May 26, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Shocked: ADL Wrongly Supports Sarsour as CUNY Speaker, Yet Properly Rejected Iran Leader as Columbia Speaker

Credit: Festival of Faiths, Islamophobia Discussion with Linda Sarsour, Wki Commons CC 2.0

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) criticized the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today for supporting CUNY‘s decision to honor anti-Israel, pro-BDS, pro-terror Linda Sarsour as the keynote speaker at The City University of New York’s (CUNY) School of Public Health’s commencement ceremony on June 1st.  In a statement issued yesterday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “We profoundly reject Linda Sarsour’s positions that delegitimize Israel” and “oppose the stance [she espoused] that one cannot be simultaneously a feminist and pro-Israel.”  Nevertheless, the ADL was firm that Sarsour should be allowed to speak at CUNY, citing her alleged “First Amendment right to offer those views.”

Paradoxically, the ADL made the opposite – and correct – decision when anti-Israel, pro-terror Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University in 2007.  Noting Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel’s destruction and his remarks denying the Holocaust, the ADL called on Columbia to rescind Ahmadinejad’s speaking invitation.  Indeed, ADL’s Abe Foxman, Jonathan Greenblatt’s predecessor at the organization and himself a lawyer, called Ahmadinejad’s planned visit “a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech,” and emphasized that there was “no requirement, no moral imperative to give him a platform.”

It’s disgraceful that now ADL would justify CUNY’s decision, wrongly claiming that Sarsour has the First Amendment right to speak, when – under Abe Foxman’s leadership – ADL rightly rejected that Ahmadinejad had a First Amendment to speak at Columbia and called for his invitation to be rescinded. 

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein criticized the ADL’s contradictory and outrageous response to CUNY’s speaking invitation to Sarsour, stating:  “Israel-hater Linda Sarsour has no more of a First Amendment right to speak at CUNY than – as ADL’s Abe Foxman acknowledged – Ahmadinejad had at Columbia.  Neither of these bigots is entitled to a platform.  In fact, as ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt should recognize, giving Sarsour the platform at CUNY is far worse and more damaging.  Ahmadinejad’s speech was simply part of a lecture series at Columbia and he was publicly skewered by Columbia’s president immediately prior to his speech, when he was introduced to the audience.  In contrast, CUNY is elevating Sarsour and conferring a special honor on her.  In selecting a commencement speaker, a university is presumably choosing someone who will be an inspiring role model for graduating students, and a reflection of the university’s values and highest ideals.  It is disgraceful that CUNY’s choice is a phony feminist who holds deplorable views that are anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and pro-terror.

“It’s also disgraceful that now ADL would justify CUNY’s decision, wrongly claiming that Sarsour has the First Amendment right to speak, when – under Abe Foxman’s leadership – ADL rightly rejected that Ahmadinejad had a First Amendment to speak at Columbia and called for his invitation to be rescinded.  I couldn’t disagree more with Jonathan Greenblatt:  Linda Sarsour has no First Amendment right to the prestigious platform of keynote speaker at CUNY’s commencement.  As my former colleague Abe Foxman rightfully said, that is ‘a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech.’  Giving Sarsour this prestigious speaking platform at CUNY also legitimizes and mainstreams anti-Semitism, Israel-bashing and radical Islamic terrorism.”