The Anti-Defamation League has issued a “Top Ten List” of organizations it calls the “most influential and active anti-Israel groups in the United States.”
Two of the 10 have offices in New Jersey.
They are the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose NJ chapter is based in South Plainfield, and the Muslim American Society, which has an office in Totowa.
According to Etzion Neuer, the ADL’s New Jersey regional director, they and the eight other groups on the list “are organizations that make no effort to be balanced. They draw parallels to the Holocaust and accuse Israel of apartheid. They advocate a one-state solution and often offer support for terrorist groups. They organize for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions.”
Even as he insisted that “these groups have an absolute right to exist,” Neuer said the ADL report “is about pointing out what they stand for and expressing our distaste for their message.
“There are many people, including of course, many Jews, who have misgivings about Israeli policy, and it is important to point out that simply criticizing Israel does not mean that someone should be reprimanded.
“But these are groups that frequently cross the line when they talk about Israel,” he said.
ADL’s issue with CAIR, Neuer said, “is their long record of anti-Israel rhetoric which at times has crossed the line to anti-Semitism. There have been public statements by CAIR leaders that have portrayed Jews and Israelis as corrupt agents who control U.S. policy and are responsible for the persecution of Muslims in the United States. They have accused Israel of genocide.
“CAIR is highly problematic.”
CAIR’s NJ executive director, James Yee, took strong issue with Neuer’s comments.
“We wholeheartedly disagree that we are anything close to anti-Semitic,” he told NJ Jewish News in an Oct. 17 telephone interview. “I find this report very disturbing.”
Yee, a native of Springfield who served as a U.S. Army chaplain at Guantanamo, said the list “targeted those organizations which are fighting for human rights for the people of Palestine. It is more of a list of organizations which are against the illegal occupation of the occupied territories. CAIR made this list, but we don’t have an official position on Palestine.”
Support for terrorists
According to Neuer, the Muslim American Society “is one of the leading Muslim organizations that promote and coordinate anti-Israel activities in the United States. They are able to attract big audiences to their demonstrations, and a lot of it is because of strong affiliations with big mosques. They have had anti-Jewish rhetoric at some of their anti-Israel rallies and they support terrorist groups, including Hizbulla and Hamas.”
Ibrahim Ramey, MAS’ civil rights program director, in a phone interview from his group’s Washington, DC, headquarters, denied the ADL’s characterization.
“We are not in support of any armed insurrection,” he said. “We do not support any military organization, whether it is Hizbulla or the IDF. Any statement that could be construed as anti-Jewish at any of our events did not come from us and are not reflective of our position.”
Included on the ADL’s list was one Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Peace, based in Oakland, Calif.
The organization recently drafted and organized a petition signed by more than 150 American and film artists in support of an Israeli artists’ boycott against performing in the West Bank.
The JVP refuted ADL’s claims, saying in a statement that the organization advocates for human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis.
“Perhaps the most interesting thing about the ADL’s list is the desperation it betrays. Israel is now a country whose own social-affairs minister [Isaac Herzog] warns of ‘a whiff of fascism’ in national politics,” according to the JVP statement. The ADL “cannot distinguish right from wrong. All they can do is defend Israel blindly.”
Neuer has a different view.
“These are groups that, if they had their way, there would be no more Israel in the Middle East,” he said. “We ignore them at our own risk.”