Islamist antisemitism in the US masked by alliance with far left – study

INSS report argues that rebranding of extremist groups as human rights organizations threatens to bring fringe ideas into the mainstream

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

People hold signs as the Council on American Islamic Relations holds a protest against US President Donald Trump's planned ban on Muslim travel in Washington Square Park in New York on January 25, 2017. (AFP/Bryan R. Smith)
People hold signs as the Council on American Islamic Relations holds a protest against US President Donald Trump's planned ban on Muslim travel in Washington Square Park in New York on January 25, 2017. (AFP/Bryan R. Smith)

As antisemitic attacks continue to rise in the United States, a growing alliance with far-left organizations has shielded US Islamist groups from scrutiny of their antisemitic statements and ideas, a study by an Israeli think tank warned.

“US Islamist groups and leaders have increasingly sought common cause with progressive left-wing groups that promote minority rights and intersectionality among racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in their efforts to build coalitions around common interests,” charged Yehudit Barsky and Ehud Rosen, authors of the Institute for National Security Studies report “Islamist Antisemitism in the United States,” set to be published Tuesday.

The “red-green” coalition is based on a narrative that portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an anticolonial struggle, and US Muslims as victims of racism on par with other marginalized minorities in the US, said the INSS study.

The alliance also seeks to delegitimize Jewish communal organizations, according to Barsky and Rosen, by portraying them as part of a white power structure in the US that is ineligible for inclusion in progressive coalitions.

“Within these coalitions,” charged the study, “US Islamists have sought to boycott and delegitimize progressive Zionists and supporters of Israel, deeming them as oppressors and illegitimate participants.”

Barsky is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, and Rosen is a team member of the INSS’s project on Contemporary Antisemitism in the United States.

Students and supporters march across campus during a protest in support of Palestine after a Northeastern University student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine in Boston, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The study is the latest installment in an ongoing INSS series on antisemitism in the US.

Leading Islamist organizations like American Muslims for Palestine and the Council on American Islamic Relations, the authors argued, seek to challenge the right of mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to define antisemitism and to call themselves civil rights organizations. A campaign against the Anti-Defamation League, the leading antisemitism watchdog, called it a “silencer of free speech” and promoter of Islamophobia, and pushed for other civil rights organizations to boycott it.

The authors warned that over time, fringe antisemitic beliefs could become increasingly mainstreamed if these organizations are not challenged.

A 75percent spike in antisemitic attacks in the US during and after the 2021 conflict in Gaza is evidence of the need to address Islamist antisemitism, and not only Jew-hatred on the far-right, said Barsky and Rosen. While that discourse exists in Europe, the successful rebranding of Islamist groups from extremists to champions of human rights has stymied debate over their activities against Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the US.

The alarming trend of antisemitic attacks continued into 2022, according to the ADL, rising another 36% over the previous year.

This January 2, 2022 photo provided by OurCalling, LLC shows Malik Faisal Akram, at a Dallas homeless shelter. (OurCalling, LLC via AP)

Several major incidents were perpetrated by Islamists last year. In January 2022, British Islamist Malik Faisal Akram took the rabbi and three worshipers hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and demanded that an imprisoned al-Qaeda member be freed.

In November, the FBI issued a security alert to synagogues across New Jersey. The next week, a young Muslim man was arrested in New Jersey for distributing a manifesto online with threats to attack synagogues.

“The process of choosing allies from the Muslim community should be made much more carefully, and proper due diligence is required,” argued the report, which also noted that there is no evidence that Islamist groups represent the beliefs of most American Muslims.

“These developments call for increased vigilance and a robust response by the American Jewish community and its allies,” urged the authors.

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