The Biden administration tapped an anti-Israel advocacy group that accuses the Jewish state of genocide to participate in a forum on the surge in hate crimes following Hamas’s attacks.
The Arab American Institute joined the Justice Department’s "United Against Hate" forum Wednesday, the agency announced. Attorney General Merrick Garland and civil rights division chief Kristen Clarke led the event with leaders from several advocacy groups and five U.S. attorneys.
The Arab American Institute, which was represented at the forum by its executive director Maya Berry, supports economic boycotts of Israel and has accused the Israeli government of "genocide" and "apartheid" against Palestinians. The institute’s founder, James Zogby, has referred to Israel as "Nazis" and defended the term "Israel firster," which white supremacists use to suggest American Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States.
This is the latest example of the Biden administration courting anti-Israel groups to take part in hate crime initiatives. It comes as anti-Semitic incidents have spiked nearly 400 percent in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel last month. FBI director Christopher Wray warned this week that Hamas’s attack will likely inspire a terror threat "the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS."
In May, the White House tapped the Council on American-Islamic Relations for its "national strategy for combating anti-Semitism." CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator of Hamas in a 2007 federal terrorism case. Nihad Awad, the executive director of CAIR, referred to Israel as a "settler colonial Apartheid state" in the wake of the attacks and wrote "Israel=Russia."
Kristen Clarke, who oversees the Justice Department’s civil rights division, has repeatedly praised anti-Semitic activists and scholars. Clarke touted activists Linda Sarsour and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who have pushed anti-Semitic tropes and defended Hamas’s attack on Israel. As a Harvard student, Clarke hosted an event for a scholar who peddled the conspiracy theory that Jews orchestrated the international slave trade.
The Arab American Institute offered some criticism of Hamas after the group slaughtered 1,400 Israelis this month. But like many other anti-Israel groups, the institute blamed Israel and the United States for stoking tensions with Palestinians.
"While all parties share some degree of blame, I mainly fault successive US administrations for failing to play its self-proclaimed role of the promoter of human rights and peace. It has abdicated its responsibility diminishing itself to become Israel’s partner in the oppression of Palestinians. For shame," Zogby said days after the Hamas attack.
Zogby and the Arab American Institute have pushed the false claim that Israel bombed a Gaza hospital, killing 500 people. Zogby rejected the Israeli government’s claim that the rocket was fired by another terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The institute said Israel had engaged in "war crimes." The Biden administration and independent observers have determined the rocket was fired by Islamic terrorist groups inside Gaza.
In addition to supporting the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, the Arab American Institute has lobbied the Biden administration to oppose expansion of counterterrorism statutes to include Muslim and Arab advocacy groups. Instead, the Arab American Institute wanted Biden to focus on investigating white supremacists as domestic terrorists.
"We urge you to oppose any new domestic terrorism charge, the creation of a list of designated domestic terrorist organizations, or other expansion of existing terrorism-related authorities," the Arab American Institute wrote in a letter with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Hamas-linked advocacy group. They asserted the terrorism statutes would "adversely impact civil rights" of Muslim, Arab, and black activists.
The Justice Department and Arab American Institute did not respond to requests for comment.