A local Arab-American activist says Bloomberg still isn’t an ally
It was Michael Bloomberg who turned the political tide on a controversial Brooklyn College event, a political science professor there wrote, in a blog post titled "It's over. The politicians have backed down. We won."
The professor, Corey Robin, wrote, "This morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out strongly in defense of my department’s position on the Brooklyn College/BDS controversy. Then the 'progressive' politicians followed suit."
But a local Arab-American activist who strongly supports Bloomberg's position on the Brooklyn College event thinks the mayor hasn't been consistent in his defense of the rights of the people she represents.
"I don't think Michael Bloomberg is an ally to our community," said Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab-American Association of New York and advocacy coordinator for the National Network of Arab-American Communities.
She said there have been "two times he could have been perceived 'pro our community.'"
One is now, because of his defense of the right of Brooklyn College to hold an event featuring advocates of a boycott of Israel.
The other, according to Sarsour, was when the mayor defended the right of developers to build a mosque near the World Trade Center, citing religious freedom.
"As a Jewish American, on the religious freedom issue, I think that was the only stance he could have taken," she said, noting that Jewish people have "a history of being oppressed. I felt it was a stance he had to take."
But Sarsour said he can't be an ally since he supported a controversial NYPD anti-terrorism program that reportedly entailed monitoring mosques, restaurants and student organizations in which Arabs and Muslims were active.
The Associated Press won a Pulitzer for its series about the surveillance program, which the police department has called inaccurate.
"I don't know why spying on American citizens isn't seen as taking away people's freedoms," Sarsour said. "It's important for him as a Jewish American to stand up for religious freedom, and the Brooklyn College [debate] is similar. But he hasn't been able to reconcile that with the spying."
And the two controversies are not on par with one another, she said.
"Brooklyn College is one incident," said Sarsour. "Spying is much more of a priority for our community, rather than one event tomorrow."
Sarsour, whose activism won her recognition from the White House in 2011, also complained about Bloomberg blocking a proposal to include Muslim holy days as official public school holidays.
If Bloomberg came out against the NYPD tactic, "we'd be BFFs" she said.