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Head of ADL Blasts Muslim Advocacy Org CAIR for ‘Blatant Antisemitism’

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Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Photo Credit: ADL.

The head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a strong condemnation of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Sunday after the Muslim advocacy group backed racist and antisemitic statements made by one of its executive directors, accusing both of “blatant antisemitism.”

At a Nov. 27 American Muslims for Palestine convention, CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area Executive Director Zahra Billoo said that Islamophobia is promoted by “polite Zionists, the ones that say ‘let’s just break bread together.'”

“We need to pay attention to the Anti-Defamation League, we need to pay attention to the Jewish Federation, we need to pay attention to the Zionist synagogues, we need to pay attention to the Hillel chapters on our campuses,” she said.

She presented no evidence that these groups were Islamophobic.

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Billoo also spread the discredited “deadly exchange” theory that Israel trains US police officers to “kill unarmed black men, women, and children.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Billoo’s remarks “textbook vile, antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage,” days after footage of the event was publicized by the group Israellycool Israel Advocacy.

CAIR then issued a strong statement of support for Billoo’s conspiracy theories, doubling down on her antisemitism. The group said those who pointed out Billoo’s racism “use false allegations of antisemitism in a cynical attempt to silence American Muslims who speak up for Palestinian human rights.”

It targeted Greenblatt for opprobrium, calling his criticism of Billoo’s hate speech “hateful remarks,” and blasted the ADL for “singling out and smearing Muslim leaders who support Palestinian human rights.”

CAIR then endorsed a so-called #DroptheADL social media campaign.

The group later appeared to deny that it had defended Billoo and her antisemitic statements, or that Billoo had made such statements at all, tweeting Sunday, “Yeah, that’s not what she said or what we believe. But go ahead, keep lying.” It then accused the Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post of being “a mouthpiece for Israeli apartheid.”

Greenblatt issued a strident response, saying Billoo “blamed America’s Jewish institutions — from civil rights orgs to respected campus orgs to charitable orgs to virtually every synagogue in the US — for a variety of America’s ills, including Islamophobia. Classic conspiratorial antisemitism.”

“She spins a vast conspiracy around Jewish orgs supporting poverty, homelessness, and police brutality and attacking Muslim Americans for their opposition,” he said. “Claiming that American Jews are working to subject our fellow Americans to poverty and brutality is wildly antisemitic.”

“Ms. Billoo’s speech was not a critique of Israeli policy. It was part of a long campaign to push American Jews out of social justice and civil rights spaces,” Greenblatt asserted. “To be clear, Ms. Billoo’s speech, and CAIR’s support for it, are both blatant acts of antisemitism.”

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