LOS ANGELES, June 21, 2021 – StandWithUs strongly condemns antisemitic statements made by Shaheen Nassar, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Speaking to an audience at the Islamic Society of Orange County on June 11, 2021, Nassar falsely claimed that, “Antisemitism is… a uniquely European phenomenon. It was… a way of persecuting a group of people for the false history accusation… that [Jews] had descended from historic Palestine. The reality of course, as most historians recognize, is much of European Jews and much of the European Jewish colonizers of Palestine are all descendants of medieval converts to Judaism”. While he later acknowledged that antisemitism does exist, the damage was done.
Roz Rothstein, CEO and Co-Founder of StandWithUs, said, "This is anti-Jewish racism - a hateful conspiracy theory that denies Jewish history, identity, and rights to self-determination in our ancestral home. Nassar's comments also deny the discrimination Jews faced for centuries under Muslim and Arab rule. CAIR must condemn these comments and stop promoting antisemitism if it wants to fulfill its stated goal of being a 'leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.'"
Nassar’s lie that Jews in Europe had no “blood” ties to ancient Jews is not supported by any serious scholarship. On the contrary, numerous published peer reviewed studies in scholarly journals point to the genetic composition of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi Jewish populations showing significant amounts of shared Middle Eastern ancestry.
One of the ironies is that for Nazis, Jews were non-European Semites who did not have the right to live in Europe. For CAIR’s Nassar, Jews are not Semitic enough and don’t have the right to live in Israel. These are two sides of the same racist and antisemitic coin.
Nassar also erases the 850,000 Jews who fled or were expelled from their homes in Arab states after 1948, most of whom found refuge in Israel. This came after centuries of being treated as second class citizens at best and brutally oppressed at worst. Any serious attempt at building mutual understanding must acknowledge these realities.
We demand an apology and retraction from CAIR LA for these antisemitic comments.