American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), an Islamist organization headquartered in Virginia, has taken to social media to provide hostile context to a spate of terrorist murders in Israel.
“The shooting was the fifth attack in less than two weeks, and brought the total death toll in recent days to 11 — the most people killed by militants in such a short period in Israel, outside of a full-scale war, in several years,” the New York Times reported, adding that the attack prompted celebrations in the West Bank and reminded Israelis of the Second Intifada which cost thousands of people their lives between 2000 and 2005.
In the post, AMP seemed to justify the recent spate of killings by declaring, “Last year during Ramadan, Israel tried to kick out Palestinian families from their homes, attacked worshipers at one of the holiest Muslim sites, and then bombed Palestinian apartment buildings killing over 260 Palestinians … [T]hat context is missing.”
AMP’s post refers to the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas that took place last May. The fighting began with Hamas launching hundreds of rockets into Israeli cities. During the war, Hamas encouraged Arabs living in Israel to riot against their neighbors, with disastrous impacts on Israel’s mixed cities. The pretext for Hamas’s attack was a legal dispute in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
This isn’t the first time AMP has made statements like this.
Osama Abuirshaid, who works as AMP’s executive director expressed his admiration for Hamas – a designated terrorist organization under U.S. law – for resisting (and not bargaining with) Israel and for avenging the “blood of its martyrs” in a 2014 Facebook post. In the post, Abuirshaid expressed contempt for Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, describing the PA as spilling the blood of Palestinian martyrs “in the wine glasses of Israel.”
“Yes, there is a wide gap between those who hurt Israel and broke its arrogance and aggression in Gaza three times,” Abuirshaid wrote, “and between those who conspired with Israel and colluded with it, hoping to cover their evil with its shame.”
According to a Facebook post documented by NGO Monitor and the Investigative Project, Taher Herzallah, who serves as the organization’s director of outreach and grassroots organizing, declared in 2014 that “Hamas’ rockets are an oppressed people’s cry for help.”
Reformist Muslims Object
Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, expressed dismay in response to AMP’s Facebook post.
“I think at the end of the day if you asked them to their face, AMP would give you the ‘moral equivalency dance’,” he said. “They would say, ‘No, we were not justifying the attacks. We’re just saying both sides are guilty.’”
Similar arguments were used by Islamists in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in 2001, Jasser said, adding that there is no moral equivalence between the IDF, which works to avoid civilian casualties and Islamist terrorists who intentionally target civilians.
“At best the post promotes a false moral equivalence and at worst it radicalizes its audience by justifying terror,” Jasser said.
AMP did not respond to repeated requests for comment by both phone and email.