An American-born Palestinian activist, Raeed N. Tayeh earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Chicago State University in 2002 and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Akron in 2009. Over the years, he has served variously as an executive board member of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a research fellow with the United Association for Studies and Research. He was also affiliated with the now-defunct American Muslims for Jerusalem.
In June 1999, when Tayeh was the Chicago correspondent for the vehemently anti-Israel publication Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, he lauded Friends For Palestine (FFP)—a website that commonly posted diatribes against Jews and featured a map of Israel with the Palestinian flag superimposed on it—as a “very nice” site that was doing “good work.” “It is our duty to return [to] Palestine, ALL OF PALESTINE,” he added. (Emphasis in original)
In a November 29, 1999 article which he wrote for Islam Online—a website that has published religious and legal opinions in support of suicide bombings—Tayeh stated, approvingly, that “Islamists refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel or the peace agreement made with it, and vow to return the Holy Land to the Muslim nation.” He also praised Issa Nakhleh—who had called Yasser Arafat “an honorable Palestinian leader” while excusing suicide bombings as understandable responses to “Israeli crimes”—as “a distinguished Palestinian Christian historian.” In May of 2000, Tayeh was hired as a regular writer for Islam Online.
In his poem titled “Who Am I?”—which originally appeared on the IAP website in early 2000—Tayeh wrote:
Oh how I dream of that wonderful day,
When our flags are raised, and when the marching bands will play.
When the young will cheer, and when the old will cry,
When the refugees return, and when Zionism will die.
In October 2000 in Washington, DC’s Lafayette Park, Tayeh spoke at the same pro-Palestinian rally at which American Muslim Council president Abdurahman Alamoudi openly declared his support for Hamas. When addressing the crowd, Tayeh claimed that “all of Palestine is holy”; that Palestine encompasses all the land “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea”—a reference to the illegitimacy of Israel’s existence as a sovereign state; and that “Al Aqsa is not their temple”—meaning that a Jewish temple had never stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In November 2000 Tayeh served as the spokesman for a group protesting against the Chicago Sun Times for having published an editorial blaming Yasser Arafat for much of the violence in the Middle East.
In February 2001 Tayeh was a designated contact—along with the pro-terrorist Palestinian activist and writer Hatem Abudayyeh—for a solidarity march organized by the Coalition for Justice in Palestine.
On April 7, 2001, Tayeh spoke at a New York City rally sponsored by Al-Awda. The event also featured speeches by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders Sami Al-Arian and Mazen Al-Najjar, and by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine founder George Habash.
Also in 2001, Tayeh was hired as communications director for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. But on November 28 of that year, he was forced to resign from that post after he accused “pro-Israeli lawmakers” on the House International Relations Committee of having an “obvious conflict of interest” caused by their excessive “emotional attachments to Israel.” Said Tayeh: “The Israeli occupation of all territories must end, including Congress.”
At IAP’s 5th Annual Convention in December 2001, Tayeh was a featured speaker along with Sami Al-Arian.
From February 2002 until September 2002, Tayeh served as the Washington director of American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice (AMGPJ). During this period, he condemned the U.S. government for conducting raids on a network of Islamic organizations in northern Virginia that were being investigated for their role in terrorist financing.
In September 2002, the Muslim American Society (MAS) hired Tayeh as the public affairs director of its Freedom Foundation. In April 2003, Tayeh partnered with the MAS Freedom Foundation’s executive director, Mahdi Bray, and its communications director, Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, as “trainers” in an MAS Activist Training Seminar.
Also in 2003, Tayeh was a featured speaker at MAS’s annual convention, co-sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America. Other speakers at this event included Siraj Wahhaj, Hamas activist Mustafa Abu Sway, Universal Heritage Foundation CEO Zulfiqar Ali Shah, and neo-Nazi William Baker.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that in a January 2004 online discussion on “Civil Liberties Post-9/11,” Tayeh said: “I believe that the government’s moves against Muslim organizations has [sic] been fueled by individuals inside and outside of the government who have a pro-Israel agenda…. [If] you analyze the accusations thrown at the organizations and leaders that have been targeted, you can thread the common links, the most major being the accusation that someone these [sic] people and groups supported Palestinian resistance groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Very few of these investigations are centered around issues related to Al Qaeda, the ones who actually attacked this country. Our government is wasting time and resources doing Israel’s dirty work, and based on hyped up accusations that really don’t prove that there was any wrongdoing.”
In February 2004, MAS dispatched Tayeh to the Cleveland Mosque to assist the latter’s radical imam, Fawaz Damra, who was in jeopardy of being placed on paid leave from that post after having been indicted for illegally omitting, from his American citizenship application, information about his links to anti-Israel terrorist groups. Damra in 1991 had advised Muslims to “direc[t] all rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation … the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.” Four years later, Damra was named as having been a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
During an August 6, 2004 appearance on CNN television, Tayeh demanded that the United Nations authorize the reinstatement of “the 1967 borders” and the “Palestinian[s’] right to return to their homes”; condemned Israelis as “the people who have occupied [and] stolen their [Palestinians’] land”; declared that present-day Israel “is 100 percent of our [Palestinians’] land”; stated that “Jews live … very well” in a number of Arab countries; and suggested that since “the Palestinians didn’t commit the [Nazi] Holocaust,” the Jews, if they want “their land,” should leave the Middle East and “create a state in Germany.”
Also in 2004, Tayeh authored A Muslim’s Guide to American Politics and Government. The book was published by the MAS, and its foreword was written by MAS president Souheil Ghannouchi.
In November 2006, Tayeh celebrated Keith Ellison‘s election as the first Muslim in the House of Representatives, calling it “a victory for the 7 million Muslims living in the United States,” “a victory for America,” and an event that “sends a positive message to the world.”
In November 2009 piece in The Spokesman-Review, Tayeh wrote that Muslim Americans have “legitimate grievances with aspects of U.S. policy—whether it is the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, Washington’s blind support of Israel, or the practice of extraordinary renditions.”
In an October 2010 opinion piece titled “I’m Sorry You Are Scared of Me,” Tayeh lamented “the fact that the fear of Muslims in this country has become so widespread that it has even infected enlightened and well-respected journalists” like Juan Williams, who had recently stated that he became nervous when he saw Muslims on an airplane. “[T]he rest of the country should realize that Muslim-Americans are scared, too,” Tayeh added. “Hate crimes against Muslim-Americans have risen sharply since this summer’s controversy over the building of an Islamic center in lower Manhattan. What’s more, when terrorists target America, they target all Americans, Muslims included. That was true on Sept. 11, 2001, when more than 60 Muslims were among the 3,000 murdered by al-Qaida. So Muslims in America have to worry about being victims of terrorism while at the same time worry about being blamed for terrorism. A handful of criminals really are ruining it for the rest of us.”
In September 2011 Tayeh lamented what he described as the “backlash against American Muslims” that had taken place across the U.S. ever since the 9/11 attacks. He also complained that a large percentage of Americans “were so uninformed about [Islam] that they were associating it with violence and terrorism.”
In 2014 Tayeh earned a JD from the University of Akron School of Law.
Further Reading: “Raeed Tayeh” (LinkedIn.com, AmericansAgainstHate.org); “Cynthia McKinney’s Final Solution?” (by Evan Gahr, 11-30-2001); “Former Freedom Foundation Public Affairs Director Raeed Tayeh” (“Muslim American Society Dossier,” Investigative Project on Terrorism, January 2008, pp. 40-41); Transcript of Tayeh’s August 6, 2004 appearance on CNN (8-6-2004); “First Muslim in Congress [Keith Ellison] Can Build Bridges” (by Raeed Tayeh, 11-14-2006); “Shooting Puts Muslims under Harsher Scrutiny” (by Raeed Tayeh, The Spokesman-Review, 11-16-2009); “I’m Sorry You Are Scared of Me” (OregonLive.com, 10-30-2010); “For Muslim, a Journey from Paranoia to Hope” (by Raeed Tayeh, 9-9-2011).