CAIR Antisemites Fight ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness’ Bill
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued an “action alert” last week encouraging its supporters to pressure Congress to oppose the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019.”
The Act was re-introduced in March by US Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and three other senators. It directs the Department of Education to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism, which the US State Department embraced in 2016.
Elements of this working definition encompass modern anti-Israel sentiment that “crosses the line into antisemitism.” That includes denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, claiming that Israel was founded as a racist entity, and applying double standards against Israel not expected of other democracies.
Numerous governments, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other European states, have embraced and promoted this working definition.
CAIR’s alert urged its supporters to “contact their legislators to oppose the falsely-titled ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019.'”
CAIR is worried that if the Department of Education adopts this definition, US Islamist groups will be inhibited in their efforts to stoke anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses. If enacted, CAIR says, the bill “would dangerously politicize antisemitism by equating it with legitimate criticism of Israeli policy.”
That is simply false. The IHRA working definition specifies that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
But dual loyalty smears and comparisons linking the Jewish state to Nazi Germany can be antisemitic, along with “dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government, or other societal institutions.”
CAIR’s efforts to derail this bill are not surprising given the organization’s record of spreading anti-Israel views that often enter the realm of antisemitism.
CAIR leader Zahra Billoo, for example, acknowledged in November that she is “not going to legitimize a country [Israel] that I don’t believe has a right to exist.” She has also denounced Muslim leaders who oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“I don’t think of them as my leaders,” Billoo said at a November gathering with the Ecumenical Peace Institute.
BDS — which seeks to isolate Israel economically and culturally — is considered antisemitic because it singles out the world’s only Jewish state and ignores countries with far worse human rights records.
Billoo, like other US Islamist figures, consistently opposes any type of engagement or interfaith dialogue with organizations that support Israel.
CAIR leaders from across the country often espouse blatantly antisemitic views. CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter Executive Director Hussam Ayloush has referred to “zionazis” and openly called for Israel’s end as a Jewish state, while Florida director Hassan Shibly refused to condemn Hamas and vilified “Israel [and] its supporters” as the “enemies of God and humanity.”
Billoo has similarly called for the destruction of the Jewish state, in a not-so-veiled threat: “From the river to the sea, #Palestine will be free.” Ayloush and Billoo have repeatedly compared Americans who move to Israel and join the Israel Defense Forces to ISIS terrorists.
These CAIR officials are continuing a long track record of antisemitic statements uttered by their leader: National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Back in 1998, Awad singled out the Clinton administration’s Jewish advisers for supposedly opposing an agreement with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq: “Look at their last names. Look at their ethnic, their ethnic or religious or racial background. You will see that these are the same groups that belong to the same interest groups in the administration. These are the same people who are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a third party, and they are the same people who are opposing the peace agreement.”
The “third party” Awad was referring to is Israel. For Awad and other US-based Islamists, the Jewish state and the pro-Israel community in America maintain disproportionate power over US foreign policy. This sentiment is another form of antisemitism, invoking centuries-old tropes of Jewish control of society.
Awad also believes that Jews control the film industry and media. “There is no, no, uh, no secret in the knowledge that filmmakers in Hollywood are of Jewish origin and they have a big effect,” Awad said in Arabic during a 1998 Al Jazeera interview with Yusuf al Qaradawi, the antisemitic spiritual head of the global Muslim Brotherhood.
At a joint Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)-Muslim American Society (MAS) conference in 2010, Awad claimed that “some members of Congress are willing to put the interests of Israel ahead of the United States’ interests.” This view is similar to recent comments by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that levied dual loyalty allegations against American supporters of Israel. Accusing Jews of holding more allegiance to Israel than their host states is another form of antisemitism.
Legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies are important expressions of free speech, especially in academic settings like college campuses. But CAIR leaders continue to demonize Israel in a way that is not conducive to intellectual debate. “From the river to the sea” is not a criticism of Israeli policy. It’s a call to eliminate an existing state. It is flat out antisemitism, which is meant to stifle any support for Israel’s right to defend itself and exist as a Jewish state.
CAIR’s efforts to derail this Congressional bill are further proof of its nefarious objectives.
Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.