poseur who uses others to promote herself.