President of Daniel Pearl Foundation Calls on BDS Advocate Linda Sarsour to ‘Disinvite Herself’ From CUNY Ceremony
The father of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, has added his voice to the condemnation of the City University of New York (CUNY) over its decision to honor Linda Sarsour, a prominent advocate of the BDS campaign targeting Israel.
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Tuesday, Judea Pearl – a Chancellor’s Professor at UCLA and the president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which promotes cross-cultural understanding – expressed dismay that Sarsour would be giving the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony for CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health on June 1.
Pearl described Sarsour as a “Zionophobe,” a form of prejudice he argued shares common features with Islamophobia.
“A Zionophobe is someone who has an irrational fear of Zionism and coexistence in the Middle East,” Pearl said. “Like Islamophobes, Zionophobes have no respect for other communities’ symbols of identity.”
Sarsour has declared that there is “nothing creepier than Zionism.” She has also alienated many Jewish women by insisting that feminism and Zionism are incompatible. In an interview with The Nation magazine in March, she stated, It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism.”
This last statement is particularly irking to Pearl. “Not one feminist had the courage to tell her, ‘excuse me, it’s Zionophobia and feminism that are incompatible.’ Not one of them had the spine to remind her that Zionophobia, like Islamophobia, has an immoral stink to it – to deny an entire people their homeland. The feminist movement has to find the moral strength to excise bigots like Sarsour from its ranks.”
Pearl said he expected educators, most obviously his fellow academics at CUNY, to be more forthright on Sarsour and her statements. Pearl pointed out that in 2015, when the controversial academic and BDS supporter Cornel West was invited to speak at a UCLA conference honoring the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, he had written West a letter urging him to withdraw. “No matter how eloquent your speech and how crafty your words, the audience you will face at UCLA will not be able to take them too seriously in light of your recent decision to become a leading propagandist for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” Pearl wrote at the time.
Although West did not withdraw, Pearl said that the value of his letter was that it expressed the sentiments of students and faculty, and highlighted the dishonesty behind the speaker’s words. CUNY academics, he continued, should act similarly.
“I am a professor, and I know the etiquette of inviting and disinviting,” Pearl said. “My colleagues at CUNY need to understand the kind of hate and divisiveness that Sarsour will bring, and then they should ask her, politely, to disinvite herself,” he urged.