GEICO apologizes, reverses course after inviting Linda Sarsour to speak at company event

The pro-Palestinian activist has been widely accused of anti-Semitism

Property and casualty insurer GEICO landed in hot water with several Jewish advocacy groups this week after inviting pro-Palestinian activist and accused antisemite Linda Sarsour to headline a company event.

Following backlash, the company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway apologized and said it had scrapped the event.

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GEICO issued a statement Thursday apologizing for the company's "initial plan" to invite Sarsour to speak at its "internal event" celebrating Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Heritage Month, adding that on Tuesday, they "quickly canceled the event."

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"GEICO does not condone hatred of any kind, and we do not stand for or with anyone who does," the statement reads. "We are not aligned with any form of exclusion."

Linda Sarsour

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: Linda Sarsour speaks onstage at Mothers of the Resistance: Women Leading the Movement during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at JW Marriott Austin on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rita Quinn/Getty Images for SXSW / Getty Images)

Sarsour is a Brooklyn-born Muslim activist and anti-Zionist protestor who has been widely accused of antisemitism. 

The activist stepped down as co-chair of the Women's March in 2019 following accusations that she and other departing members of the board were antisemitic and held close ties with controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan

Sarsour sparked fury and further antisemitism accusations that same year for remarks she made in a speech, where she asked, "How can you be against white supremacy in America and the idea of being in a state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is based on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else?" 

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She is also a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Following reports that Sarsour was asked to speak at a GEICO event, several Jewish groups lambasted the firm and called on them to reverse course.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt took to Twitter expressing that he was "shocked" that a company like GEICO would partner with Sarsour, whom he called "a person who peddles in antisemitic tropes whiles slandering and deligitimizing Israel."

The American Jewish Committee tweeted that Sarsour's "extensive record of trafficking in incendiary, antisemitic comments about the Jewish people and Israel makes her utterly unfit to be the face of @GEICO's ‘diversity & inclusion’ campaign."

StopAntisemitism.org tweeted that the organization was "horrified a respectable company like @GEICO would choose to feature antisemitic bigot @lsarsour to represent the MENA region."

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After GEICO apologized and announced its cancelation of the Sarsour gathering, all three groups commended the company, which is the second-largest insurer in the U.S.