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Law Professors' Group Should Revoke "Human Rights Award" Given to Raging Antisemite Zahra Billoo

The Society of American Law Teachers should act, promptly.


Zahra Billoo is the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area. According to her official bio, she received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, a left-wing law professors organization.

Let's start by noting that mainstream (i.e., in this context, progressive-leaning) Jewish organizations have been among the strongest advocates for admitting Muslim refugees to the U.S., opposing Trump's so-called "Muslim ban," opposing hateful remarks against Muslims by populist right-wingers, and so on.

Nevertheless, as the Jerusalem Post reports Billoo holds these organizations, which she calls "polite Zionists," responsible for "Islamaphobia:" "When we talk about islamophobia, we often think of the vehement fascists… but I also want us to pay attention to the polite Zionists, the ones that say 'let's just break bread together.'" Who is she referring to? "the Anti-Defamation League, we need to pay attention to the Jewish Federation, we need to pay attention to the Zionist synagogues, we need to pay attention to the Hillel chapters on our campuses." These, she said, are Muslims' "enemies."

You can't get more mainstream in the Jewish community than synagogues (almost all synagogues would qualify as "Zionist" by her lights), Hillel, the Federation charitable infrastructure, and the ADL. In other words, Billoo wanted her audience to see the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community as the "enemy." Even "organizations who say they're not zionists but want a two-state solution" are the enemy, assumedly because they don't want Israel destroyed.

Worse yet, she strongly implies that Islamaphobia is a Jewish conspiracy: "Islamophobia is a well-funded conspiracy, a well-funded project — A well-funded project to marginalize us… We have to connect the dots between the organizations that promote Zionist agendas materials marketing and legislation are the same ones that want to ban Muslims, are the same ones that want to pass anti-sharia legislation…"

Why do even "polite Zionists" hate Muslims so, according to Balloo?

Because Muslims advocate for Black Lives Matter, police accountability, homelessness, against poverty, for the environment and "a free Palestine." Consequently, they "must come after us," said Billoo.

Not surprisingly, she also repeated the absurd blood libel that the Israeli military trains police officers in the United States to  "kill unarmed black men, women and children."

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who is sometimes accused of reticence in the face of antisemitism that does not emanate from white nationalists, tweeted that Billoo's speech was "textbook vile, #antisemitic, conspiracy-laden garbage attacking the mainstream US Jewish community. It sounds like something you would expect from white supremacists."

CAIR itself, true to its roots as a Hamas front, attacked Greenblatt and defended Balloo.

As a law professor, my parochial interest in this controversy is what SALT is going to do, if anything. It gave a human rights award to someone who is not just an antisemite, but can justly be accused of incitement against American Jews, the sort of rhetoric that can provoke violence. Will SALT make a statement? Revoke the award? It obviously should. I'm guessing it won't, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: December 15, 1791

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  1. You are missing a bigger picture. They gave the award knowing full well the the recipient was antisemitic. And they did not care.

    In fact, they were probably signaling that SALT is, in fact, an antisemitic organization.

    And for that, they will be praised by the "right" people.

    1. Don't abuse accusations of antisemitism like this.

  2. we need to pay attention to the Hillel chapters on our campuses." These, she said, are Muslims' "enemies."

    Some here expressed doubt that Jewish students feel unsafe on campus. Hard to read this as anything other than a call to attack Jewish students.

    1. Was Trump's identification of the press as enemies of the people a call to do violence on NYT and WaPo reporters?

  3. For the "left-wing law professors," this isn't about universal human rights -- it's about whose ox is being gored. You scrupulously protect certain (favored) groups' rights, while ignoring (if not denigrating) other (disfavored) groups' rights.
    This attitude is endemic to leftism. George Orwell nailed it: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    1. Politics is the art of doing something for one reason, but secretly doing it for another. It is professional lying.

      1. Except that's not really what it is.

        That kind of waggish cynicism is fun, but I fear you believe it.

        Not that politics isn't full of corruption, but you seem to believe that is all it is. Which is childish libertarianism that does not comport with the real world.

        1. It's not just Libertarians. Skepticism of government power is well at home on the Left, too.

          Let's just start with Foucault's work on governmentality: Krayt's "cynicism" could almost be a paraphrase (and/or deduction) from something in Foucault's lectures, the part where Foucault is talking about examining when power "becomes capillary" to find the true motivations of that power. (IIRC, that's from Society Must Be Defended, one of the earlier lectures therein).

          1. Skepticism sure, but Krayt went beyond to blanket condemnation. That's silly.

            Foucault did not say anything about power leading to corruption, just that it should not be viewed in an entierly top-down juridical manner, IIRC.
            And philosophy to inform general policy is fine and all, but don't pretend your philosophy explains the behavior of everyone in a large group.

  4. It’s not about ideas or ideals. It's about us vs. them. The intersectional crowd chose sides and you're on the opposition side. They only believe in human rights for their side.

  5. I am not for removing honors once giving. They should stay and be a great example of how this o4rganization is extremely antisemitic.

  6. An interesting pairing of commentary: Keith Whittington is advocating for protection of the academic freedom of faculty members to explore ideas without being punished for unpopular ones. David Bernstein, on the other hand, demands that a group of academicians withdraw an award that they gave to someone expressing unpopular ideas.

    1. "unpopular ideas"

      Jew hating is pretty popular with left wingers.

    2. The question, Mx. Norton, is whether fomenting antisemitism is consistent with being a "human rights" honoree. I'm in no position to "demand" anything of SALT. I would say, however, that since I assume that SALT would purport to oppose antisemitism, that it would be inconsistent for it to be doling out human right honors to raging antisemites.

      1. True, but I don't think that's why J Norton 2 is wrong. J Norton 2 is wrong because, as Bored Lawyer points out below, academic freedom isn't a shield against others exercising their own academic freedom to tell you your ideas suck.

    3. I don't see any inconsistency. One is arguing for the ability of professors to have academic freedom and teach unpopular ideas without fear of losing their jobs. The other is complaining about a certain person being awarded; he's not, as far as I'm aware, calling for her to lose her job because of her viewpoints or ideas.

      1. One would think that this obvious difference would have occured to him.
        Academic freedom does not mean you are immune from criticism, even harsh critcism. And certainly does not mean you deserve an award.

    4. Awards are more than acceptance, they are an endorsement. There is no conflict between Bernstein and Whittington's positions.

      1. Yeah, but...

        ...wait, I am of the same opinion as yourself, never mind.

  7. I agree with every word in this article ... except ADL. ADL, like SPLC, no longer serves its original purpose because it has been taken over by the "woke." Look through and you will see that they now want to protect Antifa from disparagement, and have thrown in with the liars who call Jan. 6 an "insurrection."

    1. I suppose "coup attempt" would be more precise than "insurrection."

      1. Insurrection was an exaggeration, but coup attempt (or even Violent coup attempt as we heard on NPR this morning) is preposterous partisan lying.

        1. Don Nico, what makes you so confident? It is trivially true that not everyone at the Capitol on January 6 intended a coup. How are you so certain that nobody did, or that among the crowd, or behind the crowd, there was not a well-organized group trying to further a coup?

          Have you noticed that during the last week, among lawmakers privy to subpoenaed information, there has been a notable increase in coup accusations? That has my attention.

          Or do I misunderstand you? I presume you are not among the fools who insist that without bloodshed and murder there cannot be a coup. I use the term to include all attempts to illegitimately seize power, including by bypass of an election. Just from what I have heard in the last week, I have begun to expect an upcoming disclosure of considerable evidence to support accusations that that happened on Jaunuary 6.

          1. Don Nico

            Have you noticed that during the last week, due to terrible poll numbers and record inflation numbers, there has been a notable increase in coup accusations?

        2. Don, there were freaking powerpoints about seizing power from the elected choice.

        3. There was an election. Trump lost. He tried a bunch of factually and legally frivolous court challenges; those were decisively rejected. The election was over. Nevertheless, Trump refused to admit that he had lost. Indeed, he claimed he had won, and that crooked people had stolen it from him. He tried to violently stay in power.

          Insurrection, coup. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

          1. Trump indeed lost the election. Which makes him a, wait for it,
            And he lost to a guy who only has half his marbles. That makes Trump a double loser.

      2. I suppose "coup attempt" would be more precise than "insurrection."

        Only for some definition of "coup" used by a completely moron who has no idea what that word actually means.

      3. A year of loud and constant bleating about "insurrection" has not had any political impact, so now its loud and constant bleating about "coup".

        All to distract from:

        "The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures inflation at the wholesale level, soared 9.6% year-over-year as of November, growing at the fastest rate ever measured, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Tuesday. BLS reported that the PPI, which measures inflation before it hits consumers, grew 0.8% in November."

        "Inflation soared in November, as the Consumer Price Index jumped 0.8%, a 6.8% increase from the same time last year, according to data from the Labor Department. CBS News Reporter Sarah Ewall-Wice has more on the uptick in inflation to its highest level in decades."

        1. That timeline doesn't add up. Unless you think Dems are psychic.

          1. "NOW its loud and constant bleating about "coup"

        2. Copernicus promoted the Heliocentric model in 1543. (He was not the first; several Ancient Greek philosophers came to the same conclusion.) In 1615, Galileo defended the Heliocentric model. In 1633, the Roman Catholic Church held a trial and concluded with a condemnation of the Heliocentric model. It wasn't until 1758 that the Roman Catholic Church revoked the ban on books advocating the Heliocentric model.

          Just as the Church denied the truth that Earth revolves around the Sun, Fox News pundits and many elected and rank-and-file Republicans deny the truth about January 6, 2021. There was an insurrection on January 6, 2021, and no amount of refusing to see, lying, and denying can change that truth.

  8. Reminds one of all those horrible atrocities the Czechs committed against the Sudeten Germans that Reich-friendly “human rights” organizations of the tome were talking up before Munich. Rapes, murders, you name it. There wasn’t an atrocity they hadn’t done.

    Also, do today’s Reich-friendly “human rights” organizations call themselves “progressive” in for the same reasons the National Socialist Party called itself “socialist?” These terms do tend to be catchy with the working class.

    1. I’m actually sutprised Professor Bernstein hasn’t compared propaganda about Israeli atrocities with:

      1. 1930s propaganda about alleged attocities Jews, Czechs, and others were committing against Germans

      2. 19th Century propaganda about the atrocities reconstructionist governments and newly freed blacks were committing against white people that led to the toppling of governments with black participation and the lynching of black officials. (This one cuts closer. A habit of instinctively thinking of black people as brutes and savages made it easy to believe these stories were true.)

  9. 1) I thought that floating 'enemies' and heavy paraphrasing was a bit hinky, so I clicked through to the Article. The hinky quoting is still there, but also a bunch more quotes that leave not doubt this is a paranoid antisemite.

    2) But this quote you should have resisted: CAIR itself, true to its roots as a Hamas front, attacked Greenblatt and defended Balloo.
    You don't need to intimate CAIR is a little bit kinda terroristy to make your point. In fact, this is exactly the kind of broad indictment of the polite advocates that you note is a signal of bigotry in your post.

    1. Either CAIR's "roots as a Hamas front" exist or they don't. It isn't a matter of characterization.

      1. Disingenuous.

        Bernstein chose to include that fact for a reason. He didn't need to. And the reason is the same in kind, if not in degree, as Billoo's nonsense.

        1. That's a relief, if they're a moderate civil-rights organization they should promptly disavow this Cat Ballou person.

        2. Is it a "fact" or "nonsense"

  10. 2) But this quote you should have resisted: CAIR itself, true to its roots as a Hamas front, attacked Greenblatt and defended Balloo.

    And true to your roots you complain about someone telling the truth.

  11. Perhaps people would be more serious about leftist anti-semites like Billoo if making any criticism of the Israeli government at all, not just anti-Zionism, is labeled anti-semitic.

    For instance take this asinine comment:

    "Not surprisingly, she also repeated the absurd blood libel that the Israeli military trains police officers in the United States to "kill unarmed black men, women and children." "

    That's how all police training gets described by progressives. It's not specific to Israel's training. Have you heard what they think of Grossman's "Warrior Cop" training? But you don't just take offense to the characterization, you take the ball and keep running all the way to 'blood libel' where you once again equate Israeli military tactics to a referendum on the Jewish faith and people. Training by an organization condemned by Amnesty International for its human rights violations certainly does seem questionable. It seriously undermines the solid case you made that many of her other comments do in fact cross the line into anti-semitism.

    If any criticism of Israel and their military's tactics being anti-semitism is the hill you want to die on, good luck. Most people will just tune out from such inanity, creating cover for bad faith actors like Billoo using it to mask actual anti-semitism.

    1. Perhaps people would be more serious about leftist anti-semites like Billoo if making any criticism of the Israeli government at all, not just anti-Zionism, is labeled anti-semitic.

      So you're saying that the people who don't take "anti-semites like Billoo" seriously don't because they're too stupid to differentiate between people like her and those who are merely criticizing Zionism?

  12. So this blog is in favor of canceling public figures for their opinions now?

    1. An award is not a voice. Cancellation rarely a real thing when you look closely at what's going on in individual cases, and this is no different.

  13. What you are missing here is that the entire thing is a lie. The Israeli military doesn't train U.S. police forces. There are exchange programs between the US. and Israeli police (not the Israeli military). The programs in Israel focus on Israeli police expertise in counter-terrorism. Nothing to do with the Israeli military, much less with training U.S. police to kill anyone, much less with training US police to kill black people. Why does she lie like this, and why do people believe it, if not for its resonance with class antisemitic tropes?

  14. I checked the SALT home page and indeed "The M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award recognizes Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area, for her courageous work to promote justice and mutual understanding through community organizing and civil rights advocacy."

    The SALT is losing its saltiness.

  15. Did they build a statue to her so we can pull it down?

  16. I have some great fashion advice - given her politics, she could just spray-paint her hair and she'll get a Pulitzer prize and an offer of a journalism professorship at UNC.

  17. Speaking as one of those Jews who advocates for admitting Muslim refugees, opposed the Muslim ban, and opposes hateful remarks against Muslims by populist right-wingers, I hope it comforts Ms. Billoo to know that if I ever meet her I won't be polite.

  18. David Bernstein was recently asked on Twitter if he thought it was possible for someone to criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite. He responded with a counter question, essentially refusing to answer. Maybe he will answer now.

    1. He has said many times that one can criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite.

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