Hikind, Sarsour Supporters Trade Barbs As CUNY Speech Is Weeks Away

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In a case of whoever is without sin cast the first stone, there’s a lot of rocks being thrown between Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) and Linda Sarsour supporters over her CUNY commencement speech.

Hikind is demanding that Palestinian-American leader Sarsour not be allowed to speak at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center for Public Health & Health Policy (SPH).commencement ceremony next month on June 1.

Assembly Member Dov Hikind explains why he believes Linda Sarsour endorses terrorism. Photo by Kelly Mena

The ardent Jewish Zionist assemblyman claims Sarsour “promotes terrorism” through her social media presence and public speeches. Hikind cited multiple examples of moments Sarsour was allegedly “anti-semitic,” specifically targeting a past twitter post in which Sarsour shared a picture of a young Palestinian child holding a rock, heading down the road towards IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers in riot gear which she labeled as, “The definition of courage.”

“Rocks is the definition of courage. How about a knife. How about using it now and then for the cause. Which is a common occurrence in Israel as well. This is Linda Sarsour in her own words supporting violence, supporting terrorism,” said Hikind.

Hikind was citing the tragic death of 4-year-old Adele Bitton who died after being in critical condition for two years after a rock-throwing incident caused the vehicle she was in to collide with a truck in the West Bank.

Hikind is also demanding that Sarsour explain her controversial comments and social media posts so that all Brooklyn residents can better understand her beliefs and ideas.

“The right of a person to speak at a university is not the issue. The issue is CUNY promoting a message by having her [Sarsour] as the commencement speaker. Linda Sarsour I challenge you publicly anytime in front of the media, at any forum. I will stand next to you and we will discuss your public record, your tweets. Please Linda come out from hiding,” said Hikind.

But while Sarsour has been on “vacation” several dozen of her supporters gathered at City Hall today to lob a few rocks at Hikind, while defending Sarsour as a national figure, who has co-organized the women’s march on Washington in January and repeatedly stands up for black, brown and gender rights and against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

City Council Member Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) noted that it’s not a coincidence that many of the people throwing accusations towards Sarsour have supported Donald Trump.

“All of the people who are calling Linda whatever, I have never seen them with these people  fighting for justice. Fighting for equity. I have never seen these people fighting for the rights of black folks and Hispanics or the LBGT community, but they have the audacity to tell a Muslim woman from Palestine who fights for all of us and the Rainbow Coalition that she doesn’t have the right to fight. We’re not going to stand by while you falsely accuse Linda Sarsour because most of us up here have been falsely accused,” said Williams.

City Council Member Brad Lander speaks in support of Linda Sarsour. Photo by STephen Witt

City Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) said he has known Sarsour for a long time and has never known her to be Anti-Semitic. He noted how she helped raise over $80,000 to repair a desecrated Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

Lander said he disagreed with Sarsour on several issues including the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement against Israel as well as her stance against Zionism, but that they have always agreed to talk.

“She says, ‘my experience is that Zionists are those who opposes the self-determination and human rights of my people,’ and I said, ‘for me a Zionist is somebody who believes  in the rights of Israel to exist in a Jewish democratic state,’ and I pray fervently our mutual self-determination would be possible, but for now we stand together in solidarity when it’s required,” said Lander.

Kirsten John Foye of the National Action Network took direct aim at Hikind, calling him “a blackface-wearing, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic racist pig.”

Sarsour’s Women’s March co-organizer, Tamika Mallory accused Hikind as the one spewing hate. She also noted that Sarsour has received threats on her and her family’s life, and warned of grave consequences of something happened to her.

“And so we don’t just stand with Linda, we stand in front of Linda. We will walk with her, we will be with her, we will pray with her, we will keep her because she is us and we are her,” said Mallory.

Kelly Mena & Stephen Witt wrote this story

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