Adeel Mangi Downplayed His Involvement With Anti-Israel Think Tank, Emails Show

Adeel Mangi (Graeme Sloan/Wikimedia Commons)
April 29, 2024

During his confirmation hearing, embattled Biden judicial nominee Adeel Mangi told senators that he left the board of an anti-Israel think tank because it was not sufficiently "productive."

But in his resignation email, Mangi said he was leaving the board because he had too many other commitments, praised the think tank’s "excellent work," and pledged his "ongoing financial support."

"I will really enjoy watching you continue to build the organization in the years ahead," Mangi wrote to Sahar Aziz, the director of the Rutgers Center for Race, Security and Rights, on June 15, 2023. "I don’t like to stay on any board for more than a couple of years or so as I think fresh blood and exposure to new areas is very important on all sides."

The letter is one of several emails obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, which cast doubt on Mangi’s statements about his involvement with the Rutgers Center. Mangi, the nominee for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, told senators that his role as an advisory board member was "limited to participating in four meetings" regarding the center’s "academic research."

But emails show Mangi did far more than that, helping Aziz recruit new members to the board, singing the group’s praises to colleagues, and bringing the Rutgers Center onto a diversity initiative spearheaded by his law firm.

The email could cause trouble for Mangi, who has downplayed his work with the Rutgers Center amid scrutiny over the group’s anti-Israel rhetoric. The center hosted Sami al-Arian, a financier of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, at a 9/11 anniversary event in which speakers blamed "U.S. imperialism" for the terrorist attack. And Aziz, who founded the center in 2018, has said she was "in awe of the Palestinian struggle to resist" Israeli settlers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mangi’s emails show he "misled the committee" about his relationship with the Rutgers Center.

"At his nomination hearing, Mr. Mangi sought to downplay his role with the Center and his knowledge of its work. Now we know he misled the committee," Graham told the Free Beacon. "President Biden should immediately withdraw this nomination."

Republicans, police groups, and three Senate Democrats oppose Mangi over his links to the Rutgers Center and left-wing groups that have called to defund police departments and advocated for convicted cop killers. The White House has resisted calls to pull Mangi’s nomination and accused Republicans of "Islamophobia" for opposing the first Muslim nominee to the federal appeals court.

In February 2021, Mangi contacted a potential board member after Aziz sought his help in recruiting more African-American Muslims to the advisory board. In June 2020, Mangi solicited another colleague to join the board. He said the time commitment was "pretty small," consisting of "two or three calls and one live meeting a year," and that board members are required to donate between $1,000 and $2,000. Mangi also praised Aziz as a "force of nature."

Mangi helped the center "push" a diversity initiative sponsored by his law firm, Patterson Belknap. In March 2021, he told Aziz that he was cutting through "red tape" with his firm on the unspecified initiative, but that he had received "approval from our diversity group to push it."

Mangi, who has donated $6,500 to the Rutgers Center, has already been accused of misleading lawmakers about his activities with the think tank. He failed to disclose to senators that he moderated a panel with Aziz on "Islamophobia" in 2022 at a conference sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an anti-Israel group linked to Hamas. Mangi amended his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Washington Examiner reported his appearance at the event.

He has denied involvement in the Rutgers Center’s controversial events and said he was unaware of its 9/11 anniversary event with al-Arian, the convicted terrorism financier. The event received national attention after Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) called to "castigate and alienate" the Rutgers think tank for providing a platform to speakers "with ties to militant terrorist organizations."

Mangi has denied knowing that Aziz signed an open letter in May 29, 2021, that stated she was "in awe of the Palestinian struggle to resist violent occupation, removal, erasure, and the expansion of Israeli settler colonialism."

Mangi told senators during his confirmation hearing that he condemns all forms of terrorism, but he stopped short of condemning the think tank. And he pleaded ignorance when asked about Aziz’s statements about "the Palestinian struggle" against Israelis.

"I do not have the expertise or factual background to express views regarding the complex history of the conflict in the Middle East," he told senators.

The center and Aziz have embraced anti-Israel rhetoric in the aftermath of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Days after the attack, Aziz hosted an event, "Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Resistance in Palestine," in which the invited guest said that "Zionist settler colonialism" was the "provocation" for Hamas’s attack. On Dec. 4, Aziz hosted an event with Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, a prominent anti-Israel academic who has called the Hamas attack "incredible" and "awesome."

Mangi, Aziz, and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.