Joe Kaufman, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative and the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Ben Friedman is a left-wing blogger and lawyer, based in Orlando, Florida. While much of his existence is fixated against Republicans and the President, when it comes to the issue of anti-Semitism, Friedman has not shied away from speaking out against figures on the Left. However, there is one individual whom Friedman is familiar with, whose anti-Semitism he has ignored, and that individual is National Committeewoman for the Democratic Party and Friedman’s fellow appointed member of Orlando’s Committee on Multicultural Affairs, Rasha Mubarak. This article is being written not as an attack on Friedman, but to push him to do the right thing re Mubarak.
Anti-Semitism, as most understand it, is hatred of Jews. It comes in different forms. One is a general dislike of Jewish people, usually out of ignorance or jealousy or plain malicious intent. Another form reveals itself as an extreme and irrational animosity towards Israel – the home to nearly half of the world’s Jewish population – where malevolent actions targeting Jews are deceptively masked as “anti-Zionism.” Rasha Mubarak, who, in addition to her various titles, claims to be a consultant for US Representative Rashida Tlaib, clearly favors the latter form of anti-Semitism, though she no doubt has exhibited both forms.
Mubarak believes Israel, a sovereign nation, has no right to self-defense. In May 2019, when Hamas launched more than 600 rockets into Israel, leading to the deaths of four civilians, Mubarak tweeted against anyone who would dare defend Israeli retaliation. They included former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the producer of The Ellen Show, Andy Lassner. In November 2012, Mubarak could not be clearer about her sentiments, when she tweeted, “#LiesImTiredOfHearing Israel has the right to defend herself.”
Mubarak has displayed support for Palestinian terrorists. This past June and July, Mubarak posted memorials onto her social media for car-ramming terrorist Ahmed Erekat, who was shot and killed after attempting to run over an Israeli border officer stationed at a checkpoint. At the end of the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict, along with photos of a jubilant Hamas, Mubarak tweeted, “Thousands of people celebrating in the streets of Gaza for the victory. Alhamdulillah. #VictoryForGaza.” Mubarak has promoted material from Hamas-related media, and she has personally been affiliated with the Hamas-linked groups CAIR and Islamic Relief.
Mubarak has organized anti-Israel events that have devolved into the worst of anti-Semitism, where Jews have been labeled “terrorists” and “baby killers.” In September 2013, Mubarak herself ridiculed Jews, when she posted a report onto her Facebook page declaring that Orthodox Jews had asked the Israeli government for “beard-friendly gas masks,” a matter that our own US military has dealt with. About the report, which featured the side profile of an observant Jew with a long beard and side curls, Mubarak mockingly wrote, “Seriously? No seriously! Ufff… Lol…”
As mentioned, Friedman and Mubarak serve together on the Committee on Multicultural Affairs, a 17-member group that was established by Mayor of Orlando Buddy Dyer to represent the diversity of those residing in Orlando. Friedman also serves on the Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom, and he is the Public Affairs Director for recent Democratic nominee for Florida Lieutenant Governor Chris King. For two years, beginning June 2017, Friedman was the Community Relations Director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. While with the Federation, Friedman spoke out against two well-known figures on the Left, Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan and US Representative and favorite of Mubarak, Ilhan Omar.
In his March 2018 Orlando Sentinel opinion piece, titled ‘Anti-Semitism is a deal breaker,’ Friedman writes the following about Farrakhan: “Many liberals, including Democratic members of Congress, have been associated with Farrakhan, recently choosing to appear with him despite his notoriously hateful rhetoric. Supporters say that, while they do not agree with Farrakhan’s outright hatred of Jews, they otherwise appreciate his leadership on certain issues, like racial inequality… When did liberals decide it was acceptable to look past the objectively abhorrent actions of someone just because we might agree with them on something else? When members of Congress appear with a man who has repeatedly declared the Jewish people to be his enemy, they elevate and enable his hateful and dangerous conduct.”
In his March 2019 Orlando Sentinel commentary, titled ‘An open letter to my non-Jewish friends,’ Friedman writes about Congresswoman Omar: “None of that [anti-Muslim bigotry aimed at Omar] excuses promoting harmful anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as implying foreign allegiance. This is not a false accusation or right-wing smear. Congresswoman Omar’s comments are anti-Semitic, and if the progressive community wants to lift up all marginalized groups, we must be willing to acknowledge shortcomings from our side of the aisle.”
Friedman continues: “You also may be thinking, ‘Not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!’ Of course, you are correct. I have heard this line a thousand times, but who is actually claiming that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic? I am certainly not, and I will not. I have criticized Israel a great deal, and I have seen many others do so passionately without resorting to anti-Semitic tropes, as Congresswoman Omar has done repeatedly. If you are retreating to this straw man line of defense, then you – like some conservatives – are not engaging in this conversation in good faith.”
It is obvious that Friedman cares deeply about this subject or he would not have worded his commentaries so strongly and with such chutzpah. Yet, it appears he has chosen to totally disregard the Jew hatred of Mubarak and her visceral attacks on the Jewish state. Why?
Is saying Israel has no right to self-defense mere criticism of Israel? Is memorializing a dead Palestinian terrorist who just used his car as a weapon for potential murder mere criticism of Israel? Is posting photos of Hamas celebrations and voicing your own elation towards them mere criticism of Israel? How about being involved with groups with links to Hamas or organizing anti-Israel rallies that feature the worst of anti-Semitism? Or mocking Israeli religious Jews for asking for beard-friendly gas masks to better protect them in times of war? No person acting out of honesty could believe that any of these things have been done in “good faith.”
Surely, Friedman knows this, for not only is he a Jew, who has passionately combatted anti-Semitism (originating from the Left and the Right), but he is as well a homosexual who has personally felt the sting of prejudice and discrimination.
For these reasons and all of the above, Ben Friedman needs to come out strongly against his anti-Semitic colleague Rasha Mubarak. And not because someone on the right told him to, but because it is the right thing to do. Failure to do so makes a mockery of the stated goals of Orlando’s Multicultural Affairs Committee, one of which is to “ensure that all residents feel welcome, respected and accepted,” and of Friedman’s own personal integrity.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.