There has been a growing effort by Islamist activists to convince their followers of a connection between American border security and the situation in Gaza.
Last weekend Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Linda Sarsour gave fiery speeches condemning the U.S. and Israel for their “white supremacy” and declaring the “interconnected” nature of the “oppression” in Palestine and the “oppression” at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), as part of her keynote address at the American Muslims for Palestine conference in Chicago on December 1, stated:
“Do you know what I saw at the border? I saw Gaza. When you think about the border, you have got to understand how interconnected the oppression in Palestine is with the oppression taking place at the border.”
Islamist Linda Sarsour joined Tlaib in these false comparisons, but she went further to declare both Israel and the United States “white supremacist” at their core:
“Ask them this: How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else?”
Tlaib and Sarsour’s statements represent a growing tendency by Islamists to link the question of U.S. border security to Israel’s efforts to deter and prevent terror from Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The goal is not just to turn Americans against Israel, although this is clearly a factor, but also to mobilize their Muslim constituents on behalf of their preferred political coalitions. Sarsour made this pitch explicitly at AMP, as she used the opportunity to urge the attendees to support her candidate of choice, Senator Bernie Sanders.
In a recent video at a sparsely attended talk in October 2019 at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, Texas-based Imam Omar Suleiman used language similar to Tlaib’s to compare the situation at the Texas-Mexico border to the situation in the Middle East.
He explained, “My journey with this doesn’t start at the border of Texas and Mexico; it actually starts in Syria.” Suleiman then goes on to compare the living conditions he encountered at a detention center in McAllen, Texas to those in that Syrian refugee camp, declaring definitively, “We are looking at dehumanization and torture and oppression in so many ways.”
Imam Suleiman also echoes Sarsour in calling the United States a “white supremacist country” that could not accept the presidency of Obama because of his blackness. At his keynote address at the Muslim American Society’s West Coast Conference in November 2018, Suleiman claimed that white supremacy was not only “enshrined” within the nation, but that racism was at the country’s core, “institutionalized” in all of its branches of government and systems of power.
The effort to conflate these issues, the border and Israel, and to paint America and Israel as fundamentally white supremacist in the minds of Americans isn’t just about speeches.
Suleiman recently joined another imam, Zaid Shakir, in an ongoing campaign to delegitimize U.S. border security. This summer, the two popular imams went all the way to Mecca to raise money for illegal migrants in the United States. Suleiman and Shakir, who head up the Muslims for Migrants campaign, took their fundraising drive on the hajj to Medina, raising more than $100,000 for illegal migrants who found themselves needing to post bail to avoid deportation. Today that amount has reached $162, 244.
Texas-based Islamic cleric Omar Suleiman released a video explaining the connection more relating the issue to Islamic history in his 1 Minute from Medina:
“I’m here in Dar-ul-Hijrah, Medina, the place where the Prophet migrated to and was welcomed with open arms by the Ansar, by the people that love those that migrated to them… The people [Ansar] took Muhammad in like they were his own family and we need to do our part to, inshallah, lead on something so special like bringing families together.”
The invocation of the Ansar example gives the game away, since it implicitly suggests that the current residents should adapt to the ways and beliefs of the migrants. According to Islamic tradition, the Ansar (which can mean “helper” or “supporter”) converted to Islam after taking the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and his followers into their homes when they emigrated from Mecca to Medina, thus creating the first place where Mohammad and his followers could rule in according with Islamic law.
Suleiman’s partner in this endeavor, Imam Zaid Shakir, has been somewhat more upfront about the need to impose Islamic law in America. In a 1993 article titled “Muslim Involvement in the American Political Process,” uncovered by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Shakir warned Muslims not to align themselves with Christians and Jews or their systems of government:
“As the Christians and Jews of this country have rejected the divine law and created their own secular system of rule, the legal and political system of America is sinful and constitutes open rebellion against Allah. For a Muslim to join with the Jews and Christians in this system is to join them in their rebellion against Allah. Allah explicitly orders against this.”
From Suleiman to Shakir and Sarsour to Tlaib, Islamists continue to reveal to anyone willing to listen that the border represents more than just a humanitarian opportunity to help those in need. Rather they view the border as an opportunity to fundamentally change the country in the ways they prefer. They seek to delegitimize the United States as a country inherently cruel and white supremacist, and thus undeserving of a border. They implicitly assert that the U.S. should come to take on the mores and ways of those who have come. While “white supremacist” replaces overt attacks on the “secular system of rule” the outcome remains the same, an attack on traditional American ideas of governance. At the same time, Islamists continue to use the Israel comparison to rally their followers to embrace their current cause de jure.