Just over 100 students will receive diplomas at the City University of New York School of Public Health commencement ceremony on Thursday, but the small graduation has already drawn national attention because of controversy over Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour, who is set to deliver the keynote speech.
Sarsour’s selection drew criticism from some right-wing speakers and pundits, including Milo Yiannopoulos and Pamela Gellar, who both protested her speech at a rally outside the university last week. Sarsour’s critics have accused her of holding anti-Semitic views because of her comments on Islam and Middle Eastern politics, including her support for the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has led the push to cancel the speech, sent a letter signed by 100 Holocaust survivors to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s a sad day for New York,” Hikind said, the Jerusalem Post reported. “Our most vulnerable citizens — elderly Holocaust survivors who understand the price of ignoring evil — have to cry out to their elected officials regarding something as obvious as not offering an official platform to a hate peddler like Linda Sarsour.”
Sarsour, who is of Palestinian heritage and was one of the primary organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, denied the accusations and said her beliefs have been mischaracterized. She told TIME on Wednesday that…