(JTA) – A scuffle broke out between supporters and critics of the City University of New York’s plan to host Linda Sarsour, an activist opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump and a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
The incident occurred Thursday night outside the CUNY building in Manhattan, where activists against radical Islam, including Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopoulos, had rallied in protest of the decision by the institution’s School of Public Health to host Sarsour on Friday as a commencement speaker, the New York Daily News reported.
One 19-year-old student who supports the invitation to Sarsour – an organizer of the anti-Trump Women’s March on Washington on January 20 – was pushed around by a small group of demonstrators chanting “Make America Great Again,” according to the report. No arrests were made.
Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and Yiannopoulos, who on Wednesday criticized singer Ariana Grande for being “pro-Islam” less than a day after a terror attack at her Manchester concert, were joined by Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat who like Geller is Jewish.
Geller, a firebrand conservative blogger, said the invitation extended to Sarsour was “obscene,” describing her as a “pro-terror vicious anti-Semite” and punctuating her remarks with, “Surely CUNY can do better!”
Earlier this year, Sarsour helped raise more than $100,000 to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri.
But Sarsour has also been criticized for denouncing Zionism and tweeting a photo of a young boy with rocks in each hand facing Israeli police, along with the words “the definition of courage.”
“Why would CUNY have a commencement speaker who supports terrorism and believes in throwing rocks?” Hikind said at the Thursday rally.
Sarsour, who is of Palestinian descent, this year said that supporters of Israel cannot be feminists. She favours a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a formula that many Jews consider a formula for the demise of Israel. In 2012, she tweeted “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”
Some Jewish groups with a liberal agenda defended Sarsour against accusations of radicalism or anti-Semitism, including Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. “She has stood with us against anti-Semitism, both in words and actions,” the group said in a statement last month.