With ten chapters across the nation, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) has grown quickly since its founding in 2009. AMP states that its mission is “to educate the public about the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination, liberty and justice.” To achieve this end, AMP targets a number of vital educational avenues, among them, libraries and high-school and university curricula.
Hatem Bazian, a professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, is the co-founder and chairman of AMP. He has collaborated with a number of radical academic groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Movement, and the Muslim Students Association. At a 2004 anti-war rally in San Francisco, Bazian gained particular notoriety when he declared that “we’re sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it’s about time that we have an intifada in this country [to] change fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” Another of AMP’s board members, Sufian Nabhan, is the President of the Islamic Center of Detroit. In 2002, Nabhan admitted to sending money to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was closed in 2001 for funding terrorism.
The Public Library Project is just one of the methods by which AMP influences educational outlets for the general public. AMP places books written by the most notorious Islamist propagandists – Ghada Karmi, Rashid Khalidi, Ilan Pappe, and Edward Said – into library holdings around the United States. These authors ostensibly expose what they depict as Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine, the noble Palestinian struggle for statehood, the undue influence of the Israel lobby, and the U.S.-Israel alliance against Palestine.
One of AMP’s top priorities is to influence youth education. Toward this end, the organization disseminates its ideology through the Aqsa Club, an afterschool program offered to high schools around the United States. Viewing Israel's creation in 1948 as Al Nakba (Arabic for "The Catastrophe"), the Aqsa Club says its main objectives are “to educate students to be activists for the Palestinian cause” and to “reach out to a wide new audience.”
Along with “intensive training” seminars on the history of the Israeli “occupation,” AMP seeks to recruit new supporters through community involvement. Students are encouraged to involve the larger community in contests, tournaments and special events. The Aqsa Club’s resources are extensive in this regard, since it hosts annual camping trips and sends hundreds of students to Palestine in order to “strengthen solidarity.” In addition to its afterschool club, AMP also funds two conferences each year for high-school students.
AMP has been involved in a number of university campus campaigns. In October 2009, the organization worked alongside the Muslim American Society (MAS) to boycott and protest former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s speech at the University of Chicago. On February 6, 2010, in collaboration with the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, AMP presented the “Palestine, Remembered!” exhibition and screened the award-winning propaganda film, “Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority.” Using the scurrilous Goldstone Report as a basis, organizers sought to remember the “victims of the Israeli occupation” and commemorate martyrs of the anti-Israel left like Rachel Corrie. In 2010 as well, AMP rallied behind the effort to have the University of California divest all its assets from Israel in retribution for that nation's alleged war crimes.
In 2010, AMP’s annual fundraiser in Chicago featured a number of controversial Islamists as guest speakers: George Galloway, a totalitarian apologist and longtime member of the British Parliament; Imam Zaid Shakir, defender of Hamas and Al-Qaeda; and Sheikh Jamal Said, Imam and Director of the Mosque Foundation, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the opening ceremony of AMP's 2011 annual conference on Palestinian activism (which was held in Chicago and was attended by more than 2,000 people), Jamal Said, an imam at the Mosque Foundation in Chicago lauded "the activists and freedom fighters who gave up their personal ambitions and their own lives so our cause may live." Said was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation, an organization that funded Hamas.
At the 2011 AMP conference, Archbishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed his support for Palestinians whom Israel had imprisoned for acts of terrorism they had committed:
"There are more than 8,000 Palestinian prisoners in the prisons of the Occupation. They are the pick of Palestinian youth, of honorable strugglers, who served the Palestinian cause. They were sentenced to the prisons of the racist Occupation because they defended the cause of their people, because they resisted, because they struggled, because they waged Jihad, because they were not those who were silent, who kept apart, who stood with their arms crossed, in the face of what was committed against their Palestinian people. They are prisoners of freedom.... We in Palestine, Christians and Muslims, stand in one trench to confront the Occupation… This Occupation will vanish. Palestine will be liberated and will return to its owners."
Other speakers at the event condemned the U.S. practice of designating certain organizations as terrorist groups. For instance, Othman Atta, the executive director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (and a frequent speaker at AMP events), stated:
"It is clearly a political decision. When the PLO was designated as a terrorist group – political decision – Hamas, Hizballah and other groups, when they're designated as terrorist groups, it is a political decision. They don't designate Israel, that has been occupying Palestinian lands for decades…."
Another spreaker was Rafeeq Jaber, a founding board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said that there are risks involved in "working for Palestine." Jaber then defended several convicted terrorists:
Another speaker was Sarah Mufid Abdulqader, the daughter of Mufid Abdulqader, a convicted HLF member and fundraiser. Said Sarah: "It's an honor to have a father that was put in jail." She then asked Allah "to free all political prisoners of Palestine in Palestine and in the United States."
"So the risks are imprisonment, which is that we talked about here, the HLF, Sami Al-Arian, Dr. Ashqar [Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for criminal contempt and obstruction of justice after refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Hamas support in the United States], Muhammad Salah [a Hamas member who in July 2007 was sentenced to 21 months in prison for providing material support and resources to Hamas], and the list goes on and on and on for those people who worked here in the United States. And they suffer."
AMP's board includes at least two members with ties to HLF. One of these, Salah Sarsour, has helped raise money for Hamas and formerly worked for the IAP. Another, Osama Abu Irshaid, once served as an editor of Al-Zaytounah, an Arabic newspaper that was published by IAP.