Republican members of Congress are demanding to know why the State Department selected a prominent anti-Israel Muslim leader to represent the U.S. at a recent human rights conference in Warsaw, Poland.
Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was recently selected by President Barack Obama’s administration to deliver remarks at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual human rights conference, a 10-day gathering focused on the "promotion of tolerance," according to the group’s website.
The selection of al-Marayati quickly drew condemnation from Jewish leaders and others who objected to the presence of a Muslim leader who has defended terrorists and once speculated that Israel could be responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The State Department defended al-Marayati, labeling him "valued and highly credible."
The administration’s defense led Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, to demand answers in a letter sent late Thursday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"The Administration’s recent selection of Salam al-Marayati to represent the United States at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is highly concerning," Jordan wrote to Clinton, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
"Your assertion that al-Marayati is ‘valued and highly credible’ is not only outlandish, but raises serious questions regarding the Administration’s judgment, as well as its underlying foreign policy goals," the letter said.
Jordan’s letter requested "prompt and detailed responses" to a series of questions focused on al-Marayati’s selection by the administration.
"What is the Administration’s process by which individuals are chosen to represent the United States at various international meetings?" he asked. "Given al-Marayati’s background and previous statements, how does his selection foster and strengthen U.S. relations with our allies in the Middle East?"
Jordan went on to wonder why the administration would select a person shrouded in anti-Israel controversy.
"What was the specific intended impact of selecting al-Marayati as a representative of the United States?" the letter asked. "How is al-Marayati’s selection compatible with the Administration’s policy goals with respect to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East?"
"Is it the Administration’s intent to promote individuals and organizations that belittle U.S. allies in the Middle East?" the lawmaker asked.
Additionally, Jordan asked to know if al-Marayati’s controversial rhetoric raised any red flags.
"Is the Administration concerned that al-Marayati’s connections to the delisting of [the terror groups] Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as his claim that Israel should be a suspect of the 9/11 attacks, will have negative consequences to the Muslim or Jewish communities of the United States?" Jordan said in the letter.
Jewish leaders and others are concerned that al-Marayati’s presence at the forum, which ended earlier this month, sent a harmful and offensive message.
"I find it hard to believe that among those chosen to represent the U.S. at OSCE is Salam al-Marayati, a person who for the past 10 years has labored obsessively to dehumanize a people of one country, and whose concept of human rights precludes a priori the rights of Israelis to sovereignty, normalcy, and the protection from terror," Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, told the Free Beacon. "I shudder at the thought that this person will represent the U.S. in any forum connected with human rights."
However, the State Department and U.S. embassies in Poland and Brussels had praised al-Marayati’s participation in the human rights forum, according to statements on their respective websites.
Al-Marayati drew condemnation after he said that the U.S. "should put the state of Israel on the suspect list," according to the New York Times.
"If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies," al-Marayati told a radio host, according to the Times.
He also has referred to attacks by the terrorist group Hezbollah as "legitimate resistance," according to a report by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Al-Marayati was invited to participate in the confab as a "public member of the U.S. delegation," according to a statement on MPAC’s website.
MPAC itself has been condemned by Jewish organizations for promoting articles asserting that Israelis harvest Palestinian organs, a false accusation that echoes a centuries-old anti-Semitic blood libel.