Linda Sarsour and her thoughts on Israel


On January 21, 2017, Linda Sarsour gave a speech at the Women's March on Washington, where she stated she was "unapologetically Palestinian."  This was surprising, because why would any American feel marginalized for identifying as a Palestinian American? American politicians have been reminding us about Palestinians since the 1970s, and such voices have only intensified in recent years. One would assume most Americans would embrace and welcome a person who identified as Palestinian. 


Sarsour concluded her speech by stating she was the wildest dream of her Palestinian grandmother who lived in the occupied territories.  But just how wild are Sarsour's thoughts on Israel? Sadly, wild would be putting it mildly.


On January 13, 2015, Sarsour gave a speech (see the full speech here), in which she invented a connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and Israel or as she called it "connecting the dots."  Sarsour claimed that since 2005 Israel has been assisting in the militarization of local police forces in the United States, by providing them with drones, A.K 47s (Russian assault rifles, which neither the U.S. nor Israel uses), and counter terrorism training.  Sarsour claimed the cooperation was encouraged by the Anti Defamation League and the Jewish American Committee and that she received these facts from B’Tselem.  Sarsour then claimed local police use such equipment and training to suppress free speech, such as showing up in riot gear during protests in Ferguson, and New York.  The use of riot gear and tear gas, Sarsour argued, was an Israeli tactic funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars, which is collectively used suppress the free speech of the Palestinians in the West Bank and "people of color" in the United States, minorities which she listed as Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and anyone mistaken to be a member of those classes by law enforcement.  


Sadly, if Sarsour, as an American, bothered learn the history of her own country, she would have known police have been using riot gear and tear gas to suppress riots in America, since the 1960s.  She would also have known that the government has occasionally used the military to suppress protests, such as the Bonus Army Conflict of 1932; the Little Rock Nine, where the Arkansas National Guard was deployed to protect nine Black kids from protestors while attending a White high school for the first time, in 1957 after segregation was abolished; or when Governor Reagan sent the National Guard to suppress the U.C. Berkley Riots of 1969.  However, I do agree with Sarsour that suppressing free speech is wrong, such as when Becky Sebo and Gabe Sirkin, two Jewish students, were arrested for defending Israel at Ohio State University in 2014.


In that same speech, Sarsour also claimed Palestinians living inside the Green Line suffer from racial discrimination, such as separate bus lines for Arabs and Jews. The claim is absurd, because there is no discrimination inside the Green Line. Arab citizens of Israel are full citizens of Israel with the same rights as Jewish citizens (This video is one example). Sarsour also called Israel Prime Minister Benjamin a hypocrite, stating: "We talk about freedom of speech; Netanyahu was leading the charge at the Paris unity rallies when you've killed how many journalists? When you haven't let journalists to write about explicit war crimes; hiding the truth of what was happening in a place like Gaza." That is an unfair inaccurate and unfair claim, because many journalists put themselves in the line of fire while covering riots and other incidents in the West Bank and Gaza (see this video). Further, the claim that there is no press coverage in Gaze is untrue; for example, the associated press has an office in Gaza City, which was operational during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 (see this video).  However, Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter stationed at the Gaza City office in 2014, wrote in an article for the Atlantic: "The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)" Additionally, here is another video of a Hamas rocket fired from a civilian populated area of Gaza during a press interview with CBC, on August 8, 2014 (see this video).


On July 29, 2016, Sarsour gave a speech were she claimed she was not aware of any "staunch supporter of Israel" who supported the Black Lives Matter Movement, and she passionately, rather logically, concluded staunch Israel supporters must, therefore, support unarmed Black Americans being shot by police (see the full speech here).  This conclusion is not only absurd, but based on a false premise as well. Israelis not supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement does not automatically mean Israelis support Black Americans being shot, and there are staunch supporters of Israel who support the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Alan Dershowitz is one example.


On October 10, 2015, Sarsour gave a speech at the Million Man March on Washington, where she referred to Israelis as "White Supremacist" who oppress both Black Americans and Palestinians (See the full speech here).


For more information on Linda Sarsour, Daniel Pipes, a historian and scholar on Islamic extremism, wrote an extensive article summarizing Sarsour's statements at the Washington Times,  "Linda Sarsour, the left’s latest star."  Sarsour responded to Pipes by blocking him on twitter.