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CAIR Defends Zahra Billoo’s Warning of “Zionist Organizations” Being the Enemy

CAIR wrote a lengthy Medium post on December 10 defending Billoo, arguing that she had “encouraged American Muslims to avoid collaborating with any organizations that support the political ideology that the Israeli apartheid government uses to justify dispossessing, occupying, and killing Palestinians.”
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December 14, 2021
Zahra Billoo of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) (Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen / Wikimedia Commons)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-National defended CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) Executive Director Zahra Billoo’s November 27 remarks that “Zionist Organizations” are the enemy.

Billoo, who was speaking at an American Muslims for Palestine conference, said that “connection between Islamophobia and Zionism” and that more attention needs to be paid to “polite Zionists” like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and “Zionist synagogues.” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized Billoo’s comments as being “textbook vile, #antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage attacking the mainstream US Jewish community. It sounds like something you would expect from white supremacists.”

CAIR wrote a lengthy Medium post on December 10 defending Billoo, arguing that she had “encouraged American Muslims to avoid collaborating with any organizations that support the political ideology that the Israeli apartheid government uses to justify dispossessing, occupying, and killing Palestinians.” They accused various news outlets like Breitbart News of misquoting her, saying that Billoo “praised the many Jewish activists and groups that support human rights for all people, including Palestinians, and specifically encouraged Muslims to engage in interfaith collaboration with Jewish organizations such as IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace.” IfNotNow bills itself as an anti-occupation group and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

CAIR proceeded to call Greenblatt’s criticism of Billoo “hateful.” “Comparing a female Muslim civil rights leader to a white supremacist is a disgusting yet unsurprising new low for the ADL, which has a long history of singling out and smearing Muslim leaders who support Palestinian human rights.” They also criticized Greenblatt for taking a selfie during the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem, arguing that the ceremony featured “bigots” like then-President Donald Trump and Pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress and the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was “illegal.”

“Smearing a civil rights activist as a bigot after taking a selfie at an event with real bigots is utter hypocrisy. And making false allegations of anti-Semitism also undermines the fight against this dangerous form of bigotry,” CAIR wrote. “The ADL’s pattern of abominable behavior, which runs counter to any reasonable expectation of a self-styled civil rights organization, is one of the reasons why CAIR proudly stands with the interfaith #DroptheADL coalition.”

Greenblatt doubled down on his criticism of Billoo in a December 12 Twitter thread. “Throughout her speech Ms. Billoo blamed America’s Jewish institutions – from civil rights orgs to respected campus orgs to charitable orgs to virtually every synagogue in the US – for a variety of America’s illls, including Islamophobia. Classic conspiratorial #antisemitism.” He added that based on Billoo’s logic, “no synagogue from any major Jewish movement … should be welcomed, because they are all her ‘enemies’ and ‘polite Zionists.’”

The ADL head proceeded to accuse Billoo of concocting “a vast conspiracy around Jewish [organizations] supporting poverty, homelessness, and police brutality and attacking Muslim Americans for their opposition. Claiming that American Jews are working to subject our fellow Americans to poverty and brutality is wildly antisemitic.” He also criticized Billoo’s accusation that various Jewish groups engage in Islamophobia, noting that the groups she singled out opposed the “Muslim ban, expose[d] anti-Muslim extremism, & help foster dialogue among our communities.” “To so brazenly refer to the vast majority of American Jews as enemies solely because of their connection to the Jewish homeland, to repeatedly blame Jews for Islamophobia, and to unapologetically promote tropes used against Jews for millennia, is grotesque.”

He concluded that Billoo’s remarks were “part of a long campaign to push American Jews out of social justice and civil rights spaces. To be clear, Ms. Billoo’s speech, and CAIR’s support for it, are both blatant acts of antisemitism.”

CAIR replied to Greenblatt, “Repeating the lie won’t make it true, @JGreenblattADL. Here’s the truth: you use false claims of antisemitism to smear Muslims-especially Muslim women, for some reason-who challenge support for Israeli apartheid. And your dishonesty undermines the fight against real antisemitism.” They went on with a Twitter thread of their own mirroring their Medium post.

Blake Flayton, New Zionist Congress Co-Founder and Journal columnist, tweeted in response to CAIR that Billoo “did not ‘challenge support for Israeli apartheid’ she called for an excommunication of ‘polite Zionists’ from left-wing spaces. This is evil.” He added in a subsequent tweet: “There is a video of @ZahraBilloo’s antisemitic fearmongering speech. Stop gaslighting Jews, we have eyes and ears.”

Egyptian researcher Hussein Aboubakr Mansour replied to CAIR in a tweet that read, “I would like to humbly point out that CAIR is classified as a terrorism supporting organization in respectable Muslim countries such as.. wait for it.. [United Arab Emirates]. But [it’s] okay, Americans know what is real Islam and [what’s] Islamism more than actual Muslims do.”

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