For the past decade or so, a strange phenomenon has taken place whereby a small group of extreme leftist Jews have willingly aligned themselves with Islamists, mainly out of a common animosity towards the foreign policies of America, Israel and other Western Capitalist societies. These Jews generally function as political pawns and stooges acting against their own best interests, but none of them have gone on to head the Islamist organizations they have teamed with. That is, until now.
On October 15th, the Philadelphia office of the radical Muslim group CAIR put out a press release announcing that it had hired Jacob Bender, a left-wing Jewish activist and filmmaker, as its new Executive Director.
Hiring Bender was a public relations win for CAIR. For Bender, he joins a group that, in his estimation, appears to be like-minded, especially on the issue of Israel.
CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations was founded in June 1994 as a part of an umbrella organization led by then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named a co-conspirator by the U.S. Justice Department for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The three original founders of CAIR, one of which is still the national Executive Director, were coming from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the then-American propaganda wing of Hamas. CAIR had used its website to raise funds for the then-American financing arm of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF).
Jacob Bender, for his part, has spent a good portion of his life denouncing the Jewish state. He blames all problems regarding Palestinians on Israel. In one letter to a newspaper, he writes, “The vast settlement project… is only the most visible manifestation of Israel's four-decade long rule over Palestinian territory, an occupation that has included torture, political assassination, home demolitions and economic strangulation.”
And what does Bender think about “the growth of terrorism and Islamist extremism” from Israel’s enemies? He blames that on Israel, as well. He writes, in another letter, that they are “a direct result of its oppression of the Palestinians.”
One thing he does acknowledge, though, is that there is widespread “antipathy” for Jews throughout the Muslim world. He quotes a Pew survey reporting on its findings and saying as such. But that does not give him pause from his blame-Jew-first mentality.
Indeed, the organization he now joins, along with a number of its representatives, has long been associated with anti-Semitism. Even today, CAIR continues to propagate hatred against Jews. On its ‘Explore the Quran’ website, the group features versions of the Quran that spread the worst of bigotry. In English, the site labels Muslims, who take Jews or Christians as allies, “evildoers.” It refers to Jews as “men who will listen to any lie.” Of Jews and Christians, the site states, “Allah’s curse be on them.”
Previously, CAIR had distributed to libraries across America an English language Quran that had been banned by the Los Angeles public school system for containing numerous anti-Jewish commentaries. The initiative had been funded by Alwaleed bin Talal, a wealthy Saudi who, in April 2002, donated $27 million to a telethon raising money for Palestinian suicide bombers.
Jacob Bender, himself, is no stranger to bin Talal. The Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation was the top donor to Bender’s anti-Israel “documentary” film, ‘Out of Cordoba.’
Another large donor of the film was the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). In March 2002, IIIT had its Virginia offices raided by the FBI in a probe that targeted over a dozen businesses accused of financing terrorism. One of the groups IIIT was said to have financed was the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a now-defunct Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) front run by PIJ leader Sami al-Arian. The raids led to the convictions of two individuals.
Another donor was the Alavi Foundation, an Iranian group that had its Manhattan office tower seized by the United States, last month, in what prosecutors described as the “country’s largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture.” According to prosecutors, the foundation was engaged in money laundering for the government of Iran.
Yet another donor was the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Like CAIR, ISNA was named a co-conspirator by the Justice Department for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The defendants in the trials were the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and its officials. For years, since HLF was established in 1987 as the Occupied Land Fund (OLF), the group advertised its Plainfield, Indiana mailing address as the same one being used (to this day) by ISNA. ISNA’s main youth group, the Muslim Students Association (MSA), asked for donations to be sent to the address in OLF’s name.
ISNA took an active role in the distribution of Bender’s film, and former ISNA heads and current ISNA representatives, Muzammil Siddiqi and Sayyid Syeed, acted as advisors to the film.
Jacob Bender was not the first Jew CAIR-Philadelphia was able to exploit. In April 2007, the group featured Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the director of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center, as a speaker at its first annual banquet. Soon, he would be featured on a CAIR-National PSA and would become a contributing writer for CAIR-Los Angeles’s InFocus publication.
However, while Waskow was a willing participant with CAIR’s Islamist operation, Bender has been the only Jew to become an actual leader of the group. It’s a dubious honor, as it furthers a cause that has been built on violence and bigotry against Jews and others, but it’s obviously one that he can live with.
Jacob Bender can sleep well with the pride of being a useful idiot for a terror front.
Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.
Don't miss Jamie Glazov's video interview with Steven Emerson on The Sordid World of CAIR: