We daresay that until New York City Councilman Rory Lancman recently called her out for seemingly encouraging Palestinian children to challenge Israeli authorities with rock throwing, few had ever heard of Linda Sarsour.
To be sure, this past August The New York Times published a gushing feature about her titled “Linda Sarsour Is a Brooklyn Homegirl in a Jihab” and reported on her frenetic social activism. And earlier, President Obama honored her as one of his “Champions of Change” for her advocacy work on behalf of the Muslim community. But she never received the attention that has come her way since her Twitter exchange with Councilman Lancman.
The episode started with Ms. Sarsour’s Twitter posting of a photo in which a young Palestinian boy is holding some rocks as he faces Israeli soldiers. She labeled the scene “the definition of courage.”
Sarsour came back with “city elected official attacking a constituent when they weren’t asked. Welcome to the NYC Council.”
She subsequently tweeted “The Zionist trolls are out to play. Bring it. You will never silence me.”
Mr. Lancman, for his part, later said in a statement that “Attacking Jews at their homes, schools, supermarkets, cafes, buses, roads, synagogues and seder tables is barbarous, and enlisting children to commit those acts is even more so.”
(Ms. Sarsour had signaled her political mindset several weeks earlier when she responded to a tweet by Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz that “America is and remains a nation built on Judeo-Christian values” by tweeting back “Genocide & slavery?”)
Ms. Sarsour is the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. The organization’s mission statement describes its role as “ser[ving] as a bridge between the Arab community and the greater New York City community.” So one wonders why no one seems interested in pursuing the question of her fitness to run an organization dedicated to inter-communal relations.
What gives this story added pertinence is that a number of Mr. Lancman’s colleagues on the City Council continue to provide substantial public funding for Ms. Sarsour’s group.
For example, a spokesman for Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile, who earmarked $64,000 to the group, described the funding as “local grants for local programs for our local constituents” and pointed to Mr. Gentile’s “grants” to other local institutions, including the Trinity Healing Center, the Lutheran Family Center and the Resource Training Center. Exactly what any of that has to do with Ms. Sarsour’s incendiary tweets is anybody’s guess.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca, to cite another example, has gone out of his way to express his solidarity with Ms. Sarsour, going so far as to post on his Twitter account her lengthy statement in which she explains her position in her dispute with Councilman Lancman.
Once again we see how vigilant our community must be when backing candidates for political office. Support on the part of elected officials for the likes of a Linda Sarsour should be a bell ringer.