Update on the Al-Marayati Scandal
please contact House Minority Leader Gephardt and ask him to reject the outrageous and McCarythite false accusations against Dr Al-Marayati and to renominate him to serve on the Counterterrorism Commission
Included in this alert are a letter and news article relating to the removal of Salam Al-Marayati’s nomination for service on the Commission on Counterterrorism, and other related matters.
This letter from Richard Gephart announcing his removal of Salam Al-Marayati’s nomination for service on the Commission on Counterterrorism:
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD: July 12, 1999, PAGE H5349
COMMUNICATION FROM HON. RICHARD A. GEPHARDT, DEMOCRATIC LEADER
The SPEAKER pro tempore laid before the House the following communication from the Honorable RICHARD A. GEPHARDT, Democratic Leader: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, OFFICE OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER, Washington, DC, July 9, 1999. Hon. J. DENNIS HASTERT, Speaker, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. SPEAKER:
I am writing to inform you that I am withdrawing my appointment of Mr. Salam Al-Marayati to the National Commission on Terrorism.
Mr. Al-Marayati was recommended for this commission by individuals who knew him to possess several qualifications, including knowledge of the subject matter, involvement in interfaith dialogue, and extensive public service experience. Upon subsequently learning of questions about this appointment, I supported efforts to refer them to those agencies that will be involved in conducting background investigations and issuing security clearances for all members of the commission.
I have since been informed that unlike Mr. Al-Marayati, all other appointees to the commission either hold or recently held security clearances and will only require a brief update in order to begin their service. I have also been notified that in order to issue for any individual a first-time security clearance of the level likely to be required for the sensitive matters to be reviewed by the commission, the investigating agencies generally require up to twelve months or more to conduct a complete background investigation.
In light of the fact that the term of the commission is only six months, it has become evident that an appropriate security clearance is not likely to be processed in time for Mr. Al-Marayati to participate in the commission’s work. This situation has therefore required that his appointment to the commission be withdrawn. Despite these circumstances, Mr. Al-Marayati is prepared to provide input to the commission on matters of interest and concern to the American Muslim community. I hope the commission will listen to the voices of this community and address the issues of civil rights for all Americans consistent with a strong U.S. anti-terrorism policy.
RICHARD A. GEPHARDT.
ADC asks all those who have not yet done so to please contact House Minority Leader Gephardt and ask him to reject the outrageous and McCarythite false accusations against Dr Al-Marayati and to renominate him to serve on the Counterterrorism Commission. For further details please see action alerts and updates at ADC’s website https://www.adc.org.
write to: Richard A. Gephardt
House Minority Leader
1226 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
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The following story was a feature in today’s issue of The Hill Newspaper which details the situation on Capitol Hill with regard to Mr. Al-Marayati, James Jatras and other congressional developments of concern to the Arab-American community. It can be viewed at http://www.hillnews.com/news3071499.html
Arab-Americans charge bias on Capitol Hill By John Kruger
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) withdrawal of the nomination of an American Muslim to serve on a federal counterterrorism commission has fueled long-simmering concerns among Arab-Americans and Muslims that they face bias from Congress.
Arab-Americans point to a series of incidents this year alone: They range from Sen. Conrad Burns’ (R-Mont.) calling Middle Eastern oil producers “ragheads” in a speech to questions raised about Arab-Americans and Muslims who have been nominated for high-profile positions.
“There is a climate of negativity that is becoming more intense,” said Hussein Ibish, communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
The latest incident was touched off after Gephardt withdrew his selection of Salam Al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, to serve on the National Commission on Counterterrorism. Al-Marayati’s candidacy was pushed by House Minority Whip David Bonior (Mich.).
Gephardt said his turnabout came following reports that it would take more than a year to provide a security clearance for the Iraqi-born American. But critics also noted that it followed an outcry from several Jewish organizations that complained that Al-Marayati’s views were extreme.
The swift reaction to Al-Marayati’s statements, these Arab-Americans contend, stands in stark contrast with the reaction they got when they protested statements made by an aide to Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) in 1998.
James Jatras, a foreign policy specialist at the Republican Policy Committee, wrote that Islam arose from “the darkness of heathen Araby,” and questioned whether Islam or communism can “claim greater achievement as gigantic Christian killing machines.” Jatras said the writings were done on his own time, and he was not compensated for them.
It was not the first time Jatras courted controversy. A Greek Orthodox Christian, he attacked former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-Mass.) during his presidential bid in 1988 for failing to follow orthodoxy for, among other reasons, marrying a Jew.
Craig has resisted calls in recent weeks by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups to fire his foreign policy aide.
“Our foreign policy is based not on religion, culture or creed, but on the national security and economic interests of all Americans, including the American-Muslim community,” Craig wrote in response.
Craig did respond in another way, however, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution condemning anti-Muslim intolerance and to “uphold a level of political discourse that does not involve making a scapegoat of an entire religion.”
The latest incident with Gephardt only added to the concern among Muslims.
“This underscores the need to advance the dialogue about Islam and the role of Muslims,”
Al-Marayati said in an interview. “We need to allow democracy to work and not allow special interest groups to pressure our elected officials.”
Al-Marayati said his security clearance need not have been an issue. He said the Los Angeles field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation seemed open to an expedited review. The FBI would not comment.
Jewish groups including the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which counts the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Conference among its members criticized Al-Marayati for “justifying Arab terrorism and calling Israel and its supporters the real terrorists.”
ZOA blasted the choice. “Like the David Dukes of the world, these anti-Israel and pro-terrorist individuals and groups should be condemned, relegated to the margins of society, not granted credibility by being given government appointments and meetings at the White House,” the group said.
The appointment had been seen as a landmark for Arab-Americans.
“It made American-Muslims feel like they were finally being accepted,” said Kamran Memon, a Chicago-based civil rights attorney. “Gephardt showed courage in making the choice, but at the same time cowardice for backing down. For him to bow so obviously to intolerant special interests says a lot about him.”
Several members of Congress sent a letter to Louis Freeh on June 30 asking the FBI director to be personally involved in any security check on Al-Marayati.
The letter’s language closely reflected ZOA’s charges.
“Since Mr. Al-Marayati’s appointment to the commission, we have received information that he has made statements in the past justifying terrorism against Israel and the United States, ” the letter stated.
Jess Hordes, Washington director of the Anti-Defamation League, said they felt Al-Marayati was not qualified to serve on a commission on terrorism.
“That’s not to say we couldn’t work with him on other issues,” Hordes said.”But our main point of departure is qualification. If someone is shown to have the capacity to deal with the issue, someone who is respected and who has a breadth of knowledge, then we’re fine with them.”
But Arabs believe a litmus test applies when it comes to their position on Israeli policy.
“It is now the case that any criticism of Israel by an Arab-American is unacceptable,” Ibish said. “Anyone who supports criticism of Israel, is supporting terrorism. It is an outrageous, unbelievable equation.”