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A Britisher’s View: Is Linda Sar-ious?

The Brooklyn Paper

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.”

Sabruzzo@cnglocal.com

Updated 10:30 am, July 28, 2011: Updated for more clarity.
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Reader Feedback

Bob from Beirut Brooklyn says:
"...against my own people,”

ummmm...I thought "your people" were Americans?
July 25, 2011, 5:12 pm
Frankie from Bay Ridge says:
Shavana, as organizer of this Picnic, you hit it right on the head. You got it right. Dan MacLeod, went for that "Banned On The Fourth of July" Sensationalistic False Headline to catch the readers eyes. He should retract his headline. Thank You Shavana for your unique insight.
July 25, 2011, 5:19 pm
Richard Rizzuto from Bay Ridge says:
Yeah where were U on 911 , U know what take a walk back to the stinking country u came from. Ur just a bunch of liars, U lie to everyone and what's this for Ur own publicity. Everyone was welcome at the event, me personally I don't want U there.!! Shalom!!
July 25, 2011, 6:27 pm
CJ from Bay Ridge says:
Do your homework - this organization wasn't even established until after 9/11. This article is just silly, and doesn't represent American views. Go meet some real Americans. Oh Bay Ridge. Love you!
July 25, 2011, 11:53 pm
Barb from Brooklyn says:
OMG that headline is SOOOO PRESHUSSS!
July 25, 2011, 11:57 pm
Susie from Park Slope says:
"While New Yorkers wrestled over why Muslims would want to kill Americans..."

Terrorists killed Americans. Just because they called themselves Muslims does not mean that you can imply all Muslims are terrorists. Linda Sarsour is a true New Yorker and American, suggesting otherwise is preposterous. I think she, as a Muslim woman, probably struggled with the events of 9/11 just as much as anyone else. Probably more than you.

This article is pathetic.
July 26, 2011, 11:15 am
Mike from Maspeth says:
This is classic BS from Shavana Abruzzo! Her columns have always been anti-Arab rants with no facts to back them up and this one is no different. I'd hoped if I avoided the Courier Life I'd never have to see her name again, but now that ALL the locals are owned by Rupert Murdoch, I see we're gong to have to see her in the Brooklyn Paper, too. What a shame, and shame on her!
July 26, 2011, 12:57 pm
JR from Park Slope says:
This article is complete BS. It is completely anti-Arab, completely ignorant of the facts about the Arab American Association of NY. Next time at least do some research before you go on a lunatic rant. I've lived in Brooklyn my entire life and to see this kind of article in a Brooklyn news publication is embarrassing and shaming.
July 26, 2011, 4:53 pm
RU says:
Shavana Abruzzo, you are an embarrassment. You should be ashamed of yourself trying to insinuate Linda with 9/11. One has nothing to do with the other. Frankie is a dope and so are you. Go pray at the altar of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingram some more. You are all racist Republicans. No wonder this type of thing is perpetuated here.
July 26, 2011, 6:39 pm
Vosbiker1 says:
Mr. Abruzzo, Your perverted view of America is not my view of America. Please speak for yourself because you surely do not speak for me.
July 26, 2011, 7:17 pm
Logan says:
I am writing to the Editors and Owners of this paper to see that Mrs. Abruzzo is fired. Her divisive musings have gone too far this time.
July 26, 2011, 8:53 pm
Kevin Walsh from Tribeca says:
Nice racist screed Shavana.

So Italian Americans are correct to object to being vilified as mafiosa. And Irish Americans are right to object to being classified as drunken fools. Of course German & Japanese Americans are justified in deploring being considered enemy holdovers from WW2.

Arab Americans however, need to simply accept that they are others, not welcome, have no place in the melting pot: are, and always will be, others.

You, not Ms. Sarsour, are the anti American.
July 26, 2011, 10:42 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Gersh, why do you print this crap?
July 27, 2011, 12:07 am
Marc Allen says:
Relentlessly attacking individuals and organizations who purport to represent moderate Islam in America, while painting them as secret operatives in the grand Muslim scheme (typically attributed to a conspiracy led by the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood) to destroy the West, is NOT American; it's HATEFUL.

I am having trouble figuring out what exactly you are trying to prove, Ms. Abruzzo. If your aim is to isolate and destroy the violence-prone fanatical Muslim fringe, then it doesn't make sense to undermine moderate Muslims and argue that only confirmed terrorists are interpreting the Koran correctly. Rather, it makes perfect sense if your aim is to build a widespread, irrational fear and hostility against Islam in general — encouraging, rather than helping defuse, an eventual global confrontation between East and West, which is what it seems you are trying to do. But, I'd hate to paint you with such a large brush... even though you seem to have no problem doing it to others.
July 27, 2011, 8:16 am
MIKE D from BAY RIDGE says:
The vilifying headline was a piece to make phony news and help Ms. Sarsour become a voice of her community she wants to assign her self as. It was a 4th of July picnic which is a celebration of America and American culture is the way we do it. There are plenty of Bay Ridge events that serve as a platform to celebrate our many ethnic backgrounds. This was inappropriate and a power play by her to force the picnic to assume the theme she wants to force on it. This celebration was in it's 4th year of tradition and she wants to jump on the backs of the hard work by it's organizers. After they do the heavy lifting, she makes a demand to represent her culture when no other culture but our common one is being celebrated. She enlists the papers to trash it as bias because she isn't calling the dance. ASIMILIATE LINDA. We are all children of immigrants and we all understood what that means. We can hold on to our culture and there are times any places to celebrate and share it. This phony ploy of yours shows you are either not doing your homework or trying to force your culture down everyones throat when no one else was or would. GET REAL and fight real battles and stop inventing ways to make yourself an outcast.
July 28, 2011, 8:33 pm
Chuck from Sunset Park says:
"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." - I know it's a stereotype, but jews pretty much bellyache all the time.

All joking aside, this op-ed piece is a disgrace. Anyone who thinks muslims are here to impose sharia law needs to take the tinfoil off their head.
Aug. 4, 2011, 9:47 am
sarah from bay ridge says:
As a British person living in Bay Ridge, I have long been both puzzled and ashamed that Shavana's vile rants are titled 'A Britisher's view'
Aug. 20, 2011, 1:11 pm
sarah from bay ridge says:
also:

a) AAANY opened in December 2001 - plenty of 'days and weeks' after 9/11, as others here have noted

b) Many Arab American leaders held and attended interfaith ceremonies after 9/11, including Pastor Khader Al-Yateem, the Palestinian leader of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge
Aug. 20, 2011, 1:18 pm

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