Zahra Billoo has gone on sabbatical from her position at the Council on American-Islamic Relations following the scandal in which she had claimed that Jewish Zionist organizations are “enemies” who are part of a conspiracy behind Islamaphobia.
Billoo largely attributed the sabbatical to the general strain of demanding work.
"In my ninth year at CAIR, I began this conversation for myself. How do we sustain senior, long-term Islamic workers? They are all overworked, traumatized, under resourced, and care deeply," Billoo wrote on a Sunday Facebook post. "We implemented a modest and yet progressive policy. I don’t yet know of many other Muslim led organizations who offer sabbaticals. So we are starting. I could not have known I would marry my best friend this year. That my sabbatical would overlap with our desire to travel as a family and take an extended honeymoon."
In her announcement, Billoo blasted the coverage of her speech November 27 at the American Muslims for Palestine's (AMP) Annual Convention for Palestine in the US, in which she said that Zionist organizations are fostering islamophobia because Muslims advocate for Black Lives Matter, police accountability, homelessness, against poverty, for the environment and "a free Palestine."
"I am still in the middle of a prolonged Zionist onslaught," said Billoo. "They have twisted my words, lied about me, attacked me on social media, email, and by targeting our partners. They are writing letters to CAIR even today, as though they have not paid attention to our incredibly principled track record."
Billoo also asserted that there is a "pro-Israel campaign to place moles" in CAIR and other organizations, referencing CAIR-Columbus Director Romin Iqbal and his firing over his alleged feeding of information to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which CAIR described as an "anti-Muslim hate group."
"Billoo claims this Sabbatical was her idea, but I suspect CAIR 'encouraged' her to take time away from the spotlight, until the furor caused by her antisemitic comments dies down," said David Lange, Executive Director of Israellycool Israel Advocacy, who discovered and publicized Billoo's original statements. "Not that CAIR have been anything but supportive of Billoo and these comments. And while she now has time to ponder her actions, her ridiculous claim that her words were twisted indicates this is highly unlikely."
CAIR came out in support of Billoo's statements on December 11 saying that “anti-Muslim websites misquoted Zahra’s remarks and falsely claimed that she had discouraged Muslims from working with Jewish groups at-large."
CAIR said that they would “continue to proudly stand by Zahra and all American Muslim leaders who face smears and threats because they dare to express an opinion about Palestinian human rights.”
During her November 27 speech, Billoo referred repeatedly to the connection between Islamophobia and Zionism, claiming that “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.”
Billoo claimed that the Israeli military trained police officers in the United States to “kill unarmed black men, women and children,” and that the technology “used at the US-Mexico border is the same technology used at the apartheid wall.”
"We need to pay attention 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," said Billoo.
Lange said at the time that Billoo’s speech was “incitement” that “could lead to bloodshed.”