Thursday, February 23, 2017

Muslim Americans unite to raise funds for vandalized Jewish cemetery

update:   Times of Israel  A Palestinian-American activist who has voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help repair a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery where at least 170 gravestones were toppled over the weekend.

Linda Sarsour, who played a prominent role in organizing the Women’s March on Washington following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January and was a leading surrogate for US Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries, started the fundraising campaign with activist Tarek El-Messidi to raise $20,000 for repairs. [...]
Sarsour, who has said the labeling of her as a Hamas supporter by conservative groups in the US is an attempt to tarnish her work, told the Haaretz daily that she is “a critic of the State of Israel. I always will be. I have come out in full support of BDS.”
She also told the paper that she supported Sanders because he was “a candidate who sees the humanity of the Palestinian people, because I am Palestinian,” while also saying she favored a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [...]
CNN   A fundraiser for a vandalized Jewish cemetery is sending a strong message of unity and tolerance.
The effort organized by Muslim American activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi was launched this week to fund the repairs of nearly 200 headstones that were damaged and toppled in the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City in Missouri.
    The fundraiser exceeded its goal of $20,000 so fast, it has expanded into an effort to support Jewish community centers that have been targets of anti-Semitism.
    The vandal or vandals destroyed more that 170 headstones at the cemetery, according Anita Feigenbaum, the cemetery's executive director.
    Members of the community have been left rattled.
    "A lot of people are coming out (to the cemetery) -- they're just interested to see, 'Was their loved one's monument affected by this?' " Phillip Weiss, owner of a monument company helping the cemetery lift the downed stones, told CNN affiliate KTVI on Tuesday.
    This year alone, 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states and one Canadian province received dozens of bomb threats, according to the Jewish Community Center Association.
    "All bomb threats this year proved to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations," the association said in a statement.

    Muslim Americans step up to support

    Sarsour of MPower Change and El-Messidi of CelebrateMercy organized the crowdfunding campaign to support the vandalized cemetery.
    Their goal of reaching $20,000 by the end of March was surpassed in three hours, with donations at nearly $60,000 and rising early Wednesday.
    CNN has reached out to Sarsour for comment but has not heard back.
    American Muslim communities and organizations have also stepped up to support Jewish community centers that have targets of bomb threats. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who made the false bomb threats.
    Muslim Americans' efforts to support the Jewish community centers are in contrast to Rick Santorum's accusations Tuesday.
    "If you look at the fact, the people who are responsible for a lot of this anti-Semitism that we're seeing, I hate to say it, a lot of it is coming from the pro-Palestinian or Muslim communities," Santorum told CNN's Chris Cuomo. Santorum did not provide details or examples to support his assertion.[...]

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