A group of activists led by Women's March co-chair Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson demonstrated Thursday in front of the New York offices of CNN, demanding they hold anchorman Jake Tapper accountable for what they claim is "dangerous anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim Islamophobia."
Along with seven other women, they delivered a petition they said had been signed by more than 17,000 people demanding action against Tapper, who has been harshly criticized on the left for comparing the influence of U.S. President Donald Trump's rhetoric on white supremacist attacks to that of the cause-and-effect of the words of Palestinian leaders and how they were "validating" violent attacks on Israelis.
In remarks he made in the aftermath of the El Paso shooting on his Sunday show "State of the Union" on August 5, Tapper discussed Trump's influence on the racist and anti-immigrant beliefs of the shooter, Patrick Crusius of Dallas, and went on to say: “You hear conservatives talk all the time – rightly, in my view – about the tone set by the Arab world. The Palestinians and the way they talk about Israelis, justifying – in the same way you’re doing. [There’s] no direct link between what the leader says and the violence to some poor Israeli girl in a pizzeria – but the idea [is] you’re validating this hatred."
Since Tapper's remarks, Sarsour's activist organization MPower Change has been pressuring CNN to take action against him, and JVP has joined in the struggle in support of Sarsour's effort.
"For a public figure like Jake Tapper, instead of calling out white supremacy that he’s making comparison to Arabs and Muslims and Palestinians he’s completely obliterating the real cause of the violence of this violence that our communities are facing and its dangerous and it’s wrong," said Vilkomerson in a video released by the activists.
"Just because he has had some harsh words for Donald Trump doesn’t make him an ally of ours," added Sarsour in the same video. She was more blunt in an August 16 Facebook post, where she wrote "I am sick of Jake Tapper’s shit and the silence of liberals on his clear bigotry against Palestinians," referring in this case, to Tapper’s attack on Miftah, the sponsor of the cancelled trip to Israel by Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
Sarsour and Tapper have a history of clashes: in 2017, Tapper criticized the Women’s March for celebrating the birthday of Assata Shakur, a black militant who killed a New Jersey state trooper in a 1973 shootout. Sarsour charged that Tapper had "joined the ranks of the alt-right" for his attacks on her.
Tapper is the second Jewish-American television personality who has been criticized in recent weeks for on-air remarks about Palestinians. HBO late night satirist Bill Maher has been trading barbs with Congresswoman Tlaib over his criticism of her support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, leading her to tweet that "maybe folks should boycott his show."
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