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April 1, 2022 10:15 am

Anti-Israel Reverend Is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

avatar by Douglas Sandoval


Illustrative: An “apartheid wall” erected by Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Photo: SJP at UIUC.

On March 16th, the College Dean’s Office at American University (AU) announced that the university would drop its co-sponsorship of a March 17th event featuring virulent antisemite Mohammed El-Kurd.

AU’s rescission of sponsorship came after more than 30 concerned students brought a series of libelous and inflammatory comments made by El-Kurd to the administration’s attention. The letter requested that AU drop its co-sponsorship of the event.

A few included El-Kurd’s expressed support for the internationally recognized terrorist organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, his idolized descriptions of “intifadas” and waves of terror against Israelis, casual comparisons of Israelis to Nazis, and numerous antisemitic tropes.

This behavior was apparently enough to convince American University officials to distance the school from the event. Still, it wasn’t enough to deter Reverend Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth United Church of Christ, located a few miles from American University, from hosting El-Kurd at his church.

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On the evening of March 17th, El-Kurd recited 35 minutes of poetry from the pulpit, including a poem featuring an antisemitic blood libel. After El-Kurd completed his segment, Hagler spoke enthusiastically about hosting El-Kurd, and stressed his commitment to the anti-Zionist cause.

Hagler argued that “white supremacy must be defeated; that’s what we have to deal with, from South Africa to Palestine to Washington D.C.”

Hagler’s words are just a thinly-veiled contemporization of classic antisemitism: vilify Jews and the world’s only Jewish state — one of the most historically persecuted minorities — by conflating them with contemporary evil.

Never mind the 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands after Israel’s creation; that more than half of modern-day Israel is composed of Jews of Middle East origin; or that Jews faced brutal persecution in Europe, despite being “white,” as Hagler would describe them.

Hagler’s narrative doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t have to; it’s a thin veneer of social and racial justice verbiage used to mask his virulent antisemitism.

And this isn’t the first time that Hagler has publicly expressed Jew-hatred.

He showed no restraint in a 2015 conference organized by the Presbyterian anti-Zionist propaganda group, Sabeel.

Hagler’s hateful rant before the group featured several libelous claims and inflammatory statements. He accused the State of Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians, argued that “violent reaction has its merits” in reference to Palestinian “resistance,” and questioned the historical connection of Jews to the land of Israel.

In 2019, Hagler addressed students at the University of Maryland (UM). At the event, sponsored by the local Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, Hagler conflated racial issues in America with the Arab-Israeli conflict, making Israelis synonymous with white oppressors and Palestinians with African-American victims of police brutality.

Hagler’s presentation at UM included screening a propaganda video that called for the release of Palestinian “political prisoners” incarcerated in Israeli correctional facilities. The video failed to disclose the genocidal aspirations of the terror groups to which the individuals belong, or the crimes they committed that led to their imprisonment.

It comes as no surprise that Mohammed El-Kurd and Students for Justice in Palestine at American University turned to Reverend Hagler and the Plymouth United Church of Christ. Both parties are united through their shared hatred of Jews and the State of Israel. Both shamelessly continue to justify violence against Israelis, call for the elimination of the Jewish state, and spread antisemitic conspiracy theories. Christians, especially members of the United Church of Christ, must be aware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that promote the world’s oldest hatred in the name of the Christian faith and social causes.

Douglas Sandoval is Managing Editor for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting & Analysis (CAMERA) on Campus.

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