Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In October, former President George W. Bush, Biden’s DHS Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt, and other notables will descend on the massive Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The occasion isn’t a party convention, but the inaugural Eradicate Hate global summit inspired by the Tree of Life massacre in the area.
During the Tree of Life massacre, a white supremacist gunman opened fire on worshipers at the suburban synagogue in Squirrel Hill and killed 11 people. The shooter had told police, “All these Jews need to die”. The Eradicate Hate summit will commemorate that occasion by inviting a hater, Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), to speak.
Salam Al-Marayati has defended Hamas and Hezbollah. MPAC had called for removing them from the list of terrorist organizations. He responded to 9/11 by suggesting that Israel was behind the attacks. Just last year he came out with an op-ed accusing Jews of having “weaponized antisemitism to marginalize critics of Israel, especially American Muslims.”
In the 90s, Jewish groups protested the decision by Democrats to appoint him to a counterterrorism commission after his organization argued that the murder of Jews had been adopted by terrorists as one of the “violent reactions to express their despair and suffering”.
The Tree of Life gunman would have said the same thing.
Salam Al-Marayati is one of the summit’s “global advisers” and will be appearing on three different panels, including one on deradicalization. Even if MPAC is better at radicalization.
Flora Yehiel, a 24-year-old Jewish woman, was waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop when a Muslim terrorist rammed his car into the crowd killing her and wounding 23 others. After crashing the car, the terrorist shouted “Allahu Akbar”, got out and kept coming. A survivor at the scene shot him, but he still kept coming, until he finally died. Hamas claimed credit for the attack.
MPAC demanded the extradition of the man who took down the terrorist and called it a “provocative act”.
MPAC and its officials have a long history of supporting the murder of Jews.
At a rally co-sponsored by MPAC in 2000, an emcee encouraged the crowd to chant, “Khaybar, Khaybar oh Jews, the Army of Mohammed is coming for you!”
The slogan refers to the original Islamic ethnic cleansing of Jews and is a call to genocide.
Steven Emerson’s American Jihad describes another rally that same year where MPAC’s political advisor Mahdi Bray played a tambourine while the crowd chanted, “Al Aqsa is calling us, let’s all go into Jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews.”
After a Hamas suicide bombing killed 15 people at a pizza place in Jerusalem, including 7 children and Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, a pregnant woman from New Jersey, MPAC’s press release parroted Hamas propaganda calling the massacre of Jews, “the expected bitter result of the reckless policy of Israeli assassination.”
Hamas had claimed that the attack was a response to Israel taking out two of its commanders.
It’s hard to imagine anyone more inappropriate at the inaugural event of a movement that claims to want to eradicate hate, let alone one responding to a massacre of Jews, than MPAC’s boss.
Had the Tree of Life gunman been a Muslim instead of a Neo-Nazi, MPAC would have his back.
And while the Tree of Life gunman was a Neo-Nazi, MPAC and Al-Marayati have their own Nazi ties. MPAC had invited Wiliam Baker, the former leader of a Neo-Nazi party, to speak at its events when he switched to promoting Islamists and arguing that Israel should be destroyed and its Jewish population expelled. Al-Marayati even introduced Baker at an anti-Israel event.
Al-Marayati’s MPAC had also defended a Holocaust denier.
So why is a bigot whose organization’s people have incited and defended the murder of Jews, and who has ties to Neo-Nazis, appearing at a summit born in response to a massacre of Jews?
One answer is that Salam Al-Marayati is a longtime Democrat player with close ties in the Clinton, Obama, and Biden administrations. He counts Rep. Adam Schiff as a friend. Over the years the opposition of Jewish groups has weakened as they abandoned their pro-Israel positions. The ADL used to track and condemn MPAC and Al-Marayati’s antisemitism. Now the ADL’s new boss will be appearing at an event with him. There was outrage when J Street first invited Al-Marayati, now no one is even paying attention to his invite to a forum that will feature former President George W. Bush, a Biden cabinet member, and a variety of notable figures.
The second answer is that despite appropriating the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, the Eradicating Hate summit has little interest in addressing antisemitism. That’s not surprising in an era when Holocaust museums run George Floyd exhibits and Anne Frank plays are rewritten to focus on ICE and illegal aliens. The same political gravity that appropriates Jewish suffering to promote more trendy leftist causes was bound to erase Jews from a more recent massacre.
The summit emphasizes that its goal is to fight hate crimes by “highlighting the diversity of its victims”. And Jews, as the Left routinely insists, are too white and not nearly diverse enough.
Beyond Al-Marayati, summit speakers include Maya Berry, the executive director of the Arab American Institute (AAI) which, like MPAC, has claimed that Jews use antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel. That’s a theme of Berry’s work, along with opposing the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and arguing that Zionism is racism. AAI’s own founder had repeatedly defended terrorist groups and terrorist attacks against Jews.
Rounding out the trio is veteran anti-Israel activist Shirin Sinnar who retweeted a description of Hamas as the “Palestinian resistance”. The tweets went on to argue that Islamic terrorists attacking Israel should be considered civilians.
While the summit includes a panel on fighting anti-Asian hate crimes, its only panel on antisemitism is a Holocaust conversation with no experts. There’s a panel on the false Islamist allegations of genocide against Muslims in Myanmar, but no discussion of Islamic terrorism.
Let alone any mention of the recent Islamic attacks on Jews.
After a year in which Muslim anti-Israel activists were caught on camera violently assaulting Jews in New York City and Los Angeles, it’s not even part of the conversation. Instead there are the usual Holocaust documentaries, but no mention of Abdullah Ali Yusuf, a Muslim convert in Ohio, who was recently convicted of plotting a terrorist attack on a synagogue to support ISIS.
Despite claiming the Tree of Life synagogue massacre as its mission statement, the summit doesn’t bother bringing together an expert panel to discuss a range of threats to Jewish people, to Jewish students on college campuses, and synagogues, because that would raise inconvenient questions. Instead it carefully focuses on the Holocaust (with no mention of Hitler’s Mufti) and on white supremacism while avoiding any larger threat perspective.
That’s understandable when Salam Al-Marayati is one of the advisers and repeat panelists.
It’s important to talk about the Tree of Life massacre and the Holocaust, but one form of violent antisemitism cannot and should not be siloed out from the others. That kind of politically correct censorship is dangerous and the blindness it breeds is an existential threat.
As Al-Marayati’s ties to Baker or Hitler’s ties to the Mufti of Jerusalem show us that one kind of
identarian antisemitism is really no different than any other, whether it’s really white or black, Muslim, or any other kind of ideology. And yet liberal Jewish groups seek acceptance by refusing to talk about the major Black Hebrew Israelite attacks in recent years, or the drumbeat of Islamist antisemitic terror plots because they’re politically inconvenient threats.
And that’s the kind of stifled atmosphere in which the mainstreaming of antisemitism thrives.
If the Eradicating Hate summit wants to be taken seriously, it shouldn’t include haters. And a travesty of an event that features Al-Marayati, not to mention Berry and Sinnar, should stop exploiting the Tree of Life synagogue massacre especially when it can’t be bothered to dedicate an expert panel to preventing antisemitic attacks or condemn the antisemitism of its panelists.
George W. Bush has an opportunity to atone for one of his most shameful acts after the Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11 when he convened a group that included Al-Marayati and even worse Islamist figures to falsely assert that Islam is a religion of peace. Afterward Bush associates claimed that they had been blindsided by Grover Norquist. Two decades later there’s no more room for such excuses. And the best thing Bush can do is stay away from Pittsburgh.