The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued an "action alert" on Thursday encouraging its supporters to pressure Congress to oppose the "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019."
The Act was reintroduced in March by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and three other senators. It directs the Department of Education to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)'s working definition of anti-Semitism, which the State Department embraced in 2016.
Elements of this working definition encompass modern anti-Israel sentiment that "crosses the line into anti-Semitism." That includes denying the Jewish people's right to self-determination, claims that Israel was founded as a racist entity, and applying double standards against Israel not expected of other democracies.
Numerous governments, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other European states, have embraced and promoted this working definition.
CAIR's alert urged its supporters to "contact their legislators to oppose the falsely-titled 'Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019.'"
CAIR is worried that if the U.S. Department of Education adopts this definition, U.S. Islamist groups will be inhibited in their efforts to stoke anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses. If enacted, CAIR says, the bill "would dangerously politicize anti-Semitism by equating it with legitimate criticism of Israeli policy."
That is simply false. The IHRA working definition specifies that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic."
But dual loyalty smears and comparisons linking the Jewish state to Nazi Germany can be, along with "dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions."
CAIR's efforts to derail this bill are not surprising given the organization's record for spreading anti-Israel views that often transcend into the realm of anti-Semitism.
CAIR leader Zahra Billoo, for example, acknowledged in November that she is "not going to legitimize a country [Israel] that I don't believe has a right to exist." She also has denounced Muslim leaders who oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
"I don't think of them as my leaders," Billoo said at a November gathering with the Ecumenical Peace Institute.
BDS – which seeks to isolate Israel economically and culturally – is considered anti-Semitic because it singles out the world's only Jewish state and ignores countries with far worse human rights records.
Billoo, like other U.S. Islamist figures, consistently opposes any type of engagement or interfaith dialogue with organizations that support Israel.
CAIR leaders from across the country often espouse blatantly anti-Semitic views. CAIR's Los Angeles chapter Executive Director Hussam Ayloush has referred to "zionazis" and openly called for Israel's termination, while Florida director Hassan Shibly refused to condemn Hamas and vilified "Israel [and] its supporters" as the "enemies of God and humanity."
Billoo has similarly supported Palestinian terrorists attacking Israelis and openly called for the destruction of the Jewish state, in a not-so-veiled threat: "From the river to the sea, #Palestine will be free."
These are the bigoted figures that U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., counts as her close friends.
These CAIR officials are continuing a long track record of anti-Semitic statements uttered by their leader: National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Back in 1998, Awad singled out the Clinton Administration's Jewish advisers for supposedly opposing an agreement with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"Look at their last names. Look at their ethnic, their ethnic or religious or racial background. You will see that these are the same groups that belong to the same interest groups in the Administration. These are the same people who are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a third party, and they are the same people who are opposing the peace agreement."
The "third party" Awad was referring to is Israel. For Awad and other U.S.-based Islamists, the Jewish state and the pro-Israel community in America maintains disproportionate power of over U.S. foreign policy. This sentiment is another form of anti-Semitism, invoking centuries old tropes of Jewish control of society.
Awad also believes that the "Zionist movement" solely controls the film industry and media. "There is no, no, uh, no secret in the knowledge that filmmakers in Hollywood are of Jewish origin and they have a big effect," Awad said in Arabic during a 1998 Al Jazeera interview with Yusuf al Qaradawi, the anti-Semitic spiritual head of the global Muslim Brotherhood.
At a joint Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)-Muslim American Society (MAS) conference in 2010, Awad claimed that "some of members of Congress are willing to put the interests of Israel ahead of the United States' interests." This view is similar to recent comments by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that levied dual loyalty allegations against American supporters of Israel. Accusing Jews of holding more allegiance to their homeland than their host states is a form of anti-Semitism.
"We need to tell our members of Congress that they have pledged allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, not the State of Israel," Awad said at a 2014 rally in Washington D.C.
Legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies are important expressions of free speech, especially in academic settings like college campuses. But CAIR leaders continue to demonize Israel in a way that is not conducive to intellectual debate. "From the river to the sea" is not a criticism of Israeli policy, though. It's a call to eliminate an existing state. It is flat out anti-Semitism that is meant to intimidate Jewish students on campuses and stifle any support for Israel's right to defend itself and exist as a Jewish state.
CAIR's efforts to derail this congressional bill are further proof of its nefarious objectives.