Brooklyn Democrat Dov Hikind demanded Tuesday that Palestinian-American anti-Trump activist Linda Sarsour account for $100,000 that she helped raise for a Jewish cemetery that needs repair, but which says it has not received the money.
Hikind, a New York State Assemblyman, was responding to an article Tuesday at the Algemeiner (original emphasis and link):
A Jewish cemetery in Colorado that has fallen into severe disrepair has yet to receive a check for some $100,000 from a group associated with Palestinian-American BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] activist Linda Sarsour, despite being promised the money several months ago, The Algemeiner learned on Tuesday.
Neal Price of the Golden Hill Cemetery in Lakewood, CO said he had left three unreturned voicemails for Tarek El-Messidi, the founder of non-profit Islamic education organization Celebrate Mercy, who led the high-profile effort by the Muslim community in February and March to raise money for vandalized Jewish cemeteries in the US. El-Messidi’s partner in the effort was Sarsour.
The fundraising effort was a response to a widely-reported wave of antisemitic attacks after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections. Most of the attacks turned out to be hoaxes, but the anti-Trump movement sought to make maximum political use of the story. In that context, Sarsour and other activists set a goal of raising $20,000 from the Muslim community for the repair of Jewish cemeteries that had been vandalized, and exceeded their goal.
The Algemeiner noted that some of the money Sarsour raised did reach its intended targets. Specifically, $50,000 to repair two Jewish cemeteries and a synagogue that had been vandalized was indeed delivered. But the additional money that was promised for the restoration of the Golden Hill Cemetery has allegedly not yet been received.
Hikind issued a statement Tuesday evening:
“Sarsour is a fraud,” said the Assemblyman. “She talks out of both sides of her mouth. One minute she’s claiming to be a disciple of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the next she’s standing with a terrorist on stage at an event [Rasmea Odeh], and singing praises of that terrorist to an audience. I won’t be the least bit surprised to hear that her little Jewish cemetery publicity stunt wasn’t quite what she made it out to be.”
“I understood that Sarsour’s fundraiser was just a publicity stunt meant to mask her efforts to hurt the State of Israel while glorifying her terrorist pals in various Tweets and speeches,” said Hikind. “But I also hoped that the money she raised would at least help these cemeteries. After all, Sarsour has no loss of affection for dead Jews. But this new report raises questions about where the money went. Perhaps if this story gets out, the shame will cause Sarsour to direct the funds to the people it was promised to. Then again, shame implies an elevated sense of self-awareness, and someone who glorifies terrorists is rarely sullied by a scruple.”
Sarsour has not responded directly to Hikind or to the claims in the Algemeiner article. However, on Tuesday, she took to Twitter to threaten the Algemeiner with a lawsuit. She also linked to an article in May in which she responded to earlier criticisms by Hikind, proving donations to the three cemeteries that had been vandalized. (The article also said money would be given to the Colorado cemetery, but that money has allegedly not been paid.)
Last weekend, Sarsour sparked national criticism by calling for “jihad” against the Trump administration. She responded to her critics in an op-ed in the Washington Post, claiming that she was a victim of “Islamophobia.”
Update: Sarsour also responded Tuesday on Facebook, blaming “zionists” for the scrutiny of her donations, and indicating a third party was responsible for the $100,000, which would be donated when the cemetery had a “plan”:
I have the unfortunate receipts of what it costs to be a target of the right wing, alt-right, right wing zionists. This has caused my family great emotional stress & trauma. It’s not free to keep my family safe. I just want people to know I am taking names of media outlets and prominent individuals who have used the last few months to defame my character. I may be quiet but they will pay with their pockets.
Today’s most recent outrageousness is questioning my integrity around the campaign to raise money for Jewish cemeteries. Algemeiner a right wing Zionist media outlet regurgitated a story that I already had responded to a few weeks ago. You can call me what you want BUT DO NOT EVER QUESTION my integrity.
We set out to raise $20K and raised over $100K thanks to generosity of so many people. We ensured that the St. Louis Cemetery (the original focus) received the funds they needed, and we found others who also had incidents of vandalism, etc. The money is being administered by CelebrateMercy, NOT me. There still is money left over and Tarek El-Messidi found a cemetery in Colorado that has been in shambles for years being cared for by a legally blind man. Tarek went and visited them (you can read more in this article) and said that once they had a plan to take on this huge project Tarek would be ready with the funds.
I am exhausted. I am tired of the lies, lies, and more lies. It’s too much and it reignites the most vitriolic human beings on this earth. I am not safe and someone will pay for this with their pockets. Big time.