(October 18, 2021 / JNS) In October, former President George W. Bush, Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt and other notables will descend on the Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The occasion isn’t a party convention, but the inaugural “Eradicate Hate” global summit inspired by the 2018 Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue massacre in the area.
Among those invited to speak at the summit is Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), one of the summit’s “global advisers,” who will be appearing on three different panels, including one on deradicalization. Al-Marayati has defended Hamas and Hezbollah, and MPAC has called for removing them from the list of terrorist organizations. Al-Marayati responded to 9/11 by suggesting that Israel was behind the attacks. Just last year he came out with an op-ed accusing Jews of having “weaponized antisemitism to marginalize critics of Israel, especially American Muslims.”
In the ’90s, Jewish groups protested the decision by Democrats to appoint him to a counterterrorism commission after his organization argued that the murder of Jews had been adopted by terrorists as one of the “violent reactions to express their despair and suffering.”
The Tree of Life gunman would have said the same thing.
Flora Yehiel, a 24-year-old Jewish woman, was waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop when a Muslim terrorist rammed his car into the crowd, killing her and wounding 23 others. After crashing the car, the terrorist shouted “Allahu Akbar,” got out and kept coming. A survivor at the scene shot him. Hamas claimed credit for the attack. MPAC demanded the extradition of the man who took down the terrorist, and called it a “provocative act.”
MPAC and its officials have a long history of supporting the murder of Jews.
At a rally co-sponsored by MPAC in 2000, an emcee encouraged the crowd to chant, “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming for you!” The chant refers to the original Islamic ethnic cleansing of Jews, and is a call to genocide.
Steven Emerson’s “American Jihad” describes another rally that same year in which MPAC’s political adviser Mahdi Bray played a tambourine while the crowd chanted, “Al Aqsa is calling us, let’s all go into Jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews.”
After a Hamas suicide bombing killed 15 people at a pizza place in Jerusalem, including seven children and Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, a pregnant woman from New Jersey, MPAC’s press release parroted Hamas propaganda calling the massacre of Jews “the expected bitter result of the reckless policy of Israeli assassination.”
Hamas had claimed that the attack was a response to Israel taking out two of its commanders.
It’s hard to imagine anyone more inappropriate to speak at the inaugural event of a movement that claims to want to eradicate hate, let alone one responding to a massacre of Jews, than the MPAC’s boss.
Had the Tree of Life gunman been a Muslim instead of a neo-Nazi, MPAC would have had his back.
Not that MPAC and l-Marayati don’t have their own Nazi ties. MPAC had invited William Baker, the former leader of a neo-Nazi party, to speak at its events when he switched to promoting Islamists and arguing that Israel should be destroyed and its Jewish population expelled. Al-Marayati even introduced Baker at an anti-Israel event.
Al-Marayati’s MPAC has also defended a Holocaust denier.
So why was someone like al-Marayati, whose organization’s people have incited and defended the murder of Jews, and who has ties to neo-Nazis, invited to appear at a summit born in response to a massacre of Jews?
One answer is that al-Marayati is a longtime Democrat player with close ties in the Clinton, Obama and Biden administrations. He counts Rep. Adam Schiff as a friend. Over the years the opposition of Jewish groups has weakened as they abandoned their pro-Israel positions. The ADL used to track and condemn MPAC and al-Marayati’s anti-Semitism. Now the ADL’s new boss will be appearing at an event with him. There was outrage when J Street first invited al-Marayati, now no one is even paying attention to his invite to a forum that will feature former President George W. Bush, a Biden cabinet member and a variety of other notable figures.
The second answer is that despite appropriating the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, the “Eradicating Hate” summit has little interest in addressing anti-Semitism. That’s not surprising in an era when Holocaust museums run George Floyd exhibits and Anne Frank plays are rewritten to focus on ICE and illegal aliens. The same political gravity that appropriates Jewish suffering to promote more trendy leftist causes was bound to erase Jews from a more recent massacre.
The summit emphasizes that its goal is to fight hate crimes by “highlighting the diversity of its victims.” And Jews, as the left routinely insists, are too white and not nearly diverse enough.
Beyond al-Marayati, summit speakers include Maya Berry, the executive director of the Arab American Institute (AAI) which, like MPAC, has claimed that Jews use anti-Semitism to silence criticism of Israel. That’s a theme of Berry’s work, along with opposing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and arguing that Zionism is racism. AAI’s own founder had repeatedly defended terrorist groups and terrorist attacks against Jews.
Rounding out the trio is veteran anti-Israel activist Shirin Sinnar, who retweeted a description of Hamas as the “Palestinian resistance.” The tweets went on to argue that Islamic terrorists attacking Israel should be considered civilians.
While the summit includes a panel on fighting anti-Asian hate crimes, its only panel on anti-Semitism is a Holocaust conversation with no experts. There’s a panel on the false Islamist allegations of genocide against Muslims in Myanmar, but no discussion of Islamic terrorism.
Let alone any mention of the recent Islamic attacks on Jews.
After a year in which Muslim anti-Israel activists were caught on camera violently assaulting Jews in New York City and Los Angeles, it’s not even part of the conversation. Instead there are the usual Holocaust documentaries, but no mention of Abdullah Ali Yusuf, a Muslim convert in Ohio who was recently convicted of plotting a terrorist attack on a synagogue to support Islamic State.
Despite claiming the Tree of Life massacre as its mission statement, the summit doesn’t bother bringing together an expert panel to discuss a range of threats to Jewish people, to Jewish students on college campuses and in synagogues, because that would raise inconvenient questions. Instead it carefully focuses on the Holocaust (with no mention of Hitler’s mufti) and on white supremacism, while avoiding any larger threat perspective.
That’s understandable when Salam al-Marayati is one of the advisers and repeat panelists.
It’s important to talk about the Tree of Life massacre and the Holocaust, but one form of violent anti-Semitism cannot and should not be singled out. That kind of politically correct censorship is dangerous, and the blindness it breeds is an existential threat.
As al-Marayati’s ties to Baker or Hitler’s ties to the Mufti of Jerusalem show us that one kind of identarian anti-Semitism is really no different than any other, whether it’s really white or black, Muslim, or any other kind of ideology. And yet liberal Jewish groups seek acceptance by refusing to talk about the major Black Hebrew Israelite attacks in recent years, or the drumbeat of Islamist anti-Semitic terror plots, because they’re politically inconvenient threats.
And that’s the kind of stifled atmosphere in which the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism thrives.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
This article was first published by FrontPage Magazine.
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