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Anger over Linda Sarsour role in antisemitism panel

Palestinian-American activist who said Zionists cannot be feminists will speak on conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel

    Linda Sarsour
    Linda Sarsour Getty Images

    A leading New York research university which plans to host a panel on antisemitism featuring Muslim activist Linda Sarsour later this month has been attacked for staging “a pathetic farce.”

    Ms Sarsour, a well-known Palestinian-American campaigner, stoked controversy earlier this year by asserting that Zionists cannot simultaneously be feminists because the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was oppressive to women.

    She was also a co-chair of the January 2017 Women's March on Washington that took place on Donald Trump's first day in office.

    The November 28 event, entitled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice”, will take place at the New School in Manhattan, a university that made its name by offering positions to academics and intellectuals including political theorists Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss fleeing Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the 1930s.

    A description of the panel on the university’s website says: “Antisemitism is harmful and real. But when antisemitism is redefined as criticism of Israel, critics of Israeli policy become accused and targeted more than the growing far-right.”

    Other participants include Rebecca Vilkomerson, head of the left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace group that is critical of Israel; and Jewish activists Leo Ferguson and Lina Morales.

    But writing in US Jewish magazine Tablet, the journalist Liel Leibovitz criticised the school for not inviting any scholars of antisemitism.

    He wrote: “In supporting this pathetic farce, then, the New School betrays its mission and its heritage twice: First by inviting some of the leading purveyors of anti-Jewish prejudice to discuss anti-Semitism, and second by failing to invite to the panel anyone who might disrupt the torrent of invective with dispassionate facts and real expertise.”

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