The State Department defended its selection of a controversial anti-Israel activist to participate in a human rights forum in Poland, praising the longtime Israel critic as “valued and highly credible.”
Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was selected by the Obama administration to participate in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual 10-day human rights conference, the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIM).
Al-Marayati has been a vociferous critic of Israel, once suggesting that Israel should be put “on the suspect list” for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. His organization, MPAC, has requested that militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah be removed from the list of United States-designated terrorist groups.
Al-Marayati’s inclusion in the U.S. delegation attracted the ire of Jewish leaders and others who feel he is the wrong person to represent America at a forum focusing on human rights and tolerance.
The State Department stood by al-Marayati Thursday, telling the Free Beacon that the Israel critic is “valued and highly credible.”
“Mr. al-Marayati has been involved in U.S. government initiatives for almost 10 years and has been a valued and highly credible interlocutor on issues affecting Muslim communities,” a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the OSCE told the Free Beacon in a statement. “He was invited to participate in this year’s HDIM as a reflection of the wide diversity of backgrounds of the American people.”
News of al-Maratati’s participation in the confab came as a shock to pro-Israel advocates.
“It is inexplicable that a person who blamed Israel for the 9/11 attacks and advocated for terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah—which has killed more Americans than any terrorist group in the world except al Qaeda—was chosen to represent the United States,” Josh Block, a former Clinton administration official who now serves as CEO of The Israel Project, told the Free Beacon Wednesday.
Former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D., Mo.) selected al-Marayati to sit on a 10-person commission “charged with reviewing U.S. policies on terrorism” in 1999, according to CNN.
Gephardt, however, withdrew al-Marayati’s name after it came to light that he was a unabashed critic of Israel who had expressed sympathy for certain terrorist acts, CNN reported at the time.
More on el-Marayati here and The History of MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council).
More of that schizophrenia. Sanction those who fund Hamas, but send Hamas supporters to represent the U.S. at human rights conferences?