Letter | No, Joe Biden does not owe Linda Sarsour an apology
On Monday, the Forward published a piece by Joel Swanson titled, “Joe Biden owes Linda Sarsour a public apology.”
The piece was written in the aftermath of a statement released by Joe Biden’s campaign about Ms. Sarsour, saying that she has “no role in the Biden campaign” and that Biden “obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS.
Biden campaign spokesman @AndrewBatesNC says regarding Sarsour being on this call: “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform…. https://t.co/GR4ATJTf0p
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 19, 2020
What Mr. Swanson found particularly objectionable about the Biden campaign statement was that it implied that Ms. Sarsour harbored anti-Semitic sentiment, which Mr. Swanson dismisses.
But the actual evidence — which is well-documented — suggests that Ms. Sarsour absolutely harbors anti-Semitic sentiment. Whether it be her long-running, cozy relationship with Louis Farrakhan-led Nation of Islam, her engagement with classic dual loyalty tropes against Jews or her decrying the “humanization” of Israelis, Ms. Sarsour has a long history of anti-Semitism.
This anti-Semitism has earned her the approbation and defense of white Supremacists like Richard Spencer to David Duke. And yet, Sarsour’s allies have insisted that she is being slandered for her support of Palestinians and her criticism of Israel.
I say this as a Jew and an Israeli citizen:
Criticism of Israel is not antisemitism.
Advocacy of a boycott or sanctions against Israel is not antisemitism.
Weaponizing the charge of “antisemitism” to silence criticism of Israel is despicable.
— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) August 19, 2020
These supporters miss the reason Ms. Sarsour must be distanced from — namely, her bigotry.
Having a “big-tent” is good. But what must be considered is the fact that any given political party’s “big-tent” must end directly where bigotry begins, something that seems obvious enough when it comes to the Republican Party.
Mr. Swanson, like Sarsour’s allies, does not see, or even care to examine, the bigotry Sarsour has espoused against Jews. Instead, he uses Ms. Sarsour as a stand-in for American Muslims generally. He says that by marginalizing Ms. Sarsour, the Democratic party is, in effect, telling Muslim Americans that they must check their religious identity at the door due to the fact that a majority of Muslims care about Palestinian rights.
But conflating Ms. Sarsour with all Muslim Americans is dangerous, for the simple fact that just because a person believes in, and wants to fight for, Palestinian rights does not make them anti-Semitic — something the vast majority of Muslim Americans have managed easily.
At the end of the day, there is a double standard used by some on the political left when it comes to bigotry.
Joe Biden owes Sarsour no apology. He is doing a service to the Democratic party generally and the Jewish community in particular by distancing himself from figures such as her. It will not be until the leaders from both parties muster up the courage that Joe Biden exhibited that we will keep bigotry out of our political discourse.
Jack Elbaum will be attending George Washington University in the fall. His writing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and the Washington Examiner. You can contact him at [email protected].