A member of the Muslim Public Affairs Council board of directors spoke recently before a Jewish organization based in Southern California, despite his past involvement with an Islamist magazine well-known for virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic material.
This week, MPAC reported that Magdy Eletreby, an MPAC board member, spoke to the "Left, Right, and Center," a Jewish group of retirees based in Orange County, Calif. According to the MPAC press release "Eletreby gave an overview of Muslim beliefs pointing out the areas of commonality between three Abraham faiths, as well as doctrinal differences." What's missing from this story is Eletreby's past association with a radical publication.
According to public records, Eletreby was listed in 2000 as a board member of Multimedia Vera International (MVI), "a non-profit organization dedicated to the needs of Muslims and others in the field of education and information." From 1985 to 2005, MVI was responsible for publishing The Minaret, a publication which the Investigative Project on Terrorism has shown has a history of publishing virulent hate speech.
As the IPT's investigative report demonstrated, articles and editorials in The Minaret, including those by MPAC members, "downplayed the threat posed by Islamic extremists, served up inflammatory rhetoric about Jews and Zionism, and repeated conspiracy theories about both the 1993 and Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center bombings."
A typical piece, written by Javeed Akhter for the March 2004 issue, painted suicide bombers as young men with "legitimate anger towards the oppressors of Muslims all over the world," and even sought to rationalize their actions. "Restoration of justice and fair play…will largely vaporize the motivation for a suicidal mission," Ahktar argued.
Other Minaret articles, including those published during Eletreby's tenure as a board member, directly praised Hizballah, a group that had by that time been involved in multiple attacks including the deadly 1983 car bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847. Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, a staff writer asserted in the June 2000 issue, was "a clear sign that determination and will can lead to the liberation of an occupied homeland." Describing Hizballah as "the Lebanese freedom fighter group that led the effort to drive Israel out," he wrote it was "being widely praised throughout the world."
Such rhetoric was supplemented by equally hateful cartoons that the magazine ran on a regular basis. The drawings, many by Algerian-American artist Khalil Bendib, typically attacked U.S. support for Israel over allegedly put-upon Palestinians, assailed what they identified as the "Zionist Lobby," and crudely caricatured Israeli leaders and Jews in general.
In a February 2003 cartoon, Osama bin Laden, Ariel Sharon, Jerry Falwell, and Atal Vajpayee are shown linking hands and singing the song, "We are the World." Each are shown with Swastikas on their jackets about the title "Religious Fascists of the World, Unite!" In another cartoon from the September 2000 issue, former Vice President Dick Cheney is drawn with puppets of Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, saying that Muslims and Arabs were the real threat to America. A cartoon which ran during Eletreby's tenure with MVI, in the September 2000 issue, took a direct swipe at U.S. efforts at peace negotiations, suggesting that the U.S. was not an honest broker in its attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.