Testing the Department of Justice on Pro-Palestinian Civil Rights

May 22, 2024 News & Updates

MPAC met Attorney General Merrick Garland and senior officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI Director Christopher Wray and Associate Attorney General Lisa Monaco, during a discussion coordinated by the Arab American Institute and its leaders, Maya Berry and Jim Zogby. We were there to address the concerning rise in hate crimes against communities who simply support the rights of Palestinians undergoing genocide in Gaza and Israeli settlement expansions in the West Bank.

This meeting provided a platform for partner organizations to voice other urgent matters, including concerns over the re-emergence of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and Kahane Chai, two terrorist organizations according to the DOJ in past years, and their escalating efforts to foster an atmosphere of fear and hostility on college campuses. Two JDL members were convicted of a bomb plot against the offices of MPAC and Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) back in December 2001. In recent violent attacks against pro-Palestinian protestors, reports indicate that members of the white supremacist group, The Proud Boys, are joining Zionist extremist assaults against pro-Palestinian protestors.

MPAC’s goal was to express concern regarding the current suppression of student voices, the failure of law enforcement to intervene during attacks by pro-Zionist agitators at UCLA, the continued alarming acts of abuse and harassment faced by pro-Palestinian student protestors, and the discriminatory national security policies that continue to target the Muslim and Arab communities.  

During the meeting, FBI Director Wray warned of “violent extremists” influenced by “foreign actors” who are seeking opportunities to attack public gatherings of Americans. MPAC intervened and stated that it already happened at UCLA on the night of April 30. It’s just that the  violent extremists were Zionists. The US government needs to review its national security policies for pro-Israel biases. No investigation on the attacks against pro-Palestinian students has taken place, but Director Wray stated he would call on the LA Field office of the FBI to look into the matter.

MPAC shared the distressing experiences of pro-Palestinian students at UCLA. We detailed how these students have been subjected to violent attacks and intimidation tactics at the hands of both local law enforcement and Zionist protests. We highlighted the glaring failure of law enforcement to protect the students, noting that the attackers were not students themselves but outside instigators. MPAC emphasized the broader context of these incidents, pointing to long-standing national security policies that disproportionately target Muslim and Arab communities, fostering an environment where such abuses can occur unchecked. We then called for a comprehensive investigation into these incidents and demanded accountability for the inaction and negligence of law enforcement agencies.

Moreover, the meeting highlighted the deep-seated distrust within the American Muslim community toward law enforcement. This sentiment has intensified to levels not seen since the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 attacks. This pattern of neglect and discriminatory practices by law enforcement agencies is a disturbing trend that has only fueled the community’s frustrations. Part of the mandate of the Department of Justice is to investigate and prosecute government entities violating the civil rights of the American people.

MPAC’s engagement with the DOJ marks a critical juncture in the fight for justice and equality. This meeting represents a meaningful step towards addressing the systemic discrimination faced by Muslim and Arab communities at this time and ensuring that pro-Palestinian students no longer face suppression and persecution. MPAC remains committed to safeguarding the rights and safety of all individuals, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, and to hold those meant to serve and protect our communities accountable for their actions.

You can build a future free from fear and bigotry.

Invest in MPAC’s work to improve public policies and perceptions. We’re changing how America views Islam and Muslims.