Israel's US ambassador to accept award from hate group
Israel's Ambassador to the United States is set to receive an award from an organisation blacklisted as an anti-Muslim hate group.
According to Haaretz, The Center for Security policy, a right-wing US think tank, will be presenting Israeli envoy Ron Dermer with the CSP's 'Freedom Flame Award' at a dinner set for December 13.
The CSP has been criticised by numerous public figures from across the political divide and has been described by The Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] as having "gone from a respected hawkish think-tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States."
Founded in 1988 by Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official, the CSP has peddled numerous consparcy theories about Muslims, including alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting a takeover in the US.
In 2012, the group accused Hillary Clinton's key advisor Huma Abedin, a Muslim of Indian and Pakistani descent, of being a secret Muslim Brotherhood agent. This drew huge criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, including from former Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
Due to its hard line views, the CSP has even been banned by the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], which meets annually in Washington D.C.
Despite this, Dermer will be accepting the award in December.
"It’s unfortunate the ambassador has chosen to accept an award from the Center for Security Policy. CSP has a long track record of anti-Muslim bigotry that should be denounced, not sanctioned by the ambassador's presence," said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.
A spokesman for Israel's embassy in Washington, Itai Bar-Dov, told Haaretz in response that the ambassador "is not aware of any anti-Muslim views held by the Center for Security Policy and would not endorse any such view."
Bar-Dov added that the ambassador was "honoured" to receive the Freedom Flame, which has previously been awarded to Margaret Thatcher, among others.
"The Ambassador also greatly appreciates the Center for Security Policy's longtime support for a strong and secure Israel," Bar-Dov said.
"As for the ambassador's views of Islam, he has made it clear through dozens of public speeches that Islam is not the enemy," he added.
Dermer will receive the Freedom Flame alongside Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organisation of America.