update deskAntisemitism

Middle East Forum reports successes in Massachusetts

The think tank pushed back against two bills that prioritized Islam over other faiths, and against a state employee with ties to the Nation of Islam.

The Massachusetts State House in Boston. Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.
The Massachusetts State House in Boston. Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

The Middle East Forum has “dealt Islamists two setbacks in Massachusetts,” the Philadelphia-based think tank, which Daniel Pipes founded, stated.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts legislature considered parallel bills, S.1994 and H.3052, which would “promote the civil rights and inclusion of American Muslims in the commonwealth” and create “a permanent commission on the status of people who practice Islam,” respectively.

Both bills stated that one of the commission’s roles would be to “identify and recommend qualified American Muslims for appointive positions at all levels of government, including boards and commissions, as the commission considers necessary and appropriate.”

That sort of favoring one religion over others is not allowed, according to Benjamin Baird, of MEF Action, the Middle East Forum’s grassroots activism project.

“This unlawful bill was watered-down and stripped of its harmful impact on Massachusetts communities, thanks to a combination of press inquiries, social media targeting and relentless outreach,” Baird stated. “However, even without state funding, this legislation fails to properly separate ‘church from state,’ so we will continue to fight its passage.”

At a May 10 meeting of the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight, Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat who serves on the state senate, said that “almost as soon as I filed this bill, a number of right-wing news outlets, etcetera were coming to my office to report on this, and there’s been a fair amount of social media attacks in relation.”

The bill would be “narrowly focused, narrowly drawn, to just focus on creating this commission, but expressly saying there would be no state funding involved,” he added.

And on June 16, 2023, Kevin Hayden the Suffolk County district attorney, suspended True-See Allah, a Louis Farrakhan follower, from his position as director of community engagement and strategic partnerships. (See June 17 listing in this JNS antisemitism roundup.)

One month prior, the Middle East Forum had published a piece in The American Spectator documenting Allah’s ties to the Nation of Islam.

“Hayden initially stood by his staffer, but once Fox News picked up on the story, crediting MEF’s report, he took the necessary step, prompting the Boston Globe to cover the controversy,” the Middle East Forum stated.

“Hayden should have acted more quickly, and it’s still possible Allah will remain on staff at the DA’s office,” stated Dexter Van Zile, editor-in-chief of the forum’s Focus on Western Islamism. “The suspension is a step in the right direction, but we will keep watching.”

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