Late Monday night, President Donald Trump cited a letter from a coalition of pro-Israel pressure groups to Democratic Party leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee,” Trump tweeted. “A dark day for Israel!”
The letter was harshly critical of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for comments she recently made about pro-Israel activism, admonishing Omar no less than seven times for “anti-Semitism,” or bias against Jewish people. The signatories demanded that the newly elected member of Congress be removed from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The groups that signed the letter have themselves been repeatedly and credibly accused of harboring biases of their own — against American Muslims.
Yet some of the groups that signed the letter have themselves been repeatedly and credibly accused of harboring biases of their own — against American Muslims, in particular. What’s more, the metadata of the letter lists the author as a pro-Israel activist named Lauri Regan who has accused American Jews of being analogous to Cain from the biblical story of Cain and Abel, and suggested that Omar’s supporters want a “Sharia-compliant world dominated by Islam in which Israel disappears.”
The letter criticizes Omar for her recent comments on the U.S.-Israel relationship, but it also goes much further. The letter explosively claims that the Somali-American member of Congress has ties to extremists herself, running down a list of people associated with a charity she is scheduled to speak at. The letter strongly suggests that Omar is enmeshed in a network of Islamist extremist groups around the world. It concludes apocalyptically with a quote stating that “the veneer of civilization is paper thin,” then asks the Democratic leaders to remove Omar from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The letter to Pelosi and House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., was posted Monday night on the website of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a D.C.-based think tank with a hawkish perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Known as EMET, the group has had its own run-ins with allegations of anti-Muslim bias. The group’s founder and head, Sarah Stern, has sat on the board of the anti-Muslim group Clarion Fund, whose Islamophobic films EMET has helped distribute. EMET has also promoted the work of the repeatedly disgraced terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson.
In addition to EMET, the letter was signed by an array of right-wing groups, including ACT for America, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, and the Center for Security Policy, a D.C. think tank whose founder has a well-documented history of spreading eyebrow-raising conspiracies about Muslims in the United States. Other signatories included the Emergency Committee for Israel, which, according to the New Yorker, published a video in 2012 insinuating that then-President Barack Obama “may, secretly, be Muslim himself.”
The disconcerting views of those involved with the letter, however, go deeper. What is not apparent at first glance is who authored it. In the metadata information from the PDF posted on the EMET website, the author was listed as “Lauri Regan,” whom EMET’s website lists as the organization’s New York chapter president. The site indicates that Regan is a board member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and has also served in the past on the board of the National Women’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Regan’s biography on the EMET website also indicates that Regan is a writer. A scan of her published works shows a colorful mix of conspiracy theories and accusations against liberal American Jews and Muslims. (Regan did not respond to request for comment by publication time.)
In 2014, Regan published an article on the American Thinker titled “The Three Little Kosher Pigs.” The article confusingly analogizes Jewish history to both the historical fable of the “Three Little Pigs” and the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The crux of Regan’s argument is that American Jews, beguiled by their support for progressive causes in the United States, are playing the role of Cain and are in the midst of fatally betraying their Israeli coreligionists. The article argues:
American Jews have not learned the lessons of history and ignore their responsibilities to God and the Jewish people as a whole. Instead of building houses of bricks they have chosen to build a “big tent.” They emulate their European ancestors who focused so intently on assimilating into society that they could not see the fires of the Holocaust burning around them. They worship false idols and pray at the Torah of abortion rights, environmentalism, and socialism much the way the Jewish people fell for the golden calf while waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai with God’s Commandments.
Regan also has been not been shy about sharing her opinions on the recent debate over Omar’s comments. In an article published last month by the American Thinker, Regan approvingly cited an insult of Omar as an “ungrateful refugee.” The right-wing writer then not only accused Omar of anti-Semitism, but also claimed that she represented a nebulous alliance of “far-leftists” and Islamists committed to “dooming all of Western civilization to another dark age.” Regan wrote:
Those who excuse, belittle, or ignore Omar’s anti-Semitism do so for political and ideological reasons grounded in one thing: attaining power in order to transform America into their illusory and ignorant Marxist fantasy of a global socialist utopia. But the Omars of the world have a different dream. Theirs is a sharia-compliant world dominated by Islam in which Israel disappears.
The irony should be obvious enough. There was a time that figures like those involved in this letter — far-right, pro-Israel advocates with readily apparent biases against Muslims — would have been limited to the fringes. It’s not surprising, but still shocking, that this week their work seems to have gotten an endorsement from the president of the United States himself.