New School draws ire for antisemitism panel featuring Linda Sarsour and JVP head

Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian-American activist known for her controversial statements about Israel and Zionism.

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November 15, 2017 21:27
2 minute read.
New School draws ire for antisemitism panel featuring Linda Sarsour and JVP head

Activist Linda Sarsour speaks at a June protest in New York City against US President Donald Trump’s limited travel ban. (photo credit: REUTERS/JOE PENNEY)

NEW YORK – After coming under fire for its choice of speakers to appear on a panel discussion about antisemitism, the New School is offering to sponsor an alternative group that will include voices from the Jewish American mainstream.

The New York institution, however, did not back down from its invitation of Linda Sarsour to speak at the new event, titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice,” scheduled for the end of this month.

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The New School, a Manhattan- based university, is sponsoring the event in cooperation with the Jewish Voice for Peace and Jacobin Magazine, both of which promote causes of the radical Left.

Sarsour is Muslim activist and unrelenting critic of Israel who supports a boycott against the Jewish state. Among numerous other controversial statements, she tweeted in 2012, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of JVP, is also scheduled to speak at the event, which will be moderated by Amy Goodman, host of the radio program Democracy Now.

Earlier this week, in response to a biting report about the panel in Tablet Magazine, Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, slammed the New School. “Having Linda Sarsour & head of JVP leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism,” he wrote on Twitter. “These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from the perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it.”

The New School responded in writing to The Jerusalem Post, saying the institution “is founded on principles of tolerance, social justice, and free intellectual exchange. These values remain central to our mission today, and we believe that engaging in debate on a range of issues and ideas is critical to our role as an academic institution”.

A representative who spoke on behalf of the school added: “We understand that there are different views on this issue.

For that reason, the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism Program has invited representatives of the magazine Tablet to organize an event to present some of these different views on this important topic; the program has also invited to participate Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League”.

The ADL declined the invitation.
Linda Sarsour speaks at a New York women's rally on March 8, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

“We were dismayed to learn of the New School’s decision to host a panel discussion on antisemitism featuring individuals who have no expertise on antisemitism and whom we find deeply problematic,” a spokesman for the group said.


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