Islamic Leadership Council Condemns NY Assembly and Charles Fall Visit to Israel Funded by Zionist Organizations

(New York, NY. 2/25/2020)  – Following a series of assaults on human rights by the Israeli government in addition to the Trump Administration’s recent passing of the abhorrent Deal of the Century, Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York strongly rejects and condemns visits to Israel through Zionist organizations.  

Recently, a delegation of New York State Assembly members, including Charles Fall, the first Muslim elected to the Assembly, visited Israel on a trip organized and funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) and the UJA-Federation of New York. 

Zionist organizations in the US routinely provide free trips to Israel for cohorts of legislators, especially those who are new in office. It is no secret that this decades-long tradition has remained a tactic for Zionist organizations to provide a deeply one-sided and pro-Israel narrative of the region. JCRC-NY is known to engage in activities, advocacy, and campaigns that not only aim to whitewash Israeli occupation of Palestine, but also demonize Palestinians and Muslims living in New York. JCRC-NY also actively advocates for the criminalization of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) by lobbying American public officials through the efforts of a $6 million anti-BDS initiative through the Israel Action Network. Such advocacy not only undermines freedom of speech against human rights abuses, but also discriminates against anyone who decides to be critical of Israel for its crimes. A more recent example of this is the denial of Abby Martin’s appearance to speak at Georgia State University due to her refusal to sign an Israel oath. 

In a recent report, published by Jewish Voice for Peace–New York City, Jews Say NO!, and Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism, UJA-Federation of New York was linked to providing more than $2 million to the Islamophobia industry, namely anti-Muslim individuals like Pamela Geller, Stephen Emerson, and David Horowitz, and organizations like the Middle East Media Research Institute. This report shed further light on the known connection between the Pro-Israel lobby and some mainstream Jewish organizations that invest in the Islamophobia industry to advance the interests of Israel. Furthermore, the JCRC-NY and the UJA-Federation recently announced the hiring of Mitchell D. Siber as their Community Security Initiative Director–the same individual who was a major architect for the Islamophobic NYPD report titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat.” This report specifically targeted and discriminated against Muslims for simply following their faith, indicating that wearing the hijab, growing a beard, and praying five times a day are markers of radicalization and extremism. 

Co-sponsored trips with such blatantly Islamophobic and Zionist organizations cannot be normalized at any capacity. Such efforts harm the Muslim community and prevent real progress in achieving peace in the region.

Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, an umbrella organization and representative of over 90 mosques and Muslim-led organizations, is saddened by the participation of Charles Fall in this trip. As a Muslim politician, we had high hopes that he would follow the footsteps of other politicians like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar in rejecting such pernicious trips that harm his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. In addition, we strongly request New York elected officials to reject and refrain from going on such propaganda trips, funded by groups that promote hate against Muslims and Palestinians. The intent of these trips are merely to influence American politicians’ views on the conflict in favor of Israel and to undermine the Palestinian narrative and human and political rights.