Middle East Eye has found that Emgage has endorsed at least 20 pro-Israel candidates competing in November’s elections, calling into the question the organisation’s agenda and vetting process.

Out of the 41 congressional candidates endorsed by Emgage in 2020, MEE found at least 12 Congressional incumbents who co-sponsored or voted against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) in Congress in 2019, had taken multiple sponsored trips to Israel, and collectively received upwards of $621,697 from the pro-Israel lobby since 2017.

In this election cycle, Emgage has endorsed more than 50 candidates across 10 states running for city council, state legislature or Congress.

Emgage has also endorsed candidates such as Robert Wittenberg, a state representative from Michigan who co-sponsored an anti-BDS bill that in 2016 made the boycott of Israel illegal in Michigan. Tom Malinowski, a Congressman from New Jersey, who openly supported the US embassy move to Jerusalem, has also been endorsed by Emgage, with its PAC contributing $1,500 to Malinowsky’s campaign in 2018.

Infographic - Pro-Israel congressional candidates endorsed by Emgage in 2020

According to Wael Alzayat, CEO of Emgage, the organisation assesses “candidates based on their history of engagement with the Muslim community, their viability as a candidate, their positions on issues, and track record”. 

But he did not respond to queries as to how endorsing candidates that oppose BDS or support the embassy move to Jerusalem fit in with the organisation’s values.

Emgage has tried to present the personal politics of its board members, such as the MLI trips or personal relations with the ADL, as separate to the goals of the organisation, but positions taken by Emgage, community organisers say, are more often than not categorically linked to the worldview and agendas of its most visible leaders.

It is the board members’ personal relationships that have provided Emgage with access to elite political spaces as well as greater amplification in the media.  

And when these engagements buttress with Emgage’s endorsements of openly Zionist candidates for state legislature or Congress, community organisers and scholars say Emgage’s pursuit of a seat at the table often really means endorsing policies that contravene community sentiment.  The endorsement of pro-Israel candidates cannot be seen as independent to the group’s cultural and political proximity to the MLI, the ADL and the AJC.

The latest revelations come as Muslim Americans come to terms with an alleged attempt by several Muslim organisations to shield it from criticism following the publication of the Electronic Intifada expose.

The article set off a firestorm among community activists already deeply concerned by Emgage’s rising influence and dissatisfied with their purported control over matters of importance to the Muslim community within the Biden campaign. 

On 10 September, a group of activists and scholars wrote an open letter to mainstream Muslim American organisations, including the Council for American Islamic Relations and the civic action group MPower Change, currently working with Emgage in the “Million Muslim Votes” initiative, to cease all relations with the organisation.

But Muslim civil and political advocacy organisations have been hesitant to condemn Emgage in public.

Behind the scenes, in WhatsApp groups and email listservs, a battle is raging between progressive Muslim activists, establishment Muslim Democrats, as well as some older organisers in the community over how to proceed with their relationships with the organisation.

Whereas younger activists, many of whom are Bernie Sanders supporters, are calling for immediate action, those working with Emgage claim that any criticism of their work so close to the election “is an act of voter suppression”.

Meanwhile, other activists have urged the community to prioritise dethroning Trump.

But the ambiguity from leading Muslim American organisations has also been compounded by the recent unveiling of an alleged “pact” between a group of Muslim organisations calling on each other to protect themselves from attacks, and has raised the spectre of a culture of unaccountability and lack of transparency among Muslim American organisations.

Middle East Eye See Original Article Here