Last Sunday at City Hall Park, a consortium of organizations sponsored a rally titled, “Name It To Fight It. It’s Anti-Semitism!” The purpose was to call on city and national leaders to call out anti-Semitism by name and fight it. Several Democrats were also part of the event including former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind and local Councilman Chaim Deutsch.
This summer the NYPD announced that there has been a 64-percent increase in hate crimes compared to last year. Of the 184 hate crimes this year, 60-percent were deemed anti-Semitic. Over the past couple of months we have seen even more of these heinous crimes all over the news. Mayor de Blasio initially blamed the “political right,” but he had to publicly back off this ridiculous accusation last week.
Recently, we saw two individuals from Brooklyn turn the message of the rally on its head. Rather than fighting anti-Semitism, they are embracing it. Specifically, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who spent the first 19 years of his life in Kings County, named Brooklynite and Muslim activist Linda Sarsour as a surrogate to his campaign. The Zionist organization of America, which was initially founded as an organization for the greater New York area in 1897, called Sarsour a “vicious Jew-hater.” Her words and actions over the past years have supported this description.
This columnist has taken lots of heat from his progressive neighbors for naming and calling out her anti-Semitism. For example, in 2015 I called on Sarsour to resign or be removed from Community Board 10, which covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, for her comments against Israel and participation in a protest against police calling them “just racists,” not heroes. Sarsour and others were arrested for disobedience. Sarsour did not return to the board the following year.
Need evidence of her anti-Semitism; here are just a few examples:
• Has been a long-time supporter of the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.
• Shared a dais with Rasmea Odeh, who killed two Hebrew University students in a 1969 terrorist attack, and Sarsour said how “honored and privileged” she was to be on stage with this terrorist.
• Posted on her twitter account a photo of a Palestinian boy throwing a rock at Israeli soldiers and called it “The definition of courage.” When Queens Democratic Councilman Rory Lancman condemned this comment by saying “Attacking Jews at their homes, schools, supermarkets, cafes, buses, roads, synagogues, and Seder tables is barbarous and enlisting children to commit those acts is even more so,” Sarsour responded with “The Zionist trolls are out to play. You will never silence me.”
• Wrote an op-ed piece titled “New Progressive Era Still Politics as Usual Regarding Israel,” where she criticized NYC Democrats for standing “with a handful of political elites to show unwavering support for Israel” against terrorist attacks from Hamas.
Summarizing this perfectly was the President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder who said, “Linda Sarsour is a virulent anti-Semite who has publicly stated that ‘nothing is creepier than Zionism.’ Her views have no place in our political discourse and any candidate who associates with her is guilty of handing a mega-phone to anti-Semites around the country.”
One way we can name it to fight anti-Semitism is by New Yorkers and Americans in unison calling on Bernie Sanders to oust Sarsour from his campaign. Even the progressive Women’s March group just dumped Sarsour from their Board because her anti-Semitic record was becoming too much to defend. We know if a Republican had a surrogate on their campaign saying the things about Palestinians that Sarsour has about Israel Jewish-Americans, there would be mass outrage and protests. Rather than Mayor de Blasio and his progressive allies instinctively blaming the political right and President Trump for all the hate in the country, perhaps they just need to look to their left at folks like Sarsour.
Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials. Follow him on Twitter @bobcapano.