For Hester Street Collaborative, Uproar Over Linda Sarsour Honor

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 at 5:04 am by

The Hester Street Collaborative just announced its annual benefit gala. As part of the fundraiser fete next month, they’re honoring, among others, controversial Palestinian-American activist, Linda Sarsour.

The local nonprofit group – dedicated to urban planning, design, and development “to ensure neighborhoods are shaped by the people who live in them” – is apparently making waves with the decision to include the Brooklyn-born Sarsour. After all, it’s well documented that she and Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory are known Israel bashers with alleged ties to one of America’s most virulant antisemites, Nation of Islam firebrand Louis Farrakhan. (The Atlantic went into depth on this relationship in its piece about how the Women’s March has a “Farrakhan problem.”)

This isn’t the first time that Sarsour has caused controversy here on the Lower East Side. Another social organization with Jewish roots – the Henry Street Settlement – included her on a panel at Abrons Arts Center around this time last year for a discussion about “immigrant New York.” The rabbi of the nearby Bialystoker Synagogue on Willett Street made it known that this was unacceptable; the event nonetheless went on.

We sent two emails to Hester Street asking about whether honoring Sarsour at this event was insensitive given her notoriety, but did not receive any response before publication.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is also participating on the “host committee” and still maintains her backing, despite the controversy. “I’m pleased to support the Hester Street Collaborative, a neighborhood planning nonprofit that does important work in our city,” her spokesperson told us in an email.

It’s worth noting that other local politicians have backed out from the host committee, including Councilwoman Margaret Chin. However, Nydia Velazquez and State Senator Brian Kavanaugh remain participants for the time being.

Meanwhile, an organization called Women’s March for All is stirring up a storm on Twitter, calling the fundraiser event a “normalization” of antisemitism. Their overall mission statement is to increase pressure on the leaders of the March to resign “in order to bring the movement back to a place of respectibility and viability.”

According to a recent report in Newsweek, the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish NGO, found a 57-percent increase in antisemetic-related incidents in America last year.

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