Biden Admin Official Responsible for Prosecuting Anti-Semitic Attacks Has Praised Anti-Semitic Activists

Kristen Clarke is responsible for prosecuting anti-Jewish hate crimes

Kristen Clarke (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
October 25, 2023

The Biden administration official in charge of prosecuting anti-Semitic attacks, which have skyrocketed in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel, has a history of coddling anti-Semitic activists and groups that have condoned the terrorist attack.

Justice Department civil rights chief Kristen Clarke partnered with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an anti-Israel group, on a voting rights initiative for Muslim Americans. Clarke has praised Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Women's March organizers Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, left-wing activists with lengthy track records of espousing anti-Semitic views. As a student at Harvard, Clarke organized a speech for Wellesley College professor Tony Martin, who peddled the false claim that a cabal of Jews orchestrated the international slave trade.

Those affiliations could raise questions about Clarke's appetite for tackling cases of anti-Semitism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, hate attacks against Jews have increased by 388 percent in the wake of Hamas's attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Left-wing groups have glorified Hamas during protests in major cities and at college campuses. Activists at George Washington University projected messages onto campus buildings that referred to Hamas fighters as "martyrs." Chicago's Black Lives Matter chapter published a flier that depicted a Palestinian paraglider, a reference to the Hamas gunmen who attacked Israeli concertgoers.

The Biden administration has come under scrutiny for working with groups that condone the Hamas attack, in which 1,400 Israelis were slaughtered. The State Department has awarded grants to universities in Gaza that hailed Hamas attackers as "righteous martyrs." The White House earlier this year tapped CAIR as part of its "National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism."

CAIR was designated an "unindicted co-conspirator" of Hamas in a 2007 terrorism finance case, in which a federal judge found "ample evidence to establish the association" between the two groups. CAIR blamed the "Israeli government's apartheid policies" for Hamas's attack, and the group's executive director, Nihad Awad, referred to Israel as a "settler colonial Apartheid state" and wrote, "Israel=Russia." Clarke launched a voting rights initiative with CAIR in 2016, when she led the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Clarke praised Tlaib, Sarsour, and Mallory well after their views on Israel were widely known. Clarke urged Tlaib in 2019 to "continue speaking truth to power" following a public spat the representative had with then-president Donald Trump. She expressed "support" for Sarsour and Mallory for their work with the activist group Women’s March and thanked the activists for hosting a demonstration against Trump's inauguration. She praised Sarsour in September 2018 after the activist was arrested during then-judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearing. Sarsour and Mallory stepped down from Women's March in 2019 after allegations of anti-Semitism and reports on their affiliation with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Tlaib and Sarsour have maintained their anti-Israel rhetoric in the wake of the Hamas attack. At a demonstration last week, Sarsour asserted that President Joe Biden is overseeing a "genocidal administration" because he hasn't called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Tlaib said that Israel has an "apartheid system" and pushed the discredited claim that Israeli forces killed 500 Palestinians in the bombing of a Gaza hospital. The "Squad" member repeated that claim this week, even after the U.S. government and independent observers concluded that the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched the rocket that hit the hospital.

Clarke's judgment regarding potential hate crimes has been called into question before. In 2019, she defended actor Jussie Smollett after he claimed he was attacked in an anti-black, anti-gay hate crime in Chicago. Clarke accused Chicago police of "demonizing" Smollett at the time for seeking access to the actor's phone. Smollett was later convicted for fabricating the hate crime attack.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.