Will Linda Sarsour blame Israel for Standing Rock too?

On February 22, 2017, Linda Sarsour tweeted: “ Trump came for Muslims, then for the undocumented, then for the indigenous at Standing Rock, then for the trans community – who is next?”  Her tweet is slant of German Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poem (“First they came..”) against the oppression of the Nazi regime in Germany:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Sarsour was one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, held on January 21, 2017.  Sarsour also raised over $91,733 within 26 hours to repair Jewish graves that were  vandalized  at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis, Missouri. Sarsour also stands in solidarity with other left wing social justice causes.

However, while Sarsour’s support for social justice is unequivocal, her motives are not so clear. In advocating her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Sarsour has made sure to single out two countries for blame — the United States and Israel.

On January 13, 2015, Sarsour gave a speech (see 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, AK 47s (Russian assault rifles, which neither the U.S. nor Israel uses), and counterterrorism 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 to 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 to 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 illogically, concluded staunch Israel supporters must, therefore, support unarmed Black Americans being shot by police (see the full speech here; Sarsour is the third speaker). 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 Supremacists” who oppress both Black Americans and Palestinians (See the full speech here).

All this begs the question; will Sarsour arbitrarily and maliciously blame Israel for the breakup of the Standing Rock protestors by law enforcement, as well?

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.

About the Author
Clyde Zamir graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 2015. He is currently a candidate for an L.L.M. in Taxation at the University of Denver School of Law. Clyde created and ran a pro-Israel Facebook page, "Stop the Lies," between February and October 2016, and reached more than 20,000 followers within that time period.