Gaslighting Anti-Semitism in America

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Malik Faisal Akram, the British national who seized four hostages at gunpoint at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas during Sabbath services, was straightforward about who he was and what he wanted.

Upon entering the synagogue wielding a gun and claiming he had a bomb in his backpack, Akram began ranting against the Jews and Jewish power and demanded the release of an al-Qaeda terrorist serving an 86-year prison term at a federal prison 20 miles from Beth Israel.

To achieve his goal, he took the rabbi and three congregants hostage. He had the rabbi call another rabbi in New York. The rabbi in New York works at Central Synagogue.

You don’t need to be a professional anti-Semitism researcher to understand that a man railing against Jewish power, who demands the intercession of a rabbi at a place called “Central Synagogue” in New York City on behalf of an al-Qaeda terrorist, hates, fears and is obsessed with Jews. You don’t need any special training to understand that Akram believed a Jewish cabal controls the world—and that this belief caused him to storm a synagogue by the prison where his celebrity terrorist is incarcerated, during Sabbath services, in order to take Jews hostage.

In other words, anyone with eyes could see that Akram’s motive in attacking the synagogue and taking Jewish hostages was anti-Semitic. It was obvious that he acted in a premeditated way. He selected his target and worked out his game plan ahead of time.

And yet, the FBI managed to miss it all. At a press briefing, after the hostages had managed to escape and FBI officers killed Akram, FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno dismissed anti-Semitism as Akram’s motive.

Akram, DeSarno said, was “singularly focused on one issue” that was not “specifically related to the Jewish community.”

“We are continuing to work to find a motive,” DeSarno added.

President Joe Biden, for his part, rightly referred to the attack as a terror attack. But Biden insisted, as well, that it was too early to know “why he was using anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments.”

The sense that the FBI and Biden were gaslighting grew as more information came out about the identity of the terrorist Akram flew to America from Britain, bought a gun and seized Jewish hostages at a Texas synagogue in the hopes of freeing Aafia Siddiqui.

Aafia Siddiqui, otherwise known as “Lady al-Qaeda,” was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for attempting to murder U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan. While in Afghan custody, Siddiqui seized the rifle of a U.S. officer who was sent to the jail with a team of other officers to interrogate Siddiqui. She managed to get off two shots before other U.S. personnel returned fire and neutralized her.

Afghan police arrested Siddiqui outside the compound of an Afghan provincial governor after they found plans to make radioactive “dirty” bombs, as well as a list of U.S. landmarks in her handbag.

During her 2010 trial in New York, Siddiqui demanded that no Jews be permitted to serve on her jury and that prospective jurors undergo DNA testing to ensure they had no Jewish ancestry.

After Siddiqui was convicted, she blamed the all-powerful Jewish cabal—in her mind, headquartered in the Jewish state of Israel—for her conviction. In her words, “This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America. That’s where the anger belongs.”

Akram wasn’t the first Islamic terrorist to seek Siddiqui’s release. The Islamic State twice offered to swap U.S. hostages for Siddiqui. The Taliban and al-Qaeda also offered to swap U.S. and other Western hostages for “Lady al-Qaeda,” who earned advanced degrees from MIT and Brandeis.

Terrorists and terror groups aren’t the only actors working for Siddiqui’s release. Ostensibly moderate American Muslim groups also lobby on Siddiqui’s behalf. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has held repeated rallies for Siddiqui’s release. Well-known Muslim-American activist and notorious anti-Semite Linda Sarsour spoke at an online CAIR rally for Siddqui’s release in November. Other major Islamic goups have actively lobbied and protested on Siddiqui’s behalf. The Muslim American Society, American Muslims for Palestine and the Islamic Circle of North America, among others, have all participated in efforts to secure her release. The Aafia Foundation was formed to lobby on her behalf. Mosques from Boston to Los Angeles have held events calling for Siddiqui’s release, as well.

The involvement of these U.S. Muslim groups in an effort to secure Siddiqui’s release points to an explanation for DeSarno’s denial of Akram’s anti-Semitic motive for storming a synagogue during Sabbath services and taking four Jews hostage. While CAIR was listed by the FBI as a Hamas front group in the U.S. and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, the FBI has a sordid history of working with the Islamist terrorist-supporting outfit.

Not only does CAIR agitate on behalf of terrorists such as Siddiqui. Many of CAIR’s leaders have open records of anti-Semitic pronouncements similar to Akram’s and Siddiqui’s. For instance, less than two months ago Zahra Billoo, who heads CAIR’s San Francisco branch, delivered a viciously anti-Jewish speech at an event for American Muslims for Palestine. Billoo blasted all “Zionists,” which she defines as anyone who supports the mere existence of the Jewish state of Israel. She called on American Muslims to reject overtures and shun what she described as even “polite Zionists.”

“We need to pay attention to the Anti-Defamation League. We need to pay attention to the Jewish Federations…the Zionist synagogues…Hillel chapters on our campuses. …Those who support the two-state solution, are our enemies,” Billoo seethed.

Obviously, the FBI would have a hard time acknowledging that Akram was an Islamic terrorist motivated by anti-Semitism when the FBI itself works with groups that are viciously anti-Semitic and support Islamic terrorists.

The FBI was harshly criticized in the wake of DeSarno’s infuriating statement. And in the face of widespread criticism, it reversed course on Sunday and acknowledged that Akram was indeed a terrorist who was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, unless the FBI decides to end its cooperation with American Muslim groups that share Akram and Siddiqui’s anti-Jewish Islamist worldview, it is hard to believe that the FBI’s changed position is sincere—or that it will be backed by credible, sustained efforts to protect American Jews and Jewish institutions from the threat of Islamist anti-Semitic attacks.

And if that is the situation with the FBI, the situation with the Democratic Party and the Biden administration, specifically, is far worse. CAIR’s status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror financing trial in U.S. history caused the FBI to temper its work with the group. But the Democrats feel no such compunction. More than 100 Democratic lawmakers from both houses of Congress have formally voiced their support for CAIR.

Vice President Kamala Harris had close relations with CAIR both during her tenure as California attorney general and during her U.S. Senate stint. Senior Biden administration officials also enjoy close ties with CAIR.

CAIR worked on a bill with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that was recently approved by the House of Representatives in a straight party-line vote. Omar’s bill would require the president to appoint a special envoy for Islamophobia. Critics of the bill, such as Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, warn that if the “Combatting International Islamophobia Act” is passed into law, the U.S. will effectively bar criticism of Islam and also find itself supporting militant jihadists who define any criticism of Islam as blasphemy.

In the space of three years, anti-Semitic terrorists have attacked Jews in synagogues four times. Two were conducted by white supremacists, and one was conducted by a black nationalist. Akram is an Islamist Jew-hater. The white supremacists who attacked synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, California were rightly treated as terrorists, and condemned from coast to coast. Their actions received massive coverage across the media. The black nationalist who attacked Jews in Monsey, New York was found unfit to stand for trial on federal hate crime charges due to mental illness. Black nationalists who murdered two Jews and a non-Jewish cashier at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City around the same time were supported by some in the local black community, including a member of the local school board. And Akram’s attack on Beth Israel, of course, was mischaracterized by both the FBI and the president of the United States.

All of this points to a devastating reality. Jews in the United States are being targeted by three distinct types of anti-Semites. But they are only being protected against one.

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