A controversy emerged recently in Florida when Randy Fine, a conservative Jewish politician in the state legislature, called Paul Halpern, a local Jewish progressive activist, a “Judenrat,” a highly-charged term referring to Jews who collaborated with the Nazi regime.
Fine used the word to criticize Halpern, a leader of the Progressive Space Coast Alliance (PSCA), for the group’s participation in an event featuring Rasha Mubarak, a former regional chair of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with a long history of ties to terrorist groups and whose leaders have repeatedly been noted for virulent anti-Semitism.
Federal prosecutors have written that “from its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists.” The PSCA recently hosted a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict featuring Donna Nevel, an anti-Zionist Jew, and Mubarak. Nevel is head of the Facing the Nakba Project and the Network Against Islamophobia.
Mubarak has her own record of supporting anti-Semitism. She helped lead a pro-Palestinian rally in Orlando in July 2018, to mark Al Quds Day. During this rally she was seen telling a participant in Arabic, “Uncle, don’t talk with them; they are Jews.” Al Quds Day is marked globally among both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamists who seek to destroy Israel and the Jews. One Orlando rally participant openly declared his support for Hezbollah, telling a filmmaker, “Hezbollah to us is a freedom fighter, to you they are terrorists. To us they are freedom fighters from the occupation of so-called Israel.”
Mubarak’s Facebook page also contains a photograph of her and her Hezbollah flag-waving friend supporting Democratic politician Susannah Randolph, who ran for the U.S. Congress in Florida in 2018. Mubarak further participated in the CAIR Florida campaign against Annabelle Lima-Taub, a Jewish female commissioner in the city of Hallandale Beach, Florida, who has been strongly critical of Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian-American Islamist congresswoman from Detroit who supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In January 2019, Mubarak spoke at a meeting of the Hallandale Beach City Commission to argue for the removal of Lima-Taub from her position.
Tlaib came under fire for her support for BDS after being photographed during her swearing-in ceremony with Abbas Hamideh, a BDS activist with a history of public support for Hezbollah. Mubarak also appeared at the event. Mubarak was also involved with the USA branch of Islamic Relief, a group with a history of funding charities tied to terrorism. Israel has banned the parent group, Islamic Relief Worldwide on the grounds that it constituted a Hamas front group.
In 2012, during Israel’s war with Gaza, Mubarak posted a tweet, “Don’t worry ya Gaza…we’re working hard for you in Florida…Yes we are.” She described the idea that “Israel has the right to defend herself” as “#LiesImTiredofHearing.”
This illustrates a broader problem: the fact that a small but vocal number of anti-Zionist Jews choose to align themselves with Islamists. For instance, Nevel is a long-time and virulent opponent of Zionism. She wrote a 2017 article which directly attacked Zionism and which argued that the feminist agenda should include opposing Israel and the Jews. Nevel argued,
“But the Nakba is not only about the past; it is ongoing. Palestinian women, men, and children continue to be pushed off their lands and their homes and denied their basic rights and freedoms. Israeli apartheid is woven into the fabric of society, and it is taking brutal forms.”
Her use of the word “Israeli apartheid” to describe Israeli policy toward Palestinian Arabs reflects her ideological bias against Israel which is nearly indistinguishable from that of the Islamists.
A small but vocal number of anti-Zionist Jews pose a danger to Israel and the Jews by aligning with Islamists, even those who publicly support Islamist terror groups. For this reason, the mainstream Jewish community, Christian Zionist supporters of Israel, and moderate Muslims should all stand shoulder to shoulder to oppose the legitimization of Islamists, no matter what word is used to describe it.
Paul Halpern’s association with Islamist leader Rasha Mubarak is one example of an anti-Zionist Jew who supports the Islamist worldview. The issue of anti-Zionist Jews aligning with Islamists is a national problem. The cases of Donna Nevel and the Jews who support the Islamist Congresswoman Ilhan Omar also show the risk that anti-Zionist Jews pose to Israel and the Jews and to American democracy.
Rebecca Witonsky is the South Florida Associate of the Counter Islamist Grid.