Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, has accepted an award from an Islamophobic think tank, slamming critics who had urged him to distance himself from the group.
Dermer was granted the Freedom Flame Award by the Centre for Security Policy (CSP) at an event Tuesday night, where he praised far-right conservative CSP head Frank Gaffney as a “steadfast friend of Israel”, who was “standing up for all of us.”
Dermer told the appreciative audience that “for decades, Israel has manned freedom’s front lines in the battle against a fanatic ideology that has taken over large swaths of the Middle East and which endangers my country, the region and the world.”
He added: “That ideology is called militant Islam.”
The Israeli ambassador claimed that there are “many differences that set Islam apart from Christianity, Judaism and other faiths”, and “that Islam has a unique theology, has been influenced by a unique culture or has been shaped by unique geopolitical forces.”
This was no doubt music to his hosts’ ears – Gaffney is notorious for having claimed that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, and that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government, among other Islamophobic conspiracy theories.
These views prompted respected civil rights group the Southern Poverty law Centre (SPLC) to urge Dermer to decline the award, describing CSP as “an anti-Muslim hate group.” Dermer, however, used his acceptance speech to attack SPLC, and denied that Gaffney was in anyway a bigot.