It won't be "all about the Benjamins baby" for protesters outside the Woodland Hills Hilton tomorrow. That's where the Council on American Islamic Relations' Los Angeles chapter will be holding its fourth annual "Valley banquet" fundraiser hosting controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Omar has generated attention and condemnation with her series of anti-Semitic remarks in recent weeks. But activists in L.A. are more concerned by her decision to raise money for various Islamist groups, some of which have been tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and others labeled designated as terrorist-linked by some foreign governments.
CAIR-LA's executive director, Hussam Ayloush, is a divisive figure with his own history of anti-Semitic statements. Gary Fouse, a local activist who keeps a blog documenting CAIR-LA's activism, says that Ayloush has been openly asserting a moral equivalence between ISIS and Israel since ISIS was at its height in 2015. At a panel discussion that year, Fouse wrote, "Ayloush mentioned that the fact that some 'twenty' American Muslims had gone off to join ISIS did not justify the U.S. government spending millions of dollars investigating the Muslim community."
He then said that it was only the Muslim community that was coming under scrutiny in this regard. He said that you don't hear about counter-violent extremism programs going on in synagogues in regards to the thousands of young Jewish men going off to join the Israeli Defense Forces killing people in Gaza. He also said you don't hear about counter-extremism programs in Christian churches.
Congresswoman Omar is a frequent guest at fundraisers like this one, and accustomed to speaking alongside speakers like Ayloush and other CAIR-LA regular speakers. This includes Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid At-taqwa in Brooklyn and the Muslim Alliance of North America, who appeared in 2016 alongside Ayloush. Wahhaj is among the most prolific fundraisers and regular speakers on the Islamist lecture circuit and possesses arguably the longest and most explicit record of promotion of Islamic law, violent jihad, and calls to anti-gay violence.
In December 2017, Omar spoke at CAIR San Francisco Bay Area's 23rd annual banquet. Also speaking at the event: Wahhaj and New York activist and "Women's March" co-leader, Linda Sarsour, who has described Wahhaj as her "favorite person" and "mentor, motivator and encourager."
Nor is CAIR the only Islamist group for which Omar has assisted in raising money. On Feb. 23 in Tampa, Omar spoke at an Islamic Relief event for aiding Yemen. Islamic Relief has been criticized by numerous governments for funding terrorism and links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel's Shin Bet acquired intelligence revealing Islamic Relief's funding of Hamas, prompting a government ban. The United Arab Emirates has also listed Islamic Relief as a terrorist group. Bangladesh banned them too, and Sweden named them a Muslim Brotherhood front.
At the Islamic Relief event, Omar was initially scheduled to speak alongside Yousef Abdallah, an Islmic Relief employee who has made numerous anti-Semitic statements on social media, including accusing former New Jersey governor Chris Christie of kneeling before "jewish [sic] lords". After the statements were revealed in various online publications and condemned by activists, spokesmen claimed ridiculously that Abdallah's inclusion in the program had been an "accident." Yet, Abdallah remains an employee of Islamic Relief.
That Omar moves in such circles provides greater context to the statements for which she recently came under fire. This context makes it impossible to dismiss them merely as a series of gaffes, as some have attempted. Her remarks and tweets are not the innocent missteps of a naive or ignorant refugee, but rather common expressions of the anti-Semitic Islamist ideology which CAIR, Islamic Relief, and other Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations have fomented in America.
David M. Swindle is the Southern California associate of the Counter-Islamist Grid. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle