ISNA Endorses Gazan Youth Visit to Holocaust Museum


US Jewish media is reporting that over Hamas objections, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has endorsed plans to bring youths from the Gaza strip to the US Holocaust museum. According to a report by the Jewish Telegraph:

A U.S. Muslim umbrella group strongly endorsed plans to bring Gaza Strip youths to the U.S. Holocaust museum in the wake of Hamas opposition. The Islamic Society of North America wrote to the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which solicited endorsements in the wake of reports that Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, had criticized the the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for including the museum on a forthcoming U.S. tour for top Gaza students. “We want to ensure that the UNRWA delegation of students visits the nation’s capital and its various museums and institutions, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,” Islamic Society national director Sayyid Syeed said in a letter Dec. 20 to Rabbi Marc Schneier, the president of the foundation. “We believe that this museum, in particular, has tremendous educational value and helps visitors appreciate the historical result of unbridled hate and human manipulation. We have taken delegations of Muslim leaders and imams to visit the museum, and each time, we have seen how transformative an experience it is.” Hamas over the weekend called on UNRWA not to include the museum on its tour, Ynet reported. “UNRWA must focus on materials regarding the rights of the Palestinian refugees without dealing with persecution in other areas of the world,” Ynet quoted Hamas as saying. “The memory of the children of Gaza cannot withstand the suffering of all of the persecuted people around the world. The suffering caused by the Jewish occupiers is enough.” Schneier in a statement called the Hamas statement “another example of extremists trying to impose a distorted view of history upon its followers. Fortunately the voices of those who are seeking peace and tolerance between Jews and Muslims are louder than those seeking to further divide us.”

Previous posts have reported that the ISNA PResident was co-awarded the Peacemaker 2011 Award from the Olender Foundation for what was described as his “work to counter Holocaust denial worldwide” and discussed a trip by eight Muslim-American clerics accompanied by US officials to the sites of the former Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. As that post noted, at least two of the Muslim clerics on the trip have in the past been associated with Holocaust denial and/or Holocaust deniers. In 2001 Yasir Qadhi, was embroiled in controversy centered on his remarks denying the Holocaust. According to the UK Sunday Telegraph (see Note 1):

In 2001, Qadhi described the holocaust as a hoax, claiming that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews” and “all this [the Holocaust]is false propaganda”. Although he later claimed he had been misled into making these statements, he more recently posted links to articles by a notorious Holocaust denier on an Islamic online forum, according to the Centre for Social Cohesion.

According to investigative research posted on the GMBDW, ISNA leaders have in the past enjoyed relationships with individuals known to have engaged in Holocaust denial activity. These individuals include:

  • Dr. William Baker who was known to have had a rightwing extremist and anti-Semitic background which included serving as national chairman of Costa Mesa-based Holocaust denier Willis Carto’s Populist Party.
  • Harun Yaya, the pen name of an individual identified as Adan Oknar, a well-known author of several anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial books.
  • Dr. M. Amir Ali, the late founder and former President of the board of directors of the Institute of Islamic Information & Education in Chicago (IIIE) whose website was filled with extremely virulent expressions of anti-Semitism. Dr. Siddiqi, a past President of ISNA, was an early member of the board of IIIE.

None of this history appears to have been acknowledged by ISNA or its leaders.

As documented in a Hudson Institute report, ISNA grew directly out of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.The organization actually has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as a result of what the government called “ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” Although it is true that recently ISNA has issued condemnations of terrorism which for the first time identify Hamas and Hezbollah by name, there is no indication that the organization has ever addressed or acknowledged its history of support for terrorism. Also, as the Hudson Institute report observes, almost all of the ISNA founders remain active in the organization and ISNA maintains close relations with all other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, a previous post discussed the ties between the ISNA Secretary-General, a former leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter, and an Illinois school with close links to the Mosque Foundation, itself tied to fundraising for Hamas.

A previous post reported that ISNA condemned the recent attempted bombing of Chicago area synagogues.

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