The Biden camp moved to distance itself from Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour after she spoke at a Tuesday meeting of Democratic National Convention delegates, saying she had “no role in the campaign whatsoever.”
Ms. Sarsour spoke at a meeting advertised on the DNC website as “Muslim Delegates Assembly/Caucus and Council Meeting,” but a Democrat official said the gathering was not run by the DNC or Biden campaign.
A former co-leader of the Women’s March, Ms. Sarsour is known for her advocacy of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, as well as her support for convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh and appearance at a 2015 rally organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates emphasized that the former vice president opposes the BDS movement, which urges consumers and companies to stop doing business with Israel.
“Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform,” said Mr. Bates in an email. “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”
Ms. Sarsour swung back by tweeting, “just came here to remind you that you need a coalition to defeat Donald Trump and that Muslim Americans are an important voter bloc in key states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania & I know a little something about how to organize them.”
At the remote meeting, Ms. Sarsour, who leads the Muslim group MPower Change and served as a campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders, offered a lukewarm endorsement of the 2020 Democratic Party.
“The Democratic Party is not perfect,” she said. “But it is absolutely our party in this moment.”
Her appearance sparked a rash of criticism from Republicans and supporters of Israel, including former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat, who accused the party of “amplifying bigots” in the name of “inclusion.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition was skeptical of the Biden campaign’s explanation, tweeting, “Who will you believe, them, or your lying eyes?”
“I’m glad that the Biden campaign condemned Linda Sarsour, but the fact remains that she shouldn’t have been at the DNC at all and Dem Party officials keep punting when asked why she was there,” tweeted the Jewish Journal’s Aaron Bandler.
He pointed to a report in the Daily Beast that said Tamika K. Mallory, another former Women’s March co-leader, spoke Monday at the DNC Black Caucus meeting.
Ms. Mallory, who has praised Mr. Farrakhan and attended his events, and Ms. Sarsour left the Women’s March in September 2019 over allegations of anti-Semitism, which they deny. A third co-leader, Bob Bland, exited the organization at the same time.
The DNC platform states: “We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.”