Mr. Ibrahim Hooper wrote the following
editorial in reply to Mr. Steven Emerson's article - "Hillary &
Hamas" published in The Wall Street Journal on November 03, 2000
by Ibrahim Hooper
Once again, Steven Emerson
attempts to subject the American Muslim community and its
representatives to the journalistic equivalent of a mugging.
("Hillary and Hamas," 11/3/2000) Only in this mugging, it is
truth and fairness that get a knock on the head.
Emerson is the attack dog
of the extremist wing of America's pro-Israel lobby who recently
offered his sometimes six-year-old accusations against national Muslim
organizations as a gift to the Lazio campaign. Lazio accepted that
gift and used it in an attempt to
ride to public office on the backs of
In the Emerson-Lazio smear
campaign, ethnic and religious stereotypes, distorted information,
partial citations, and complete fabrications are used as tactics of
Lazio's supporters even
made the scurrilous charge that Hillary Clinton and American Muslim
groups were somehow tied to the tragic bombing of the USS Cole. A
Washington Post writer called this charge "political
pornography." Other media outlets now report that Lazio actually
solicited donations from the same group that he condemns as
"supporters of terrorism."
We believe this attempt at
political marginalization is being prompted at least in part by the
pro-Israel lobby's alarm at the increased influence American Muslims
and Arab-Americans are having on this country's political process and
on policy toward the Middle East. Steven Emerson has long been the
lobby's point man in this effort. But just who is Steven Emerson and
why do almost all major media outlets regard his views as unfit for
Emerson is best known for
his Islamophobic 1994 PBS program "Jihad in America." It was
CAIR's exposure of the inaccuracies and distortions in this program
that provoked Emerson's now-obsessive vendetta.
bigotry speaks for itself. He claimed Muslims were behind the 1995
bombing in Oklahoma City, wrongly attributed the 1996 downing of TWA
Flight 800 to Muslims and once said Islam sanctions
"genocide...as part of its religious doctrine." (CBS News,
4/19/95; Reuters, 7/31/96 and CNBC, Rivera Live, 8/23/96; Jewish
He was also allegedly
involved in the 1998 international media coverage of a defecting
"senior Pakistani weapons scientist" who claimed Pakistan was
preparing for a nuclear first strike against India. The story later
turned out to be a hoax. ("Steven Emerson's Crusade: Why is a
journalist pushing questionable stories from behind the scenes?" http://www.fair.org/extra/9901/emerson.html)
Last year, Emerson was
forced to retract accusations he made about a former journalism
lecturer at California State University in Hayward, Ca. Along with the
retraction; Emerson agreed to pay monetary damages. The Jerusalem Post
said Emerson has "close ties to Israeli intelligence."
(Sept. 17, 1994)
Emerson is involved in a
lawsuit against a Florida newspaper, its senior editor, and a former
investigative reporter for The Associated Press (AP). The complaint
centered on allegations published by the newspaper that two AP
reporters said Emerson gave them a document on terrorism supposedly
from FBI files. The reporters said the document was actually authored
by Emerson. The lawsuit also disputes allegations that Emerson gave
false information to a Senate subcommittee during testimony in 1998.
Leslie Gelb, president of
the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) once called Emerson a
"grand inquisitor" for trying to censor a CFR publication.
This is not the first time
that the pro-Israel lobby has attempted to marginalize and exclude
members of the American Muslim and Arab-American communities.
In the past, Muslim and
Arab-American activists were attacked because of alleged "ties to
the PLO." (Emerson was also part of that campaign.) Today we see
that charge changed to "pro-terrorist." It is then used
against any American Muslim who is politically active.
A few examples:
*In 1984 Walter Mondale
returned campaign contributions from Arab- American leaders to avoid
alienating pro-Israel voters. * In 1988, Democratic presidential
hopeful Michael Dukakis openly rejected Arab-American leaders'
endorsement for the same reason.
*In 1999, House minority
leader Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) was forced to withdraw his
nomination of an American Muslim leader to the National Commission on
Terrorism. Gephardt came under pressure from pro- Israel groups who
claimed the Muslim leader is "anti-Israel" and an apologist
for terrorist groups.
*Pro-Israel groups also
challenged the nomination of a Muslim woman to the U.S. Commission on
International Religious Freedom.
representatives of pro-Israel groups were the only non- governmental
officials who testified before a congressional hearing in favor of the
use of secret evidence in INS deportation hearings. American Muslims
and civil libertarians believe secret evidence is unconstitutional and
that it is used disproportionately against members of the Muslim and
*Also this year, a radical
pro-Israel group attacked an Arab-American lawyer at the State
Department who stated that Israel had tortured hundreds of
*As recently as this
month, that same radical pro-Israel group attacked Vice President
Gore's appointment of a prominent Arab-American activist as a campaign
liaison on ethnic affairs.
All of these incidents
point to a game plan designed to prevent the American Muslim and
Arab-American communities from taking their proper place in the
It may be no coincidence
that the most recent attacks came two days after the American Muslim
Political Coordinating Council Political Action Committee announced
its first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate and just days
before a national Muslim rally in Washington, D.C., to denounce
Israeli brutality against Palestinian civilians and Islamic holy
But what of Emerson's
charge that CAIR is a "supporter of terrorism?"
First of all, CAIR does
not support attacks on innocent people by any individual, group or
state. I challenge Emerson to produce any evidence that we do.
Second, CAIR's main focus
is defending the American Muslim community against the very
stereotypes Emerson promotes. If a woman is denied a job because she
wishes to wear a religiously-mandated headscarf, CAIR is there for
her. If a movie like "The Siege" stereotypes Muslims as
terrorists, CAIR challenges that stereotype.
Finally, anyone who cares
to see what we actually do as an organization can visit our web site
www.cair-net.org. How should American Muslims respond to Emerson's
campaign of exclusion? We believe Muslims should avoid this attempt at
distraction and redouble their efforts to make their voices heard in
the political arena.
We also ask that our
elected representatives and candidates for public office put the
interests of American citizens before those of a foreign government or
its supporters. Steven Emerson and his colleagues should not be
allowed to establish a pro-Israel "litmus test" for Muslim
political participation in America.
Ibrahim Hooper is National Communications Director for the
Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic