While the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations may not have the authority to impose policy, it needs at the very least to firmly distance itself from such rogue activity.
By: Yigal Carmon and Tufail Ahmad/MEMRI
Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician who is now Pakistan’s prime minister, is in a win-win situation. To his Pakistani audiences, Khan blames “the Jewish lobby,” the Jews, America, and Israel for the many ills that bedevil Pakistan. This earns him the sympathy and support of Pakistani voters. At the same time, a member of that “Jewish lobby” that Khan singles out for attack is actually going to bat for him and advocating for US support for Pakistan.
“The Jewish lobby” is a blanket term used by Pakistani politicians, including Khan, who do not distinguish between Jews and Israel. Over the past decade and more, leaders in Pakistan have blamed the Jews for foisting Valentine’s and April Fool’s Days on Muslims; have dubbed the UN a Jewish conspiracy; have accused Jews and Israel of targeting Pakistan’s nuclear weapons; have called Facebook – and polio vaccination campaigns – Jewish conspiracies, and so on. Khan’s narrative is not exceptional in Pakistan’s public discourse.
Khan’s anti-Semitism and pro-Jihad statements
In 2011, Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, began holding political rallies. In 2012, he was asked by Pakistan’s Aaj TV to explain why media coverage of his political activities had declined. Khan responded by saying that the Jews control the global media:
“The problem is that our [party] is facing two governments: the central government… and the provincial government in Punjab. They have massive funds for advertising [in compliant newspapers and TV channels]… Advertisements play a big part, and because of this, a small minority, the Jewish lobby… controls the global media.”
In a Dawn News TV interview, he explained the USUS agenda in Pakistan: “There is a very big lobby in America, and it’s a very powerful lobby, and that’s basically the Israeli lobby. It wants the Pakistani nuclear program rolled back. When they use the word ‘secure,’ it basically means a rollback [of Pakistan’s nuclear program]… And that lobby is very powerful. The one which is trying to get an attack launched against Iran – that same lobby is after the nuclear program of Pakistan, and it is the Israeli lobby.”
These are not isolated remarks by Khan. In August 2017, he blamed the US strategy for Afghanistan, which President Trump unveiled in August 2017, on “the Jewish lobby.” According to a Pakistani media report, Khan “slammed the [Pakistani] government and its policy makers, asking where they were when the Jewish and Indian lobbyists were busy influencing the US government in Washington and devising that strategy [that is] primarily aimed at denuclearizing Pakistan.”
Khan has accused the US of waging war not on terrorism, but on Islam, and has advocated jihad:
“Jihad is a very simple thing. When I wage a war for my freedom, it is jihad. It’s a verse of the Koran; it’s straight [and] clear. [When] one fights for his freedom, it’s jihad. Those who are fighting in Afghanistan against foreign occupation, it’s jihad.”
AJCongress president defends Khan and Pakistan
Enter Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress), which is a member organization of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. When Khan refers to “the Jewish lobby,” he means organizations such as these.
In late July 2018, Rosen published an article titled “Pakistan Deserves US Support,” and also circulated it via email. In the article, he stated: “Khan’s strong words against terrorism in the region align with US interests. Pakistan can be a valuable partner in the fight against terrorism and serves as a critical juncture in our efforts in Afghanistan.” Really? Khan has said the very opposite.
Rosen writes that Khan should receive more US funds. But Khan has said: “Say ‘no’ to [American] aid. We do not want this aid. It is destroying our country.”
He added: “[If Pakistan] is perceived to be a stooge of America – taking dollars to be a hired gun for the Americans – then all we are doing is fanning extremism, and this is a never-ending war which will destroy Pakistan.”
Rosen does not explain the basis for his convictions and fails to mention Pakistan’s role in helping the Taliban and in the killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan. He writes: “To say that Pakistan is not at the front lines of the fight against violent extremism is patently absurd… [There are] some in Washington who would deny Pakistan the tools it needs – in terms of military hardware, financial support, and political encouragement – to bring terrorists to heel.”
But Adm. Mike Mullen, at the time chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified otherwise in a September 2011 U.S. Senate hearing: “[The Afghan Taliban’s] Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI].”
The ISI, he added, played “a direct role in supporting the [Taliban] insurgents who carried out the deadly attack on the American Embassy in Kabul.”
US investigators at Guantanamo Bay have classified the ISI as a terrorist group, listing it “alongside Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon as threats.”
The November 2008 Mumbai attackers received instructions by wireless from their leader in Karachi – including in their raid on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, in which 31 were killed, and on Chabad’s Nariman House, where they tortured and murdered the rabbi and his wife. Osama bin Laden found safe haven in Pakistan, “hiding out” for five years in a villa less than a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad.
And recently, Michael Morell, former acting CIA director, noted that “Pakistan’s support to jihadists – in short, its support to terrorists fighting India… bleeds over to extremists who want to overthrow the Pakistani state itself, including Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.”
He continued: “This anti-state jihadist extremism is growing in Pakistan, creating the nightmare society down the road – an extremist government in Islamabad with nuclear weapons.”
The AJCongress’s advocacy for US economic support to Pakistan creates a dangerous situation. US funds go through the Pakistani military, with a sizeable portion being diverted to the ISI to fund jihadi organizations such as the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). In fact, Adnan Rasheed, a Pakistani Taliban commander who previously worked for the Pakistan Air Force, revealed that the Pakistani military had established a jihadi unit called “Idarat-ul-Pakistan… to prepare mujahideen in all three forces – Army, Navy and Air Force – for a future takeover. But until then, its mission was to get training from the JeM and to fight in Afghanistan.
Indeed, the JeM – described by Adnan Rasheed as a sub-unit of ISI – continues to train a new generation of jihadis. JeM members are fighting against India in Jammu & Kashmir, and the organization boasts proudly of its achievements in its Urdu weekly Haftroza Al-Qalam, published and sold openly in the streets of Pakistan. From its headquarters in the Pakistani city of Bahawalpur, JeM annually holds a series of events across Pakistan at which jihadi clerics preach the “jihadi verses” of the Koran right under the noses of the Pakistani army; in the first four months of 2018 alone, these events were held at 54 locations.
The Pakistani military approach is to curtail and control all terror groups in Pakistan that neither do its bidding nor act inside Pakistan – but to support and facilitate all terror groups that work outside Pakistan: the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan and Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Indian Kashmir.
Rogue advocacy – a recurring problem
This is not the first time that Jewish leaders have acted on behalf of their organization in areas unrelated to Jewish life in the US, either out of ignorance or in blatant disregard of the facts. Earlier this year, Jewish leaders, including from the Conference itself, involved themselves in a dispute between two Arab countries that had nothing to do with them or with their organizations and in which they had no business interfering.
This was particularly unfortunate since Qatar – whose side they took by the fact that they went there without setting preconditions for their visit– hosts the notorious anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, who has said that Allah imposed Hitler on the Jews as “divine punishment” and that “Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the [Muslim] believer. Qatar is also a known supporter of terrorism, as MEMRI has written at length, and in recent months its state-owned Al-Jazeera TV channel has stepped up its broadcasts of anti-US content.
It is the unchallenged right of any private American citizen, including businessman Rosen, to act as a foreign agent, provided they abide by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) – even when doing so is blatantly against the interest of the US or of their own community. But using their organization as a cover for doing so is wrong and damaging. Yet the Conference has not spoken out against this practice.
This laissez-faire approach on the part of the Conference allows enemies of the Jews to argue that this is how the Jewish community in America and “the Jewish lobby” act. While the Conference may not have the authority to impose policy, it needs at the very least to firmly distance itself from such rogue activity – which is nothing less than self-inflicted anti-Semitism.
Yigal Carmon is the President of MEMRI; Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative.