Photo Credit: Demetrius Freeman/
The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, with First Lady of NYC Chirlayne McCray (first row, center) March 31, 2016.

The First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, on behalf of a City non-profit, is handing over $500K to an Arab American activist who is supported by a Hamas-affiliate organization and who herself proudly supports rock attacks by Palestinian Arabs against Israelis. And the money is earmarked to support a tiny population. Why?

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization that promotes public-private partnerships to meet the needs of the City’s underserved. To apply for participation, community groups fill out a request for proposals and, if approved, are matched with a private entity to collaboratively meet the needs of a given needy community.


On March 11, the Mayor’s Fund announced that 14 community groups would be receiving grants to partner with mental health providers to improve access to mental health care providers in their communities, as part of the $30 million program “ThriveNYC.”

The Fund’s website proclaims that its current areas of focus include youth workforce, mental health, and immigration.


Despite that claim, the 14 groups just awarded by the Mayor’s Fund, which together will receive at least $10 million over the next five years, includes at least one, the Arab-American Association of New York, whose mission is to “support and empower the Arab Immigrant and Arab American community by providing services to help them adjust to their new home and become active members of society.”

Instead of “active,” they may mean “activist.” One might think that because the director of the AAANY is Linda Sarsour who describes herself as a “Palestinian-American-Muslim, racial justice & civil rights activist.”

Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab-American Association of New York.

Sarsour will be a featured speaker at an upcoming Islamic Society of North America event. ISNA, for those who don’t recall, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the famed Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing case. The judge in that case later ruled there was sufficient evidence to link ISNA, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and others to the terrorist organization, Hamas.

The AAANY director was described by the New York Post as a “long-time ally and vote-getter for Mayor DeBlasio.” Hmmm. Sarsour has also been campaigning ardently for Democratic presidential nominee aspirant Bernie Sanders.

This recipient of enormous funds from NYC’s First Lady also claimed that in Hillary Clinton’s speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference Clinton proved she doesn’t think that “Palestinians are humans deserving of human rights.”

Sarsour also revealed her support for Arab Palestinian violence and hatred of Zionists in a twitter battle with a Jewish New York City Councilmember, according to the New York Post.

The AAANY director posted a picture of a Palestinian boy clutching rocks in front of Israeli soldiers, and labeled the rock wielder: “The definition of courage.”

Councilman Rory Lancman replied, “No, the definition of barbarism,” to which Sarsour tweeted: “The Zionist trolls are out to play. Bring it. You will never silence me.”

The Post revealed that AAANY will be receiving $500,000 from the Mayor’s Fund. The Post also reported that although Lancman was a bit dubious about the bona fides of the grant, he described himself as “‘reluctant’ to fight it because that would harm people who need services.”

That’s a noble thought, Councilman, but is it true?


Here is how the Mayor’s Fund describes what AAANY will be doing with the $500,000 it will receive from the Mayor’s Fund: first, its staff will be trained (by New York University’s Lutheran Family Health Centers) to “provide culturally and linguistically competent mental health care for the South Brooklyn Arab American and Arab Immigrant community.” In other words, Arabic speakers from Sarsour’s organization will be trained to provide mental health care. That is not normally how mental health professionals are trained. And the grant is only to provide services to South Brooklyn’s Arab Americans. True, Brooklyn has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in New York, but there is also a substantial percentage (of the relatively very small total number) who live in Queens.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: