On May 25, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind joined some of America’s most notorious hate-mongers to protest against Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour’s then-forthcoming CUNY commencement speech, which took place on May 31. Hikind rubbed elbows with Milo Yiannopoulos and Pam Geller — both avowed Islamophobes, and the former disgraced after appearing to condone pedophilia — in order to “expose” Sarsour as the anti-Semite he so wants us to believe she is. But for Hikind and his friends, Sarsour is an anti-Semite for one reason alone: she is Palestinian.
Hikind’s rally of intimidation turned violent as his supporters surrounded and assaulted 19-year-old Heather Morris, who was counter-protesting. “They tried hitting me with their fists, their sticks, whatever they found,” she said. Violence masquerading as justice against anti-Semitism has long been a staple of Hikind’s, and has been continuously ignored.
Hikind is an avowed follower of and knew well the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, and was a proud member of Kahane’s Jewish Defense League (JDL), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. The JDL committed a slew of terrorist acts on American soil and abroad over a period of three decades, and have been linked to the assassination of Alex Odeh, a regional chairman of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 2001, JDL members were caught plotting the assassination of U.S. Representative Darrell Issa as part of a campaign to bomb Arab targets across the U.S.
The JDL’s followers have also perpetrated some of the most atrocious terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians in Israel and Palestine, including the 1994 massacre in Hebron that left 29 Palestinians dead.
Most recently, JDL members popped up at a demonstration outside the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. in March, beating a Palestinian-American man and assaulting several Jewish activists.
As for Hikind himself, the FBI suspected him of links to a series of bomb plots against Arab targets, although he was never charged. In 2006, he came to the defense of five Jewish teenagers — before their first court appearance – when they were charged with hate crimes for beating a Muslim man while screaming racist slurs at him.
Hikind has pushed the NYPD to racially profile Muslims and those who “appear Muslim,” a measure the NYPD refused. He vehemently opposes marriage equality, claiming: “If we authorize gay marriage in the State of New York, those who want to live and love incestuously will be five steps closer to achieving their goals as well.” In 2013, he showed up to Purim celebrations in blackface; in response to the outrage, he claimed he was the victim and wondered whether it might be more acceptable for him to dress “as a gay man” the following year.
Hikind has also been investigated for embezzling government money which was slated for children’s causes in order to fund his own personal expenses, including a trip to Israel and tuition for his daughter and niece.
Linda Sarsour is a critic of Israel and Zionism, and not everyone will agree with her views. But these opinions do not make Sarsour a terrorist, a terrorist sympathizer, or an anti-Semite. When right-wing vandals attacked a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Sarsour spearheaded efforts to fund its repair, raising over $125,000. She has always stood alongside Americans of all stripes — including Jews — who fight for human rights, equality, and progress. Sarsour, unlike Hikind, has the sense to differentiate between the entirety of a people and its extremists.
Yet the most telling thing about Hikind’s protest against Sarsour last month is the hypocrisy of it all. Indeed, a terrorist sympathizer was there that day — and it was Hikind himself.