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Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sunrise Movement Included in Jewish Group’s ‘Global Antisemitism’ List

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations (San Francisco) addresses the audience during a panel discussion titled ‘Dismantling All Forms Of Oppression’ during the three-day Women’s Convention at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., October 28, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the climate change group Sunrise Movement have been jointly ranked eighth on a “Global Anti-Semitism” top ten list to be issued Tuesday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), The Algemeiner has learned.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s associate dean and global social action director, told The Algemeiner that while “CAIR has presented itself as a civil rights group,” a recent statement “made by a top official at CAIR is openly antisemitic and the support given to her by CAIR helps mainstream Jew-hatred in the US.”

The official in question is Zahra Billoo, executive director of CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area affiliate, who in a speech last month claimed there is a “connection between Islamophobia and Zionism,” and said, “The organizations that promote Zionist agendas, materials, marketing, and legislation are the same ones that want to ban Muslims.”

She accused American police officers that kill “unarmed Black men, woman, and children” of being trained by the Israeli military, and called for opposition to “polite Zionists” like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation, “Zionist synagogues,” and campus Hillel chapters. “They are not your friends,” Billoo said.

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She presented no evidence to back up her various claims.

While Billoo’s comments drew widespread criticism from the ADL and other Jewish community groups, CAIR defended her and accused the ADL of making “false allegations of antisemitism in a cynical attempt to silence American Muslims.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, who heads the prominent Jewish civil rights group, reiterated in response that “Ms. Billoo’s speech, and CAIR’s support for it, are both blatant acts of antisemitism.”

In explaining CAIR’s placement on its list, SWC said, “Billoo is but one of venomous professional Israel and Jew-haters who use non-existent dots to create phony links between Israel and US social crises. They always wrap their bigotry in the mantle of social justice. The goal is demonizing the Jewish state and silencing Israel’s supporters on campus and Capitol Hill.”

The SWC also included the Sunrise Movement in its ranking, after the progressive group’s Washington, D.C. chapter pulled out of a voting-rights rally due to the “participation of a number of Zionist organizations” — namely, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, National Council of Jewish Women, and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. It also called the State of Israel “a colonial project” that “routinely displaces Palestinians.”

Following an outpouring of criticism from Jewish groups, Sunrise’s national office said it is a “decentralized, grassroots movement,” and that it wasn’t given the chance the review the D.C. branch’s statement “before it became public.” This response, which also affirmed that “the rights of Palestinians” are part of the Sunrise Movement’s “struggle” for “collective liberation,” was rebuked for failing to directly condemn the D.C. branch’s exclusion of Jewish groups.

During the incident, SWC claimed, the Sunrise Movement “made clear that its advocacy for protecting rights did not extend to Jews who dare identify as Zionists.”

Also included on SWC’s list are Iran, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and the BBC, among others. The British public broadcaster came under fire for its controversial reporting on an antisemitic attack in London last month, as well as for tweets from a former journalist that claimed “Hitler was right,” and from a senior producer that misrepresented an attack in Israel.

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