Lower East Side Rabbi Opposes Henry Street Settlement’s Invitation to BDS Activist Linda Sarsour

Posted on: May 15th, 2017 at 5:05 am by

A rift is forming in the Jewish enclave of Grand Street, pitting both sides of the socio-political spectrum against another. Two Lower East Side stalwarts (and neighbors). And it’s much ado over an invitation extended to Palestinian-American activist, and BDS supporter, Linda Sarsour.

The Henry Street Settlement invited the anti-Israel activist to participate in a panel discussion called “Immigrant New York: The New Majority” next week.

According to the Jewish Press, Rabbi Zvi Romm, spiritual leader the Bialystoker Synagogue, the area’s largest Orthodox congregation, is not happy with his neighbor’s choice in Sarsour. He takes issue with giving a known Israel basher such a platform.

Below is the letter sent to David Garza, executive director of the Henry Street Settlement. The rabbi certainly doesn’t mince words, asking that the organization announce that it does not endorse her views, and also issue a statement “celebrating the State of Israel, the only full democracy in the Middle East.”

Dear Mr. Garza,

I hope you are well. I’m writing you with regard to the upcoming ‘Lilian Wald Symposium’ on ‘Immigrant New York: The New Majority,’ to be held at the Abrons Art Center on May 16th. The Henry Street Settlement is proudly promoting Linda Sarsour as a panelist at the symposium.

We, the members of the Bialystoker Synagogue, are happy to be next-door neighbors of the Henry Street Settlement. But we are profoundly disturbed by the fact that our neighbors have given Ms. Sarsour this platform.

Ms. Sarsour has been an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement, seeking to damage the State of Israel economically. She has declared that one cannot be a Zionist and a feminist, as Palestinian women are oppressed – ignoring the many, many abuses of women’s rights which are rampant in the Arab world surrounding Israel. She has tweeted that a young Palestinian boy going to throw stones at Israeli soldiers is the ‘definition of courage.’ She has stated that there is ‘nothing creepier than Zionism.’

We, who love and support the State of Israel, are appalled by these positions and statements. By giving Linda Sarsour such a prominent platform, we feel that the Henry Street Settlement is indirectly expressing its tolerance of these anti-Israel positions.

We feel that it is incredibly important that the Henry Street Settlement clearly and unambiguously state that it does not endorse Ms. Sarsour’s positions on Israel and Zionism. As Israel marks its sixty-ninth anniversary, we would greatly appreciate a statement from Henry Street Settlement celebrating the State of Israel, the only full democracy in the Middle East.

Rabbi Zvi Romm

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