I never expected to be a movie star, much less one on You Tube. Imagine the surprise of discovering that my name was featured in a production by CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations. The video showed a group of angry people at the entrance of the Yorba Linda Community Center, yelling at Muslims as they entered the building. The film shifted back and forth from that scene to images of speakers behind a podium — Congressmen, city officials and others. The message was simple: in sedate, suburban Yorba Linda there had been a hate rally against Muslims.
Nothing could be further from the truth. But with video editing, anything is possible. And that’s what CAIR did. Simply put, they doctored the film; they lied.
What really happened?
A few short weeks ago ICNA, the Islamic Circle of North America, organized a fundraiser at the Yorba Linda Community Center. Officially, the cause was to help widows and orphans. The keynote speakers were Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Ali gained notoriety in Orange County because of his frequent speeches at hate week, an annual event organized by the Muslim Student Union at UCI. Over the years he has compared Israelis to Nazis and decried any efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East. During his last appearance he publicly stated, “I am a supporter of Hamas; I am supporter of Islamic Jihad.” The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel and to wage war against Jews around the world. Wahhaj was an unindicted co- conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing.
Astonished that terror supporters were coming town, the local community organized a peaceful protest a hundred yards away from the community center. The mayor, city council members and congressman gave speeches. Rabbi Emeritus Haim Asa of Temple Beth Tikvah and I. representing the Jewish community, also spoke. It was grass-roots America, non-violent and non-confrontational. The question raised time and again by the speakers was, “Why would an organization wanting to raise money to help others feature supporters of Hamas and other terror groups?”
Sadly, a second group gathered near the entrance berating those attending the event in what in my mind was a hateful fashion. We told our people not to join them and we stayed away.
CAIR claimed in its press release that the speakers were there to talk about “Islamic charity.” CAIR doctored the video taking shots from two separate events and claiming it as one, splicing shots from those protesting near the entrance and the peaceful event on the other side of park near the community center. The video went viral, getting hundreds of thousands of views until it was removed because of copyright infringement.
For me this was round two with CAIR. Five years ago Dennis Prager spoke in our synagogue. CAIR publicly attacked me for having an “islamophobic speaker.” I countered with a public statement in support of Prager and told an LA Times reporter to ask CAIR point blank, yes or no, “Will you condemn Hamas? Will you condemn the suicide bombing?” CAIR refused, and its refusal to condemn terror became the story. This time the video was payback.
The tragedy for the Muslim community is groups like CAIR, that secretly hold a nefarious agenda, are willing to intimidate, lie and distort to advance their cause. They cause us to fear that all Muslims harbor secret agendas and are duplicitous like CAIR. The real agenda is to cover up for terror supporters and intimidate those willing to stand up to them.
Let me state for the record. I am not standing down. If Ali comes back to town I will be standing again in peaceful protest. Until then let’s not fool ourselves about CAIR.
Rabbi David Eliezrie is rabbi of Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen. Read his official statement on the CAIR video at his website OCJewish.com. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org