Linda Sarsour under fire for criticizing American Jews for dual loyalty to Israel

Linda Sarsour speaking at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C, Jan. 21, 2017. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Linda Sarsour speaking at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C, Jan. 21, 2017. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Activist Linda Sarsour appeared to criticize American Jews for dual loyalty to Israel in a Facebook post calling for support for Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar, following a backlash over her announcement that she supports boycotting Israel.

Sarsour wrote in the post on Thursday that Omar is “being attacked for saying that she supports BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions against Israel) and the right for people to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms. This is not only coming from the right-wing but some folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

Sarsour, a leader of the Women’s March who has come under fire for not disassociating herself or the movement from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made anti-Semitic and bigoted statements for decades, most recently comparing Jews to termites, also called for people to post messages of support to Omar on social media.  “You don’t have to support BDS and have every right not to but we cannot stand by idly while a brave Black Muslim American woman is targeted for saying she will uphold the constitution of the United States of America as a member of the U.S. Congress,” Sarsour wrote.

In the comments section on the post in response to the criticism, Sarsour singled out the Anti-Defamation League. In an online petition in support of Omar, Sarsour wrote that she was alarmed by “organizations like the ADL using their platforms to attack a trailblazing Black Muslim woman in order to undermine advocacy for Palestinian human rights.”

The post raised the ire of the American Jewish Committee which responded in a tweet that: “Accusing Jews of dual loyalty is one of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic tropes. No surprise to see it coming from @LSarsour. How long will progressive leaders continue to look the other way in the face of this hate?

Ilhan’s campaign on Wednesday told the Muslim Girl website that she “believes in and supports the BDS movement.” It added that she “does, however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”

The statement appears to contradict her comments during a candidates’ forum at a Minneapolis-area synagogue in which Omar affirmed her support for Israel’s right to exist under a two-state solution and said she did not support BDS. She said that BDS “stops the dialogue” and is “counteractive” to achieving a two-state outcome.

Omar’s tweets about Israel have earned her notoriety in the pro-Israel community. In 2012, she said that Israel had “hypnotized the world” to ignore its “evil doings.” Defending that tweet earlier this year, she said on the same platform that calling attention to the “Israeli apartheid regime” was not anti-Semitic.

Palestinian-American Congresswoman-elect from the Detroit area, Rashida Tlaib, also backs BDS. She posted on Twitter in support of Omar. “My parents were both born in Palestine (Falastine). My sity still lives there. So when my sister @IlhanMN is being attacked for supporting the #BDS movement (protected freedom of speech!) we can’t stay silent. Nothing is more American than the fight for justice at home & abroad,” she wrote in her post.

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