On May 20, 2018
By Ali AlAhmed
Washington DC – On April 27th, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations must have been eager to meet the head of the Saudi World Muslim League, long seen as an extremist and global arm of the Saudi State.
For the first time ever a top Saudi religious official, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa, appointed by the king, openly met with Jews leaders on their own turf at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. The Jewish leaders’ eagerness to see the historically anti-Jewish Saudis extend their hands to them must have been behind the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ rush to work with a questionable Saudi entity, the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).
It was a propitious occasion, filled with the hope that an emerging tolerance was breaking out in the Muslim world – and Dr. Al-Issa didn’t disappoint his expectant audience as he delivered a historic keynote address about peace, tolerance and moderate Islam to a distinguished audience of the most influential thought leaders and religious scholars representing both the Muslim and Jewish faiths. There was, however, a discordant note marring the optimistic and hopeful atmosphere. And this was SAPRAC’s involvement in organizing this event meant as a turning page between the world Jewish community and the Saudi Wahhabi state that controls the heart of Islam, and influences a large part of the Muslims world’s religious views.
Among the genuine inter-faith leaders advocating for greater religious tolerance was the intolerant presence of SAPRAC – an organization funded by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman but with questionable stance on tolerance, especially against Jews.
Put simply, the other organizations – but especially the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – should have known better than to invite an organization whose actions and goals are inimical to anyone’s idea of interfaith harmony. SAPRAC’s founder and CEO is Salman Al Ansari. Al Ansari’s father, Abdulrahman Al Ansari, has an extensive public animosity towards Judaism and in support of violent Islamic intolerance.
On April 12, 2017, Al Ansari posted the photo of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in what seem an admiration of his genocidal acts against millions of Jews and others. Al Ansari is an equal opportunity hater.
Obama the apostate
On January 12, 2017, he posted this diatribe against President Obama: “Obama, the Muslim who traded his religion for the presidency. People will discover the truth, even if it takes time. And when they discover it, I will ask them to remember that I was first to state that; if freedom of religion really existed in the United States of America, Barak Bin Hussein Obama would have been one of the most famous worshipers in mosques in the United States. But the man – Obama – traded his religion for the post of the presidency, off of which he fell today. God is not in need of him, and the noble Islamic religion stands without him.”
The outbreak of all of this goodwill should come with one huge caveat: Be careful who you invite into the big tolerant tent – and be careful of self-proclaimed reformers who may turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
SAPRAC’s founder, Salman Al Ansari, should state unconditionally that his father’s views do not reflect the views of his organization and publicly condemn them without equivocation or reservation. The Washington Institute, the Conference of Presidents and the Muslim World League are well-intentioned organizations with a proud history of public service. Despite the noble purpose of last month’s event at the Museum of Jewish History, the unwitting but unfortunate association with SAPRAC has cast a dark shadow over the organizations involved. The members and supporters of both the Washington Institute and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations deserve an explanation. How did this happen? Were their leaders aware that SAPRAC’s founder is associated with virulent anti-Semitism?
Slaman and his father seems to be close, that Abdulrahman wrote this last May on his Facebook taking pride in his son’s achievement; “From the repercussions of my son Salman’s presences in Washington DC. @ The pride of one of us with the fruits of his labor, and the gain of his trade, it is nothing compared to seeing what you have been hoping for and waiting for from your children, or one of them. And my happiness today is indescribable. I have received parts of the discussions and topics that my son Salman AlAnsari is doing these days in the American Capital Washington defending his country (Saudi Arabia) in his dialogues with large numbers of people with various opinions and positions, people who form American opinions, whether they are politicians, media professionals and parliamentarians,” he wrote.
“My wish, for which I have been forever working and still hope to achieve, wherever I may be, is to be a brick in which the glory of Saudi Arabia grows tall and high,” he said.
To praise God and to thank Him, that I take pride that, the son (Salman AlAnsari) is that brick today. In addition to him are the other building blocks of his three brothers (Yasser, Ahmed, and Osama) who each of them see through his specialty, that his goal and great aspirations is the active contribution to the glory of Saudi Arabia and its dignity. Thank God for his bounty,” he posted.
This post specially gives us a glimpse of the true beliefs of SAPRAC’s president, raised by a man who carry so much hatred and exhibit them in public.
Having been informed of this, is the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs prepared to condemn SAPRAC and publicly distance themselves from the organization? The Washington Institute played a leading rule to help SAPRAC in this meeting. I say this as someone who knows many at the Washington Institute including its longtime leader Robert Satloff and sought his council on a few occasions.
Salman AlAnsari and his father follow each other’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and must have seen his father’s hatful remarks. Why did not he ask him to stop and why won’t he apologies for it? This is a test for his true stance on this hatred.
A SAPRAC apology is not enough. Mr. Satloff and his team should also explain to their funders and supporters, how did they allow this to happen!
There is too much at stake here to stay silent. The need for mutual understanding between people of all faiths in the U.S and Middle East has been an old goal of mine, as many in Washington who know me will confirm. We must support efforts to promote such dialogue but at the same time history teaches us that closing our eyes to the atavistic forces of bigotry and prejudice will, in the end, produce even greater suffering.
Ali Al-Ahmed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs is a Saudi scholar and expert on Saudi political affairs including: terrorism, Islamic movements, Wahhabi Islam, Saudi political history, Saudi-American relations, and the al-Saud family history. He is a writer, and public speaker on Saudi political issues. His Institute for Gulf Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that disseminates solid information about the Gulf region and produces thoughtful analyses of Gulf politics and international relations.
Here is a small collection of Abdulrahman AlAnsari’s Facebook page with showing posts mentioned above. They do not contain many other hateful posts against Shia Muslims, Christians, and celebrating violence.