Linda Sarsour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Festival of Faiths from Louisville, United States.
Jo Biden’s Campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates tweeted “Jo Biden condemns Linda Sarsour for her view and support of BDS” He goes on to say that Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and is vehemently against any antisemitism his entire life, implying that Sarsour is antisemitic.
A member of DSA and a sometime surrogate for Bernie Sanders, Sarsour, from New York, led Muslim Delegates–she too was one–and Allies to the just concluded Democratic convention.
She endorsed Joe Biden after he picked Kamala Harris for VP. The extreme right immediately went on attack, accusing her of antisemitism. It didn’t take long for Biden’s rapid response director to appease Ben Shapiro, host of the virulent right wing website the Daily Wire who cited another right wing echo chamber, the Daily Caller, for the source of the smear.
Shapiro, it must be remembered, was editor at large of Breitbart News 2012-2016 and a fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center known for its Islamophobic views. The Daily Caller website was founded by Fox’s own Tucker Carlson.
The Biden campaign reacted by reflexively genuflecting to these right wing wishes by condemning Sarsour. Neither the accusers nor the Biden campaign say what was it that made her antisemitic.
Could it be her strong advocacy of Palestinian rights, support for BDS and opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza by Israel? BDS is a nonviolent resistance the Palestinians use against the occupation and has worldwide support among grassroots organizations.
Progressive Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) support BDS.
Sarsour describes herself as unapologetically Palestinian Arab American and unapologetically Muslim. She is a human rights activist involved in issues of police brutality, feminism, immigration policy, mass incarceration and an organizer for Black Lives Matter since Ferguson.
She works closely with JVP, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and scores of other progressive organizations. She co-founded and led the 2017 Women’s March along with Tameeka Mallory to protest Trumps presidency. It did not take look before Mallory and Sarsour were singled out for charges of antisemitism.
Sarsour’s life was threatened at the time. The National Council of Jewish Women who worked with her in 2017 came to her defense. Trump supporters, right wing Zionists and media have accused her among other things of supporting ISIS, and wanting Sharia law in the US, all without any basis.
Ady Barkan a progressive activist popular among democrats and suffering from ALS characterized the Biden statement as “vile and dishonest,” in a tweet. He goes on to say, “Linda is a fierce advocate of justice, freedom and a leading antiracist and organizer against anti-Semitism.”
The Biden-Harris campaign owes Linda a public apology and a retraction of the statement not based on fact. The Biden campaign has in fact by this statement, become an amplifier of the alt right false assertions about her and thereby helped Trump. Her opposition to the Israeli government and support of BDS does not make her antisemitic.
The democratic party that purports to be “the big tent” after conducting a convention that went out of its way to show its diversity now sounds hypocritical and has squandered the good will and support of a vast segment of its electorate–the millions of very diverse Muslim communities including African Americans, African immigrants, Arab Americans, Women, DSA members and people of color in general.
The Biden Harris campaign could end up handing the presidency to the White supremacist president on a silver platter unless a quick corrective action is taken by way retraction of the false statement.
Columnist Mohammed Nurhussein is a New York City-based retired physician.