A Challenge to CAIR to Adopt the State Dept. Definition of Anti-Semitism

Currently in Minnesota, a bill is being proposed for, “creating a task force on Islamophobia and anti-semitism.” The bill lists organizations by name to be appointed to the task force, such as, “the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations – Minnesota.” Despite good intentions, there is a serious problem with proposing a bill to create a team to fight against anti-semitism that includes CAIR. According to the US State Department definition of anti-semitism, most of the primary leaders of CAIR would be defined as anti-semites.

The national website of CAIR declares, “CAIR strives to educate others about Islam while building strong relationships with other faith communities.” Lamentably, there has been tension between CAIR and the Jewish community, especially in regards to Israel. Thankfully, the good news is that the State Department has already created a solution. In the spirit of brotherhood I would like to offer an opportunity to CAIR, which could solve some of the problems. I would like to challenge CAIR to adopt the State Department definition of anti-semitism.

CAIR’s goals are admirable, to be a bridge of understanding between Muslims and other faith-based communities. Many Jewish people would be interested in learning more about how to combat discrimination against Muslims, likewise, many Muslims would be interested in learning more about anti-semitism. Although, in order to mend fences, there will have to be an honest conversation about the historical persecution of Jews by Muslims.

The first Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged roughly in 1050–931 BCE, during the iron age. About 3,000 years ago, King David established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom. The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, and most of the Jewish people were exiled throughout the world. Counter to popular opinion, the Jews did not leave and return, a remnant has always remained in the land. Orthodox Jews have prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem three times a day for 2,000 years. During this time, Jewish communities were scattered throughout Muslim lands. Based on a mixture of verses in the Koran as well as early Islamic conquests a system of apartheid laws were created for Jews living under Islamic authority.

After the rapid expansion of the Muslim conquests, Caliph Omar made a peace accord with the Christians of Syria called, “The Pact of Omar.” The surrender pact between the Muslim state and the conquered non-Muslim community was called a dhimma. Jews and Christians who could afford to pay this tax were given a special status under Islamic law, called, dhimmi. Jews were forced to pay a degrading tax called the jizya. The concept of the jizya tax comes directly from the Koran, “Fight against those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have declared forbidden, who do not acknowledge the religion of Truth, though they be the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves humiliated (Sura 9:29).” The Pact of Omar established a principle of two sets of laws for Muslims and Jews, which became a precedent for centuries of Islamic rule. For example, Jews could not build Synagogues higher than Mosques, govern Muslims, or bear arms.

In the late 1800s, the Jewish people began to create an independence movement to free themselves from both Arab-Islamic and Christian-European oppressors, this movement was called Zionism. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The League of Nations granted the Jewish people the right to settle the land of Israel, which climaxed when Israel became a full member of the United Nations. Being opposed to Zionism is the same thing as calling for Jewish people to be stripped of the right of self-determination. In the Muslim-world this can even be expressed as the call for Jewish people to return to being second class citizens under Islamic authority. For example, the 1988 Hamas Charter explicitly states that the goal of Hamas is to place Jews, “under the wing of Islam.” The Hamas Charter pronounces, “Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – to coexist in peace and quiet with each other.”

Tragically, because of the hatred against the Jews, there are people who want to destroy Israel. There is even a need to sometimes require groups to state definitively that Israel has the right to exist. Intentionally, the State Department has already anticipated this problem, which is why the department clarifies, “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.” This means describing Zionism as racism, or calling for the eradication of the State of Israel are all forms of anti-semitism. Sadly, a number of quotes by the primary leaders and representatives for CAIR have cast doubt on whether they believe Jewish people should be free.

Here is a small selection of quotes calling for the destruction of Israel and Zionism by CAIR leaders:

  1. Nihad Awad is the National Executive Director of CAIR. He tweeted, “People of conscience: Declare Israel as a terrorist state.”
  2. Hassan Shilby is the Chief Executive Director of CAIR-Florida. He tweeted, “God as my wittiness, Israel & it’s supporters are enemies of God and humanity!”
  3. Faizan Syed is the Executive Director of CAIR-Missouri. He posted a video and wrote, “As Muslims we must understand that we are vehemently against Zionism… We must all unite forces in order to oppose the State of Israel.”
  4. Zahra Billoo is the Executive Director of CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area. She posted on facebook, “Zionism is racism.”
  5. Linda Sarsour is perhaps the most famous speaker for CAIR. She tweeted, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”

Everyone of these statements are defined as anti-semitism according to the State Department, which means that unless these CAIR leaders retract their statements, then their own words would make each one of them an anti-semite. In their defense, periodically members of CAIR claim that they oppose Israel, because they believe that the idea of a Jewish State is racist. However, it is important to understand that there are about two-hundred countries in the world, of those fifty-seven define themselves as Muslim states, and twenty-two define themselves as Arab states, but there is only one Jewish State. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization which consists of fifty-seven Muslim member states. The Arab League is comprised of twenty-two Arab states, including Palestine. Meaning Palestine defines itself as an Arab State, with Arabic as the official language and Islam as the official religion. For members of CAIR to argue that the idea of the world having a single Jewish State is racist, while simultaneously supporting dozens of Muslim and Arab states is hypocritical and immoral. Likewise, describing the Jewish people as racist for wanting the same independence as Muslims is a form of racism itself.

Another false attack is that the concepts of a Jewish and democratic state are incompatible. The organization, “Freedom House,” judges every country in the world based on the same standards to rank their civil and political liberties. Freedom House ranks Israel as a free country and summarizes, “Israel is a multiparty democracy.” Ironically, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which is ranked as a free country, this means that Arab-Muslims are treated dramatically better and have far more rights in Israel than all of the Arabs states. Yet, CAIR reverses reality and attacks the country which treats Arab-Muslims the best and supports the Arab states which treat Muslims the worst.

In addition, often CAIR representatives exalt themselves as making these statements out of concern for the Palestinians. Fortunately, nothing about embracing the State Department definition in any way harms the Palestinians. It still allows for Jewish self-determination to be expressed in the form of a Jewish State, and Palestinian self-determination to be expressed in the form of a Palestinian State, also known as the two-state solution.

The Minnesota chapter of CAIR should endorse an official statement expressing their support for both a Jewish State and a Palestinian State. In fact, they have a role model in their own backyard, the Minnesota, “Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC),” issued the following statement: “The JCRC remains fully invested in the creation of two states, a secure Israel existing side-by-side with a Palestinian State in mutually and internationally recognized borders. The JCRC is proud of our award winning ‘Challenge of Peace’ presentations where we bring our pro-Israel/pro-two-state solution message to thousands of Minnesotans each year.” CAIR could issue the same exact declaration.

The US government has already provided a perfectly useful definition of anti-semitism. The new bill in Minnesota must conform to the State Department definition, if not, then the bill has to be rejected. The national director, multiple state directors and the most famous speaker of CAIR have said that they want to eliminate Israel, in contrast the average American has never thought about ridding the earth of Israel. To appoint a group whose leaders want to destroy Israel to teach the average American about anti-semitism is like appointing the KKK to teach about anti-semitism.

If CAIR refuses to adopt the State Department definition of anti-semitism, then it is obvious that the statements by their leaders calling for the destruction of Israel represent their true goal. If CAIR is unwilling to officially adopt the department definition, then they should be prohibited from joining the task force. Otherwise, the State of Minnesota will be appointing a group whose primary leaders are defined as anti-semites according to the US government definition to lead a task force to combat anti-semitism.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.