At least eight Democratic members of Congress share close ties to a nonprofit group that is now subject to discovery in a landmark federal civil lawsuit that seeks to hold the group financially liable for the terrorist slaying of an American teenager in 1996.
David Boim was 17 when members of Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, shot and killed him at a bus stop in the West Bank in 1996. Boim’s parents successfully sued a network of American-based Palestinian nonprofit groups in federal court for financing the terrorists that killed their son, and a federal judge ultimately awarded the family a $156 million judgment under the Anti-Terrorism Act following a jury trial in 2004.
But the groups never paid up. Shortly after the judgment was levied, the groups claimed they were bankrupt and went out of business. One of the groups, the Holy Land Foundation, had its monetary assets seized by the United States, and five of its leaders were sentenced to decades in prison in 2008 for providing material support to Hamas.
That’s where American Muslims for Palestine, an Illinois-based nonprofit group that has since developed close ties with influential Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), came into play, the Boim family alleged in a follow-up lawsuit filed in federal court in 2017.
AMP and its fiscal sponsor, Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation, together are the alter egos of two of the shuttered groups that were found liable for the killing of Boim, the Boim family’s 2017 lawsuit alleged.
AMP shared the same core leadership, carried out the same organizational purpose, and operated in the same manner as the two now-defunct groups, the American Muslim Society and the Islamic Association for Palestine, the lawsuit alleged.
“In every meaningful respect, AMP/AJP is nothing more than a disguised continuance of IAP/AMS — stripped of the burden of the Boim Judgement and the ignominy of having been found liable for aiding and abetting the murder of an American teenager,” the Boims’ 2017 lawsuit stated. “AMP/AJP are the alter egos and successors of IAP/AMS, and are therefore liable for the unpaid portion of the Boim Judgement.”
After languishing in the federal court system for five years, the Boim family’s lawsuit has just recently entered discovery following rulings by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2021 and by a federal district court in Illinois in May 2022. The case is on track to be heard before a federal jury before the end of 2023.
“We are very pleased that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the validity of our alter ego theory and that the District Court has now denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss, opening the door for us to take the necessary discovery to prove that the current defendants are essentially the same organizations as their predecessors, operating under different names,” Boim family attorney Daniel Schlessinger told the Washington Examiner.
As the Boim lawsuit stalled in federal court, AMP massively expanded its pro-Palestine lobbying activities in the halls of Congress, developed close ties with influential Democratic lawmakers, and earned a reputation as one of the most influential groups in the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.
Tlaib has been AMP’s most prolific supporter in Congress, having appeared at at least four events hosted by the group since the start of her first term in the House in 2019.
The Michigan Democrat was AMP’s guest of honor during an April 2021 livestream event where the lawmaker praised the group for its work in Congress shifting the Overton window on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have 12 members of the United States Congress refer to Israeli occupation as colonialism, so have no doubt that the needle on the Palestinian human rights is moving,” Tlaib said during the AMP event.
Months later, in September 2021, Tlaib accepted an award from AMP’s affiliated nonprofit lobbying group for her “courageous advocacy for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.”
Moments before Tlaib accepted the award, AMP Executive Director Osama Abuirshaid praised Tlaib for delivering a “riveting and passionate speech” in the House a week prior against a $1 billion proposal to help Israel defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks.
Tlaib was also the keynote speaker at AMP’s 2019 convention in Chicago. During her speech at the event, the lawmaker equated the conflict between Israel and Gaza to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Also at AMP’s 2019 convention, Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour said the state of Israel was built on a foundation of “Jewish supremacy.”
“Ask [progressive Zionists] this. How can you be against white supremacy in the United States of America, and the idea of living in a supremacist state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is built on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else?” Sarsour said at the convention.
Tlaib isn’t the only Democratic lawmaker to have been lavished with awards from AMP.
AMP also awarded Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) with the “Champion of Palestinian Rights Award” at its September 2021 event.
Carson said the award was a “big deal” and a “deep honor.” He thanked his “friends” at AMP’s affiliated nonprofit lobbying group, saying the group has a “brilliant, phenomenal staff.”
AMP awarded Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) with the “Champion of Palestinian Rights Award” during a September 2020 event.
McCollum thanked AMP for being “such a fantastic partner and ally” in Congress as she accepted the award and said the assistance she received from the group was instrumental as she introduced anti-Israel legislation in the House.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without your work, your advocacy, and the opportunity to work together,” McCollum told AMP during the event. “Your support for my work in Congress gives me the strength to push forward, and I want to thank you.”
Other lawmakers that have attended AMP events include Reps. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Behind the scenes, AMP claims to have held meetings with the offices of 191 members of Congress, the group said in 2019.
None of the lawmakers identified in this article responded to requests for comment.
The Democratic lawmakers associated with AMP, despite warnings from the Anti-Defamation League that the group “seeks to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state,” promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and at times provide a “platform for anti-Semitism.”
The ADL also notes on its website that AMP has “organizational roots” with an “anti-Semitic group that served as the main propaganda arm for Hamas in the United States until it was dissolved in 2004.”
The ADL noted that AMP works closely with some of the leaders of one of the groups that was held financially liable for Boim’s killing by Hamas terrorists and that some of those individuals held positions on AMP’s board of directors.
Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Vice President Jonathan Schanzer, who testified before Congress in 2016 about AMP’s ties to Hamas financing networks, said the discovery process in the Boim lawsuit against AMP could prove damaging to the lawmakers that have thrown in their lot with the group.
“In the American system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Schanzer told the Washington Examiner. “But the fact that this case has gone to the discovery phase will likely make things more uncomfortable for those that have a stake in this organization.”
Marc Greendorfer, the founder of the pro-Israel Zachor Legal Institute think tank, said it is outrageous that so many members of Congress have chosen to ignore AMP’s alleged ties to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“The fact that affiliates of American Muslims for Palestine, the equivalent of an Islamic Ku Klux Klan, are involved in fundraising, voter outreach, and policy development for a prominent group of Democrats is outrageous, yet not a surprise,” Greendorfer told the Washington Examiner.
“We have consistently seen terror-connected groups like American Muslims for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine, both founded by UC Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian, provide material support to designated foreign terror organizations, yet Democrats in Congress not only ignore these facts, they provide cover for the terror-connected groups to continue to operate and expand their influence,” Greendorfer said.
AMP did not return a request for comment.
AMP said the Boim family’s lawsuit was Islamophobic after it was first filed in 2017. The group denied at the time having any connection with terrorism.