Facebook and Twitter posts disclose that Osama Abu Irshaid, an openly pro-Hamas leader of the rabidly anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), met with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and State Department representatives on Monday. The meetings took place as part of AMP's 2017 Palestine Advocacy Day.
Abu Irshaid and AMP representatives met with "dozens for representatives and senators," an AMP statement claimed. They also attended a State Department briefing.
They asked officials to reaffirm the U.S. position that Israeli settlements are illegal; and urged an IRS investigation into the tax exempt status of the Hebron Fund and Jewish National Fund, two groups that help Jewish settlers. They also lobbied against moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Abu Irshaid's participation in the meetings should raise eyebrows considering his history of pro-Hamas advocacy. He previously served as editor of Al-Zaitounah, a pro-Hamas Arabic periodical published by the now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). IAP was the propaganda arm of a U.S.-based Hamas support network organized by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Abu Irshaid also was listed as a research fellow with the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), another Palestine Committee branch that was founded by Hamas political leader Moussa Abu Marzook.
Like the Palestine Committee, Abu Irshaid opposed the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords, which granted Palestinians unprecedented autonomy and raised hopes for a lasting peace. "The most unfortunate aspect of these agreements is that they put an end to the zero-sum game of 'occupied Palestine or independent Israel,' in favor of the latter, an independent Israel," Abu Irshaid wrote in The Middle East Affairs Journal.
During a 2011 program, Abu Irshaid defended Hamas rocket fire as "a legitimate resistance." At the time, those rockets terrorized hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians within their range.
In a December 2014 Facebook post, Abu Irshaid described Hamas as "an army for liberation" whose battalions rise up for the blood of the martyrs instead of capitulating to Israel like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A few months later, Abu Irshaid condemned Egypt for classifying Hamas as a terrorist organization: "Cairo Aviv" designates Hamas as a terrorist organization. Realy! (sic) Look who's talking!? A terrorist murder regime."
Connolly's office and the State Department could not be reached for comment.