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)
The New School, a Manhattan-based university, has aroused controversy over its choice of speakers to appear on a panel discussion about antisemitism given by a group that self-identifies as anti-Zionist and features BDS poster girl Linda Sarsour.
The event, titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice,” is scheduled for the end of this month and is sponsored in cooperation with the Jewish Voice for Peace and Jacobin Magazine, both of which promote the misguided causes of the alt-Left, one of which is its pretense that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.
Sarsour is a well-known Muslim and Palestinian activist who supports a Palestinian state but denies Jews the right to national self-determination. Moreover, she has appeared alongside a convicted Palestinian terrorist murderer whom she has lauded for her “resistance” to the Zionist occupation.
Sarsour told an audience recently that she was “honored to be on this stage with Rasmea Odeh,” a member of the PFLP convicted in 1969 for her involvement in the bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket that murdered two university students and maimed nine more.
Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, slammed the New School for agreeing to host Sarsour. “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 told The Jerusalem Post
that it was “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.”
Contrary to its idealistic statement, the New School apparently has abandoned the principle of social justice in favor of an immoral principle of social injustice: equating the advocates of antisemitism and the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state with the Jewish people’s imperative of survival.
A New School representative was quoted as saying, as if in justification: “We understand that there are different views on this issue.” Different, yes; but not equally valid.
Greenblatt’s analogy was too mild. The New School’s holding a forum of “antisemites on antisemitism” makes as much sense as a KKK forum on civil rights.
It is notable that Greenblatt declined the New School’s invitation to stage a counter forum. Perhaps, in the new era of Charlottesville, the venerable champion of free speech has come to a clearer understanding of some of the inherent dangers in the concept.
Speaking freely, but hardly morally, in a recent address to “the largest gathering of Muslims in America,” it is also notable that Sarsour, the social-justice champion, did not once call on the American-Muslim community to oppose the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Syria that has been raging for six years.
Similarly, the pro-Palestinian activist who became known for her support of January’s Women’s March on Washington has repeatedly made the absurd claim that Zionists don’t support human rights and, therefore, cannot claim to support women’s rights, thus Zionism necessarily is incompatible with feminism.
Take that, Golda Meir.
By default, she seemed to argue, Zionism must also be incompatible with its greatest ally. Sarsour called for the “best form” of jihad against the Trump administration, “where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.”
The ADL, for its part, finally took a stand against Sarsour.
Earlier this year, it reacted to a similar controversy over a Sarsour speech at a City University of New York graduation by defending her right to free speech.
“Despite our deep opposition to Sarsour’s views on Israel, we believe that she has a First Amendment right to offer those views,” Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post
at the time. “CUNY chancellor James Milliken shares in this belief, and recognizes that defending one’s right to free speech does not equate to defending the content of that speech.”
Unless, of course, it does.