Breaking: Senior White House Aides to Meet with Arab-American Activist with Extensive History of Defending Hamas, Hezbollah

Senior White House aides will sit down on Thursday with Osama Siblani, a Michigan newspaper publisher and left-wing activist who has an extensive history of defending Middle Eastern terror groups.

As publisher of the Arab American News, Siblani was invited to join fellow Arab-American community leaders in meeting with the White House officials to address local opposition to the Biden administration’s support for Israel in its ongoing war against Hamas.

Siblani and his fellow attendees will be meeting with Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Principal Deputy National-Security Adviser Jon Finer, and Steven Benjamin, who leads the Office of Public Engagement, a White House official told the Associated Press, which first reported the meeting.

"I'm for the dialogue, and I believe we owe it to our country and to our community and the people in Gaza, to listen and be heard," Siblani told the AP.

The White House apparently believes Siblani is worth engaging despite his lengthy and publicly documented history of support for violent extremism.

Speaking alongside Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) at the Second Annual Metro Detroit March for Jerusalem Palestine in May, Siblani urged Palestinians around the world to use violence to resist Israeli oppression and praised Islamic militants for “striking [Israel] with knives and with their bare hands.”

“They will fight with stones, others will fight with guns, others will fight with planes, drones, and rockets, others will fight with their voices, and others will fight with their hands and say: ‘Free, free Palestine!'” Siblani told the cheering crowd.

The march was held to commemorate the “Nakba,” an Arabic term for the founding of Israel that roughly translates to “the catastrophe.”

Just two days after the Hamas attack of October 7, in which more than 1,000 Israelis were slaughtered, Siblani sought to justify the bloodshed as an understandable response to Israeli “occupation.”

“This is the longest occupation in modern time. History teaches us this cannot continue to happen, occupation must go away,” Siblani told a local CBS affiliate.

“Every time you have a problem that is not addressed properly, organizations, or individuals come in with radical solutions,” Siblani told a local Fox affiliate the same day. “Yes, Hamas is radically approaching this situation, but that's a result of oppression for a long period of time. So Hamas wants a Palestine to be independent.”

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, condemned Siblani’s comments as a textbook example of antisemitism in a statement provided to National Review.

“Antisemites consistently use pretext to justify atrocities,” Menken said. “Siblani’s claim that Jewish life in Judea legitimizes murdering them is a perfect example.”

While he did go on to condemn violence against civilians in those recent interviews, Siblani has a long history of explicitly defending Hamas and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

"If the FBI wants to come after those who support the resistance done by Hezbollah, then they better bring a fleet of buses. I for one would be willing to go to jail," Siblani told the Chicago Tribune in 2006.

Three years earlier, Siblani described Hamas as “freedom fighters.”

"Mr. Bush believes Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions are terrorists, but we believe they are freedom fighters," Siblani told the Washington Post.

Representative Debbie Dingell (D., Mich.), a longtime resident of Dearborn and Biden ally, praised the administration for its willingness to extend a hand to local activists like Siblani.

"I have lived in this community for 40 years and this is the most significant White House delegation I've seen come into Michigan in those 40 years," Dingell told the AP.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the White House was open to “having a real honest dialogue” with the assembled Muslim leaders.

"Obviously, we're going to listen and hear what leaders of that community" Jean-Pierre said. The White House did not respond when asked whether administration officials had concerns about Siblani’s record.

The meeting comes as the Biden administration tries to address heated opposition to its support for Israel among Michigan’s sizable Arab-American community ahead of the 2024 election. Siblani met last week with Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez, telling the AP after the meeting that it went “very well.” Those comments represent an about face from Siblani’s branding Biden “genocide Joe” in a Facebook post in December, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.

“No vote for you, Mr. Warmonger,” Siblani wrote in another Facebook post last month.

While it may be politically savvy given Michigan’s decisive role in the upcoming election, Menken, the director of the Jewish Values Coalition, sees the administration’s outreach to hardline activists like Siblani as part of a broader turn against Israel.

“This goes together with the administration recently calling out four individual Jews living in Judea and Samaria as bad actors, ignoring those responsible for inciting and committing daily acts of terrorism against that same Jewish population,” Menken said, citing President Biden’s recent executive order imposing financial sanctions on four Israeli nationals who were allegedly involved in violent attacks on Palestinians.

Siblani’s views seem to be reflected in his newspaper, which routinely publishes anti-Israel screeds and downplays violence perpetrated by Islamic militants.

In 2011, the paper published an editorial by the former editor of the Arabic edition of the paper, Adnan Bayou, who described Israel as a "state founded on usurpation and a continuing battle (paranoia) which the Jews have historically suffered (for reasons related to their mental setting)."

A year earlier, Siblani’s paper published an article which compared the Israeli spokesperson of the IDF to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

In addition to his role as newspaper publisher, Siblani is the chairman and spokesperson of the Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO), an umbrella organization that claims to represent nearly 50 local Arab-American groups. Through his post at CAAO, Siblani organizes anti-Israel protests across the country.

Siblani is also the treasurer of the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC), a lobbying group that claims to represent Arab Americans.

Thursday’s meeting is not the first time Siblani has been granted an audience with high-ranking Biden administration officials: He was invited to a roundtable discussion with Senator Gary Peters (D., Mich.) and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last year and bragged after the event about refusing “to apologize for Hamas firing rockets at Israel.”

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