You may be familiar with Linda Sarsour, an activist who rose to prominence as one of the leaders of the Women’s March. Sarsour has a lot of supporters. But she also has her fair share of detractors.
Sarsour has been repeatedly isolated as a harbinger of hate and violence, most recently in a New York Times piece by Bari Weiss. A Palestinian-American who supports BDS, Sarsour is repeatedly accused of supporting violent jihad. Even Courtney Love (Courtney Love??) has called Sarsour an “anti-Semitic terrorist.”
But others in the Jewish community have come to Sarsour’s defense, including Jeremy Ben-Ami, Mark Hetfield, Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Brad Lander.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m a progressive, feminist, anti-occupation Arabic-speaker, and even I have a few qualms about Sarsour. The language she uses can be coarse and insensitive, like her 2011 tweet in which she said she wished she could take Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s vagina away — ignoring that Ali survived female genital mutilation.
But despite having reservations about Sarsour’s Twitter etiquette, I find the unending obsession baffling. The fevered pitch of the articles against her seems to have no basis in reality. You may not like her politics. You may not agree with BDS. But it is inarguably nonviolent. Why the hysteria?
Even if you believe that BDS presents a threat to Israel or to the Jews, you have to admit, there are bigger threats to us right now. Indeed, there are plenty of people who don’t require an overanalysis of their tweets to make Jews worried. These figures actually have views that threaten the Jewish people — or ally themselves with those who do.
Here are 19 people Jews should actually be more worried about than Linda Sarsour.
1. Louis Farrakhan
The leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan is a Muslim figure who has indeed said despicable things regarding Jews, promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 and speaking of “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody,” among a horde of other statements.
2. Sebastian Gorka
Under any other presidential administration, information revealing your top counter-terrorism advisor is a member of a far-right group founded by Nazis would be a fireable offense. Welcome to 2017.
3. Richard Spencer
An alt-right leader who proclaims “Heil Trump” and praises Trump’s “De-Judaification” of the Holocaust should probably be more concerning to Jews than a woman speaking for nonviolent resistance to state oppression.
4. David Duke
As his Wikipedia page eloquently sums up, David Duke is “an American white nationalist, politician, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.” Need I say more?
5. Steve Bannon
Donald Trump’s chief strategist long oversaw Breitbart News, the outlet spewing xenophobic hate like it’s their job (well, it kind of is). As court documents state, when looking for schools to enroll his daughters in, Bannon “went on to say the biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend. He said that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
6. Morton Klein
As leader of the Zionist Organization of America, Klein has embraced and defended alt-right figures like Bannon and Gorka for their unabashedly pro-Israel-at-any-costs position, cozying up to anti-Semitic forces if it advances the ZOA’s ardent Zionist goals. It would require a book replete with exclamation points to fully explain the dangers of an ostensibly Jewish organization aligning with xenophobic elements to accomplish narrow political goals.
7. Andrew Anglin
Founder and editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer with a section aptly named “Jewish Problem.”
8. Viktor Orban
Hungarian far-right leader Viktor Orban’s dog-whistle campaign against George Soros has been well-documented at the Forward, portraying Soros as a shadowy figure controlling all that is malevolent behind the scenes.
9. Milo Yiannopoulis
Though half-Jewish, Milo has had no problem disseminating Jewish conspiratorial tropes, once saying “the Jews run everything. Well we do. The Jews run all the banks. Well we do. The Jews run the media. Well we do. You know they’re right about all that stuff.”
10. Actual violent jihadists
As is seemingly customary for any devout Muslim figure, Linda Sarsour is often called a “jihadist.” And most recently, the critics feasted when she spoke of “jihad” against Donald Trump… failing to note her actual answer to the question of “what is the best form of jihad or struggle” with “a word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader.”
11. Thomas Lopez-Pierre
12. Sebastian Gorka (again)
Let me repeat: THERE IS AN ACTUAL ALLEGED MEMBER OF A NAZI-ALIGNED GROUP ADVISING THE POTUS AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE.
13. Marine Le Pen
Le Pen may have lost the election, but that does not mean the anti-Semitism that has in part fueled support for her National Front party has gone away. And don’t forget how Le Pen so easily cleansed France of all blame for the Holocaust.
14. Twitter trolls who harass Jewish journalists
According to the ADL, nearly 20,000 overtly anti-Semitic messages were sent to Jewish journalists during the 2016 campaign. New York Times Reporter Maggie Haberman recently discussed the death threats she has received on Twitter and even at home.
15. Hassan Nassrallah
Hezbollah’s leader once said in 2001, “What do the Jews want? They want security and money. Throughout history the Jews have been Allah’s most cowardly and avaricious creatures. If you look all over the world, you will find no one more miserly or greedy than they are.” Nassrallah and Sarsour both oppose Israel, but in extremely different ways. Has Sarsour ever employed language remotely like Nassrallah’s? Has she advocated for the violent means that Nassrallah has?
16. Mike Cernovich
17. Ayatollah Khamenei
While Iran’s Supreme Leader has said “we have no problem with Jews and Christians… we have problem with the usurpers of the Palestine land,” his vitriol towards Israel has lead him to say its leaders don’t deserve the title of “human” and to question the Holocaust.
18. Ismail Haniyeh
As leader of Hamas, Haniyeh oversees an extensive network of resistance which manifests in violent, political and social forms that often go beyond anti-Zionism and into the realm of outright anti-Semitism. Linda Sarsour has been falsely accused numerous times of affiliating with Hamas. She doesn’t.
19. President Trump
11 other people on this list either support or work for Donald Trump (or took far too long for Trump to disavow). You can make it 12 if you consider extremists’ jubliation for a Trump presidency. Inarguably, Trump’s dog-whistle campaign either rode the coattails of the alt-right or allowed the alt-right to follow his nativist coattails. This is a man who:
Sourced alt-right forums for his infamous “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” tweet featuring a Star of David.
Refused to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Made the deafest of tone deaf statements in Yad Vashem’s visitor book, saying, “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends — so amazing & will never forget!”
Remained silent during much of the JCC bomb threats — and expressed personal outrage when asked about it by a Jewish reporter in February.
These are just several of the many troubling aspects of Trump’s presidency directly relating to Jews. Never mind his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords or his terrifying access to the nuclear codes that threaten the world Jews live in. In a world where nativists are employed in the highest levels of government and society, do we seriously believe Linda Sarsour is the one Jews should be afraid of?
Steven Davidson is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @sdavidson169.