Machlokes / Controversy

Jewish World Review July 16, 2001 / 25 Tamuz, 5761

Sleeping with the enemy

Why are politically conservative activists and the leading kosher supervision agency aligning themselves with a terrorist-friendly group?

By Evan Gahr -- IS the Alliance for Marriage a bit too diverse for its own good?

The ideologically and racially diverse group last week declared holy war on gay marriage. At a crowded Washington, DC press conference the Alliance unveiled a constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to men and women. This eminently sensible, yet controversial, idea, boasts support from former DC delegate Walter Fauntroy, Nathan Diament of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and such illustrious personages as Vitus Cheng of the Chinese Bible Church of Maryland.

Surrounded by persons of many colors, Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage, one of the few whites in front of the cameras, joked about the under-representation of white folks. He insisted that "some of my best friends are white." Are his other friends -- or at least allies in the crusade against gay marriage -- sympathetic to the terrorist group Hamas?

The Alliance for Marriage board of advisors includes Aly Abuzaakouk of the American Muslim Council. According to a woman who answered the AMC's phone, "Dr. Abuzaakouk" is "director" of the organization.

Does the AMC sound familiar? Last year, Hillary Rodham Clinton was forced to return a campaign donation from longtime AMC honcho Abdurahman Alamoudi. His $1000 contribution was cited by the the New York Daily News when it exposed the pro-Arab fundraising event she attended.

Hillary's campaign collected $50,000 in donations at the fundraiser, which was sponsored by another Muslim group. George W. Bush's presidential campaign was also forced to return a contribution from Alamoudi.

Despite the negative publicity, Alamoudi was hardly chastened. At a Washington, DC rally in late October he reiterated his support for Hamas. "We are all supporters of Hamas. I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah," the New York Daily News reported. "I want you to send a message. It's an occupation stupid. Hamas is fighting an occupation. It's a legal fight."

Between 1994 and 1996, Hamas killed 130 people and wounded some 600 others, many civilians. But Alamoudi calls Hamas "a freedom-fighting organization."

As this writer noted last year, the AMC officially claims to oppose terrorism. But, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, that defends on how you define terrorism. If Hamas is a bunch of freedom-fighters, who precisely are the terrorists the AMC ostensibly opposes? No matter how you answer those questions, the AMC undoubtedly has long evidenced a soft-spot for Hamas. In 1995, for example, their newsletter urged Israel to talk with Hamas, not Arafat, because, the AMC contended, the semi-retired terrorist no longer represented the Palestinians.

Alamoudi's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, told the New York Daily News that "The fact is there are millions of people in the Middle East who support Hamas."

Wonderful: the Alliance for Marriage has a huge untapped constituency.

At the moment, though, their high-profile board members include, among others, Father Richard John Neuhaus, conservative Catholic activist Mary Ellen Bork, Prof. Robert George of Princeton University, Prof. Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, and Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals.

But Nathan Diament of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America shrugged off questions about his alliance with an allegedly pro-Hamas organization. He said the OU had previously worked with the American Muslim Alliance to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. True enough. On the other hand, the United States previously worked with the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler. Does that mean the two countries should have formed all sorts of post-war alliances to quash homosexuality?

Diament did not respond to follow-up questions emailed to him.

But Rabbi Barry Freundel, known as "Lieberman's rabbi," is also an Alliance for Marriage board member. The spiritual leader of Kesher Israel in Georgetowne, he told this writer last week he was unaware of the AMC connection. He promised to investigate the matter immediately.

This is not a theoretical debate; rightly or wrongly, Hillary was forced to return the money from the AMC honcho.

Let's have one standard for everyone, please. Under Diament's "logic" did Hillary clearly get a bum rap? If anything, Hillary "only" took money from the AMC orbit; as her contributions from the tobacco rich Tisch family illustrate, money doesn't necessarily buy influence or an alliance. But Diament, not Hillary, is officially in bed with the AMC.

Moreover, Diament is not some lone rabbi out in Seattle. The OU is not only a major organization, it is the most respected and recognized kosher agency worldwide. Indeed, Diament's support for the marriage amendment was splashed all over the front page of the July 12 Washington Times. In their mad rush to oppose gay marriage, the OU has stamped the AMC "kosher."

Other Jewish members of the pro-Hamas, pro-marriage coalition either ignored inquiries or could not be reached for comment.

But Diament's insouciant attitude towards the AMC reeks of the morally-obtuse politicking which has long infested the left. To borrow language from another era when folks overlooked the insidious philosophy of allies whose ultimate allegiance was to a foreign power, is Diament a useful idiot for the AMC? Already, the AMC has achieved considerable mainstream credibility. Criticism is deemed anti-Muslim, etc.

Now, the AMC can ask, quite reasonably, why they should be stigmatized if they are allied with a mainstream Jewish organization on a hot button social issue. The OU would do well to re-consider its reckless decision.

JWR contributor Evan Gahr is a Washington-based journalist. To comment click here.


© 2001 Evan Gahr