American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

Profile

Country/TerritoryUnited States
Websitehttp://www.ampalestine.org/
Founded2005 in Chicago, IL
In their own wordsSeeks to “educate the public about the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination, liberty and justice”

Funding

  • Funding is channeled through the AJP Educational Foundation Inc.1 Hatem Bazian, head of AMP, is also AJP Educational Foundation’s principal officer. In 2018, total income was $984,291 and total expenses were $808,541.
  • According to its website, AMP is “funded by donations made entirely within the United States.”

Activities

  • American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) rhetoric includes accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” “judaization,” and “colonization,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
  • AMP provides “advocacy training,” including instruction on how to lobby politicians. Produces media and activism guidebooks, such as campus activism resources,  fact-sheets, and anti-normalizationPowerPoint presentation parrots the Hamas narrative of the 2014 Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza, claiming that “Palestinian resistance was born out of the occupation and the siege, plain and simple.”
  • In November 2019, AMP held its 12th Annual Conference for Palestine in the US discussing the “strategic placement of Palestine.” Speakers included Linda Sarsour, US Rep. Rashia Tlaib (D-MI), Nihad Awad (CAIR), and Zahra Billoo (CAIR).
    • Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association and co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March, stated during her remarks, “Ask them this: How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America, and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy? That is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else.”
    • Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), stated at the conference that his organization fights “Zionism on [a] daily basis.”
    • US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) stated in her remarks at the conference, “Every time I see … the police going after, killing innocent people, innocent, treating African American brothers and sisters like they’re disposable, I think of Filastine and what happens to our brothers and sisters in the occupation.”
    • Zahra Billoo, executive director of the CAIR San Francisco Bay Area office, stated, “If a Muslim shows up to an interfaith space, we need to be willing to compromise on Israel’s right to exist for us to be able to participate in that conversation…If you want to be in community with me, my people and the Palestinians I work in solidarity with, then let’s have a conversation about how Israel as it exists today is an illegitimate state … I am not going to support its right to exist?”
  • In July 2019, AMP published a policy paper titled “Israel’s Treatment of US Citizens: Case Studies and Policy Recommendations,” claiming that Israel killed three US citizens, including Mavi Marmara flotilla activist Furkan Doğan and Mahmoud Shalaan, omitting that Shalaan was killed after attempting to stab Israeli soldiers in February 2016. The report called for cutting off aid to Israel as “Israel should be ineligible to receive any form of US assistance because of this pattern of gross violations of human rights, including the killing and injuring of US citizens.”
  • In November 2018, “101 years since the British government shamefully issued the Balfour Declaration, affirming Zionist colonial ambitions in Palestine and helping to pave the way for the creation of the State of Israel,” AMP accused the British and Israeli governments of “giv[ing] Israel carte blanche, and, in fact, served as its enabler, to perpetuate its illegal policies of land theft, mass murder, and ethnic cleansing.”
  • In May 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, AMP condemned “Israel’s massacre” and alleged that “the military actions are just further proof of Israel’s intent to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homeland” (emphasis added). AMP ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
  • In July-August 2017, AMP, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) co-sponsored an Eyewitness Palestine delegation to Israel and the West Bank that showed “first-hand the impact of Israeli apartheid” and aimed “to gain large-scale support for the successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”
  • In July 2017, following Israel placing metal detectors at the Temple Mount following a terrorist attack that killed two Israeli Border Police officers, AMP stated that “The Israeli occupation is the root cause of all problems in occupied Palestine,” and that the “ U.S. must pressure Israel to end the modern world’s longest-lasting military occupation and allow Palestinians their liberty, self-determination and right to return to their homeland.”
  • At its 2014 annual conference, Vice Chair Munjed Ahmad moderated a panel discussion on “Do Occupied People Have the Right to Resist their Occupation?” which invited participants to “Come navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.” In his lecture, he alleged that Israel carries out “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and “collective punishment,” and stated that “there will come a day where the Palestinian people…the martyrs of Palestine will become heroes. They are heroes already to us…we know that they are standing for justice and standing for what’s right” (14:51-15:10). Ahmad further stated that “What’s very sad to me when we talk about terrorist organizations is that the state of Israel is not considered a terrorist organization with our government, but it truly is the largest terrorist of all” (21:58-22:12).
    • Additional panels at its 2014 annual conference discussed how the “Zionist network in the United States stifles criticism of Israeli policies by smearing activists as anti-Semites”; various “tools to try to end US military aid to Israel”; “everything you need to know to get busy with your own successful BDS effort.”
  • In March 2013, AMP launched a $38,000 billboard campaign on Metro stations in New York accusing Israel of “apartheid.” The ad featured the shadow of an Israeli soldier aiming a gun at a Palestinian child and called for an end to US aid to Israel.

BDS Activities

  • Supports BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
  • AMP has stated, “By working together on focused consumer boycotts and campaigns against the companies and institutions that help Israel to commit its crimes, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is a powerful and strategic tool for isolating Israel.”
  • AMP is involved in a campaign targeting Airbnb to end “illegal rentals in the West Bank” and a campaign titled “This Ramadan, Make a DATE with Justice: Choose Occupation- Free Dates” calling on “Muslims to uphold the ethics of our faith, and to refuse to buy or sell dates that are profiting from Israeli occupation.”
  • An October 2019 AMP campaign boycotting US branches of the Israeli restaurant chain Burgerim states, “While Burgerim in the U.S. is technically registered as a separate legal entity from the restaurant chain in Israel, the fact remains that Burgerim was founded on stolen Palestinian land, on the site of massacres, and has benefited from an Israeli economy built on Palestinian dispossession and occupation.”
  • In May 2019, AMP published a statement on its website condemning “Israel’s brutal onslaught of Gaza and its utter disregard for human life.” AMP called for people to lobby the state department and “ask them to investigate Israel’s Leahy Law violations. The Leahy Law prohibits the United States from providing funding to foreign military units if they commit human rights violations.”
  • In January 2018, following AMP being banned from entering Israel due to its support of BDS, AMP released a statement saying that it “wears this ban as a badge of honor and as recognition of our success in exposing Israel as a brutal apartheid regime… AMP is proud to be among the first U.S. organizations to respond to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (emphasis added).
  • In May 2015, AMP called to “Stop anti-BDS legislation in the US Senate” as “It is clearer than ever just how much of an impact the global movement for boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) is having in challenging Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies–so much that Israel’s supporters are mobilizing top-down U.S. legislation about it!”

No Way to Treat a Child

Staff

  • Hatem Bazian
    • President of AMP and co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
    • Bazian is a prominent supporter of BDS and has called for an intifada in the United States.
    • In December 2018, Bazian published an article stating that “Palestinians face real and substantiated acts of genocide and never-ending documented war crimes daily.”
    • On July 31, 2017 Bazian retweeted two antisemitic memes. One image included a man dressed in Orthodox Jewish garb, captioned with: “MOM LOOK! I IS CHOSEN! I CAN NOW KILL, RAPE, SMUGGLE ORGANS & AND STEAL THE LAND OF PALESTINIANS *YAY* ASHKE-NAZI.” The other contained an image of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un wearing a kippah and the text, “I JUST CONVERTED ALL OF NORTH KOREA TO JUDAISM. DONALD TLUMP: NOW MY NUKES ARE LEGAL & I CAN ANNEX SOUTH KOREA & YOU NEED TO START PAYING ME 34 BILLION A YEAR IN WELFARE.” Bazian has since deleted the tweets.
    • In 2018, Bazian retweeted several times the hashtag #PalestinianHolocaust and claimed that Gaza is a “concentration camp.” On June 13, 2015, Bazian tweeted “Gaza: an epistemic Warsaw Ghetto but only different Semites are locked-up this time around.”
    • In June 2004, Bazian spoke at a KindHearts Fundraising Dinner, headlined “Palestinians in agony!” In 2006 the organization, also known as Islamic Association for Palestine, was shut down by the US government and became listed as a specially designated terrorist organization for being a Hamas front.
  • Dr. Osama Abuirshaid
    • Abuirshaid, AMP National Policy Director, reportedly worked for two defunct US-based Hamas-linked organizations: the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR).
    • At a January 3, 2016 convention, Abuirshad stated, “Remember that Israel was not created just to take and swallow Palestine. It was created to divide and to weaken that part of the world.” Abuirshaid further said that “the reason Syria is still suffering is because it is adjacent to Israel” and that “The reason why you had a coup in Egypt is because the Israelis were able to lobby for a coup.”
    • On July 18, 2015, Abuirshaid tweeted: “Whether you love Hamas or hate her, her opponents respect her. She stands by her principles and negotiates from a position of strength.”
    • A December 2014 Facebook post by Abuirshad applauded Hamas efforts against Israel and chastised Fatah for its “deviation from the liberation and resistance doctrine.”2
  • Kristin Szremski
    • On December 6, 2016, Szremski, then AMP Director of Media and Communications, tweeted that “It’s time we all start exposing the Zionist connection to Islamophobia.” The tweet included a link to an AMP article describing a form of Islamophobia called “creep­ing nor­malcy” — “which are efforts to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestine through illegitimate interfaith cooperation.”
      • Szremski has claimed that there is “linkage between Islamophobia, the spread of Islamophobia, and people tied to Israel advocacy.”
    • While at AMP, Szremski supported BDS stating, “There is no legitimate reason to not support BDS…We need to be clear: BDS is a tool to force Israel to abide by international law and end the occupation, to allow Palestinian refugees the right of return and to afford Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights.”
    • In February 2012, Szremski spoke at a conference in Philadelphia on “Talking to beginners about BDS, Israel and Zionism,” saying, “It is important to define political Zionism, which has at its core the call for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from Palestine, and also to distinguish between being against Zionist policies that are illegal and inhumane and anti-Semitism, which is racism based upon one’s religion or ethnicity.”
  • Taher Herzallah
    • Herzallah, Associate Director of Outreach & Grassroots Organizing, justified Hamas rocket fire aimed at Israeli civilians, saying that “in order for them [Israeli society] to feel any compulsion or urge to end the occupation, they need to feel that they are in an abnormal situation. In that regard, Hamas’ rockets are effective even though they don’t kill anyone. Hamas’ rockets are an oppressed people’s audible cry for help.”
    • In a May 1, 2018 Facebook post, Herzallah wrote that Israel is committing “genocide” by spraying herbicide near its border fence with Gaza.
    • Herzallah was a member of SJP at the University of California, Riverside, as well as one of the “Irvine 11” students who were convicted for disrupting a speech by Ambassador Michael Oren.
    • On July 19, 2013, Herzallah praised Israeli casualties of Hamas attacks. He posted photos of wounded Israeli soldiers on Facebook with the caption: “The most beautiful site [sic] in my eyes.” The post was later removed.
  • On July 24, 2017, AMP national board member Shakeel Syed was prevented from boarding a flight to Israel by the Israeli government due to his support of BDS.
  • The AMP board includes at least two members, Salah Sarsour and Osama Abu Irshaid, with ties to the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). The HLF had its assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury in 2001 after the discovery that it was funneling money to Hamas.

Partners

  • AMP offers significant support to Students for Justice in Palestine chapters by speaking at SJP campus events, reposting SJP statements on its website, organizing conferences and seminars for SJP chapters, and facilitating the SJP National Convention.
    • AMP’s own 2010 conference featured two “SJP workshops” titled “Israeli PR and Rebranding Campaign” and “The Normalization of Zionism on Campuses.”
  • Partners with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a leader of anti-Israel BDS campaigns, which claims to be the Jewish wing of the Palestinian solidarity movement and seeks to “drive a wedge” within the American Jewish community over support for Israel.
  • Partners with IfNotNow,  a US-based fringe group using highly polarizing tactics in attacking American Jewish institutions citing supposed “support for occupation.”
  • Member of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a “national coalition of hundreds of groups working to advocate for Palestinian rights and a shift in US policy.”
    • Accuses Israel of maintaining a “matrix of control” over the Palestinian population and enacting “laws that discriminate against [Palestinians], much as Black Americans had been treated during the Jim Crow era.”

Footnotes

  1. AMP is incorporated in the State of Illinois, but is not a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization. In order to receive tax-exemption donations, it uses an organization known as “Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation (AJP),” located at the same address, as its “fiscal sponsor.” It appears that AJP does not sponsor any other projects.
  2. Translated from Arabic to English by NGO Monitor

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Further Reading