A pair of rabbis took to the pages of The New York Daily News to defend a controversial commencement speaker at CUNY from charges of terrorism. Yet and still, in their op-ed, “Linda Sarsour is a friend of Jews,” Rabbi Brat Ellman and Rabbi Ellen Lippmann may have given Sarsour’s detractors more material.
For example, they note of an exchange on Twitter between the Palestinian-American activist and Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the subject of gender mutilation that “Sarsour’s retort — that Ali and others she disagrees with “don’t deserve to be women,” so she wishes she could “take their vaginas away” — was written in anger, and we agree it wasn’t nice. But it was not meant to be taken literally, and is hardly proof that she wants to assault Muslims who disagree with her or surgically strike women’s bodies.”
They go on to note that “For others, the ‘proof’ (of Sansour’s support for terrorism] is an image she tweeted in 2015, of a child holding rocks which she captioned: ‘The definition of courage. #Palestine.’ The image was of a child roughly aged 5 approaching a group of heavily armed soldiers.
“Still others point to her friendship with and support of Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of involvement in a 1970 supermarket bombing in Israel that killed two people. They ignore Odeh’s claim that she was tortured and coerced into confessing guilt, a contention worth exploring.”
The rabbis’ credit line in the Daily News reads that, “Ellman is an adjunct professor of religion at Fordham University and with the Bard Prison Initiative. Lippmann is the senior rabbi of Kolot Chayeinu: Voices of our Lives.”