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Sheesh! If only the Arab American Association of New York had been as inconsolable over 9-11 as it seems to be over an imaginary snub at a Fourth of July community picnic in Bay Ridge, whose organizers correctly declined its self-serving request to have an Arab band perform at the Shore Road Park celebration.
Nettled group President Linda Sarsour — a Palestinian-American who once advocated for a pro-Arab public school in Brooklyn — argued, “Having an Arab-American band play at the Independence Day event visually displays that Arab-Americans are patriotic and they are a partner in all aspects of the community.”
Maybe in her dreams.
Sarsour’s organization has been dozing at the wheel when it comes to being a friend of the greater Brooklyn community. It earned the dubious distinction in the critical days and weeks following the World Trade Center terror attacks when those of us who documented the torment — memorial by wrenching memorial — were struck by the conspicuous absence of Arab-Americans, Arab-American support organizations, and Arab-American religious and community leaders at the round-the-clock interfaith gatherings and vigils promptly organized by mourning Christians and Jews.
While New Yorkers wrestled over why radical Muslims would want to kill Americans, groups such as Sarsour’s — which could have at least empathized — went into hiding. Their overblown fears about an increase in anti-Arab hate crimes — this is America, not the Middle East — went unrealized when the FBI documented 481 attacks against Muslims out of 9,730 bias incidents in 2001, and 170 out of 8,832 the following year when, by Arab reckoning, anti-Arab sentiment was supposed to be at its peak.
The real victims of bias crimes in both years were Jews, history’s eternal scapegoats who sustained 1,828 and 1,426 attacks, respectively, but you didn’t hear them bellyaching.
Sarsour revealed the extent of her U.S. allegiance in the 2004 Columbia Journalism Review article “Kerry Drew Disenchanted Arabs in Bay Ridge,” in which she comments, “[President George W.] Bush has long been backing Israel with cash and weapons against my own people,” and frets more over her own fate in America “these days” than over the abominable fact that her brother-in-law was serving a 12-year prison sentence in Israel for his association with Hamas.
That terror-mongering political party is described by the Council on Foreign Relations as being “the largest and most influential Palestinian militant movement” which “operated a terrorist wing, carrying out suicide bombings and attacks using mortars and short-range rockets.”
Yet, Sarsour — whose first name incidentally is not Koranic but Biblical — doesn’t condemn Hamas in the article, which also reveals that she was questioned by U.S. authorities and that her Palestinian husband faced deportation. She does, however, identify a pair of Arabs pictured on the front page of an Arabic newspaper she was reading at the time of her interview as a cousin who had been in an Israeli jail for 25 years, and a family friend serving a 99-year prison sentence in Israel. The writer also points out that the newspaper bore slogans urging a holy war against Israel.
People are not responsible for the negative actions of others, even loved ones, but they are responsible for calling out murderous thugs whose despicable deeds imperil innocent lives — and Sarsour has missed the mark, repeatedly.
Nowadays, she is reinventing herself as the poetry goddess, Calliope.
“Ten years after 9–11, freedom has a whole new meaning,” she muses gaily in her recent online piece in our sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper, entitled “Freedom is About Love.”
Hey Linda, now repeat after me: “God bless America.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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