Meeks Won't Say If He'll Return Donation From Activist Who Called Israel a 'Parasite'

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images
October 7, 2021

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) is silent on whether he will return a $3,000 donation from a prominent Palestinian activist who called Israel a "parasite" that "sucks the blood of America."

Osama Abuirshaid, the executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, during an interview with Jordan's Yarmouk TV on Sept. 22 described Israel as "a parasite living off the American body" that "sucks the blood of America and scatters its attention," according to a translation from the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Abuirshaid, who has a history of anti-Semitic comments, donated $3,000 to Meeks in March, according to Federal Election Commission records. A spokeswoman for Meeks did not respond to a request for comment.

Meeks's silence comes at a time when the left flank of the Democratic Party has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Israel. Last month, House Democratic leadership agreed to remove funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system from a spending bill in response to protests from progressive members.

Meeks has been a mainstream voice on Israel within the Democratic Party but has also worked to pacify anti-Israel progressives. Last spring, he sided with progressives and backed delaying an arms sale to Israel during its conflict with Hamas, before reversing course.

Abuirshaid applauded the Democratic Party's shift against Israel during the September interview, saying the United States is "witnessing the closing of the ranks, and an emphasis on the force that supports Palestine within the Democratic Party."

In addition to his contribution to Meeks, Abuirshaid gave $25 donations to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Cori Bush (D., Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) in May. He contributed $300 to Rep. Andre Carson (D., Ind.) in 2018.

This is not the first time Abuirshaid has made controversial comments. He railed against "Zionist influence in the media" in 2016, claiming that Jews "have a significant impact on the media, as well as on Hollywood. They have managed to endear Israel and the Jews upon American public opinion," according to a translation by MEMRI.

He also praised Hamas while criticizing "Arab apostates" who "allied with the despicable Jews and the hating Crusaders."

"They want to defeat Hamas and disarm Gaza. However, they forgot that Gaza's men only know victory. For them it is either jihad, victory, or martyrdom," Abuirshaid wrote in a Facebook post, according to the anti-Semitism watchdog group Canary Mission.

Published under: Israel