J Street is deeply disturbed that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, plans to accept an award from the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an organization that traffics in repulsive Islamophobia and has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
We call on Ambassador Dermer to decline this award and to condemn the dangerous activities and views of the CSP and its president and founder, Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney has been described as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has warned that Gaffney “[has] a history of anti-Muslim bigotry and [has] promoted outrageous conspiracy theories involving Muslims.”
In the course of a long career of spreading anti-Islamic hatred and fear, Gaffney has accused President Obama of having secret Muslim heritage; charged that Muslim Members of Congress should not receive classified information; accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of having ties to terrorist groups; and lavished praise on a prominent white nationalist, Jared Taylor.
The CSP has had a significant role in fueling the fire of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant politics that have come to the forefront in the 2016 election cycle. Bogus CSP “polling” alleging that a large number of American Muslims support violence has been cited by Donald Trump. A CSP “report” released in 2015 called for a full moratorium on Muslim immigration to the United States.
A spokesman for the Ambassador has said that the Ambassador “is not aware of any anti-Muslim views held by the Center for Security Policy and certainly would not endorse any such view…Accepting this award does not mean that the Ambassador subscribes to every point of view expressed by individual members of the Center, as would be true of any other organization.”
That is unacceptable. J Street believes strongly in public dialogue and debate with those with whom we strongly disagree. But engaging in dialogue is not the same as proudly accepting an award from a hate group while pretending to be unaware of their guiding ideology, and while ignoring their heinous slanders against millions of Americans, Members of Congress and the President of the United States.
The CSP is engaged in an assault on the basic values of tolerance, civility, and democracy. These are American values and Jewish values. Millions of Americans and American Jews will be heading to the polls on Tuesday to cast votes in defense of them.
These values have historically formed the backbone for the US-Israel relationship. Ambassador Dermer’s willingness to accept an award from such a group raises serious questions as to whether he misunderstands those values, or does not share them.