After critical comments by the Biden campaign aimed at Linda Sarsour, the recently arrested radical anti-Israel activist warned the Biden campaign against taking Muslim and Arab-American votes for granted, claiming the Democratic party belongs to her and her communities and is in desperate need of both, leading the Biden campaign to issue swift apologies.
On Sunday, following comments depicting Sarsour as an outsider with condemnable views, the 40-year-old Palestinian-American rabblerouser placed Biden’s campaign on alert as she announced that she is a not a “fringe” or “marginal” voice in the progressive community, with the majority of progressives supporting her views on Palestinian human rights and the “constitutional right to engage in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions [BDS] movement.”
Sarsour added that any condemnation of her is an attack on the larger progressive wing. “We are the current Democratic Party. We are the future of the Democratic Party,” she said. “The Democratic Party needs me and the communities that I come from more than we need them.”
Criticism of Sarsour also drew the ire of numerous Arab and Muslim activists and groups, including many that had pledged support for Biden, as well as a slew of progressive organizations and individuals, resulting in a petition that has so far garnered much support.
As a result, in an effort to avoid more controversy, Biden campaign officials rushed to assure their radical allies that the Biden campaign was with them, issuing apologies for the “egregious misstep.”
The apologies were no small matter, as the campaign’s capitulation to the most extreme elements on the left is a sure sign of what awaits in the event of a Democratic win this election.
However, despite the apologies, the Biden campaign’s less-than-dramatic attempt to quell the outrage did little to satisfy critics on the far left, who have called for the acceptance of Sarsour and a full and open retraction.
Sarsour, who has a history of racist and antisemitic behavior and statements, is an organizer for Black Lives Matter (BLM) and was arrested on Tuesday along with over 60 others during a large-scale demonstration protesting the death of Breonna Taylor.
Sarsour also works closely with scores of other progressive organizations.
A member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a popular figure in Arab and Muslim circles, Sarsour half-heartedly endorsed Biden only after he had selected Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate. “It’s no secret that I have disagreements with both VP Joe Biden & Senator Kamala Harris,” she tweeted after the announcement. “But I know what I need to do – Elect the Biden-Harris ticket and prepare to hold them accountable in the White House.”
In the past, Sarsour worked with the notorious racist Louis Farrakhan, speaking at a Nation of Islam event and defending his organization.
As reported by Breitbart News, Sarsour, a leader of the BDS movement against Israel, has called for “jihad” (Islamic holy war) against Trump, while urging Muslims to declare that opposing Trump is a religious duty under Islam.
Last Tuesday, Sarsour addressed the DNC convention in a caucus meeting for Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly, stating the Democratic Party “is absolutely our party in this moment.”
“Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of antisemitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her [Sarsour’s] views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform,” campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement on Tuesday. “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”
Claiming that she was condemned as part of “a majority of Arab-American, Palestinian American and Muslim American communities” that carry the same views, Sarsour noted her surprise at the criticism as she boasted of being at the forefront of fighting the Trump administration “from day one.”
Taking to Twitter, she warned the Biden campaign spokesperson directly her Muslim community’s votes won’t be taken for granted.
“@AndrewBatesNC, just came here to remind you that you need a coalition to defeat Donald Trump and that Muslim Americans are an important voter bloc in key states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania & I know a little something about how to organize them,” she wrote.
Radicals rally in defense of Sarsour
Radical anti-Israel organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Arab American Institute (AAI) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urged the Biden campaign to retract its statement.
CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group accused of having ties to terror organizations, described the “smearing” of Sarsour as “predictable, despicable and unacceptable” in a strongly worded statement in her defense, while CAIR’s executive director, Zahra Billoo, stated that “the opinions that Linda is being attacked for are held arguably by a majority of the Muslim community.”
In addition, a group of Palestinian-American Democratic delegates demanded an “immediate retraction” of the campaign’s statement against Sarsour.
“This disavowal of Linda Sarsour reeks of misogyny, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry. It provides a false shield for Israel’s human rights abuses,” the delegates said in a statement.
“Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.) expressed her frustration of having to witness the vilification of Sarsour yet again. “I am so sick and tired of folks going after Linda Sarsour and other Palestinian activists for speaking the truth about oppression and injustice,” she wrote.
Many other progressive groups and individuals have also come to Sarsour’s defense.
Dream Defenders, the Israel-boycott-promoting and anti-police organization where Sarsour serves as an advisory board member, stated that they “stand with their inspirational “sister” and “comrade.”
MoveOn, a Soros-funded anti-Republican PAC, called the Muslim activist a “leader in the fight for justice for all of us” and called for the Biden campaign to welcome progressives and Muslim and Arab Americans “even where policy disagreements exist.”
Emgage Action, a Soros-backed Muslim advocacy group which bills itself as the largest Muslim PAC in the country and cohosts a conference that has drawn speakers who referred to homosexuality as a “disease” and defended terrorist groups, put out a statement claiming they were “very concerned” about the comments made against Sarsour and demanded a “speedy and genuine retraction.”
CODEPINK tweeted that it stood with Sarsour and “every brave activist who speaks up for Palestinian human rights.”
DSA BDS and Palestine Solidarity, the national working group for Democratic Socialist members involved in BDS, expressed solidarity with their “comrade” Sarsour, claiming “they smear us because they are threatened by us and the power of our movement.”
In a thread calling attention to Sarsour’s activism, Bend The Arc: Jewish Action, a movement of tens of thousands of pro-BDS progressive Jews all across the country, tweeted that the nearly 160 far-left members of the Jewish community “from a range of backgrounds, experiences, and political perspectives” who condemned attacks on Sarsour in the past, stand with her now.
“Linda, we have your back and we’re grateful you’ve had ours,” the group added.
Far-left CPD Action stated that they “continue to support Linda” for she has “consistently championed the issues that matter most to our communities.”
The Soros-backed anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace Action launched a petition demanding the Biden campaign issue a public apology.
Calling the condemnation of Sarsour “unstrategic,” the petition asserts that the Democratic Party needs to build coalitions “with Palestinian Americans, Muslims and those fighting for Palestinian rights,” while Sarsour and her vision “represents the future we all need.”
“Don’t think you can viciously smear a prominent member of our community – one who has been tirelessly working for social justice for all communities – then talk about and expect our support,” Palestinian-American activist Huwaida Arraf wrote.
Medicare for All activist and featured Democratic Convention speaker Ady Barkan tweeted his outrage at the criticism of Sarsour as he characterized the Biden statement as “vile and dishonest,” only one day after Biden thanked him for his efforts to “ensure a more just, more equal America.”
As outrage grew among progressives, a fearful Biden campaign leadership sought to assuage their concerns.
In an off-the-record virtual meeting with prominent activists on Sunday, Ashley Allison, national coalitions director for the Biden campaign, stated she was sorry for comments critical of Sarsour made by a campaign spokesman.
“I am sorry that that happened,” she said while expressing her hope to help “build back the trust” of Arabs and Muslims pained by the disavowal of Sarsour.
Senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders referred to the criticism of Sarsour as an “egregious misstep” that harmed the work that Muslim advocates have done to mobilize the community to vote in the upcoming election while promising that such criticism would never recur.
“We are not in the business of condemning people and large swathes of the community,” she reiterated.
Biden flip-flops on BDS
Despite Biden’s campaign site pledging to “firmly reject the BDS movement” in an address to the Jewish community, Sanders stressed that the campaign recognises the “constitutional right to free speech on issues like BDS.”
At the meeting, Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, Tony Blinken, also expressed regret over the comments.
“Historically, Republicans and Democrats have been quick to dismiss Muslim, Arab-American and especially Palestinian-American voices, and I want to reiterate on behalf of all of us our support for your communities,” Blinken told the activists, as he pledged that the Biden campaign and future administration would ensure Arab and Muslim representation at the decision-making level.
However, despite the efforts, the Biden campaign’s apologies were deemed inadequate.
Palestinian-American president of New Generation for Palestine, Amer Zahr, said the Biden aides’ remarks during the meeting were not enough, calling for a public apology to Sarsour instead.
“A private apology, where Linda Sarsour was not even present, simply does not suffice for a very public attack on her and our community,” Zahr told Middle East Eye (MEE). “If they expect our community to simply accept this backroom stuff, I’m afraid they will be unpleasantly surprised.”
Calls for the Democratic Party to accept radical figures such as Sarsour are part of a larger aim of progressive leaders and activists who continue to criticize party policies deemed too centrist.
As a result of the latest fiasco with Sarsour as well as other moves on the part of the Biden campaign, many threatened that such moves would only work in Trump’s favor.
“If Joe Biden ignores, demoralizes, or actively alienates his progressive base,” wrote Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan for Democracy Now! on Thursday, “he could pave the way for another Donald Trump victory.”
An essay in Black Star News warned that “the Biden Harris campaign could end up handing the presidency to the White supremacist president on a silver platter unless a quick corrective action is taken by way retraction of the false statement [condemning Sarsour].”
“There is a realistic chance that November’s presidential election may be decided by who wins Michigan. In 2016, President Donald Trump won the Midwestern state by a mere 10,000 votes. Michigan also happens to be home to large Arab and Muslim communities – a constituency in the hundreds of thousands that could sway the election one way or another,” wrote Ali Harbos of MME.
Imam Khalid Latif, executive director of the Islamic Center at New York University, reiterated that in the upcoming presidential election, “Muslims make up a key constituency in various swing states that Democrats will need in order to win.”
As far-left progressives continue to prod the Democratic Party into adopting their objectives, radicals are already foreseeing victory as they continue to behold a Biden campaign which is desperate for their support.
Founder and senior editor of Mondoweiss.net Philip Weiss welcomes the recent “growth of the congressional Squad” as the “fringe” that is “expanding by the day.”
While describing Biden as “old and conservative,” Weiss predicts that “as soon as Biden is in the White House (fingers crossed), the progressives will be all over him. And they are the future.”
With a Democratic Party whose “big tent” is inclusive of those who continue to shift it leftward, his prediction seems all the more probable. As President Trump declared on Monday, if Biden were to win, the “American dream will be dead.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.