by Ari Lieberman
Why has Abdul El-Sayed allied himself with a toxic bigot?
On August 7, Michigan’s citizens will be going to their polling booths to vote in gubernatorial primaries. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley are vying for the GOP ticket. Democratic candidates have whittled to three; former state Senate leader Gretchen Whitmer, business executive Shri Thanedar and former state health official Abdul El-Sayed.
When he first threw his hat in for contention, El-Sayed, Who’s Muslim and whose father is Egyptian, was a dark horse who trailed both the front runner Whitmer as well as Thanedar. However, as reported by the left-wing Intercept, at least one recent poll has him now surpassing Thanedar and within striking distance of Whitmer (other polls still have him lagging).
This should be a source of concern for centrist Democrats, those who cherish free-enterprise as well as those who value the continuation of the strong alliance between Israel and U.S. When it comes to El-Sayed, two age-old adages come to mind; “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and “A man can be judged by the company he keeps.”
On paper, El-Sayed has an impressive resume – he’s a doctor, Rhodes Scholar, and former director of the Detroit Health Department – and appears qualified for the job. But there’s more to being a state’s top executive than impressive credentials. Looking beyond the cover, El-Sayed is a member of the regressive hard Left and has Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez squarely in his corner. In fact, the Democratic Socialist duo has been actively campaigning on his behalf.
But it gets worse, much worse. El-Sayed also maintains close ties to the foul-mouthed racist Linda Sarsour and that says a lot about what kind of person El-Sayed is. El-Sayed is a sly fellow and has been careful to steer clear of the Arab-Israeli dispute so as not to overtly alienate an important constituency. In at least one instance, El-Sayed punted when asked an unsolicited question on the Mideast; “I’m running for governor of Michigan,” he answered.
But his association with Sarsour should raise alarm bells. Sarsour is an anti-Semite to her core and is on record making a number of disparaging comments about the “Jewish media,” Zionism and Israel. She infamously tweeted that there is “nothing creepier than Zionism,” and absurdly asserted that Zionism and feminism are incompatible. Yet Sarsour, in a number of twitter posts, ironically championed Saudi-style Sharia law, which subjugates women and imposes on them institutional second class citizenship.
Last year, Sarsour voiced support for Assata Shakur, a murderer who killed a New Jersey state trooper in a 1973 shootout. That asinine support prompted pushback and criticism from CNN’s Jake Tapper. The thinned-skinned Sarsour then bizarrely accused Tapper of being a member of the “alt-right.”
Sarsour’s unhinged demeanor showed no signs of let-up. On November 29, 2017 Sarsour blamed the “Jewish media” for fostering negative views about her. But perhaps most disconcerting is her unabashed support for the unrepentant Judeophobe, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
There was a time when any association with Farrakhan, even among Democrats, would be the death knell of any political career beyond the confines of garbage collector. In 2005 for example, a smiling Barack Obama was photographed with Farrakhan but the photo was deep-sixed and never saw the light of day until two years after the completion of his two terms. But the Democratic Party of today, with the Jeremy Corbyn-like influence of the Democratic Socialists, has been transformed into a vastly different party, one in which antisemitism has been mainstreamed.
Aspiring Democratic politicians like El-Sayed no longer shy away from toxic bigots like Sarsour. Sadly, they embrace them. On August 7, Michigan’s Democratic primary voters will have a chance to reject this malign influence and partly reverse the Democratic Party’s noxious trajectory.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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