There are three vociferous American organizations that I consider anti-Semitic: Students for Justice in Palestine (very active on campuses), the grossly misnamed Jewish Voice for Peace , and, perhaps most important, the Council on American-Islamic relations (CAIR). Today’s post is about CAIR, as a long publication has just come out detailing the history of the organization and the many anti-Semitic statements of its members and leaders.
One touchstone of anti-Semitism for me and many others is whether a group or a person supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), which aims to squeeze Israel though the three actions given in its name. The mantra of BDS, which was founded to expunge Israel and has a long history of anti-Semitic acts, is this oft-heard phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Of course that means that Israel is supposed to become part of Palestine, so this is an explicit call for the end of the Israeli state. As the big document below states:
Opponents consider the BDS movement antisemitic because it singles out the world’s only Jewish state for treatment not imposed on other states with much worse human rights records, and because it is reminiscent of the Nazis’ economic warfare against Jewish-owned companies.
Another touchstone of anti-Semitism is whether people say, “We’re not anti-Semitic, we’re anti-Zionists.” (Sometimes these people slip up and mistakenly say “Jews” for “Zionists”, showing where their sentiments really lie.) But Zionism is simply the view that the Jews, as a persecuted people, deserved to have their own Jewish homeland. (And guess what: the UN approved it, and it’s already here.) If you don’t think that, then you don’t think Israel should exist, despite the fact that there are religious states throughout the world that aren’t criticized for being religiously based, and, more important, Israel is really run in a largely secular fashion, with Israeli Arabs not only having all the rights of Israeli Jews, but also having representation in Parliament and the courts. If you want to read why anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, you can find information is here, here here, and here.
The third touchstone for being anti-Semitic is if you call Israel an “apartheid state”. This is so misguided as to be pure fabrication. In my view, you have to be delusional to say that, especially because many Arab states and territories, like the Palestinian Territories themselves, are far, far, more “segregated” than is Israel. Try living as a Jew in Gaza, not to mention a women, a gay, or an atheist! As the document below states:
“Apartheid” was the official policy in South Africa from 1948-1994. Under that system, blacks were barred from voting and holding political office; relegated to inferior neighborhoods and schools; and prevented from using the same public accommodations as whites. But none of this applies to Israeli Arabs, who have the right to vote and enjoy representation in the Knesset. They own property and businesses and work in professions alongside Israeli Jews. [None of that, of course, applies to Jews in Palestine.]
Additionally, calling Israel an “apartheid” state qualifies as antisemitic speech under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitismm which the State Department embraced in 2016. The working definition encompasses modern anti-Israel sentiment that “crosses the line into antisemitism” to include “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
All three of the organizations above meet all three criteria. And it’s not just the organizations: many “progressives” in Congress, particularly the Democratic House “squad”, embrace at least one of these views. Here’s a quote from the document investigating CAIR:
In July 2019, the U.S. House voted 398-17 approving a resolution condemning BDS for “encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.” It cited Barghouti’s statement that, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” [Omar Barghouti is a co-founder of BDS and rejects a two-state solution as he wants only one state: Palestine—with Israelis who will of course all be killed.]
Who were the 17 who voted against the resolution? You can see the rollcall here, with the “nay” votes including, of course, Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In fact, of the 17 “nay” votes, 16 were by Democrats and only one by a Republican. Democrats are my party, yet they’re increasingly anti-Semitic, as was Labour in the UK.
At any rate, back to CAIR, which is the most important such organization because it has more money, more influence, and has gulled Americans into thinking that it’s really against anti-Semitism (though it also favors anti-Zionism). CAIR started as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, declared by several countries (but not the US) as a terrorist organization. Hamas, which has been declared a terrorist organization in several western countries, including the US and UK, is also an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and CAIR was reported by the FBI in 2008 to have links to Hamas. (I don’t know, nor does anybody except CAIR officials, whether they still have political or financial links to Hamas.)
Curiously, now that the Biden administration has convened an initiative to develop a National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, it’s not only completely avoiding the issue of anti-Zionism and its connection to anti-Semitism, but, according to the Jewish News Syndicate article below (and other sources), has even brought CAIR in as a partner in this strategy! The article below reports on the temporally long investigation of CAIR that you can read further down (the black document with colored letters), though it’s 113 pages long (I’ve read it). Click to read the JNS piece:
A quote from the article above:
Steve Emerson, founder and executive director of the project (IPT), told JNS that he will release the report, titled “CAIR’s Antisemitism Unmasked,” on June 16. It took two years to assemble the report, which JNS reviewed.
“CAIR was created as a Hamas front group and still functions as a propaganda arm of Hamas to this day,” Emerson told JNS. “Antisemitism is in the DNA of CAIR. It is part of CAIR’s intrinsic fiber.”
CAIR has been in the news of late, following the revelation that the White House brought the group in as a partner on its national strategy on combating antisemitism.
That move, history professor Gil Troy, recently told JNS, is like recruiting “male chauvinists for the next women’s rights initiative,” or inviting “some butchers to National Vegetarian Day.”
Emerson told JNS that CAIR’s participation in the White House antisemitism strategy is “one of the greatest deceptions in national security in modern times.”
But don’t take my or Emerson’s word for it: you can read the document below by clicking on it, or download the pdf here. Warning: it’s LONG! But it has pictures and boxes of quotes, too!
I’m not going to regurgitate it for you, for even skimming it you can see the whole history of CAIR’s founding and its present pro-BDS, anti-Zionism and “Israel-is-an-apartheid-state” stands. Its leaders regularly call for the destruction of Israel, a one-state solution (i.e., Palestine), and sometimes deny the Holocaust. Here’s one quote (there are endnotes but I’ve eliminated the numbers for clarity):
While criticizing the Israeli government or its policies is, by itself, not antisemitic, insinuations that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the United States fall within the parameters of the IHRA definition. So does “demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…or the power of Jews as a collective” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
CAIR and its leaders cross these lines repeatedly. They falsely smear Israel as an apartheid state, call for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea,”thus wiping Israel off the map, and have called the Jewish state and its supporters “Zionazis.” CAIR officials also equate Israel to ISISand the Taliban.
In November 2021, CAIR’s Executive Director Nihad Awadmade clear he does not believe Israel should exist, when he called its most populous city, Tel Aviv, “occupied” and prayed “it will be free later.”At the same conference, CAIR’s San Francisco chapter leader Zahra Billoocalled on American Muslims to reject overtures from “polite Zionists,” even on issues on which they might work together, and warned that any groups supporting Zionism “are not your friends.”
After Billoo’s remarks drew strong condemnation, CAIR rushed to her defense painting her as a victim of an “online smear campaign.” The Islamist organization further portrayed the criticism as “false allegations of anti-Semitism in a cynical attempt to silence American Muslims who speak up for Palestinian human rights.”
All the quotes and factual assertions in the long piece are documented, so you can check for yourself.
Finally, in 2016, the U.S., along with 30 other countries adopted a working definition of anti-semitism for government use. Here are some of the signs of anti-Semitism given in that definition:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, 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.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Three years later, a bill was introduced in Congress, The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019. Its intent was to settle on a definition of anti-Semitism for use in federal antidiscrimination laws. It’s still hovering around but hasn’t come to a vote, probably because extreme left Democrats don’t like it, nor does CAIR (see below). Its instantiations of anti-Semitism are pretty much the same as above, it includes the 2016 stipulations:
For purposes of this Act, the term “definition of anti-Semitism”—
If you read the investigation of CAIR above, you’ll find that nearly every one of these examples can be applied to CAIR. By the definition adopted by the U.S. government, then, CAIR is an anti-Semitic organization. But the Biden administration apparently doesn’t think so. Instead, it puts CAIR representatives on its new anti-Semitic initiative. How dumb can you get? Increasingly, Biden is aligning with the extreme Left “progressive” members of his party.
CAIR, which knows which side its bread is buttered on, doesn’t like this bill at all. From the big document above:
My response to Awad’s statement is “yes, it is anti-Semitic.” And I am a free speech maven: I have no First Amendment objections to anybody denying the Holocaust or even saying “gas the Jews” (so long as there are not Jews, anti-Semites, and a gas chamber at hand!). But if you’re going to make laws and rules to protect groups from discrimination, you have to have a definition of what discrimination constitutes. Remember, harassment in the workplace is not protected by the First Amendment, and there are laws stipulating what “hate crimes” constitute.
Why am I writing this? To let you know that CAIR, along with JVP and SJP, are anti-Semitic wolves in sheep’s clothing. Whenever I hear the “From the river to the sea” mantra from one of these groups (and the latter two appear on campus regularly), I get shivers down my spine. Just realize that they are only pretending to be against anti-Semitism, for if they had their way, every Jew would be kicked out of Israel (or worse) and the state itself would be eliminated.
In my view, these organizations are promoting anti-Semitic statements without getting called out for it—as they’ve intimidated their opponents by the threat of calling them Islamophobes.