Adam Milstein just tweeted that “the Muslim Brotherhood is in Congress,” enclosing a picture of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the two Muslim women in Congress.
This while decent people are mourning the supremacist murder of 50 innocent Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, instigated by rhetoric like that of Milstein.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt and is one of the major organizations of what has been called “political Islam.” It is analogous to the American Religious Right, wherein formerly quietist evangelicals took over a good deal of the Republican Party. It also resembles the religious parties in Israel, which increasingly have a veto over the policies of secular politicians.
The Muslim Brotherhood is different in every country and does not have a centralized international organization. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood tried to establish relations with Iran, and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was furious with them.
In Iraq, the United States promoted Muslim Brotherhood politicians who were willing to cooperate with Washington.
Likewise Afghanistan’s Jamiat-i Islami is basically an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It formed a key part of the “Northern Alliance,” which the US government installed in power in Kabul in late 2001.
In Syria after 2012, several of the 40 vetted groups supported by the CIA in their uprising against the Baath one-party state were Muslim Brotherhood. You and I gave them billions of dollars.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was involved in political violence in the 1940s. But after a couple of decades of being banned, in the early 1970s they forswore violence and became an important part of the peaceful political scene in Egypt. In the 2006 parliamentary elections they gained 88 seats in a body of about 450.
In 2012, a Muslim Brotherhood president was elected in Egypt, who was overthrown in a combination of popular revolution and military coup in summer of 2013. The US government was all right with his having been elected in free polls.
In short, the US government has had a complex relationship with Muslim Brotherhood branches, but for the most part has been perfectly willing to cooperate with them, and sometimes has actively promoted them. The outlier is Hamas in Gaza, which has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, and which was promoted by Israeli intelligence in the 1980s and after as a way of dividing the Palestinians.
Adam Milstein was born in Haifa, made his pile in the US in real estate market, and declined to pay his taxes. He is a convicted felon for being a tax cheat, and is a Nakba-denialist, refusing to recognize the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and their continued stateless subjection by the state of Israel. He is alleged, despite denials, to be a funder of the McCarthyesque blacklist Canary Mission, which tries to ruin the lives and careers of American undergraduates if they dare not to go along with the colonization of the Palestinian West Bank.
Milstein is the sort of felon-immigrant that Trump is otherwise deporting (what with his refusal to pay his taxes and his several months in prison and 600 hours of community service). But he goes around accusing Americans of being traitors or terrorists if they won’t sign up to cheerlead for the neo-fascist Israeli squatter movement stealing Palestinian land and water.
Just as the white supremacists buy into a conspiracy theory that Jewish financiers are attempting to “replace” white workers with brown and Muslim immigrants, so Milstein buys into a conspiracy theory about American Muslims. It is that the Council on American Islamic Relations is connected to Hamas, which is a distant branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and both are terrorist organizations, and therefore so is CAIR and anyone who speaks for it or has anything to do with it is a terrorist.
This anti-CAIR conspiracy theory is intended to deny the franchise to the 3.5 million Muslim-Americans, since such nation-wide organizations with banks of lawyers are among the few hopes that Muslim-Americans have of achieving their political goals.
So I’ve spoken for CAIR on several occasions and always found them extremely nice people. Moreover, their chapter members are diverse. I met an Ismaili family at one event, who were big CAIR boosters. Ismailis belong to a branch of Shiism and these were from Mumbai in India (though they are world-wide). They are typically well-educated and liberal-minded. I’m not saying there are a lot of Ismailis in CAIR, only that it consists of all kinds of people and is not a narrow-minded Sunni fundamentalist organization of the sort Milstein imagines.
As for Reps. Tlaib and Omar, they don’t belong to the Muslim Brotherhood in any case. Though in the United States of America, unlike in Israel, we don’t have military censors or arbitrary detention without charges or trial, and so people can be Muslim Brotherhood if they want to be. I know Mr. Milstein wants to import into the United States the authoritarian practices common in his native Israel, as with his Canary Mission blackballing of 22-year-old college kids, but so far he has not succeeded in ruining our country.
As for Rashida Tlaib, she is clearly not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood because members universally veil. There is nothing wrong with veiling. Orthodox Jewish women also most often object to any man but their husbands seeing their hair, and nuns and Mennonites and lots of women wear something on their heads out of piety. But Rep. Tlaib just doesn’t choose to do so. It doesn’t tell you anything about her private religious commitments, which is clearly strong. Muslim women differ over veiling. Large numbers of urban Turkish or Tunisian women don’t, and back in the 1970s and 1980s when I first traveled around India and the Middle East, very few urban educated women did.
But I never heard of a prominent woman member of the Muslim Brotherhood who did not veil, because it is an important practice in that subculture and frankly has political implications.
On the other hand, hundreds of millions of Muslim women veil who are not Brotherhood or fundamentalists.
As for Ilhan Omar, she is originally from Somalia and most Somalis are Sufis. Sufism is a spiritual tradition that opposes fundamentalism.
There are also radical Somalis who have supported groups like al-Shabab, who are influenced by Saudi-style religion.
Rep. Omar and her husband have been important fundraisers seeking to help victims of al-Shabab back in Mogadishu, and they have lost family members to the terrorist organization. In visits to Somali refugee camps in Kenya, Rep. Omar has consoled women whose rights were injured by the fundamentalist al-Shabab. She has also condemned Saudi religious policies.
The radical, hard line al-Shabab tendency has been pushed out of many Somali towns and cities.
I don’t know Rep. Omar or anything about her private religious views, but she did a public dance when she won her election to Congress and she speaks against Saudi influence on Islam and she fundraises for victims of al-Shabab.
I can tell you that a person with that profile is not a fundamentalist.
For Milstein to basically call Rep. Omar a terrorist is sort of like branding a Holocaust survivor who raised money for other survivors “a Nazi.”
Milstein is, in other words, despicable and a purveyor of hate. Also, he would not recognize the Muslim Brotherhood if it fell on him from six stories up.
And, before he tweets about other people, let us hear him condemn Otzma Yehudit or the Kahanist “Jewish Power” party. The Kahanist tendency has produced horrific terrorism. Milstein’s hero, Israeli MP Binyamin Netanyahu, has invited the Kahanists into his electoral coalition. Has Milstein ever tried to have them blackballed the way he is after our ethical young men and women standing for human rights on campus?
Does Milstein support a government with terrorists in it?