News that controversial Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour would be speaking next week in Hillsborough, North Carolina prompted a group of Rabbis to protest on Facebook to Orange County’s Department of Human Rights & Relations that their invitation would be “dividing rather than uniting us.”
Sarsour was invited to give the keynote address at a “Courageous Conversations” event commemorating National Women’s History Month. According to the Department of Human Rights & Relations, the goal of the event is “… about community unity and bringing people together…” However, the rabbis — Rabbi Jen Feldman, Rabbi Daniel Greyber, Rabbi John Franken, and Rabbi Zalman Bluming — countered, “By inviting Ms. Sarsour, whose statements on Zionism and Israel alienate many in the Jewish community, the Human Relations Council is dividing rather than uniting us.”
Peter Reitzes, in an op-ed published in The Tower last week, documented a number of instances of Sarsour denigrating both Israel and Zionism. Last month, at a Minority Health Conference held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC-CH) Gillings School of Public Health, Sarsour promoted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, rather than discussing anything remotely associated with issues of health.
Sarsour, Reitzes wrote, is also “known for her hostility towards Israel, who said “nothing is creepier than Zionism” and has advised Muslims not to ‘humanize’ Israelis.”
“In the wake of the Christchurch and Pittsburgh attacks, and rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, it is essential for us to stand united in opposition to all forms of hatred and bigotry,” the rabbis wrote. “We fully support the Commission’s desire to address women’s history, Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims; we urge that speakers be chosen who bring all of us together to strengthen our community.”
The rabbis’ post echoed sentiments expressed by the area’s Jewish residents about both Sarsour’s recent speech and her upcoming one.
“The choice of Linda Sarsour promotes discrimination against women who oppose her views, gay women who support Israel, and Jews of all colors in Israel as she selectively demonizes the only true democracy in the Middle East,” Orange County resident told Reitzes when news of the upcoming talk became known. “It is time that we bring people together with positive energy and cohesive messages rather than a platform to promote half-truths and discord.”
A flyer that was circulated at last month’s Minority Health Conference before Sarsour’s keynote explained, “Sarsour has close ties to the National of Islam (NOI), which is a racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic hate group…Sarsour pays NOI members to act as her security detail and has embraced their hateful leader, Louis Farrakhan.”
Just as she did at the Minority Health Conference, Sarsour used her platform at this year’s Women’s March to promote the anti-Israel BDS campaign.
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