Accepting an award from a conservative think tank, Israel's U.S. ambassador attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group that has called several controversial right-wing activists "anti-Muslim extremists."
On Tuesday, Ron Dermer accepted the Freedom Flame Award from the Center for Security Policy, whose president, Frank Gaffney, appears on SPLC's anti-Muslim extremist list. SPLC had urged Dermer to decline the award, suggesting his acceptance "not only further legitimizes this organization, but could be read as an endorsement of anti-Muslim hate by the Israeli government."
In his acceptance speech, Dermer lambasted the SPLC at length. While the envoy said he used to respect the group, Dermer criticized it for branding Gaffney and other activists critical of Islam as extremists. Among those whom Dermer said were unfairly tagged as extremists by the civil rights group are Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum; Maajid Nawaz, a British activist who runs a counter-extremism organization, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch-American activist who decries the treatment of women in Islam.