You read that headline right. Thank you to Zahra Billoo, the radical Islamist director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area chapter.
We still think she's filled with a blinding hate toward Israel and those who support it. Our gratitude should not be taken as a change of heart. She's no fan of ours, either.
But real honesty is rare, and Billoo displayed it during a recent American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) conference. AMP is a rabidly anti-Israel organization with numerous links to a U.S.-based Hamas support network that operated during the 1990s and into the 2000s.
"Talking at AMP let's be real and call it apartheid Israel. Right? Because that is what it is," Billoo told her AMP audience last month. "And I am clear about I am not going to legitimize a country that I don't believe has a right to exist. And that's where I am."
Billoo does not believe Israel has a right to exist. While it's honest, it's also a horrible statement that demands the elimination of a nation, of the Israeli people and their culture. That's genocide. And that's not good.
But contrast Billoo's direct statement with the controversy surrounding CNN's firing of Marc Lamont Hill. Hill gave a United Nations speech calling for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea." The geographic reality is that a Palestinian state stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea envelops and replaces Israel.
It was not, Hill later insisted, "a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and the West Bank/Gaza." He supports Palestinian self-determination, and claims he is merely "critical of Israeli policy and practice."
The day Hill was fired, Billoo took to Twitter to repeat the slogan that prompted CNN to fire him: "From the river to the sea, #Palestine will be free," she wrote. We know she means it as a call to destroy Israel because she told AMP she doesn't believe the country has a right to exist. It's not clear whether there is any other country in the world she feels should be eliminated other than the one Jewish state.
But Hill's spin is exposed by his solution to the conflict: "a single bi-national democratic state that encompasses Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza." If it encompasses Israel, it replaces Israel. That's what Hill wants, even if he's more cryptic in his language. Billoo comes right out and says it. Most others try to use softer language to describe the same outcome.
He stuck by his sugar coated message when a critic called him out.
As we reported in October, Hill is open to Palestinian violence if it helps them achieve their goals. He warned another Palestinian advocacy group not to adopt "a civil rights tradition which romanticizes nonviolence" and he accused Israel of poisoning Palestinians' water.
Hill is not alone in trying to soften calls for Israel's destruction by advocating for a one-state solution. Billoo's boss, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, echoed Hill's message in a Huffington Post article Friday.
"Recognizing the suffering of the Palestinian people is not an act of bigotry," Awad wrote with Edward Ahmed Mitchell. "Neither is calling on Israelis and Palestinians to co-exist in a democratic state with equal rights."
And who better to define anti-Semitism than Awad, a member of an Islamist lobbying group founded by members of a U.S.-based Hamas support network? He was a member of Palestine Committee, which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals described as created by the Muslim Brotherhood and directed "to support Hamas from abroad." Awad participated in committee meetings. And when CAIR was created in 1994, the Palestine Committee included it among the groups under its umbrella.
When the FBI cut CAIR off from outreach efforts in 2008, it said it was due to concerns about "a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS. Awad is the only executive director CAIR has had.
No doubt Billoo would deny being a Jew-hater simply because she opposes the existence of a Jewish state. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg actually argued that opposing a homeland and a refuge for Jews is not anti-Semitism.
It is to the U.S. State Department. Since 2010, its definition of anti-Semitism includes, "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist."
And "one-state" advocates like Billoo and Hill have little to say about the fate of Israel's 6.2 million Jewish citizens in their utopian vision. It seems to be accepted on faith that everyone would get along and peace would reign. It might be good to hear what Muslim state in the world today offers an example of this happy co-existence between Jews and a Muslim majority.
The real outcome of "a single bi-national democratic state that encompasses Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza" is "a bloodbath," counters University of Chicago evolutionary biologist and author Jerry Coyne. "Many Palestinians are trained from birth to hate Jews, to think that killing them is a good deed, and to believe that dying in that attempt makes you a martyr. You'd have to be foolish to think that a Palestinian-Jewish 'one state' solution, or the 'right of return' (a 'right' that's untenable) is a viable solution. It's a recipe for civil war ... and a bloodbath in which both Arabs and Jews would die, but the state would end up as Palestine. That is why this particular form of anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitism."
So while Billoo is being honest about saying she doesn't think Israel has a right to exist, she joins Hill in engaging in anti-Semitism.