AMP is here to stay; false charges have to stop
Editor's note: Kristin Szremski, AMP national director of media and communications, wrote this op-ed in response to a column written by David Horowitz that attacked AMP. It was first published in The Forward.
The American Muslims for Palestine, a national not-for-profit organization, has long come under attack because of our mission to educate the American public about Palestine and its rich, cultural and religious heritage. Our goal is to build a grassroots movement that will help persuade our elected officials to create a more fair and balanced foreign policy for everyone who lives in the Middle East.
We’re not the only victims of these kind of smear campaigns. Organizations and websites like the Canary Mission, the Anti-Defamation League and The David Project routinely attack groups and individuals who advocate for Palestinian human rights. The Southern Poverty Law Center has named Horowitz an extremist, saying he “is a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements.”
AMP typically ignores these smear campaigns because they’re aimed, in part, to detract us from our work. But an op-ed written by David Horowitz that appeared on Scribe, the Forward’s community contributor site, was so malicious, we felt we could not remain silent. Horowtiz’s Islamophobic rant crossed the line into claiming AMP engages in illegal activity, a charge so ludicrous that it may immediately rise to the level of libel.
The Forward curates the Scribe community with a disclaimer disavowing responsibility for the expressed opinions, and though we understand that opinions are just that, a person’s point of view, facts should be objective truths that hold up under scrutiny. A newspaper has the responsibility to verify them, whether they appear in a news article or an op-ed. We are grateful to the Forward editors for allowing us equal space to respond.
While we take issue with all of Horowitz’s facts in his op-ed, two stand out because they could cause harm to our organization.
Horowitz claims AMP “leaders” were indicted in the Holy Land Five case. This is patently false. Not one AMP leader was indicted in the case, one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the United States.
The next potentially libelous claim states that SJPs receive funding from Hamas, through AMP. Again false on many levels. First, SJPs are autonomous bodies and as such are self-sufficient. AMP does make grants available to all student groups engaged in Palestine solidarity activism. Second, our website clearly states we are entirely funded by domestic donations. To prove his allegation, Horowitz links to the transcripts of Jonathan Schanzer’s congressional testimony attacking the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Keeping in line with Israel’s strategy to link BDS with terrorism, Schanzer also tried to link AMP with designated Palestinian groups. However, what Horowitz conveniently leaves out is that Schanzer also said, “Their mission statement does not include raising money for causes abroad, and we have seen no evidence of illicit activity.”
The problem with Horowitz and his ilk is that while fighting to maintain the status quo of Israel’s occupation, they spread hate, fear and bigotry. These groups fail to understand that affording one group of people its rights does not detract in any way from the rights of another group.
Despite the attacks, AMP is here to stay. We will continue to raise awareness about the occupation and U.S. support for it through more than $3.2 billion in funding annually. We stand for justice and peace, based upon international law. That’s a far brighter prospect than David Horowitz’s ugly bigotry and hatred.