Shooting the Messenger: Silicon Valley Foundation Lashes Out at Middle East Forum

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) ranks as the country’s wealthiest community foundation, with more than $8 billion in assets. It has also enjoyed hugely positive press coverage during its 10-year history: “Why Silicon Valley Community Foundation doesn’t just donate. It advocates,” read one prominent headline last month.

At the same time, SVCF has come under criticism for lack of oversightignoring local causes in favor of high-profile national and global initiatives, and crowding out more deserving charities. Worse than any of these problems, the Middle East Forum has revealed that SVCF has provided eight donations totaling $330,524 to two extremist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief.

Over a month ago, we privately contacted SVCF with evidence of the extremist links of CAIR and Islamic Relief. We sent letters explaining the bigotries of its officials and the clerics who speak at their events. But SVCF officials refused to discuss the matter.

The Middle East Forum is now publicly calling for an immediate and permanent termination of funding. As the Forum explained in its online petition and accompanying press release, it’s unconscionable that such a leading institution as SVCF, which claims to support “understanding and tolerance,” should help organizations that rely on ignorance and hatred.

To be precise, CAIR and Islamic Relief have a long history of providing platforms to speakers who denigrate and threaten women, Jews, Christians, the LGBTQ community, and Muslims belonging to minority sects.

Siraj Wahhaj, for instance, is a former member of CAIR’s advisory board, and a regular speaker at its conferences and fundraisers all across the country. He has called homosexuals a “disease in society,” “cursed,” and worthy of harassment. Other regular speakers at CAIR and Islamic Relief events include Omar Suleiman, who has rationalized honor killings, telling women thinking of promiscuity, “[Y]ou know what happens with a really jealous Dad? He kills you and he kills the guy. You are offending Allah.” Or Jamal Badawi, who has said that men have a right to beat their wives, while Abdul Nasir Jangda has argued that they have the right to rape them.

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Gregg Roman is an investigative journalist and Director of the Middle East Forum.

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