Anti-Israel CAIR Leader Who Slammed Interfaith Dialogue Wins Community Award
Last month, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) leader Zahra Billoo said that “pro-Israel work is pro-terror, pro-violence … and pro-apartheid.”
Days later, Billoo received the Community Builder Award from People Acting in Community Together (PACT) during the organization’s annual leadership event.
Billoo’s views, however, do not sound like those of someone who promotes societal cohesion or inclusion.
Originally rescinding Billoo’s award in June, PACT caved to pressure from religious and civic figures and reversed its decision.
But before agreeing to accept the award, Billoo said that she forced PACT to “acknowledge that the Palestinian struggle is inextricably connected to our collective liberation.”
It’s ironic that Billoo received public recognition as a “community builder” given her history of propagating radical Islamist and antisemitic remarks.
Earlier this month, Billoo openly stoked division by drawing a line in the sand between who is a legitimate Muslim leader and who she says is not.
“I’m really cautious of who I call a Muslim leader,” Billoo said at a gathering with the Ecumenical Peace Institute, warning others to be aware “as you see countries in the Middle East, and even Muslim activists in the United States, take problematic positions supporting the State of Israel or opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.”
For Billoo, one cannot be a Muslim leader or activist while opposing a boycott campaign targeting the world’s sole Jewish state.
“I don’t think of them as my leaders,” Billoo said.
Advocating for sanctions and boycotts targeting Israel, while avoiding similar calls against other states who violate human rights on a far larger scale, is a double standard that amounts to antisemitism.
Billoo, like some other US Islamist figures, also consistently opposes any type of engagement or interfaith dialogue with organizations that maintain ties to Israel.
In May, Billoo attacked Muslims who engage in interfaith relations with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). She offered to provide her followers with a “list” of “organizations who work with them [ADL], and half a dozen or so Muslim individuals who take their stages.”
During last year’s Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, Billoo railed against supposed “Zionist influence” in the United States. Billoo rarely refers to Israel without adding the word “apartheid” in conjunction with it; this is Billoo’s way of systematically delegitimizing the Jewish state into an evil caricature, despite Israel being the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.
Billoo not only discourages interfaith dialogue involving Israelis, but actively defends Hamas for firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
On Monday and Tuesday, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups fired over 400 rockets into Israeli communities, killing one person and wounding dozens of others. Israel retaliated with coordinated strikes targeting terrorist infrastructure and weapons depots.
But no matter what Israel does, Billoo will defend the terrorists.
In the past, she has repeatedly equated Americans in the Israeli army with ISIS terrorists, and has accused the FBI of fabricating terrorist threats for public consumption.
“Both ISIS and the IDF are violent, immoral gangs. They’re literally baby killers,” Billoo wrote in May.
She has also urged Muslims to “build a wall of resistance” between themselves and law enforcement, discouraging contact with the FBI.
Perhaps Billoo is a “community builder” — as long as “Zionists” or US law enforcement personnel are not involved in her sense of community. By singling out supporters of the Jewish state, Billoo is engaging in bigotry and actively working to break down interfaith and community relationships. By discouraging contact with the FBI, Billoo is promoting hostility against law enforcement personnel that work to keep local communities safe.
Based on Billoo’s divisive track record, she does not deserve public recognition for anything related to community bonds.
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 as one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.