Appointment of Muslim to National Counter-Terrorism Commission Creates a Stir

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 5, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that the
appointment of Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim
Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, by House Minority Leader
Richard A. Gephardt to a national counter-terrorism commission has
come under attack by major Jewish organizations. Muslim Americans
hail the appointment as a “sign that Washington is finally giving
them a voice in policymaking.” Al-Marayati looks forward to the
position: “I hope to broaden the discussion on terrorism by looking
at its root causes and enhance our effectiveness in combating this
evil.” David Lehrer, Los Angeles regional director of the
Anti-Defamation League, decried the appointment: “If it’s a panel on
counter-terrorism, you ought to be examining what tactics the U.S.
government should be taking rather than looking for reasons why
someone should put a bomb on an airplane.” The appointment has also
drawn the criticism of the leading Jewish American voice in
Washington, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, whose 55 members span the political spectrum. Malcolm
Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents,
stated: “We support inclusion of Muslims and Arab Americans, but not
someone who has the kinds of views he has on issues the commission is
to address…We are raising questions about the appointment and think
it is not a wise appointment.” Critics claim that Al-Marayati has
“likened supporters of Israel to Nazis, compared American
revolutionaries to terrorists and sought to blame Israeli leaders for
terrorist actions.” Al-Marayati has also come under fire for seeing
Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance to Jewish presence in Lebanon.
The Zionist Organization of America has also opposed the appointment
of Al-Marayati’s wife, Laila, to a national commission on
international religious freedom.


Appointment of Muslim to National Counter-Terrorism Commission Creates a Stir

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 2, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an
article by Laila and Salam Al-Marayati on the attempts of Zionist
Organization of America (ZOA) to disturb Jewish-Muslim relations and
block appointments to federal commissions. The Al-Marayatis call for
moderation and dialogue to help foster a “viable and mature
Jewish-Muslim relationship.” “Our major concern is not with promoting
any particular foreign group but with enriching the democratic
process of debate in America. Our approach is to educate American
policymakers and interfaith groups about Islamic perspectives. While
condemning violence, we also pursue efforts to deal with the root
causes of extremism, namely despair, illiteracy, and injustice.”