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Linda Sarsour raises over $100,000 to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri

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After a Jewish cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri was vandalized with damage to at least 200 headstones during the weekend, activist Linda Sarsour fundraised more than $100,000 in a little more than a day (as of the time of publication) to cover the repairs.

Sarsour, an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington last month, set up the online campaign “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery” with Tarek El-Messidi, the director of the Muslim charity CelebrateMercy, with the goal of reaching $20,000 to cover restoration costs for the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City. Within three hours Sarsour and El-Messidi had exceeded their goal.

The campaign is still accepting donations–“Any additional funds raised in this campaign will assist other vandalized Jewish centers nationwide,” an update on the website said, “We’ve raised $80,000 in the first 24 hours! That’s four times the goal – raising $1,000 every 20 minutes.” [emphasis in original]

“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. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event,” said a statement on the campaign website.

The response on social media has been positive, particularly among Jews in the St. Louis area with relatives buried in the cemetery. Celebrities have also endorsed the effort on social media, including J.K. Rowling and Ellen DeGeneres:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that police are investigating the damage to the cemetery, but as of now have not yet determined if it was a hate crime targeting the Jewish community.

Marla Levinson, whose parents and grandparents are buried in Chesed Shel Emeth, told the paper, “It’s unbelievably disrespectful, just a shame,” continuing, “Nobody’s saying it’s a hate crime, but it certainly wasn’t love or a compassionate situation.”

The desecration of the graves comes amid a wave of bomb threats with 68 in the last six weeks across the U.S. (and one Canadian province), the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. 

In January, arsonists destroyed a mosque in Texas. A similar online crowd-funded campaign collected more than $850,000 to pay for rebuilding.


Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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11 Responses

  1. amigo on February 23, 2017, 2:11 pm

    Don,t expect this to go global.Not because it is not newsworthy but because it might put Muslims in a positive light.

  2. just on February 23, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Bravo to Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi.

    I wonder how many contributors to this cause know that Israel regularly destroys and desecrates Palestinian cemeteries…

    “Israel razes Muslim graves in East Jerusalem cemetery

    Israeli authorities today demolished several graves in occupied East Jerusalem’s historical Bab Al-Rahmeh cemetery east of Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to a Palestinian official. Israel had confiscated parts of this historical cemetery in September 2015.

    “Personnel from the so-called ‘Israeli Nature Authority’ – backed by large numbers of Israeli forces – stormed the historical Bab Al-Rahmeh cemetery and knocked down eight graves,” Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of the committee for the preservation of Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, told the Anadolu Agency. He added:

    Israel wants to transform the cemetery into a national park for Israeli Jews

    Bab Al-Rahmeh is a Muslim cemetery that dates back more than 1,400 years. It is considered one of East Jerusalem’s most important Islamic historical sites.

    Sheikh Omar Al-Qiswani, Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Palestinian director, denounced ongoing Israeli violations against Muslim sites in East Jerusalem.

    “Israel claims the graves are situated on land owned by the Israeli Nature Authority,” Al-Qiswani told Anadolu. “But Israel has no historical – or legal – basis on which to claim any right to the cemetery,” he said. “The site is an Islamic Waqf [endowment] and will remain so.”

    Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital – a move never recognised by the international community.”


    “Vandals destroy crosses at Beit Shemesh Christian cemeteryLatin Patriarchate of Jerusalem urges Israel to investigate desecration of dozens of graves at Beit Jamal Monastery”


    “Israel’s destruction of Mamilla cemetery part of effort to remove Palestine from Jerusalem

    Mamilla cemetery does not exist anymore. What exists now is a hotel, a school, a parking lot, a public garden, a nightclub and the US consulate. Also a museum to celebrate tolerance. But the meaning of tolerance in West Jerusalem, a few steps away from the Old City, is surreal — to build the story of a new Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities are erasing its past. Mamilla cemetery is a prominent cornerstone of the Arab, Islamic and Palestinian identity of the city. But today it’s a forgotten place.

    Since the creation of the State of Israel, the Israeli government has worked to remove the graveyard from the heart of West Jerusalem. “In 1948, the year of Nakba, the catastrophe of the Palestinian people, the upper part was immediately transformed into a public park, renamed ‘Independence Park’, aimed at celebrating the victory in the ’48 war. They created the garden, uprooting and removing dozens of ancient tombs.” explains Nader Dajani as he walks between what remains of the cemetery of his ancestors. The Dajani family is one of the most ancient and wealthy families in Palestine, several of its members are buried in Mamilla. …”

    – See more at:


    Of course, some in the US are again actively seeking to also desecrate ancient burial grounds of the native Americans. African American cemeteries have also often been desecrated.

    Isn’t it amazing how Israel and the US have much to be ashamed of and in common? It’s not a coincidence…

  3. Jane Porter on February 24, 2017, 9:17 am

    It reminds me that im mid 1980, a French engineer, working in Iraq for french building -company
    told me that they had, cleaning the ground to build a factory, by mistake damaged an old Jewish cemetery.
    The government of Sadam Hussein obliged them to pay huge amount of money to restore the cemetery.
    At the same time, a civil nuclear plant also built by a French company got bombed by israeli
    air force.
    If Ms Sarsour has some money over, that she ‘ll send it to Palestine to repair houses or cemeteries. If she she organise a new crowd founding , I would be happy to send money.

  4. Theo on February 24, 2017, 1:09 pm

    How idiotic, that money would have been more welcome in Gaza, perhaps providing for those enslaved children toys or medicin! Palestinians, don´t be generous to those who enslave, occupy und even kill you every single day!

    • Mooser on February 24, 2017, 2:14 pm

      “Palestinians, don´t be generous to those who enslave, occupy und even kill you every single day!”

      “It hurts to say this, however the palestinians are nothing, but cowards! 70 years ago they greatly outnumbered the invading jews, however they just let them take control of more and more land. Their intifada was nothing, but children throwing stones at armoured vehicles and getting shot in return. Where were all the men, the types who put a fear into the IDF in Lebanon? Hiding behind their children, so anyone who expects these people to put up a good fight for their freedom also believes the moon is made out of fine swiss cheese.” “Theo”

      . “The palestinians never had a leadership that was not a paid agent of Israel/USA, the millions every year they pocket and pay into foreign accounts more than insure their loyalty. When Arafat died, he had a swiss bank account with more than 50 million dollars credit, all saved from his pay als president, and I bet that Abbas and the rest of those traitors also have similar sums at their disposal….The zionists won and we must except it, like it or not.” – “Theo”

    • talknic on February 24, 2017, 9:32 pm

      @ Theo February 24, 2017, 1:09 pm

      “How idiotic, that money would have been more welcome in Gaza, perhaps providing for those enslaved children toys or medicin!”

      What is idiotic, is wanting her to pay for damagess caused by Israel’s illegal Naziesque collective punishment policies.

      As though that’s not enough idiocy, Theo then goes on to say Palestinians, don´t be generous to those who enslave, occupy und even kill you every single day!”

      One simply couldn’t make it up and there’s no need, because Theo does a wonderful job.

      ProZio propagandists really are in a league of their own

      • Mooser on February 25, 2017, 11:11 am

        “ProZio propagandists really are in a league of their own”

        Well, as you can see by the quotes, the Palestinians have let “Theo” down rather badly.

        First, a lack of martial ardor and military tradition, and now kindness?

    • DaBakr on February 27, 2017, 3:54 am

      I have never in the past sever felt sorry for a commenter so sorely absent from his primary discourse, Replaced by an extreme case of intrenched mediocre logic and true believing characteristics that the assumption that the hamas takes most offers from

  5. xanadou on February 24, 2017, 4:50 pm

    $20K needed, $130k+raised and still accepting donations… So the surplus is going to repair vandalised Jewish cemeteries in other parts of the country. Lawrrd have mercy! Why?

    This will only inspire more vandalism in other parts of the country whose state officials are now absolved from giving a damn about some of their own responsibilities: “the Muslim pig… umm, chicken banks will bail us out”.

    This is grossly embarrassing and deeply distressing.

    Why are the US Muslims trying to buy their tormentors’ good will? Which part of “naivete” do they not grasp? Do they not get it that this will only become a precedent for future rip offs and guilt trips and the inevitable backlash when they decide to close that shop?

    Their generosity notwithstanding, where were those generous Muslims when the israeli Luftwaffe was dropping bombs onto Gaza from the clear, unopposed blue skies, entertaining the zio scum sipping coffee while sprawled over the sofas atop the safely away hilltops with a clear view of exploding Gaza whose schools remain damaged, sewers keep flooding onto streets, electricity has become a rare luxury, children are going hungry, adults cannot find jobs, scientists work in unheated labs, and tunnels have to be dug to smuggle in much needed overpriced supplies from Egypt.

    If they are terrified of being seen as supporting the victims of unconscionable genocide, racism, and brutality, a concept that does not seem to trouble the likes of Saban, Adelson et al., and/or buying good will is a reflection of their culture, then why not invest in areas that desperately need help for the living in their host country? Or is investing in blighted black neighbourhoods, or funding breakfasts for poor kids in kindergartens and schools not flashy enough for them?


    • xanadou on February 24, 2017, 5:42 pm

      Oh, gawd, have just noticed: the money well “will collect all funds raised by March 21, 2017, 12am”. Double why?

      I wonder if racist vandals have noticed the wee note and are readying for sick parties at their local cemeteries: Jewish, Black, Indian burial grounds, and/or other minorities that may satisfy the psychos’ need to destroy and defame?

      Ms. Sarsour needs a sober advisor: I’m available.

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