In the wake of the shooting at the San Diego-area synagogue in California on Saturday, April 27 that left one worshiper dead and two wounded, and the ongoing outcry against an Anti-Semitic cartoon published in the New York Times, we are reminded that anti-Semitism exists on all sides of the political spectrum, and can yield deadly results.
While these acts of anti-Semitism are rightfully publicly decried, and the organizations that traffic in them condemned, much of the growing tide of anti-Semitism in the West has a basis in Islamist anti-Semitism, promoted by hate preachers utilizing the West's famous tolerance to promote vile conspiracy theories against the Jews.
All too often, however, the organizations that permit this form of anti-Semitism are protected from criticism by cries of "Islamophobia" and the organizations that support them are treated as important community organizations.
Take, for example, Sheikh Omar Baloch, the Resident Scholar of the Bolingbrook Illinois-based Al-Furqaan Foundation, a group which performs "Dawah", or proselytizing, by distributing Qurans across the United States.
Baloch's YouTube Channel consists of a series of videos warning the world, in general, and Muslims in particular against the threat of the Zionist movement that, according to his YouTube videos, wreaks havoc in the world in order to achieve its goals. Titles include "Illuminati, Zionism & the Third Temple", "9/11 TO Sri Lanka Zionist Link- Hoax After Hoax, Muslims Cry Wolf (Shocking Truth!)" and "Sri Lanka Deadly Attack and New World Order".
In his most recent YouTube video, Baloch, as if reading from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, emphasized that Zionists "have done everything against anything that has been religious. This is their modus operandi," adding, "the Zionist Movement itself used secular people, [and] used religious people to their ungodly Satanic ends."
The sheikh introduces the specific topic of his video by emphasizing strongly that Zionists "want to bring down a sacred place; Al Masjid Al Aqsa (...) [in order] to build the [Jewish] Temple. Also, because under the Temple there are a lot of artefacts (...) Probably, it has to do with magic, but I am not going to go into that today."
In the video, Baloch goes on to suggest that Zionists perpetrated the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York on September 2001, the Mossad created the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), that Zionists carried out the horrific massacre at the Christchurch mosques in New Zealand and the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, in order to create conflict in the world and give Islam a bad name.
Baloch is not a foreign-born imam raised on the historical anti-Semitism prevalent in the Middle East. He was born in Chicago and studied at Georgetown University. His bio also lists him as attending in addition Al-Azhar University in Egypt and the Jamia Thul Ahlul Hadith in Pakistan.
Al-Furqaan Foundation's Facebook page notes that Baloch "is responsible for all activities and material relating to communicating the Message of the Qur'an to Muslims and non-Muslims."
Al-Furqaan Foundation oversees a number of linked organizations including Al Furqaan Institute of Quranic Education (FIQE), where Baloch is an instructor and which emphasizes providing Islamic education to prison inmates, as well as the Al Furqaan Academy, an Islamic school teaching young Muslims with branches in Chicago and Dallas.
Al Furqaan Foundation is also a leading member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) a coalition that claims to be "the leading advocate of Muslim community interests and a catalyst for enriching American society." Through CIOGC and with the help of Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, Al Furqaan Academy received the ability to utilize public school buses for its students in 2016.
CIOGC held its annual Muslim Advocacy day in Springfield earlier this month, meeting with Governor JB Pritzker and state legislators.
Al Furqaan Foundation and CIOGC should be required to condemn Omar Baloch's anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and remove him from his position.
Of course, Baloch is not an isolated case, anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer. A survey of attitudes toward Jews in more than 100 countries found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims as among Christians.
It requires an honest assessment of the problem, a candid conversation, and hard work to isolate and discredit Islamist demagogues, and to encourage moderate leaders. Only then can we help build a healthy American community free of the scourge of anti-Semitism. We can't do that if we allow apologists to treat Islamist anti-Semites differently.
Hesham Shehab is the Chicago Area Associate of the Counter-Islamist Grid (CIG)