22 October 09
"The establishment by force, violence, and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948 as well as the expansion of that state in succeeding years involved the unjust and illegal usurpation [sic] of Muslim and Christian lands and rights. "- Salam Al Marayati (December 17, 1993)
Salam Al Marayati arrived in America from his native Baghdad in 1964. In the 1980's he positioned himself as an influential player in the California Democratic Party. He served as a Clinton delegate at the 1996 Democratic National Convention. His wife, Laila, featured prominently in Democratic Party politics. This civic minded person is even co-chairman of the Los Angeles Police Department's Muslim Forum. In a nutshell, that's why he was offered the role of keynote speaker at the upcoming J Street conference.
In addition to his labors for the party, Al Marayati founded the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in 1986. Post 9/11, the chief function of MPAC was to give lip service to anti- terrorism but, in practice, Al Marayati opposed virtually all anti terrorist measures. One of his more infamous quotes has him comparing the American Revolution toJihad:
"When Patrick Henry said, 'Give me liberty or give me death,' that statement epitomized jihad [Islamic holy war]."
A familiar ploy among many Muslim American groups is to condemn terrorism generally (including Israeli terrorism, of course), but to avoid naming Muslim terror groups like Islamic Jihad or Hamas. As for his "Pro Israel" comments, here is what he said about the 1996 murder and maiming of Israeli civilians by Mohammed Hamida after he intentionally drove his car into a line of people waiting for a bus in Jerusalem (Hamida was shot dead by security personnel before he could kill more Israelis):
"MPAC is also demanding extradition of any suspect to the murder of Hamida to be tried in a U.S. court charging the Israeli civilians at the scene of the murder with terrorism or co-conspiracy to terrorism...His murder is viewed by the American Muslim community as a provocative act. (Salam al-Marayati, The Minaret, 3/96)
And this on Hizbollah, the Lebanese terror organization headed by a fanatic (Sheikh Nasrallah) that yearns for every Jew to gather in Israel so that he can kill them all at once:
"I don't think any group should be judged 100% this or that, I think every group is going to have, um, its claim of liberation and resistance there's the part that deals with the military confrontation with Israel and if you look at the numbers though, Hizballah attacks against Israeli civilians are like a fraction of Israeli attacks against the Muslims.(Salam al-Marayati at the University of Pennsylvania, November 1997)"
Al Marayati has not confined his tolerance for terror to Israel or the United States. In 1997 he presented this howler about the ruler of Sudan, the perpetrator of genocide against his own people:
“…the reformists, represented by leaders like...Turabi, have advocated a pluralistic society that would work for peace and justice for all.”
Both Democrat and Republican administrations have courted Mr. al Marayati and MPAC. Karen Hughes, former undersecretary of State even funneled money to MPAC.
Mr. al Marayati has also lobbied for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbollah to be removed from the State Departments list of terrorist organizations, saying, retaining their status
"raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serves true national security interests or is based on political considerations."
And yet, his themes of "collective punishment" and "disproportionate force" appear to be in perfect harmony with J Street itself. In 1999 Senator Richard Gephardt nominated Al Marayati for a seat on The National Commission on Terrorism. That invitation was withdrawn when his frequent apologies for terrorists became known. We're betting that the J Street faithful remain DD and B.