NEW YORK, NY — Leftist Sharia advocate Linda Sarsour asked the graduating class of the CUNY School of Public Health if they were “ready to embody the courage and selflessness” of three men who were stabbed to save a Muslim teenager and her friend from a man who was harassing them in Portland last month, during her commencement speech at the historic Harlem Theater.
“Taliesin [Myrddin Namkai Meche], Ricky [Best] and Micah [Fletcher] were strangers to one another,” Sarsour said. “In a matter of mere minutes, they made separate decisions to go from bystanders to heroes, to defend one African-American young woman student and her Muslim friend wearing [a] hijab as they were being aggressively harassed by a man on a train in Portland. Taliesin and Ricky lost their lives, but their courage will live on forever and has restored a small, empty place in my heart.”
She asked the audience, “Are we all ready to embody the courage and selflessness of Taliesin and Ricky and Micah? I am here tonight during the holy month of Ramadan,” Sarsour said. “This is a month of contemplation and reflection, increase in spirituality, closeness to God and charity.” She added, “We in this room must commit to never being a bystander to poverty, lack of jobs and health care, sexism and violence, discrimination, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia. We will stand up, we will speak truth to power no matter what the consequences.”
Sarsour’s invitation to speak at the CUNY commencement was not without controversy. Jewish groups, Democrats and Republicans alike called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to bar Sarsour from speaking due to her support for and involvement with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. She was one of the leaders of the Women’s March against President Donald Trump in Washington the day after his inauguration.
Instead of saying “as-salamu alaykum,” Sarsour opened up her speech by uttering the English translation of the Arabic greeting. “May peace and blessings be upon you all,” she told the audience. After giving “a huge shoutout to the graduating Class of 2017,” Sarsour said, “We made it! I made it here, and you already know it’s been a more than a eventful experience for me, and I’m still standing and still unapologetically Muslim-American, Palestinian-American and from Brooklyn, New York!”
She said, “I’m from Brooklyn, and I came here to tell it like it is. We live in difficult and uncertain times. And tonight, I use my platform to honor three men and to hold them up as beacons of life for all of us.”
According to the New York Post, approximately a group of demonstrators protested Sarsour outside of the CUNY graduation ceremony.
Rory Lancman, a leading New York City Democrat from Queens, previously called on his fellow progressives to recognize Sarsour as a bigot. “I want to emphasize that Linda’s statements on social media and at rallies are Linda’s– she owns them,” Lancman told the Algemeiner. “They have a history of antisemitism, of anti-Zionism – if you can believe that is something someone would still traffic in, in 2017 – and of hostility and threats towards people who disagree with her.”
New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) created a video asking Sarsour to explain her “support for terrorism on many different occasions. That’s the question that all of us have that we don’t understand,” he said inviting her to publicly address this. Sarsour never did.
Sarsour also stated that she was “honored and privileged” to share the stage with convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh who was recently deported from the United States for lying about past conviction, as a result of her involvement in the murder of two Israelis, on her immigration papers.
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, addressed a letter to Cuomo expressing his “shock and horror” that Sarsour was tapped by CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Public Policy as their commencement speaker, and had urged him to cancel her appearance at the taxpayer-funded university.
“Sarsour is a bigot and a divider,” Klein wrote. “It disgraces the state and city of New York for a taxpayer-funded university to confer this honor on her.” He pointed out that “Sarsour’s values conflict with American values.”
Despite this, and other incidents, on Wednesday, over 100 leftist Jewish individuals and organizations signed a letter, published on Medium, supporting the social justice warrior and condemning attacks against her.
“We will not stand by as Sarsour is falsely maligned, harassed and smeared, as she, her organization and her family suffer vicious public threats and intimidation, ” part of the letter reads. “We unequivocally oppose these assaults against her, and publicly state our commitment to working alongside her for a more just and equal society.”
The letter also reads, “We may not agree with Sarsour on all matters. We do not offer our stamp of approval to every tweet or message she has ever posted.”
Sarsour has tweeted that “nothing is creepier than Zionism,” has suggested that ” and said that Zionism and feminism are not compatible. She also tweeted that anti-Islamist writers Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali deserve an “a$$ whipping” and that she wishes she could have their “vaginas taken away” for their opposition to Sharia law, which she supports.
Signatories to the letter include J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, the National Council of Jewish Women’s Nancy Kaufman, T’ruah’s Rabbi Jill Jacobs, HIAS’s Mark Hetfield, Rabbis from Congregation B’nai Jeshurun (a reform synagogue in New York), playwright Tony Kushner, and New York City Council member Brad Lander.
Sarsour later added in his speech, “I love my country. It gave my Palestinian immigrant parents who lived under military occupation the opportunities to give me and my siblings a better life; and I am forever grateful,” she said referring to Israel in the way the left often does. Quoting Malcolm X, she said, “Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
She completed her talk by reading a quote attributed to an Aboriginal woman named Lilla Watson. “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”