The student activist wearing a Bernie Sanders tee who aggressively blamed Chelsea Clinton for the mosque massacres in Christchurch, New Zealand is not unfamiliar with confrontational activism. An activist does that: “campaigns to bring about political or social change.”
But some are saying that in this case, the accusatory confrontation was misplaced. The activist disagrees and reams steadfast. She will not apologize.
Leen Dweik, 21, whose family is from Palestine, is a senior at New York University, an activist whose primary goal according to news sources and her social media, is to free Palestine.
Her Instagram was set to private as this story was being written. But she has kept her Twitter set to public and has explained and defended her actions indeed said she would not apologize. Dweik has seen a lot of support over the past day but is still being condemned by many over what is alleged to be her misplaced anger and accusation.
“To the NYU student who confronted Chelsea Clinton and tried to blame her for the right-wing terrorist attack in New Zealand…please go find Donald Trump.”
“Here is a pregnant Chelsea Clinton being accosted in public by NYU students blaming her for the New Zealand massacre. You are free to have your opinion, but how you express yourself matters. Note how Clinton never shuts down or stops listening, despite not deserving any of this.”
Still, Dweik is a passionate and committed activist and appears to be standing firm in her convictions despite the viral brouhaha over the exchange with Clinton.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Clinton Was Attending a Vigil Friday for the Victims of the Terror Attack on 2 Mosques in Christchurch That Claimed the Lives of 49 Muslim Worshippers. Dweik Confronted Her & Blamed Her ‘Rhetoric’ For Attack
Chelsea Clinton Chelsea Clinton is the co-founder and advisory board co-chair of the ‘Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership’ program at NYU. She was invited, it’s reported, to attend a vigil for the 49 killed and many injured in the deadly terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch.
Student activists tending the vigil confronted Clinton, as was reported by NYU Local.
The 35-second long video shows a portion of the exchange where Dweik confronts Clinton: “After all you have done, all the Islamaphobia you have stoked …”
Clinton says calmly and apologetically: I’m so sorry. It was never my intention……I do believe words matter…”
Dweik is referring to this tweet from Clinton in reference to a tweet request to Rep Ilhan Omar’s tweet that criticized AIPAC: “Please learn how to talk about Jews in a non-anti-Semitic way. Sincerely, American Jews.”
Clinton signed on.
“Co-signed as an American. We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”
Dweik tweeted: “The CAUCASITY that chelsea clinton has showing up to a vigil for the 49 muslims massacred in an islamophobic hate crime after STOKING ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RACISM surrounding ilhan omar…. fucking ridiculous.”
Back to the video.
In the exchange, as Clinton apologizes and says “words matter,” Dweik interrupts: “They do matter …this, this right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words you put out there and I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deep inside. Forty-nine died because of the rhetoric you put out there.”
Clinton says, “I’m so sorry you feel that way.”
Another protestor, off camera, says, “What does ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ mean?”
Dweik said she will not apologize.
“i was on the verge of tears all day today and actually cried on my into and during prayer but the charade of a vigil where more non-muslims than muslims spoke and chelsea clinton was invited made me so viscerally angry and i will not apologize for that.”
She said she’s been getting death threats. And the sources s &he finds ironic.
“getting death threats after calling a hypocritical white woman out at a vigil for murdered muslims is a particularly ripe brand of irony.”
2. Dweik’s Friend & Fellow Activist Rose Asaf is Reported to Have Recorded the Exchange, Posted the Video & Asked For Venmo Donations. Dweik Said the Recoding & Confrontation Were Not Planned & Defends Her Actions
It’s been reported, and with screenshots shared, that Rose Asaf recorded the exchange and then posted it and suggested people consider donating money for Dweik’s “work” on a pay app called Venmo.
“Woman who recorded her ‘best friend’ berating Chelsea Clinton at a vigil is also asking for Venmo donations for her. These people have built a cottage industry where they gain fame, money, and followers for being bullies.”
“@Esor_Fasa has made her account private & changed her profile photo to that of a dog. She was relishing in the attention, donations, & praise from the radicals until the stunt video (where her bestie accosted @ChelseaClinton) went beyond the echo chamber.”
Dweik has denied the exchange was planned.
“i didn’t corner chelsea clinton, i didn’t approach her with anyone else, i didn’t ask people to record me. the confrontation wasn’t planned, though i was going to disrupt her if she spoke and say the same things that i said to her face.”
The thread reads in full:
“i can’t believe this has to be said, but i didn’t tell chelsea clinton she was the one who put a gun to muslims’ heads. i said, & continue to say, that by jumping on the right-wing bandwagon & vilifying ilhan omar, she fed into the EXACT discourse we were at the vigil to protest …”
“if the muslims who were there felt uncomfortable with her presence—and let me tell you, the number of people who came up to me after to thank me for confronting her was not insignificant—then she shouldn’t have been there. period.
“the only voices i care about in this situation are those of brown students and muslim students who were in that room. white people yelling at me via a twitter rage is the least of my concerns.”
“all of this stems from the anger and sadness i felt sitting in a space that was supposed to center me and my fellow muslims in mourning and instead became a space in which non-muslims preached abt love while turning around and supporting violent campaigns against muslims globally.”
“last thing i’m gonna say is intensively searching through my tweets to find things i said when i was 14/15 and not fully socially-conscious is a blatant attempt to pull a “gotcha!” and delegitimize me. i’ve grown significantly in the 1/3rd of my life that has passed since then.”
But it appears she’s not been a Clinton fan previously.
“”you’re a bitch” “a bitch is a dog and a dog barks and bark is on trees and trees are a part of nature and nature is beautiful so thanks for calling me beautiful :~)””
3. Dweik, a Determined & Engaged Activist, is an NYU Student Government Senator. She’s Also a Bernie Sanders Supporter Who Says ‘Policy Over Identity’ When Defending Her Support of a White Male Candidate
Currently a Senator-at-Large in NYU student government, whose constituency is Middle Eastern and North African Students, and Documented Noncitizen Students
In December of 2018, as a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, she co-authored a motion resolution passed by NYU’s student government calling on the school to divest from companies with Israel ties.
The Times of Israel reported that the university opposed the resolution. The intention of the resolution was a call for NYU to not invest with Israeli companies who violate “Palestinian human rights and human rights globally.” The companies the SPJ and the student government body called for divestiture from were Caterpillar, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin, all of which the resolution said has “ties to the Israeli military, as well as ‘any other companies involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights globally.'”
NYU Local reported Dweik said at the time that, “As an NYU student, it hurts and shocks me that the university would continue to invest in companies that directly contribute to the human rights violations of my family and my people.”
4. Not Her First Time in the News, Dweik & Other Activists, Including Rose Asaf Who Filmed Her With Clinton, Demonstrated When Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 95, Spoke at NYU in the Fall of 2018
NYU Local reported on the event.
Recordings inside the talk were banned, but several of those who disrupted filmed themselves or were filmed by others.
In one video, activist Leen Dweik yells at Kissinger, “You deserve to answer to war crimes, to crimes against humanity, you deserve to go to jail and then rot in hell,” and was met with boos from attendees. She is quickly approached by a guard, who can be heard saying, “It’s time to go. You’re gonna get arrested, its time to go.”
As she leaves John Beckman, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategic Communications tells her “give your ID to the — ” before the video cuts off.
He told Local in a statement, “Asking students for their IDs is customary when there has been an incident that may involve a disciplinary referral.”
Dweik told Local that after being escorted out she was told to hand over her university ID because she was on NYU property and that she could face arrest if she failed to do so.
“I was like ‘Why do you need my ID?’ and they told me, ‘Oh, don’t worry, you aren’t in trouble, you won’t be in any trouble,’ but then they asked if I live in on-campus housing, and when I said, ‘No, so you can’t take my housing away,’ they said, ‘Don’t worry, that’s not what we are doing,’ and I was like, ‘Then why the in the hell did you ask?’” Dweik recalled.
She said she refused to give them her ID and did not give them her date of birth when they asked.
Dweik, a Bernie Sanders support counts him as a friend, she wrote in a recent tweet.
“what a great pic of me and my good pal bernie!”
Dweik says that for her, it’s not about identity but rather policy in the case of supporting a white male as POTUS.
5. Dweik, Who Had a Vibrant Instagram, Now Made Private, is Active Socially, Too & Has a Popular Depop Store & Loves The Jonas Brothers
Depop is an online store where mostly young people sell new and used garments and accessories. An industry of sorts for some who thrift and then sell. But it appears that many of Dweik’s listings, particularly of designer and high-end clothing, shoes, and accessories is her own and worn, or barely worn.
Dweik’s store features “vintage and second-hand” clothing and has racked up 1,700 followers with a 5-star rating and 74 reviews.
A pair of pink Gucci loafers, which based on an online review originally sold for around $700, for $200, a classic Michael Hoban leather jacket (Hoban was a designer who suited Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra and Heavy D) for $175, and a Gucci belt she said she can’t recall ever wearing for $200.
Dweik appears to be a fan of boy band’s The Jonas Brothers and One Direction, and Harry Styles and Joe Jonas in particular.
“remember how i slept through my first class of senior year? turns out the jonas brothers were on one of the intro slides. i fucked up. i really fucked up.”