(LOS ANGELES, CA – 12/19/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) and Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles (JVP-LA) today condemned the attempts of the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an Israel apologist group, to smear CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, a nationally recognized civil rights and human rights leader, in retaliation for protected political expression critical of Israel’s human rights abuses.
During separate public and private presentations with the Orange County Human Relations Commission and Orange County Human Relations Council earlier this month, Rabbi Peter Levi, director of the ADL’s Orange County/Long Beach Regional Office, attacked as anti-Semitic Mr. Ayloush’s social media and public comments condemning and calling for an end to Israel’s repressive apartheid system.
“As a human rights activist who consistently speaks against all tyrannical and repressive regimes and policies around the world, especially in the Middle East, I reject the bullying tactics and defamation attempts of apologists of the State of Israel who wish to shield Israel from legitimate criticism,” said Hussam Ayloush. “Demanding an end to the apartheid regime in Israel is not anti-Semitic any more than demanding an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa or to segregation in the United States was anti-Christian.”
CAIR-LA Managing Civil Rights Attorney Marwa Rifahie noted “anti-Semitism is a very real issue that Jews in America continue to face today. This is evidenced by the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh and more recently, hate speech spray-painted on synagogues throughout Orange County. Rather than focusing on the hate in our backyard, Rabbi Levi abused the platform afforded to him to attack CAIR-LA in a move intended to discredit the important civil rights work we do through falsely conflating support for Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism.”
“Mr. Levi is purposefully putting the American Muslim community at harm by pushing Islamophobic stereotypes about Muslims and anyone who criticizes Israel,” said Estee Chandler, founder of the Los Angeles chapter of JVP. “This very harmful depiction of the largest Muslim rights organization in California and a well-known Muslim leader as anti-Semitic plays into false stereotypes of Jews versus Muslims. These attacks undermine the work that respected partners – like Hussam Ayloush – and our organizations are committed to, namely combating hate, discrimination and fostering understanding.”
This is the latest occurrence of the ADL attempting to smear human rights activists and supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as Anti-Semites:
- ADL attempted to create a backlash by voicing “alarm” when Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar expressed her support for BDS.
- ADL campaigned against former U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first American Muslim elected to Congress, making false accusations of anti-Semitism.
- In 2010, the ADL joined Islamophobic groups in opposing the construction of a mosque and Islamic center in Manhattan, deeming it in the “shadow of the World Trade Center.”
- In 1993, the ADL was sued for illegally surveilling Arab-Americans and other supporters of Palestinian rights, opponents of South African apartheid and critics of United States policy in Central America.
Through the years, many civil rights organizations have criticized ADL’s troubling history of undermining anti-racist groups in the United States. CAIR-LA and JVP-LA call for Mr. Levi and the ADL to cease the vitriolic attacks.
Earlier this week, CAIR filed a major First Amendment lawsuit to a “No Boycott of Israel” or “anti-BDS” law in Texas enacted last year. The lawsuit is challenging the state’s restrictions on citizens using their First Amendment right to oppose Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.
CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Eugene W. Fields, 714-776-1847 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Founding Director Estee Chandler, 213-400-9201 or LosAngeles@JewishVoiceforPeace.org