May 5, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Praises Cong. Donovan for Opposing Terror-Promoting Bigot Sarsour as CUNY Commencement Speaker

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praised U.S. Congressman Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. (R-NY) today for opposing The City University of New York’s (CUNY) decision to name Linda Sarsour as the keynote speaker at its School of Public Health and Health Policy’s commencement.  In a May 2, 2017 letter to CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken, Congressman Donovan described CUNY’s decision as “an embarrassment to the university to host a speaker with a history of derogatory, sexist, and anti-Semitic remarks to deliver the 2017 commencement address.”

Congressman Donovan cited Sarsour’s own record as the basis for his opposition:

  • Sarsour’s “vile, disgusting rhetoric” about a female survivor of genital mutilation [Ayaan Hirsi Ali] who disagrees with many of Sarsour’s positions. Sarsour said she wishes she could take the survivor’s “vagina away.”
  • Sarsour’s praise for Rasmea Odeh who was imprisoned in Israel for her role in terror attacks that killed two people and who is being deported from the U.S. for lying to federal authorities about her criminal past. At a conference last month, Sarsour expressed the “honor and privilege to be . . . on this stage with Rasmea.”Sarsour’s “vile, disgusting rhetoric” about a female survivor of genital mutilation [Ayaan Hirsi Ali] who disagrees with many of Sarsour’s positions. Sarsour said she wishes she could take the survivor’s “vagina away.”
  • Sarsour’s discrediting of women Zionists, saying there is no room in the feminist movement for “people who support the state of Israel.”
  • Sarsour’s fueling of violence by describing as “the definition of courage” a young boy holding rocks in both hands as he walked toward Israeli soldiers.
Like us, Congressman Donovan appreciates that Linda Sarsour has the right to her hateful views. But she has no right to be CUNY’s commencement speaker, nor does CUNY have any obligation to allow her to speak there. 

Morton A. Klein, ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, strongly commended Congressman Donovan for expressing his opposition to CUNY’s decision:  “Like us, Congressman Donovan appreciates that Linda Sarsour has the right to her hateful views. But she has no right to be CUNY’s commencement speaker, nor does CUNY have any obligation to allow her to speak there.  CUNY can choose any commencement speaker it wishes.  In fact, knowing about her praise for terrorists who have murdered Jews and her phony feminism – attacking those who protest Islam’s role in tolerating the abuse of women and girls, and excluding Zionists from the fight for women’s rights – CUNY is legitimizing and mainstreaming those views by honoring Sarsour and giving her a prestigious podium.

“CUNY’s actions are particularly disgraceful because we are talking about a commencement ceremony which, as Congressman Donovan noted, is ‘a flagship event.’  Commencement has enormous significance to students and their families and friends.  There will surely be students for whom commencement has been ruined.  Graduating students deserve a keynote speaker who is inspiring and unifying.  Linda Sarsour is not.  CUNY should rescind her speaking invitation immediately.”