Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)’s San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA) affiliate, accused “Zionist organizations” of being “enemies” and warned of “Zionist synagogues,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Speaking at the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) in Chicago on November 27, Billoo said there was a “connection between Islamophobia and Zionism.” “The organizations that promote Zionist agendas, materials, marketing and legislation are the same ones that want to ban Muslims, are the same ones that want to ban anti-Sharia legislation.” Sharia is a reference to Islamic law.
Billoo went on to allege that U.S. police officers “who kill unarmed Black men, women and children are trained by the Israeli military. The technology that is used at the U.S-Mexico border is the same technology used at the apartheid wall.” The “apartheid wall” is an apparent reference to the security barrier on the border of Israel and the West Bank; it was built in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada.
Billoo said that when it comes to Islamophobia, more attention needs to be given to the “polite Zionists, the ones that say, ‘Let’s just break bread together. We oppose a Muslim ban in the United States, but we cannot support Palestinian human rights.’” Examples of such “polite Zionists” are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jewish Federation, Hillel and “Zionist synagogues,” according to Billoo. “Just because they’re your friend today doesn’t mean that they have your back when it comes to human rights,” she said.
The CAIR-SF head then advised the crowd to “know your enemies,” which she said are “Zionists organizations” and “foreign policy organizations who say they’re not Zionists but want a two-state solution.” Billoo called a two-state solution “laughable.” She concluded her speech by saying that “Allah promises us victory.”
David Lange, the Executive Director of Israellycool Israel Advocacy who unearthed Billoo’s remarks, argued in a blog post that her AMP speech “should be considered dangerous incitement against the US Jewish community.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Billoo’s speech was “textbook vile, #antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage attacking the mainstream US Jewish community. It sounds like something you would expect from white supremacists.” Greenblatt urged CAIR’s national office to denounce Billoo. “Any [organization] that claims to fight for social justice should cut ties with anyone who spouts such hate,” he added.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) December 7, 2021
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) December 7, 2021
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal that Billoo’s comments were “venomous antisemitism from professional Israel and Jew-haters using non-existent dots to create phony link between Israel and U.S. social crises wrapping their bigotry in mantle of social justice. The goal is demonizing [the] Jewish state and [to[ silence Israel’s supporters on campus and Capitol Hill.”
StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein also said in a statement, “Billoo’s explicit language of Jewish conspiracy, which she blatantly connected to powerful money interests and behind the scenes manipulation, echoes a long history of similar bigotry against Jews. This includes the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forged document alleging a conspiracy by ‘powerful’ Jews to dominate the world. This is dangerous hate that has led to violence far too many times before.”
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) – San Francisco said in a statement, “Replacing the word ‘Zionists’ with the word ‘Jews’ in her remarks reveals the dog whistle used in a poor attempt to obscure classic antisemitic conspiracy theories. Half of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel, and opinion polls consistently show 80-90 percent of Jewish Americans hold an affinity with Israel, even as they hold wide ranging and often critical views of its political leadership. ‘Zionism’ is an umbrella term referencing Jewish self-determination and sovereignty in our ancient homeland of Israel—not an ideological or prescriptive position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Put simply, the identities of an overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans and global Jewry include attributes of Zionism in meaningful ways.”
They concluded their statement by saying: “We will not let ugly rhetoric and efforts to separate and divide our communities or destroy our cooperative efforts, which are needed today more than ever.”
Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein, who also founded the End Jew Hatred grassroots movement, argued in a December 6 Fox News appearance that Billoo was essentially saying that “Jews are the enemy.” “This is coming from someone in the United States right now in a position of power,” she said.
Over 1/3 of American Jews have experienced an anti-Semitic incident. This issue is not about Israel, nor is it a political issue. This is a civil rights issue. Jew-hatred has now become systemic in the United States and we must put an END TO IT.#EndJewHatred pic.twitter.com/2mg9ymLmhg
— Brooke Goldstein (@GoldsteinBrooke) December 6, 2021
CAIR-SFBA and CAIR National did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.
Billoo was previously ousted from the Women’s March, Inc. board in September 2019 after her tweets equating Israel to the Nazis and ISIS, calling Zionists “racists” and stating, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” came to light. Billoo defended the tweets as simply “telling the truth as my community and I have lived it” and alleged that she was subjected to an “Islamophobic smear campaign.”