“to ensure [that] … the concerns of the American-Muslim community regarding Jerusalem and its environs are understood and respected by the formulation of U.S. policy; to present accurate and timely information to the mass media and other interested parties; to educate, inform, and mobilize the American Muslim community; to raise the awareness of the American society in general and work for a just and comprehensive solution to the issue of Jerusalem; [and] to cooperate with other organizations having similar objectives.”
While AMJ endorsed the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees—a policy that would have effectively spelled the end of Israel's existence as a Jewish state—the organization strove, by and large, to publicly project a moderate tone. For example, AMJ called for “a Jerusalem that symbolizes religious tolerance and dialogue”; recognized Jewish historical ties to that city; advocated free access for people of all faiths to its religious sites; and elected not to echo the radical Arab claim that Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine rather than of Israel.
But as Islam scholar Daniel Pipes points out, at private events AMJ adopted positions that were much more combative. For instance, the organization’s first major gathering—a November 1999 fundraising dinner—featured such guest speakers as Nihad Awad (a founding member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and Abdurahman Alamoudi (the American Muslim Council founder who would later be incarcerated on terrorism charges). These and other speakers derided the State of Israel and American Jews, accused the latter of exerting undue influence on U.S. politics, and emphasized that only a united Muslim-Christian front (led by Muslims) could break the Zionist lock on America.
Keynote speaker Issa Nakhleh, a Christian member of the Arab Supreme Council for Palestine, alleged that the Israeli lobby in the U.S. was spending some $20 million annually to persuade members of Congress to legislate in a manner advantageous to the Jewish state. Nakhleh advised Arabs and Muslims to counter this practice by dispatching fundraising delegations to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: “I am sure you will get $10 million from these two, and Iran will [also] give you $10 million,” he said.
On May 29, 1999, AMJ hosted a Santa Clara, California conference titled “United for Al-Quds,” sponsored by a number of U.S.-based Islamist groups including the Hamas-linked Holy Land Foundation. Several speakers at the event alleged that the eradication of the Islamic Caliphate had been orchestrated by a Zionist/Western conspiracy. Keynote speaker Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) said: “So, now we can see why the Jews were punished so severely ... [T]hey were cursed because of their lack of obedience.”
Also in 1999 AMJ co-organized a boycott campaign against Burger King, to protest the fast-food franchise’s decision to build a restaurant in an Israeli settlement community that AMJ described as “Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.” “This settlement was built illegally on land seized from Muslims and Christians by Israel after it conquered the territory around Jerusalem in 1967,” said AMJ.
In 1999 as well, AMJ pressured the Disney Corporation not to identify Jerusalem as the “Jewish capital” of Israel at a World Expo in Florida.
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz described AMJ as a member of the “network” of groups closely affiliated with the Holy Land Foundation. Similarly, terrorism expert Steven Emerson characterized AMJ as an organization that “routinely involves anti-Zionist campaigns and has featured calls at its conferences for the killing of Jews.”