ZOA Urges State Dept. To Rescind Invitation To Muslim Extremist Who Has Praised Terrorist Groups
January 23, 2002

Marayati Suggested Israel
Carried Out 9/11 Attacks

NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging the State Department to rescind a speaking invitation to an extremist whose organization has publicly praised the Hezbollah terrorists; who has signed a letter calling for the destruction of Israel; who has strongly suggested that Israel might have carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks against America; and whose nomination to a U.S. government commission on terrorism was canceled after his pro-terrorist views were publicly exposed.

Salam Al-Marayati, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which has praised the Hezbollah terrorist group —which is on the U.S. terrorist list— and publicly called for Israel’s destruction, has been invited to deliver a lecture at the State Department’s “Secretary’s Open Forum” on January 28, 2002.

Ironically, Marayati is scheduled to speak on “Rising Voices of Moderate Muslims”—even though his voice is the voice of a Muslim extremist, and his disgraceful attempt to blame Israel for the September 11 attacks was a bizarre effort to divert attention from the real perpetrators of these heinous acts, who were all Muslim extremists.

Marayati’s nomination to the U.S. Commission on Terrorism in 1999 was canceled after his pro-terrorist views were publicly exposed by the ZOA. The ZOA’s efforts to bring about the cancellation were supported by numerous Members of Congress and other leading Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League.

In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Director of Policy Planning Richard Haass, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “A distinguished forum such as the Secretary’s Open Forum is no place for any extremist who praises terrorists and calls for the destruction of America’s ally, Israel. Allowing Salam Al-Marayati to speak at the State Department will give him a podium and legitimacy that he does not deserve. If Marayati went to an airport and praised Hezbollah, he would be immediately taken into custody. Why are words taken seriously in airports not taken seriously at the State Department?”

Salam al-Marayati and his Muslim Public Affairs Council, in their own words:

I. Responding to the Sept.11 Attacks:

“Israel Should Be the Main Suspect in the World Trade Center Attack”: Speaking on the Los Angeles radio station KCRW a few hours after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Salam al-Marayati said: “If we’re going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.” (New York Times, Oct. 22, 2001)

Responses by Jewish leaders:

David Lehrer, Los Angeles regional director of the Anti-Defamation League: “I’ve had a long relationship with Salam, and I am so disillusioned with what he has done in the past week as to not be interested in engaging in a dialogue with him.” (L.A.Jewish Journal, Sept. 28, 2001)

Rabbi John L. Rosove, one of the leaders of Muslim-Jewish dialogue in Los Angeles: “I have decided, with sadness and regret, to withdraw from the dialogue … I was astounded by [Marayati’s] reckless accusation [about Israel and the 9/11 attacks] … No apology or retraction was forthcoming. To our Jewish dialogue partners he wrote a letter explaining that he did not intend to hurt Jewish feelings. I could only take his stance as duplicitous: and I am not comforted …I am disturbed that we still have never heard from our Muslim partners that they accept the moral legitimacy of the Jewish people to a Jewish State…” (L.A.Jewish Journal, Oct. 26, 2001)

II. Justifying Arab Terrorism

Justifying Hamas Suicide Bombings:

* After the August 8, 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria, in which 15 Jews were murdered, the MPAC said the bombing was “the expected bitter result of the reckless policy” of the Israeli government… MPAC holds Israel responsible for this pattern of violence.” (Phila. Jewish Exponent, Oct. 18, 2001)

* After the March 1997 Hamas suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, in which three Israeli women were murdered, an MPAC press release on March 21, 1997, justified the violence, asserting: “The Prime Minister of Israel…bears the brunt of responsibility for the loss of innocent lives…Because the Palestinian people have no avenues to redress their grievances, some of them have been pushed beyond the margins of society and have adopted violent reactions to express their despair and suffering.”

“Explaining” Future Terrorism Against Americans: In an April 4, 1997 article, “What Do We Expect?,” distributed by the MPAC, Salam al-Marayati justified future terrorist violence against American targets. He wrote: “Where Israel goes, our government follows…What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences…America is much more vulnerable than Israel and has much more to lose.” He pointed to the fact that, unlike Israel, America has “greater investments” in the Arab and Muslim world, “from the oil in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to the rubber industry in Malaysia,” Marayati warned: “[W]hen people are pushed to despair and thrown over the edge of hate, anger and insecurity, one target [i.e. an American target] will be more accessible than the other [i.e. an Israeli target].”

“Hezbollah Members are Freedom Fighters”: “Hezbollah is fighting for freedom…This is legitimate.” (MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout, at the National Press Club, June 18, 1998.)

“The Only Thing They Can Do is Throw Bombs”: “The only thing [Arab terrorists in Israel] can do is throw a bomb in a market or send somebody to suicide, we don’t have enough ability to target real targets in Israel.” (MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout, in a Panel Discussion on Capitol Hill, June 18, 1998.)

Comparing Muslim Terrorists to America’s Founding Fathers: “Most Islamic movements have been branded as terrorists as a result of the rising extremism from a handful of militants. American freedom fighters hundreds of years ago were also regarded as terrorists by the British.” (MPAC Director Salam al-Marayati, The Minaret, June 1996)

III. Calling for the destruction of Israel:

The MPAC co-signed a public statement on September 17, 1993, which called for Israel’s dissolution by stating that “The establishment by force, violence, and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime,” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice.”

IV. Accusing America of “Terrorism”:

Comparing the U.S. to Saddam Hussein: “Saddam Hussein’s behavior in and around Iraq has been characterized as reckless. The same can be said about U.S. policy as a result of its reactionary mode.” (MPAC Director Salam al-Marayati, “Perspective on Operation Desert Strike,” MSA News, Sept. 5, 1996)

Condemning America for “Terrorism”: In response to America’s attack on terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in August 1998, MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout said: “Our country is committing an act of terrorism. What we did is illegal, immoral, unhuman, unacceptable, stupid and un-American.” He also said America’s anti-terror action would be to blame for future hate crimes in the U.S.: “If our country commits hate crimes, why should we not expect the uneducated to do the same?” (Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1998)

Comparing Terrorist Bombings and America’s Raids: The MPAC condemned America’s attack on terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in August 1998, on the grounds that “violence emanating from a superpower, bypassing due process and legitimate international channels, against poor countries is illegal, immoral and illogical…” (MPAC press release, August 24, 1998)

V. Additional Extremist Statements:

Comparing Israel’s supporters to Hitler: Marayati wrote: “Just as Hitler forged a conflict between Judaism and Christianity, apologists for Israel crave for Islam to be at odds with both Judaism and Christianity,” and compared former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s book A Place Among the Nations to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 1994)

“Zionism is Nazism”: At an exhibit “put together by the Muslim Public Affairs Council” on the campus of California State University-Northridge in October 2002, there was “a photograph mounted on the exhibit with a slogan underneath that stated ‘Zionism is Nazism’.” (L.A.Jewish Journal, Nov. 2, 2001)

Defending Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy: After Garaudy was fined by a French court for denying the Holocaust: “Garaudy is not the first one to question the holocaust…As usual, Muslim organizations and leaders in the United States were silent on the sentence imposed on Garaudy. The exception was the Muslim Public Affairs Council that issued an immediate condemnation statement…to persecute him for his right to express his opinion and question some events is a clear violation of his basic human rights…Muslim organizations should have taken the case to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.” (The Minaret, Vol.20, No.3 [1998])

Accusing Israel of “Defaming Mohammed”: “Israel created an environment of hate, and it bears responsibility for dehumanizing Muslims, defaming the Prophet [Mohammed], and supporting policies of Judaicizing [sic] the Holy Land.” (MPAC Director Salam al-Marayati, MPAC Action Alert, July 7, 1997)

  • ZOA Director of Government Relations Dan Pollak appeared on Newsmax TV to deliver his exclusive insight regarding Iran, the U.S., Israel, and more.
  • Newsmax TV: ZOA’s Mort Klein Condemns Biden’s Animus Toward Israel as Sinister, Unrelated to Election & More
  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
    We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
    We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
    We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.