News & Politics

Roll Call Hit Piece Uses SPLC Disinformation to Smear Pro-Israel Conservative Groups

(CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Roll Call is facing calls to retract after publishing a ridiculous hit piece smearing two conservative foreign policy groups based on disinformation gleaned from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-wing smear machine.

The article, written on Wednesday by Emily Kopp, former press intern for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, describes ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy as “anti-Muslim hate groups” that “peddle anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.” Kopp also accuses ACT for America of having ties to a neo-Nazi, based on an SPLC smear.

The groups were among twelve pro-Israel organizations that signed a letter addressed to Pelosi and Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calling on them to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee after she espoused a series of anti-Semitic tropes. The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a longtime pro-Israel advocacy group, spearheaded the effort. Most of the organizations that signed on are either Jewish groups or groups that have close ties to the Jewish community.

President Trump referred to the letter in a presidential tweet on Monday:

“Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel. Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!”

Wrote Kopp:

But the coalition behind the letter — described by conservative media to be “leading Jewish organizations” — includes groups that maintain no relationship to the American Jewish community and peddle anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

One of the groups was once found to have ties to a longtime neo-Nazi.

ACT for America’s “ties to a longtime neo-Nazi” consist entirely of an incident involving a white nationalist in Batesville, Ark., who tried to host a “March Against Sharia” event in their name in June 2017.

A statement on their website at the time read: “Act for America canceled the event as soon as it became aware the organizer is associated with white supremacist groups.” And that is the totality of their ties to neo-Nazis.

Kopp also hit ACT for America’s Brigitte Gabriel for “falsely” claiming that one-fifth of Muslims believe in a violent ideology, and for comparing peaceful Muslims to peaceful Germans during the Nazi regime, calling them “irrelevant.”

But according to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, only 86 percent of Muslims in the United States said that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam “are rarely or never justified.” That means up to 14 percent believe they are either sometimes or frequently justified. And who knows how many American Muslims in the remaining 86 percent believe violence against civilians is sometimes justified, albeit “rarely.” The numbers go up exponentially in countries with larger Muslim populations.

Kopp points out that both ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy have been classified by the discredited SPLC as “anti-Muslim hate groups.” Possibly worse, both groups, she notes, also have ties to {{{the Trump administration.}}}

The Center for Security Policy is a nonpartisan think tank founded by Frank Gaffney Jr., which Kopp says “has advocated for U.S. wars in the Middle East stretching back to the September 11, 2001 attacks.” And again, she cites the SPLC:

But the center has a history of stoking conspiratorial fears about the Muslim Brotherhood and “creeping Sharia” in order to make their case, according to the SPLC, which classifies the think tank as a hate group.

Gaffney has been accused of Islamophobic and xenophobic comments, including the denigration of immigrants and refugees.

“Critics say the president’s promotion of fringe anti-Muslim groups with hawkish foreign policy views raises wider questions about the Republican push to unseat Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee,” writes Kopp.

Hmmm. Who are these critics, I wonder? Democrats on Capitol Hill perhaps? And the SPLC?

A number of prominent pro-Israel conservatives reacted to Roll Call’s smears on Twitter:

The Center for Security Policy is led by Fred Fleitz, a former National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst, and House Intelligence Committee staff member.

Fleitz was incensed that Roll Call would use the SPLC as a credible source.

“I was proud to sign this letter as President of the Center for Security Policy, an organization that is pro-Israel and has taken a strong stand against a dangerous surge in anti-Antisemitism on the Left,” he said in a statement to Roll Call. “I was very disappointed that Roll Call included as credible sources discredited far-left organizations to smear the signers of this letter such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and J Street.”

Fleitz told PJ Media that Roll Call’s hit piece was “outrageous, especially its claim that ACT for America has ties to neo-Nazis.”

Via The Washington Free Beacon, here is the response to the controversy from Sarah Stern, EMET’s founder:

Rather than go high, Roll Call decided to go low. When reporting about the letter we authored to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman Eliot Engel discussing Representative Ilhan Omar’s highly anti-Semitic comments, tweets and associations with a group tied to known terrorists, they made vicious, ad hominem attacks at some of our esteemed colleagues who are among the 12 signatories of the letter.

We find it revealing that Roll Call never reported on the substance of our letter, which is that Rep. Omar exposed her real sentiments when she delivered a fundraising speech two weeks ago before Islamic Relief USA, a “charity” that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and Israel. International banks Credit Suisse, UBS and HSBC have refused to do any banking with Islamic Relief because of fears of ties to terrorist financing.

Instead of focusing on the substance of Rep. Omar’s poor decision to speak before the group, whose leadership also has openly called for the murder of Jews, Roll Call’s first article on the subject is a smear against two of the 12 signatories of this letter.

We have known both the founders of the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney, and ACT for America, Brigitte Gabrielle, for years.  They are led by distinguished individuals who have fought against hate in all its forms, including anti-Semitism. We personally know they are compassionate, loving individuals. That is why it was important to have them join our group letter.

It is ironic that rather than respond to a real and obvious hatred, the anti-Semitism and Judeophobia that Ilhan Omar so obviously has, the author of this article tried to manufacture some fictitious bias of two such incredibly wonderful human beings.

The Roll Call article is not good journalism. If it were, they would have reported on the substance of the letter, a poor attempt to smear good people as a substitute to discussing the substance at hand: Rep. Omar’s vile anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish people and her decision to align herself with groups which openly have ties to terrorism.

That is where the debate is.

The EMET founder also wrote a letter to Roll Call editor Ed Timms decrying the shoddy journalism and demanding a retraction.

“It is also a very apparent conflict of interest that the author of this article, Emily Kopp, had once worked for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the people our letter had been addressed to,” wrote Stern.