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Radical Muslims for "Human Rights" By: Schmuel Herzfeld
Coalition for Jewish Concerns | Friday, February 28, 2003

Most Americans now recognize that the great evil facing the world today is the evil of terrorism.  In order to defeat terrorism, we must also fight against the largest supporters of terrorism, radical Islam.  Proponents of radical Islam must be rejected in their entirety, unless they categorically and unambiguously reject all forms of terrorism.Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg has offered nourishment and encouragement to supporters of radical Islam.  The mayor recently appointed Omar Mohammedi to New York City’s Human Rights Commission.  This appointment should concern all New Yorkers, since as general counsel to the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Mr. Mohammedi has aligned himself with an organization that condones terrorism.  According to Steve Pomerantz, a former Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism section, “CAIR originated from the Hamas front group, Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and has evolved into a propaganda arm for Hamas and other militant fundamentalists.” (Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International, Spring, 1998.) 

Two of the three founding directors of CAIR previously held senior positions in IAP.  This includes CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, who served as editor of an IAP publication, the Muslim World Monitor.  IAP is an organization that has distributed publications and videos on behalf Hamas. IAP has even published Hamas communications calling for armed attacks.  At one IAP conference, the featured speaker was the head of the military wing of Hamas, while at another conference the attendees were taught bomb making.This is the agenda that CAIR is fostering as well.  CAIR has publicly worked on behalf of Baasam Alamoush. 

The Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International reports that Alamoush delivered the following public address (Spring, 1998): “Somebody approached me at the mosque and asked me, ‘If I see a Jew in the street should I kill him?’  After pausing a moment with a dumbfounded face, Alamoush answered the question to a laughing crowd: ‘don’t ask me.  After you kill him come and tell me.  What do you want from me, a fatwa?  Really, a good deed does not require one.’” Later in the speech Alamoush interrupted his presentation to say: “Good news—there has been a suicide operation in Jerusalem.”

This is the organization that employs Mr. Mohammedi as official counsel.  As a member of the Human Rights Commission, Mr. Mohammedi, according to the Official Directory of New York City, has “investigative and enforcement powers,” and is asked to protect “against discrimination in employment based on arrest and conviction record.”  Do we really want someone aligned with an organization that has publicly supported terrorism making decisions that will affect the everyday safety of New Yorkers? Moreover, as the official City Directory states, the Commission should be “comprised of 15 members representative of New York City’s diverse communities.”  Thus, Mr. Mohammedi has been appointed to this committee as a representative of the interests of his community.  Which community is that?  If it is the community of radical Muslims that support terrorism, are we sure that we want to penalize employers for not hiring such people?

Not only is it unsafe and unwise to have Mr. Mohammedi serve on the Commission on Human Rights, it also sends a terrible message. When Rudy Guiliani returned a ten million dollar check to a Saudi prince, he was setting a noble precedent for how New York’s Mayor should treat those with affiliations to terrorism: The Mayor must absolutely reject terrorism without any room for ambiguity.

Our current Mayor is taking a different approach. The Mayor is defending his appointment with hair splitting logic that gives moral support to those who sympathize with terrorist organizations.  The Mayor’s spokesman, Edward Skyler said, “We are appointing an individual, not an organization.” This comment is a deflection of leadership and courage.  Of course, the Mayor is appointing an individual and not an organization.  But the individual is appointed to represent a community and interest groups.

The Mayor has gone too far.  By choosing someone who is aligned with terrorists, the Mayor is offering representation to a group that should be prosecuted vigorously.  Bloomberg has ignored repeated calls for Mohammedi’s removal.  City Councilmembers have gone on record criticizing the mayor. Councilman Michael Nelson circulated amongst the council a letter addressed to the mayor expressing concern about Mohammedi’s appointment.  Nevertheless, as the Mayor personally reiterated to me, he is sticking to his position.

However, City Council members are taking note.  The Mayor’s appointment raised questions about the authority of this commission and placed new light on a commission that has long gone without serious scrutiny.  A simple comparison of the numbers shows that the City’s commission is far less effective than a similar commission run by the State.  Indeed, even if run properly, the City’s commission is duplicating the work of other government organizations. Currently, this commission comes at a price of $7.8 million dollars, with the Chair receiving a salary of $143, 900.  In a time of austerity, it is no surprise that senior council members have shared with me that it is time to closely evaluate the effectiveness of the commission and its place within the City’s budget.

The appointment of Mohammedi to this commission has raised serious concerns.  What exactly is going on at the City’s Human Rights Commission?  Is it playing a significant role in protecting minorities?  What role will Mr. Mohammedi’s perform on this commission?  The City Council should call for an investigation of these questions.    

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld is the National Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns.

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