CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad speaks at an Aug. 26 protest.
"Israel," Abuirshaid said, "is the real danger to stability and peace in the Middle East."
Hosting Bennett, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad argued at the same protest, is as bad as welcoming the Taliban to the White House.
"Imagine if [the] Taliban forms the government, [and] continues to do what it was doing to the people in Afghanistan before they were defeated in 2001," Awad said. "And they became national and international leaders, and if the president of the United States, President Joe Biden, decides to host in the White House the leader of [the] Taliban, what would be the reaction of the U.S. media? What would be the reaction from the public? What would be the reaction of politicians by the fact that Joe Biden would be hosting the leader of [the] Taliban? ... Today it's no different. President Joe Biden is hosting the leader of the Israeli Taliban. Joe Biden is hosting the leader of the settler colonial movement in Israel."
Imagine, instead, thinking that such an outlandish statement is credible. Imagine thinking that this rhetoric is persuasive to anyone who's not a craven anti-Semite. This isn't some tweet Awad or Abuirshaid fired off in an emotional moment. They spoke at a planned and promoted event that was livestreamed on Facebook. These were their prepared remarks.
The White House meeting, Awad said, sends "a message to the world that Israel is an exception, Israel can abuse human rights because it has an agency on Capitol Hill that pours money in the pockets of candidates and congresspeople. And that's what matters. What matters is. Not that people are being killed and maimed and bombed, and their houses are being destroyed on their heads by US-made weapon supplied to Israel."
It won't change, Awad, claimed, because "there's money pouring in the pockets of people like Joe Biden to become candidates and to maintain the status quo." In other words, Jewish money is driving American policy.
Awad has been making such coded, anti-Semitic allegations that Jews run the American government for at least 25 years. In a 1998 Georgetown University speech about Iraq, Awad urged his audience to consider President Clinton's advisers and "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." He later added that "many Presidents are servants to Israel, and it's hard to see someone who is, uh, disobeying the political authority of Jewish interests."
Awad and Abuirshaid provide yet another example of some Palestinian advocates who succumb to blind hate toward the Jewish state to say things no informed or sane person could find reasonable. Of all the problems in the world today, they feel compelled to make Israel the worst.
To argue that Israel is the biggest problem, you have to overlook an awful lot. The Taliban just murdered a folk singer for being a folk singer. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Awad embraces as a model and Abuirshaid calls "a leader in the meaning of the word, and a legitimate ruler," is killing medical workers and other civilians in a ruthless bombing campaign targeting Kurds and Yazidis. Evidence continues to mount showing China is committing a genocide of its Uyghur Muslims.
Still, Abuirshaid, who is still listed as executive director for the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), but was introduced at Thursday's gathering as the head of a new AMP offshoot called AJP Action, seemed to feel he could say something even crazier.
"It is as Islam is being hijacked by ISIS and al-Qaida, Israel is hijacking Judaism," he said. "And I'm not going to shy away from saying this. And I'm not gonna be in this business of political correctness, 'oh my God, he compared Israel to ISIS.' Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Yes, I did compare Israel to ISIS because you're using religion, you're desecrating religion to abuse human rights and to kill human beings in the name of a god that is innocent and does not condone what you do in his name."
This is unadulterated anti-Semitism from Abuirshaid, erasing thousands of years of Jewish history and teaching. As Charles Krauthammer wrote in 1988, "Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store."
Abuirshaid's pride in a display of public idiocy shouldn't need rebuttal, but for the record: ISIS seeks a global caliphate governed under a ruthless version of sharia law. They kill anyone who gets in their way. Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden urged followers to kill Americans anywhere they can.
That inclusion led Bennett to announce a new public safety initiative in June to benefit Israel's Arab communities. Israel also has signed peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan, and just in the past year, with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco. But Abuirshaid insists it's the greatest threat to peace in the region.
But even more important are the strides that Israeli Arabs have made in all spheres. An Israeli Muslim jurist sits on the Israeli Supreme Court. Israeli Arabs serve in the Cabinet, as ambassadors, as top ranking IDF commanders, and as the most senior Israeli police officials. Israeli Arab university enrollments are soaring and Israeli Arab doctors and nurses constitute near majorities at some hospitals. If Israel was so racist, why would it allow relatives of the top most ruthless Hamas terrorists to enter into Israel for specialized hospital treatments even during war time, as it did this past May?
These narrative-busting facts somehow went unmentioned by Thursday's protest speakers. But even a casual glimpse at Awad and Abuirshaid's records make clear why they are so obsessive.
Abuirshaid has numerous connections to a former Hamas-support network in the United States and has praised the terrorist group and its members. Awad appears in a phone list for the Palestine Committee, the same Muslim Brotherhood run Hamas-support network Abuirshaid worked with. And CAIR, which Awad co-founded, was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive Hamas financing prosecution that ended with sweeping convictions.
Other CAIR leaders have made similar outlandish statements trying to equate Israel with ISIS and other terrorists. Those statements have not been retracted, and some remain publicly posted, so the organization appears comfortable with the sentiment.
Like Abuirshaid, Awad and CAIR have been busy trying to convince Americans that ISIS and the Taliban don't represent their faith.
Abuirshaid's AMP, meanwhile, is fighting off claims that it merely is the alter ego for Palestine Committee entities which folded in the face of a $156 million civil judgment for supporting Hamas. The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled that a lawsuit aimed at showing that AMP should be liable for those damages "is ripe for resolution" and should proceed.
At the protest, Abuirshaid also compared Israel to "the white supremacists who took to the streets claiming that this country belongs to them. God did not assign land to any single specific race. God gave land to all of those who he created. We are equal and we reject any racist ideology, as Zionism is a racist ideology."
Another speaker cited a recent police shooting of two black men in Washington, D.C., saying the department participates in an exchange program in Israel. "Where do you think they learn these occupation tactics?" he asked. "The police see themselves as an occupying force in D.C., and they come and treat us the same way after learning the same tactics from Israeli law enforcement.
Both statements are anti-Semitic: comparing Israel to Nazis or denying Jews the right to self-determination are among the examples of anti-Semitism in the definition accepted by the U.S. State Department since 2010. And the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace, which once pushed the same message on police exchanges, now says blaming Israel as a "source of American police violence or racism shifts the blame from the United States to Israel" and "furthers an antisemitic ideology."
But if you believe Israel poses the greatest threat to Middle East peace, that meeting with an elected Israeli prime minister is as bad as meeting with Taliban leaders, furthering an anti-Semitic ideology may just be your comfort zone.
The biggest scandal may be the free pass these brazen bigots and terrorist supporters enjoy from the mainstream media.
Awad appeared Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." He wasn't asked about his, and his organization's, ties to the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee. He wasn't asked why the FBI says it won't deal with CAIR "until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS."
He wasn't asked about a former CAIR chapter leader-turned whistleblower, who claims the organization is not a great place for women and has discriminated against potential hires due to religion. She seems to have receipts.
Instead, he was asked what it means to be Muslim in America. This grants Awad a mantle he neither has earned nor can claim – a representative voice of Muslim Americans. There is no indication CAIR speaks for the Muslim community. Past polling has shown the exact opposite. Awad took advantage of the opportunity to cast the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to cast Muslim Americans as the victims.
While 9/11 traumatized the country, Muslim Americans "have been doubly paying because of the attacks," he said. "...The most lingering effects that impacted our lives for so many years was definitely the discrimination, the hate crimes that have taken [place] ... But the most painful memory that we have until now was the attempt by the government to spy on American Muslims without probable cause."
Hate crimes against any minority group are despicable and merit law enforcement attention. But if ISIS and al-Qaida hijacked Islam, as Abuirshaid argued outside the White House, Awad had a golden opportunity to explain that to the American people. He passed.
It doesn't matter who the Israeli prime minister is. Abuirshaid and Awad, blinded by hate for the Jewish state, would cast him or her as evil incarnate and throw out dog whistles about Judaism and Jewish money and American politics.
It would be good if a news outlet invited them in to ask about that.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the author of eight books on national security and terrorism, the producer of two documentaries, and the author of hundreds of articles in national and international publications.
Copyright © 2021. Investigative Project on Terrorism. All rights reserved.