Pro-Palestinian activist raises $100,000 for vandalised Jewish cemetery

'We pray that this restores a sense of peace to the Jewish-American community,' say organisers

Harriet Agerholm
Thursday 23 February 2017 13:03 GMT
Muslims raise thousands to repair Jewish cemetery vandalised near St. Louis

A prominent activist associated with a central pro-Palestine movement was behind a crowdfunding campaign for a vandalised Jewish cemetery that has raised tens of thousands of dollars, it has emerged.

Linda Sarsour – a Palestinian-American Muslim rights campaigner who has spoken in support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) action group co-founded the fund after more than 100 headstones in Missouri's 123-year-old Chesed Shel Emeth graveyard were toppled.

The damage to the ancient cemetery came amid reports that 11 Jewish community centres across the US had received hoax bomb threats.

Linda Sarsour speaks onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC
Linda Sarsour speaks onstage during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC (Getty)

Ms Sarsour, along with fellow activist Tarek el-Messidi, started a fund that has raised over $110,000 (£88,200) – far exceeding its initial $20,000 (£16,000) target – to repair the damage.

"Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America," they wrote.

"We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event."

The organisers said any of the money not spent on the cemetery would go towards other Jewish sites that had been vandalised.

In an interview with Haaretz, Ms Sarsour she was “a critic of the State of Israel. I always will be. I have come out in full support of BDS.”

She told the paper she supported former Bernie Sanders to become the Democrat’s nominee for President because he was “a candidate who sees the humanity of the Palestinian people, because I am Palestinian”.

Ms Sarsour co-organised the Women's March on Washington DC in January, one of hundreds of international demonstrations against misogyny after Donald Trump entered the White House.

Since an apparent surge in anti-Semitism in the US, other Muslim groups have offered their support to American Jews, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has offered a $5,000 (£4,100) reward in exchange for information about the bomb threats made against the Jewish centres.

“It is the duty of American Muslims to offer support to the Jewish community and any minority group targeted in the recent spike in hate crimes nationwide," CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said.

“We hope this reward will aid in the swift apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators.”

Donald Trump spoke against anti-Semitism on Tuesday.

“Anti-semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop”, he said.

He added that anti-Semitism was “age-old, and there’s something going on that doesn’t fully allow it to heal. Sometimes it gets better and then it busts apart.

“But we want to have it get very much better, get unified and stay together," he said.

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