The “won’t condemn” Hamas/Hezbolla” accusation against American Arabs & Muslims - update 8/3/13

The “won’t condemn” Hamas/Hezbolla” accusation against American Arabs & Muslims

by Sheila Musaji

One of the common Islamophobic memes is to say about any American Muslim individual or organization, or any American Arab individual or organization that “they are Hamas linked”, or that “they refused to condemn Hamas”.  These are “descriptive” statements used to “prove” that somehow whoever this charge is being made against is somehow anti-American, or a subversive.  This is nonsense, and madness, but there is a method (or purpose) to the madness.  The goal is to Marginalize American Muslim Civic Participation.  There are so many of these memes used in this marginalization campaign that TAM has a regularly updated resource to help in dealing with them Resources for dealing with Islamophobes & Islamophobia.

As Ingrid Mattson pointed out in the article Six Degrees of Terrorism:  the Internet, Islam and Islamophobia

...  The most common technique special interest groups use to undermine the credibility of American Muslim and Arab intellectuals, academics and religious leaders is to play the “linking game”.  Like the trivia game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, the attempt to link all prominent American Muslims and American Muslim organizations to militant-extremist, Wahhabi or Islamic terrorist organizations and agendas is a game that yields no meaningful results.  Further, both games allow the unscientific practice of both forward and back linking in order to connect unrelated individuals.  This technique makes it possible to show a “link” between virtually any two individuals in the world. 

Let me give an example:  Adolf Hitler was a great admirer of the anti-Semitic German musician Richard Wagner to the extent that Wagner’s original scores kept him company in the bunker in which he killed himself.  For his part, one of Wagner’s earliest and foundational influences was Ludwig van Beethoven.  Now, who was one of the twentieth-century’s most influential conductors of Beethoven’s music?  None other than Leonard Bernstein!. With the linking game, we have just been able to show an ideological connection between the twentieth-century’s most vicious enemy of the Jewish people, Adolf Hitler,  and one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished and beloved Jewish composers and friends of Israel Leonard Bernstein. 

To make such a link is revolting, and that is how I feel when there is an attempt to link me and other Muslim scholars and leaders who have proven their commitment to academic excellence and ethical principles to terrorist or extremist militant organizations and ideology.  In a desperate attempt to undermine prominent American Muslims, some “experts” don’t even bother to go to the trouble of looking for links.  Instead, these individuals place the name of a scholar like Khaled Abou El Fadl within an article in which they mention various terrorists, militant groups or opponents of the United States like Osama Bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini.  The result they are aiming for is to create a negative association that will last long after the article has been read.  ...

The list of designated terrorist organizations varies from country to country.  Here are just a few examples of a very long list:  Hamas is listed by Canada, U.K. and the U.S. (not by Australia, the EU, India, or Russia).  The EU took Hamas off its terror list in 2011.  The IRA is listed by the U.K.  The MEK is listed by Canada and the U.S.  Kach and Kahane Chai founded by Rabbi Meier Kahane are listed by Canada and the U.S.  Hezbolla is listed by Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.

Although the MEK is on the U.S. list, many individuals including elected representatives and U.S. government officials have not only not condemned the MEK, but actively worked to have them removed from the list, and even accepted money to speak on their behalf.    [Update:  A multimillion-dollar campaign led to the MEK being removed from the U.S. terror list in September of 2012. 

Although the IRA is on the terrorist list of our ally the U.K., Rep. Peter King, not only did not condemn the IRA but actively fund raised for them, and defended them including acts that most would consider acts of terrorism. 

There are changes every year to who is on which terror list.  There are disagreements about who should be listed and who should not.  Groups are added and removed.  At this point in time, there is no mutually agreed upon definition that would make the designation acceptable to the entire international community. 

In the case of Hamas, even President Jimmy Carter raised the issue of removing Hamas from the list.  Disagreeing with the government, or with the majority of citizens, that a particular organization should or should not be on the list is a right of American citizens. 

There is no requirement that American citizens publicly condemn any of these organizations.  Irish Americans are not required to condemn the IRA, Jewish Americans are not required to condemn Kach or Kahane Chai.  Buddhist Americans are not required to condemn Aum Shinrikyo.  The list goes on and on. 

Demanding that every member of any particular nationality or religion condemn any particular group in order to “prove” their loyalty is bigotry.  Refusing to pressured into making a statement one way or another is proof of nothing. 

The linking of individuals or organizations to Hamas is also accomplished by making the “hamas linked” claim.  Are American Muslim Organizations “Hamas linked”?

The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Trial in which this charity was charged with providing funds to Hamas through its charities in Palestine was a landmark case.  During the course of this trial, there were three terms that came to be so often used by Islamophobes that most people have heard them.  These terms are most often used in connection with all of the national American Muslim organizations, but particularly CAIR.  Most people have heard them, they are used with a negative connotation, but in actuality most people don’t understand what the mean.  These three terms that have become weapons used against the entire community are: “unindicted co-conspirator”, “Muslim Brotherhood Document”, and “Hamas linked”. [ See Unindicted co-conspirator Designation Not a Proof of Guilt and Muslim Brotherhood Document of the Muslim or Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe? for more on these particular “linking” tools. ]

The article Holy Land Foundation, Supreme Court Decision gives a background on the trial itself and the court decisions.  There were many legal and constitutional issues raised during this trial, including the use of secret evidence (for the first time), due process, releasing information that is normally not released, etc.  A critical point is that “the five former top Holy Land officials were convicted on charges of backing the Palestinian group Hamas, though they were never accused of supporting violence, instead for funding charities that aided Palestinians in need.”

The article Unindicted co-conspirator Designation Not a Proof of Guilt explains how this issue was raised in this case, the definition of the term, and legal and constitutional concerns about the unusual releasing of the names of those so designated, etc.  A key point in that discussion relating to this discussion of “Hamas linked” was that: “The Holy Land Foundation was a Muslim charity.  There are tens of thousands of Muslims who supported this organization in the 1990’s, because they believed it to be doing charitable work and providing humanitarian aid to needy people across the world, including Israel/Palestine.  HLF was an approved 501-C3 Charity in the United States.  HLF was found guilty of channeling money to Hamas (material support for a designated terrorist organization) in 2008.  Previous to this, not only were Muslim individuals and organizations unaware of any such activities, but neither was the Federal Government who had approved their 501-C3 designation.  Hamas was designated as a terrorist organization in 1997. “

The article Muslim Brotherhood Document of the Muslim or Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe? explains the history of this document and its meaning at length. 

Because many of the leaders of CAIR-National were at one time affiliated with another organization called the Islamic Association of Palestine, and that organization had also been accused of having ties with Hamas, they came to be the organization most often described using the term “Hamas linked”.

CAIR-National has written a response Dispelling rumors about CAIR discussing many allegations that have been made against them over the years.  Here are the items from that document relating to this particular charge:

“CAIR has condemned specific terrorist groups by name. On 3/11/2009, the 5th anniversary of the tragic Madrid attacks, CAIR issued a statement saying, “We unequivocally condemn all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by al-Qa’ida, the Real IRA, FARC, Hamas, ETA, or any other group designated by the U.S. Department of State as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization.’”

“Internet disinformation #5: CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad publicly declared support for Hamas at Barry University in Florida in 1994, saying: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.”  In response to a direct question from an audience member about social programs in the occupied territories, Awad said, “I’m in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO.” This excerpt was lifted from a longer answer in which Awad also stated: “There are some radicals. We are not interested in those people.”  This statement was made in March 1994, before CAIR was formed. Hamas did not commit its first suicide bombing until October 1994. The United States subsequently identified Hamas as a specially designated terrorist in January 1995.

Thus, Awad’s remarks came seven months prior to Hamas’ first suicide bombings and nine months before the organization received the specially designated terrorist label from the government. (Awad’s response to suicide bombings: “My position and CAIR’s position is extremely clear - we condemn suicide bombings” Associated Press, 9/22/2006)  Awad and CAIR have consistently denounced violence by Hamas, Israel and other groups and advocated peaceful and negotiated resolutions to conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

In 2007, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) issued a statement WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE BELIEVE which included this passage:

“ISNA remains consistent in its rejection of terrorism and violence. ISNA rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration. ISNA has encouraged and continues to encourage a just and fair settlement of disputes between Israel, the Palestinians and their neighbors through diplomacy and other peaceful means.

UPDATE 8/3/2013

Danios of Loonwatch has published The Hamas Smear: How Islamophobes Use Six Degrees of Separation to Smear Muslims discussing some individuals that the “Hamas smear” has been used against.  The article is well worth reading in full.  Here are a few of his observations:


Front Page Magazine and other right-wing media outlets tied Wajahat Ali to Hamas by pointing out that Ali was a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) during college.  This, even though his joining the MSA during college is as intuitive as a black, Mexican, or Jewish person joining the black student union, the Mexican-American Student Association, or the Jewish Student Union respectively.

Islamophobes often use the MSA or CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to play a connect-the-dots game back to Hamas.  CAIR is the largest and most respected American Muslim civil rights organization.  Once again using dubious connections, CAIR is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and in turn, to Hamas.  With both the MSA (the largest American Muslim college organization) and CAIR (the largest American Muslim civil rights organization) connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and from there to Hamas, it is only a matter of connecting an American Muslim to the MSA or CAIR in order to link that individual to Hamas itself.

Sooner or later, any prominent Muslim is bound to be smeared in this way and linked to Hamas or some other radical organization.  Even Rima Fakih, the Arab-American beauty pageant contestant who won Miss USA, was not safe from the smear.  She stood accused of being tied to Hezbollah.  The Hezbollah smear is a modified version of the Hamas smear, often employed against Shi’ite Muslims.  (Hamas is a Sunni organization, whereas Hezbollah is a Shi’ite one.)  In other words, being a bikini-clad beauty pageant winner is not enough to insulate oneself from being called a radical “Islamist.”

After the now notorious Fox News interview, the Daily Caller published an article claiming that Reza Aslan has “ties to extreme Islamists” and “is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”  Elsewhere Aslan was called a “Khomeinist” and tied to the Iranian regime (yet another Shi’ite-centric version of the Hamas smear).  These six degrees of separation sort of accusations are far more pernicious than anything Lauren Green said to Reza Aslan.  They reek of McCarthyism, with “Islamism” being substituted for communism.

The list of American Muslims libeled with the Hamas smear is endless.  But, what’s interesting is that not even non-Muslims are safe from this smear.  President Barack Obama, who has a Muslim-ish enough sounding name, has been tied to both the Muslim Brotherhood and, in turn, Hamas.

I write for, arguably the internet’s most popular Islamophobia watchdog website.  And, lo and behold, it did not take long for the Hamas smear to come along my way.  The Islamophobes don’t even know my faith but they are certain that I am an “Islamist” and Hamas supporter.  Whether a Muslim or simply a “Muslim sympathizer”, one can automatically be linked to Hamas using the Islamophobic approach.  ...



An Important Study: “Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility”, S. Abdallah Schleifer

Both Israel and Hamas share blood stained policies in Gaza war crimes, Ray Hanania

Carter to Obama: Remove Hamas From Terror List

Hamas and Hudna: Keys to Peace in the Holy Land, Dr. Robert D. Crane

Hamas — can it bring peace and democracy?, Ishtiaq Ahmed

Hamas “Child Bride” Incident That Never Happened, Sheila Musaji

Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama, Medea Benjamin

Hamas kills civilians, but not as many as Israel, Ray Hanania

Hamas learns a hard lesson, Neal AbuNab

Hamas May Be Right: The Recognition Trap, Jonathan Cook

Hamas peace is an oxymoron, Ray Hanania

Hamas Proposes A Pause for Peace, Ahmed Yousef

Hamas violence in Gaza justifies harsh PNA response, Ray Hanania

Hudna Sabotaged: Israeli Invasion Torpedoes Hamas Strategy to Build a New M.E. Based on Justice, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

In Hamas Victory, An Opportunity for Change, Muqtedar Khan

ACLU Challenges Government’s Stigmatizing Of Mainstream Muslim Groups In Holy Land Case
ACLU Report: Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity
Charities to Contest U.S. Terrorism Screening Requirement
Curbs on Muslim Charities Seen as Double Standard
Criminalizing Compassion in the War on Terror: Muslim Charities and the Case of Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir, Katherine Hughes
Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir, The ‘Communications Management Unit” and the War on Muslim Charities, Katherine Hughes
Decision: Holy Land Foundation Trial Didn’t Violate Confrontation Clause (anonymous testimony of two Israeli witnesses allowed)
Double Standard - for a view of a Double Standard see American Tax Shelter for Israeli War Criminal
Echoes of Korematsu: The Holy Land Foundation Five Trial, Noor Elashi
Holy Land Foundation Mistrial a ‘Stunning Defeat’ for Prosecution, CAIR
Holy Land Foundation Charity seeks dismissal of terrorism charges
Holy Land Foundation trial reflects misguided US policy towards Hamas, Scott McConnell
ISNA Commends ACLU for Report on Negative Impact of Government Policies on Muslim Charitable Giving
ISNA Statement on Holy Land Foundation Verdict
Judge Unseals Verdict in Holy Land Foundation Muslim Charity Case, MPAC
Muslim Charities: Denial of Due Process to Muslims Disgraces Us All, Katherine Hughes
Prosecutors Asked for Justice in Holy Land Foundation Case and They Got It, Ahmad Al-Akhras, Ph.D.
Rally Calls for Release of “Holy Land Five”, Michael Ratner
Unindicted co-conspirator Designation Not a Proof of Guilt, Sheila Musaji

Muslim Brotherhood Document of the Muslim or Islamophobic Lunatic Fringe?, Sheila Musaji
Rep. Sue Myrick’s hearing on the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheila Musaji 
Protocols of the Elders of Islam?, Nick Schou
The Roots of the American Right’s Muslim Brotherhood Panic, Sarah Posner

On the apparent Electoral Victory of Hamas, Rabbi Michael Lerner

Palestinian Hamas and the Abraham Federation: Key to Peace through Justice in the Holy Land, Dr. Robert D. Crane

Principles, Hamas and the politics of expediency, Sajjad Khan

U.S. Debate Over Hamas: Making a Bad Situation Worse, James Zogby

Victory of Hamas: The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost, Farish A. Noor


First published 8/10/2011