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September 2, 2022 10:50 am
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Closet Zionist? Linda Sarsour’s ‘On the Down Low’ Visit to Israel

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Opinion

Linda Sarsour. Photo: Festival of Faiths via Wikimedia Commons.

Linda Sarsour made news in April, when the Geico insurance company canceled a company event with the prominent pro-Palestinian activist. Sarsour has a record of trafficking in antisemitic comments about the Jewish people and Israel, and the event was cancelled after backlash from Jewish groups.

Ironically, Sarsour had been invited to speak at an event celebrating Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month, as part of Geico’s diversity and inclusion campaign.

So what has Sarsour — one of the founders and former co-chair of the Women’s March, who was forced to step down because of her vocal support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) movement, whose ultimate goal is the end of Israel — been up to since the Geico fiasco?

Turns out that in order to decompress, Linda Sarsour has been enjoying the sights and sounds of a city renowned for its diversity.

But while images of San Francisco, Amsterdam, or Paris may come to mind, Sarsour in fact visited one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in Israel.

A guest post by Kweansmom for the Elder of Ziyon blog first broke the story. During a recent visit to her relatives in the West Bank, Sarsour, a woman famous for her deep-seated animus towards the Jewish state also spent some time in Israel, where she explored the northern city of Haifa.

And Sarsour hid this part of her trip.

She chose not to mention her visit to Haifa to her 323,000 Twitter followers. On Facebook, there’s a rather vague August 10 post, where Sarsour writes that her daughters visited “Palestine,” but not a word to her 221,000 virtual friends about her Haifa adventure. She does mention her stop over in Bethlehem on July 27, but this city is located in the West Bank and is administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Why the cover-up?

Sarsour has a history of echoing the age-old antisemitic trope that Jews believe they are a “superior” race. Sarsour has publicly declared that Israel was founded on the idea of “Jewish supremacy.”

On the issue of equality, Sarsour ignited a firestorm in 2017 when she declared that there’s no room for Zionism in the feminist movement.

Yet Sarsour’s views are in stark contrast to what she saw during her secret getaway to Israel.

As noted by Kweansmom:

“According to publicly available social media posts from others in her touring group, Linda Sarsour walked along Rehov Yefe Nof (literally, the Street with the Beautiful View) from where she could view Haifa Bay  and almost all of Haifa itself. The view includes the spectacular Bahai Gardens and the spiritual center of the Baha’i faith. The Bahai sect originated in Iran, where it is persecuted, but in Israel, the Bahai enjoy full freedom of religion.”

Sarsour could not have picked a worse place to confirm her biases against Israel. Muslim and Christian Arabs account for nearly 11 percent of Haifa’s population.

The city has welcomed Protestant migrants from Germany, Jews from Romania, Bahá í believers, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a reformist movement founded in India. Haifa’s tapestry of backgrounds is enhanced even more by the presence of Muslim Sunni, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, as well as Druze.

The city is widely considered to be Israel’s most ethnically mixed.

And while Sarsour has in the past collaborated with Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, which has a long “record of antisemitism and bigotry,” over in Haifa, a “bubble of inclusivity, multiculturalism and co-existence that serves as an example to Israel, and indeed the world,” is in full flower.

Israel experiences the same racial tensions as any other modern, Western-style, liberal democracy. However, the legal, state-sanctioned discrimination that is the essence of the apartheid libel that Linda Sarsour regularly tars Israel with is not only absent, but it is combated by the country’s laws and court system.

Maybe Linda Sarsour’s hush-hush summer detour to Haifa will affect her thinking about Israel.

If not — as we suspect — then it will be clear that she is even worse than a garden-variety antisemite and demonizer of Israel.

Because to simply negate everything she experienced in Israel would make Linda Sarsour guilty of rank hypocrisy.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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