New York, February 6 – A leading Muslim women’s activist sought to allay concerns over her alleged lack of attention to murderous antisemitism in Nazi-occupied Poland this week by explaining that unlike other forms of prejudice, Polish collaboration with Nazis in the mass murder of Jews is not systemic.
Linda Sarsour, a prominent leader of the Women’s March and an advocate for the rights of Muslims, stoked controversy late last year with a comment that whereas Islamophobia and bias against people of color are entrenched in society, hate toward Jews is not embedded structurally in the culture, and therefore deserves less attention. She elaborated Sunday on her contention in the context of Poland’s recent legislation banning invocation of official Polish involvement in the murder of millions of Jews on Polish soil during the Holocaust, by noting that the hundreds of thousands of Jewish deaths at the hands of Poles during and after the Second World War should similarly not be treated as a deep-seated issue in Polish culture.
“There are more important forms of prejudice and hate to combat,” she stated in an interview. “Some places want to ban the hijab, threatening the freedom of religious expression for me and countless other Muslims, and a handful of agitators with a regressive agenda want to make people think collaboration with genocide is a serious issue. I’m sorry, but we have pressing matters of concern in this society, and I am not going to sit here and be dictated to by those who are probably white, male, and non-Muslim about what I should be fighting.”
“I don’t have a single antisemitic bone in my body,” she continued. “I understand that three million Polish Jews are dead, and that a large number of their Polish neighbors took eager part in the massacres and in turning Jews over to the Nazis, but that pales in comparison to the urgency of making Americans understand we have to stand up for the oppressed women in our inner cities, and under occupation in Palestine.”
As a gesture of good faith, suggested Sarsour, she could offer to raise money to maintain Jewish cemeteries and mass grave markers in Eastern Europe commemorating the killing sites used by the Germans and their local collaborators, especially those desecrated by local hooligans, and then claim ignorance when anyone challenges her to produce evidence the funds were in fact transferred to those who take care of the sites.
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