Biden Judicial Nominee Honored by Anti-Israel Group Whose Board Member Cheers Hamas

Amir Ali (DC Bar/Twitter)
May 3, 2024

Biden judicial nominee Amir H. Ali in November received a "Justice Tribute" award from an Arab-American civil rights group that supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and whose board member has praised Hamas and other terrorist groups.

The Arab American Civil Rights League, based in Dearborn, Michigan, has called for boycotts of the state’s two Democratic senators over their opposition to the BDS movement. One of the league’s board members said the Arab-American community "stand[s] with" Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. And days after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state, the Arab American Civil Rights League sued the State and Defense Departments for failing to evacuate Palestinian-Americans in Gaza. The lawsuit made no mention of Americans held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

Weeks after the lawsuit, Arab American Civil Rights League president Nabih Ayad presented Ali, the nominee for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with its "Justice Tribute" award for his work in civil rights litigation.

Ali’s affiliation with the anti-Israel group comes amid scrutiny over his role at a nonprofit, the MacArthur Justice Center, that has called to defund police departments. Ali, who started at the MacArthur center in 2017 and became its director in 2021, testified at his confirmation hearing that he was unaware his group had called to defund police departments. Ali said he does not support defunding police.

Links to anti-Israel groups have jeopardized other Biden nominees. The confirmation of Adeel Mangi to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is in limbo over his position on the advisory board of the Rutgers Center on Security, Race, and Rights, a think tank that has pushed anti-Israel views and hosted a convicted terrorism financier at a 9/11 anniversary event in 2021.

Ali disclosed his award from the Arab American Civil Rights League in his questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but referred to the organization only by its acronym, ACRL.

In 2019, the then-chairman of the organization called for a boycott of Democratic Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow over their support for a bill against the BDS movement. "We should not invite them to our dinners, we should not welcome them into our community and we should not give them a dime and find other candidates," said Nasser Beydoun, who now serves on the Arab American Civil Rights League’s board of directors.

Beydoun made those remarks in an interview with Arab American Civil Rights League board member Amer Zahr and Arab American News publisher Osama Siblani. Both are ardent critics of Israel and defenders of Hamas. Zahr has said "we stand with" any organization that fights against Israel, "whether it’s called Hamas; whether it’s called Hezbollah," the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Siblani has called Hamas and Hezbollah "freedom fighters." At a rally in May 2022 that received national attention, Siblani praised the "fedayeen," or Islamic militants, and urged Arabs to take up "stones" and "guns" against Israel. At an Arab American Civil Rights League gala weeks earlier, Siblani said the United States should provide Palestinians with "economic and military aid to fight Israelis."

Zahr and Siblani attended the "Justice Tribute" ceremony for Ali, according to photos of the event. It is unclear whether Ali knows either activist. He referred the Free Beacon to the White House for comment. White House spokesman Andrew Bates defended Ali as an "extraordinarily qualified" nominee who has "strong law enforcement and Jewish community support." Bates baselessly accused the Free Beacon of "targeting … Muslim nominees" with "guilt-by-association smears."

Ali disavowed Hamas in written responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said that he would disqualify potential law clerks who praise Hamas, as well as those who blame Israel for the Hamas attack.

"I will expect my law clerks to have sound judgment, and the endorsement or praise for a Foreign Terrorist Organization would be disqualifying," he said.

But Ali has links to another left-wing group that has explicitly blamed Israel for the Hamas attack, and defended the "Palestinian right" to "armed struggle" against Israel. Ali is a member of the National Police Accountability Project, a subsidiary of the radical left-wing National Lawyers Guild.

The National Lawyers Guild defended Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on the grounds that Palestinians have a right to use "armed struggle" against Israel. The organization also called on the U.S. government to remove terrorist designations for Hamas and Hezbollah because they are "exercising their fundamental and protected right to self-defense."