Arecent report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), "Islamophobia in the Mainstream," is a case study in projection—the psychological process of attributing one's own defects to others. In this case, the defect is hate, and the target is an all-too familiar one: the Jewish people and their allies.
It is not difficult here to discern the hater from the hated: Just days after CAIR issued its report, Malik Faisal Akram pursued CAIR's antisemitic agenda by entering a Texas synagogue with a gun. In a speech delivered to a Muslim audience in November, the executive director of CAIR's San Francisco office, Zahra Billoo, identified "Zionist synagogues" like Congregation Beth Israel and all "polite Zionists"—essentially all Jews—as "your enemies," both Islamophobic and opposed to "human rights." Billoo further advised those listening and watching to "fight back."
In just the past two months, CAIR also organized a series of rallies in Texas for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, just as Akram demanded. The connection between CAIR's statements and Malik Akram's beliefs is undeniable—and this is true regardless of whether Akram watched Billoo's speech or was aware of the rallies. This is because CAIR is part of a global network that promotes a hateful agenda that has targeted both Jews and democratic institutions for decades.
CAIR's report is an exercise in disinformation, dishing out terms like "hate group," "misinformation" and "propaganda" without, in most cases, even a single purported example of "Islamophobia." It is just a projection of CAIR's own bigotry, which frequently takes aim at a list of prominent pro-Israel advocates, the Israel Defense Forces and the international Jewish community at-large.
Undoubtedly, before long, the Coalition for Jewish Values, where I serve as managing director, will be part of the assembly that CAIR attacks. When informed by a reporter that our organization had called the report "both pro-terror and antisemitic," CAIR responded by branding us an "extremist voice." And in calling our assessment of the antisemitic nature of the Texas attack "bizarre and unfounded," CAIR professes to know more about Jew-hatred than do 2,000 observant rabbis. Good luck with that.
In its report, CAIR accused the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) of "Islamophobia" because CAMERA once published a report on The Islamic Society of North America that "accuses multiple American-Muslim organizations and individuals to be front groups for terrorism."
The problem for CAIR is that CAMERA's assertions are true.
CAIR was incorporated by Omar Ahmad, Rafiq Jaber and Nihad Awad in 1994. To become its founding director, Awad left his position as public relations director for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which has been described by the FBI counterterrorism chief as "a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants," and by the U.S. government itself as a founding member of the Muslim Brotherhood's "Palestine Committee." Ahmad was the IAP president at that time, while Jaber became IAP president in 1996.
Within a month after its formation, CAIR, which was soon listed as a "working organization" by the Palestine Committee, received a $5,000 check—followed weeks later by a $5,000 wire transfer—from the Holy Land Foundation (HLF).
The HLF was convicted in 2008 of providing over $12 million to Hamas, a U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization. The FBI called this "the largest victory against terrorist financing in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks." HLF's founders received life sentences, and CAIR was listed by the FBI as an unindicted co-conspirator, serving as the public relations arm of a web of terrorist-affiliated groups.
When CAIR was first accused in U.S. Senate testimony of receiving seed money from the HLF, Ahmad denied it, while Awad called it an "outright lie." Presented with a copy of the check, Awad revised his testimony, describing a $5,000 check less than three weeks after incorporation as "a donation like any other."
With its recent report accusing mainstream Jewish organizations as well as allies of the Jewish people of "Islamophobia," CAIR both inverts hater and hated and advances the extremist agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood: to make Jews less welcome, and to make terrorism against Jews more palatable. This is, in fact, what CAIR has done from effectively day one of its existence.
Now that CAIR has targeted Jews in such an open and egregious manner, it has lost any right to the benefit of the doubt—though, in fact, it never had any such right at the outset. CAIR has unmasked itself as the virulent hate group that it has always been. Americans must oppose CAIR and the antisemitism that it foments and disseminates.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.