More information about JFREJ’s ongoing support of Linda Sarsour
Why are JFREJ members attending today’s CUNY graduation and Iftar at Trump Tower?
JFREJ’s members are here to show our love and support for Linda, demonstrate that the Jewish community stands with Linda and against Islamophobia, lies and hate, and to peacefully bear witness. Over the last few weeks right wing activists have been carrying out a slanderous and Islamophobic smear campaign against Linda Sarsour following her selection as commencement speaker for CUNY’s School of Public Health. We’re here to say, “not in our city. Not in our name.”
The terrifying wave of anti-Semitism unleashed in this political season is exceeded only by the coincident tsunami of Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism. This was demonstrated all too recently by the gut-wrenching attack on a Portland train that left two brave upstanders dead and a third injured, while instilling further terror on the Muslim community. The Jewish community is united against the white supremacist, nationalist, militarist ideology that led to the attack — the same repellant vision that is fueling the attacks on Linda Sarsour. Despite what a strange, tiny fringe of right-wing extremists say, these values are not Jewish, and do not represent the views of the vast majority of the Jewish community.
Why do we stand with Linda?
Linda Sarsour has been a partner and an inspiration to JFREJ and an unwavering ally to New York’s Jewish community for years. Her commitment to justice, human dignity and securing the safety and rights of people facing racism, violence and oppression everywhere are what make her a transformative leader who reflects our community’s deepest values. She has stood with us against anti-Semitism, both in words and actions. She recently raised money from the Muslim & Arab community to repair the cemeteries desecrated by anti-Semitic vandalism. Far exceeding the $20,000 goal, Linda’s work was critical in securing over $162,000 to rebuild Jewish holy sites. Today, she is already supporting the effort to raise money for the victims of the Portland white supremacist terrorist train attack. As a featured speaker at last year’s Jews of Color National Convening, she told the audience that despite attempts to divide our two communities, the Arab-American Association would always be a home to Jews. The recent attacks on Linda’s character are just that — a pathetic attempt to use Islamophobia and bigotry to divide a family that cannot be divided. JFREJ marches with Linda, always.
JFREJ’s history with Linda Sarsour
Linda has partnered with JFREJ on countless initiatives and campaigns, including ongoing campaigns to combat Islamophobia and fight for police accountability. Over the past two years, JFREJ’s Mizrahi Caucus has been building a powerful relationship with the Arab-American Association of New York grounded in their shared Arab identity. Under Linda’s leadership, AAANY has collaborated with JFREJ on: passing the Community Safety Act, passing the Right To Know Act, the Justice for Ramarley Graham campaign, anti-Islamophobia bystander intervention trainings, and many other projects and programs. Linda is a past emcee of JFREJ’s Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards, and was a featured speaker at last year’s Jews of Color National Convening.
Responding to Hikind, Geller and the JDL
Dov Hikind, Pamela Geller and the Jewish Defense League (JDL) do not represent the Jewish community. They are avatars of a tiny, ugly fringe that was decisively marginalized in the November election. Using a smokescreen of pro-israel, anti-terror rhetoric they promote hate, lies, Islamophobia, bigotry and utter nonsense that would be embarrassing if it weren’t so dangerous. Their campaign against Linda is based wholly on un-truths, distortions and ancient tweets that simply bear no relationship to the powerful, funny, caring and thoughtful woman that the New York’s Jewish community have come to know well.
Consider the messengers: the JDL is officially classified as a terrorist organization linked to bombings, attempted bombings (including a planned assassination of Congressman Darrell Issa), multiple murders, money laundering and extortion. They are joined by NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a former high-ranking member of the JDL suspected of involvement in terrorism who has been stained by multiple federal and state corruption charges and who recently enriched his reputation by appearing in blackface — an action that was condemned by the entire NY political establishment. Just this week, offering no evidence of any kind, he leveled fabricated charges against Linda that have been investigated and dismissed by news outlet after news outlet. He is joined by Pamela Geller, a vicious Islamophobe whose only credential is an unrivaled capacity for bigotry and divisiveness. And just last week, they welcomed alt-right clown and pedophilia-apologist Milo Yiannopoulos to their coven. Regardless of the sad fact that they have powerful allies in the White House they are not spokespeople for the Jewish community — they are the champions of a bizarre swamp of paranoid conspiracists and contemporary-Klan hate speech.
Today’s Jewish Leaders Letter
Leaders of the American Jewish community in New York and nationwide today released an open letter condemning the recent threats and harassment being leveled against Linda Sarsour, a prominent Palestinian Muslim American civil rights activist, including by other members of the Jewish community.
The letter, signed by more than 130 Jewish leaders, calls the attacks against Sarsour “dangerous, disingenuous and counterproductive, undermining core Jewish values of compassion, humility and human dignity.”
“In this time, when so many marginalized communities in our country are targeted on the streets and from the highest offices of government, we are committed to bridging communal boundaries and standing in solidarity with one another,” the letter reads.
Here are additional statements of support for Sarsour from some of the letter’s signatories:
Rabbi Deborah Waxman: “As we have seen from the heartbreaking news these past few days, our work to challenge injustice and to protect our communities and those we hold dear is more important now than ever. We learn in the Torah that we must act affirmatively “To love your fellow human being as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Together, the Jewish community must raise our voices against the rise of Islamophobia and the demonization of Muslims. This includes standing with Muslim activist and leader, Linda Sarsour, against vile, anti-Muslim attacks that have caused harm to her and her family.”
Rabbi José Rolando Matalon: “I am deeply troubled by the outrageous and escalated threats and attacks against community leader, Linda Sarsour. In this moment, just days after the murders in Portland, and with hate and bigotry on the rise against Muslim and other communities, we need to harness our moral courage to protect and support one another. I proudly stand with other Jewish communal leaders to denounce harassment and intimidation against Linda Sarsour.”
Barbara Dobkin: “I’m outraged and horrified by the smear campaign against Linda Sarsour. It’s irresponsible and dangerous. Anyone who thinks Linda is the enemy isn’t paying attention. This statement of support from members of our community is the least we can do – quite literally. She doesn’t deserve any of this and we need to have her back. Period.”
About Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)
For more than 25 years, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) has pursued racial and economic justice in New York City by advancing systemic changes that result in concrete improvements in people’s everyday lives. We are inspired by Jewish tradition to fight for a sustainable world with an equitable distribution of economic and cultural resources and political power.
The movement to dismantle racism and economic exploitation will be led by those most directly targeted by oppression. We believe that Jews have a vital role to play in this movement. The future we hope for depends on Jews forging deep and lasting ties with our partners in struggle.
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