Jewish and Israel human rights groups are calling for Google and Amazon to pull out of the upcoming Web Summit after it was announced that Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist who has promoted anti-Israel narratives and has a history of antisemitic comments, would be a featured speaker.
The Web Summit, the largest tech event in the world will take place in Lisbon, Portugal from November 1 to 4. Other sponsors include Siemens and Cisco Systems. Topics such as emerging technologies, advertising, investing, and venture capitalism will be discussed. Sarsour is slated to speak twice during the conference.
Sarsour gained notariaty in 2017 as co-chair of the Women’s March. She was ousted from the group in 2019 after her past antisemitic comments became a detriment to the organization. She is well known for her support of the antisemitic BDS movement, which promotes boycotts and sanctions against the Jewish state. She is now the co-founder of the Until Freedom group, which is described as a "social justice organization with diverse people of color addressing systemic and racial injustice."
Other speakers at the Web Summit include comedian Amy Poehler, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. But the appearance of Sarsour has Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy groups calling for major tech companies to pull out of the event.
Jason Issacson, chief policy and political affairs officer for the American Jewish Committee told Newsweek, "That Linda Sarsour, who has made a career out of lying about Israel, vilifying the Jewish people and seeking to make antisemitism politically correct, is expected to be a speaker at the Web Summit raises profound questions about the sponsors' judgment and agenda."
In July, Sarsour continued her pattern of attacks against the Jewish state by retweeting Rafael Shimunov, board member for the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, which criticized the Israeli Defense Force’s efforts to help with search and rescue following the condominium collapse in Seaside, Florida. The tweet read: "I really don't understand the IDF's involvement in rescue attempts of people tragically crushed under buildings in Miami. Their expertise is crushing buildings with people in them, not rescuing them," and added emojis of two fingers pointing down above the tweet. She had since deleted the post.
The retweet prompted condemnation from Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the UN, and Michael Dickson, the executive director for StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization.
Sarsour has a long history of antisemitic and controversial social media posts. In 2011, she posted a tweet to insult activist Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese-American writer and anti-Islam activist, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which said, "Brigitte Gabriel=Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She's asking 4 an A$$ whippin'. I wish I could take their vaginas away - they don't deserve to be women."
Sarsour has even praised the Nation of Islam, run by rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, and called the organization integral to the history of Islam in America.
The description for her speaking appearance at Web Summit itself sparked controversy by citing known Holocaust author Elie Wiesel to introduce Sarsour: "In 1999, Elie Wiesel warned against the perils of indifference, against being bystanders in the face of evil. In this session, we're joined by two individuals who have heeded that warning and through their efforts, have made the world a better place."
John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel was quoted by Newsweek as saying, "No organization of conscience should provide Linda Sarsour a platform. She has a long history of anti-Semitism and should be shunned by all who abhor such bigotry. Adding insult to injury, the organizers of Web Summit sought fit to cite the late Elie Wiesel in their description of Sarsour's session."
Sarsour has previously been under fire for comments about the Holocaust. In 2017, a group of Holocaust survivors wrote a letter to then New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, asking him to stop Sarsour from speaking at a City University of New York graduation.
Rob Babos, a communications associate for the conference, told Newsweek that the guiding principle of the conference is to "bring people together from different backgrounds and beliefs." This statement goes completely against having a speaker such as Sarsour at the summit, Hagee saying about the organizers, "[they] are either indifferent to anti-Semitism or have had the wool pulled over their eyes. Either way, they need to rectify this abomination immediately."