It’s Time for Mainstream Jewish Organizations to Stop Legitimizing CAIR

Dec. 28 2021

At a recent conference of American Muslims for Palestine, Zahra Billoo—the director of the San Francisco branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—warned her audience of the dangers of “polite Zionists,” who, despite friendly appearances, are their “enemies.” Muslims, according to Billoo, should shun and “oppose” groups that fall into this category, which include campus Hillel houses, the Antidefamation League (ADL), local Jewish federations, and “the Zionist synagogues.” To anyone familiar with CAIR, writes Jonathan Tobin, this message shouldn’t come as a surprise:

Though it was first created as a political front group supporting fundraising for Hamas terrorists in the U.S. and has remained a bastion of anti-Israel hate, CAIR has largely succeeded in persuading many Jews as well as the media and government institutions that it is a civil-rights group; . . . many in the Jewish establishment were not only willing to give CAIR a pass, but actively helped it go mainstream.

Now . . . the question is whether American Jewry and its leading organizations are capable of drawing the proper conclusions about CAIR. More to the point: will Jewish community relations councils and others who are dedicated to promoting interfaith dialogue with Muslims finally understand that as valuable as that effort might be, it can’t be achieved by partnering with groups like CAIR?

American Jews and Muslims need to understand each other better, and that can be facilitated by outreach and dialogue. But as is often the case with efforts to seek commonalities with other minorities or faith groups, those involved often regard the process itself as more important than actually safeguarding the interests of the Jewish community. That failing was key to CAIR’s efforts to rebrand itself as the Muslim version of the ADL.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, CAIR, Muslim-Jewish relations

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount