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).
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Emgage are both radical Muslim organizations found in the US. Yet, one of these organizations, AMP, has taken issue with what it claims to be the other’s involvement with Zionist groups, something that is far from forgivable in the Islamist community. Question: Is this true? Is Emgage working with Zionists? Or is this just pure anti-Semitism, where AMP is bullying their fellow Muslims into distancing themselves from Jews?
AMP is the byproduct of now-defunct groups that were formerly affiliated with the US Palestine Committee, a terrorist umbrella organization then-led by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. AMP celebrates violent uprisings (intifadas) against Israeli civilians. AMP’s Chairman, Hatem Bazian, has called for an intifada in the US. AMP’s Executive Director, Osama Abu-Irshaid, has referred to Muslim leaders, who support UAE peace with Israel, “dirt bags” and “traitors,” and stated this past January, “Palestinians, if they don’t take what they want willingly, they will take it forcefully… [W]e’re going to liberate our land… whether they like it or they don’t like it.”
Emgage is a radical Muslim group that attempts to mask its extremism as political advocacy. Emgage’s founder/Chairman, Khurrum Wahid, is a South Florida attorney who is infamous for representing many of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Wahid has used his law firm’s website to raise money for Miami imam Hafiz Khan, who was convicted of paying the Taliban to murder US troops. According to the Miami New Times, Wahid, himself, was placed on a US terrorist watch list in 2011. Emgage’s former South Florida Regional Director, Syed Ammar Ahmed, once joked that he should have threatened to blow up a school that he had spoken at.
In January 2015, Wahid joined others associated with Emgage in a free trip to the Middle East sponsored by the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), a project of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a think tank with offices in Israel, the US and Canada. The project offered North American Muslims a chance to explore and experience Jewish and Palestinian identity in the Holy Land, something that most would consider relatively innocuous. Some Islamists, however, were outraged by the trip, accusing MLI participants of being a vehicle for Zionist propaganda.
On September 16th, Emgage published an open letter from Wahid to the “Palestinian and Muslim American communities,” addressing concerns his fellow extremists have for Emgage. In it was a cowardly apology for the MLI trip. Wahid wrote, “On behalf of those who participated in this trip, I would like to apologize for the pain that this has caused, it was a wrong decision. At the time we believed this was an opportunity for discourse and tangible change, and had the best of intentions… I regret this decision as it inflicted pain upon many of our Palestinian brothers and sisters and gave the perception that we were normalizing the Occupation.”
Following his MLI mea culpa, Wahid went on to rattle off a long list of his and Emgage’s anti-Israel credentials, including: Emgage’s defense of anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, Emgage’s support for anti-Israel US Representative Rashida Tlaib, and Emgage’s condemnation of achievements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. In the letter, Wahid also claimed that Emgage had been “accused of being a Zionist organization” having “programming with ADL and AJC” – two liberal Jewish organizations – to which Wahid emphatically stated, “Emgage has no such programming.”
AMP was not impressed by the letter. On September 22nd, AMP issued a statement of its own attacking Emgage, titled ‘On Emgage and its connection to Zionist groups.’ In part, it reads: “AMP is aware of and is addressing the grave allegations embroiling Emgage over its previous, and evidently ongoing, ties to Islamophobic and Zionist organizations… Since the extent of Emgage’s intolerable ties to Zionists has been revealed and documented, we have entered into a meaningful dialogue that has produced positive commitments pointing in the right direction. However, AMP is not satisfied with the pace and extent of that progress.”
AMP then delivered a demand that Emgage “renounce all past and current affiliations with Zionist organizations.” According to AMP Chairman Hatem Bazian, while Emgage claims that it does not affiliate with the ADL and AJC, its leadership does have “existing relations with the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC), Inter Jewish Muslim Alliance (IJMA), ADL and other interfaith settings if they exist.”
MJAC was established as a collaboration between the American Jewish Council (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to bring together leaders from the Jewish and Muslim communities. The AJC and ISNA’s logos adorn the top of the MJAC website. ISNA was founded in 1981 as a part of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the first major Muslim Brotherhood group in the US. ISNA was named by the US government a co-conspirator for the 2007 and 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Hamas-financing trials. Ads asking for HLF donations – using ISNA’s then and current mailing address – were printed under Hamas communiques.
IJMA, similar to MJAC, brings together leaders form the Jewish and Muslim communities. It is true, Emgage leadership, including Emgage CEO Wa’el Alzayat, serve within both organizations, the IJMA Board of Directors and the MJAC Leadership Council. However, these groups are far from Zionist gatherings. Indeed, they are more like left wing Jewish and radical Muslim lovefests.
It is also true that Emgage has had involvement with the ADL, a group that AMP has actively sought to discredit in its recent ‘Drop the ADL’ project. In February 2018, both Emgage and the ADL co-signed a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging the Trump Administration to withdraw its nomination of Ken Isaacs to be Director General of the International Organization for Migration, for what the ADL termed Isaacs’ “inflammatory and inaccurate interpretation of Islam.”
When looking at all the details concerning this fight between AMP and Emgage, it appears that AMP’s bullying and emasculation of its fellow Islamists has less to do with Zionism and more to do with anti-Semitism. AMP is trying to place a wedge between the Jewish and Muslim communities, something that one could easily expect from a group related to Hamas. What is ironic, though, is that the group is doing this while specifying forums that are generally used by Islamists to deceitfully hide their extremism and appear more moderate to the public.
Regardless of the reason, it is good to see America and Israel’s enemies at war with one another. This internal strife among “American” Muslim organizations over Jews and Israel reveals their true natures and radical ideologies, which are antithetical to American and democratic values. Both AMP and Emgage pose a direct threat to our national security. Their connections to Islamist groups and individuals abroad warrant an investigation with an eye toward shutting down their operations.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.