I was glued to my TV hoping that the hostages would emerge safely from Temple Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. All the news channels dedicated their airtime for this harrowing drama of Jewish worshippers held hostage by a troubled man, caught in the web of his antisemitic fantasies. Malik Faisal Akram, under surveillance by British counterterrorism, shamefully was allowed to leave Great Britain and enter the United States. He then terrorized four worshippers under the illusion that the Jews, controlling the destiny of the world, could force the release of Lady Al Qaeda, Aafia Siddiqui.
Fortunately, through the efforts of Rabbi Charles Cytron-Walker, trained to respond in such emergencies, and law enforcement, the hostages escaped. Akram’s illusions died with him.
After a momentary lapse in credulity fostered by the FBI’s statement that the terrorist attack “focused on an issue unrelated to the Jewish community,” legions of messages, led by President Biden’s, condemned this clearly antisemitic attack.
One of the organizations joining this show of solidarity for Jews was the Council of American Islamic Relations. Yet at the same time that CAIR showed its empathy for the plight of the hostages, it led efforts to free Lady Al Qaeda through fundraisers and events. Siddiqui was convicted to serve 86 years for fomenting terrorism and the attempted murder of U.S. troops. At her trial, Siddiqui asked for the exclusion of potential Jewish jurors, seeking DNA tests to certify her demand. When she was convicted she blamed Israel for it. How this Ph.D. recipient from Brandeis University, founded by Jews and named after the Jewish jurist, could hate Jews so much I leave to a psychoanalyst to explain.
So quick to condemn anti-Semitism, CAIR has a long history of affiliation with Hezbollah and Hamas, the latter including the killing of Jews in its covenant. One U.S. District Court judge ruled that there is “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas.” Supporting the plight of the hostages provides easy cover for an organization committed to Israel’s downfall.
The old refrain that “some of my best friends are Jewish,” which justified social discrimination against Jews, popularized in Elia Kazan’s Oscar-winning ‘Gentleman’s Agreement,” is resurrected as “liking Jews but hating Israel.” Members of the “Squad” were among the first to condemn antisemitic attacks against Jews in the U.S. but won’t support Iron Dome funding to defend Jews against attacks, solely because they live in Israel. Progressives will support Jews in their own ranks but only if they abandon their Zionist leanings. Dues-paying Jewish members of teachers unions are compromised as their dues help fund efforts to boycott Israel. Student leaders on campus are harassed if they show support for Israel, and many are afraid to publicly display their Jewish identity. This is the France of a decade ago coming to our shores.
When one of the principals of Ben and Jerry, after supporting its boycott of the West Bank, was asked why Ben and Jerry’s didn’t boycott Texas for its anti-abortion legislation, he was dumbfounded, and couldn’t answer this singling out of Israel.
The rationalization of not attacking Israel but its policies loses traction when, as reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the marketing firm Big Duck rejected the Shalom Hartman Institute as a client because it’s a Zionist institution opposing BDS. If I were a client, I’d seek a new firm that is not anti-Zionist.
Among other sins, the U.S. State Department defines antisemitism as the “targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” The conditioned reflex of too many organizations and individuals to condemn antisemitism while extolling or condoning antisemitism against the Jewish collectivity, also known as Israel, is just as antisemitic.
Antisemitism is antisemitism, with no exceptions made for those who try to make exceptions. They should be treated as the hate mongers they are and dealt with accordingly.
Max Kleinman of Fairfield was the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest from 1995 to 2014 and he is the president of the Fifth Commandment Foundation.