Welcoming Arab Extremism
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) has come a long way from its shadowy origins as an instrument of Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Without moderating its hardline anti-Israel views, AMP has reformed its image and cultivated willing advocates among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. During annual Palestine Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill, AMP lobbyists have met with dozens of members of Congress and their staffs, promoting legislation that would isolate Israel and favor radical jihadist groups.
U.S. Representatives such as Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) remain steadfast allies of AMP and its newly formed lobbying arm, Americans for Justice in Palestine-Action, championing its legislative proposals and serving as guest speakers at the nonprofit’s annual conventions. AMP’s congressional supporters have maintained these relations despite the Islamist organization’s penchant for anti-Semitism and extremism.
On November 21, AMP executive director Osama Abuirshaid attended a conference in Jordan, appearing alongside terrorist members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Abuirshaid was featured on a panel discussing a “New Arab Strategy” to confront Israel. Apparently, Abuirshaid’s plans include “exploiting” American racial tensions and calling the U.S. an “apartheid state” to build international support for Palestinians.
Abuirshaid cut his teeth as an anti-Israel activist while working as an analyst and newspaper editor for the Islamic Association for Palestine, a now-defunct Hamas propaganda front that served as a precursor to AMP before it was shut down for aiding and abetting terrorism.
The conference, titled “Towards the Features of a New Arab Strategy to Deal with the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” discussed options for resisting Israel -- both violent and non-violent. Participants reportedly “stressed the need to... adopt plans to build military and economic power… while supporting the armed and popular resistance and political and legal efforts.”
Sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center of Jordan, the conference included such celebrity terrorists such as Leila Khaled, a PFLP member and serial airplane hijacker who chaired one of the event’s panels. Abuirshaid hailed Khaled’s attendance and lauded her role as a source of inspiration for “younger generations.”
Representing the Muslim American community, much of Abuirshaid’s speech concerned his contempt for his country. “I am frankly ashamed of the U.S. as a state whose citizenship I hold,” he said.
Abuirshaid was only granted that citizenship in 2017, after fighting for 11 years to convince U.S. courts to make him a citizen, a delay resulting from his failure to disclose his links to terror-tied groups. Similarly, AMP has aggressively lobbied to overturn American national security priorities that make it more difficult for immigrants from high-risk countries to enter the U.S.
Why would Abuirashaid and his organization fight so desperately to settle fellow Muslims in a nation they consider deeply oppressive? Continuing his monologue, the AMP director argued that the U.S. oversees a system of “segregation, racial discrimination, [and] apartheid” -- an unlikely allure to foreign migrants.
"Today, when I talk about the apartheid in Palestine -- for African-Americans in the U.S., this resonates with the apartheid that exists in America to this day,” he said.
For many years, AMP and its allies have referred to Israel as an “apartheid state,” comparing it to post-colonial South Africa and its segregationist policies. But if AMP claims that the U.S. -- a diverse and tolerant society -- is guilty of institutionalized segregation, then accusations of apartheid against Israel seem all the more hollow and absurd.
Still, Abuirshaid told conference attendees that they should capitalize on the disadvantages of American minorities by convincing them that they, too, live under “apartheid and racial separation.”
“There are many opportunities ahead of us if we excel at the process of exploiting this discourse, developing this discourse,” he said.
Indeed, Abuirshaid has exploited class and racial divisions among Americans in the past, pointing to a lack of “electricity or clean water in some American cities” during a September interview with Jordan’s Yarmouk TV, while complaining that U.S. taxpayers provide billions in aid to Israel so that its military can “continue killing the Palestinian people with American missiles.”
According to the AMP director, America is “the teat from which Israel suckles,” and he predicted that the Jewish state would “not last 20, 30, or 40 years” without “American support.” But this wasn’t Abuirshaid’s only doomsday prediction; he also said that America would soon cease to exist as a country.
“This is not a philosophical question today, but a realistic question that is asked among prominent scholars, saying that the US may collapse under the pressure of its own weight,” he added.
It isn’t clear which “prominent scholars” are forecasting the U.S. government’s impending collapse. What is most apparent, though, is that AMP would likely welcome America’s downfall if -- as Abuishaid surmised -- it would lead to Israel’s demise.
As Abuirshaid patiently awaits America’s final hour, his organization is perfectly content with manipulating the country’s democratic institutions and exploiting its citizens' historical grievances, so long as these subversive pursuits work to cripple and contain Israel. U.S. lawmakers who cater so openly to these extremists are complicit in this outcome.
Benjamin Baird is the Deputy Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum
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