Republican senators alarmed by Biden nominee’s ties to ‘anti-Israel’ group

Republican senators alarmed by Biden nominee's ties to 'anti-Israel' group

EXCLUSIVE: A group of Republican senators are raising alarms about President Biden’s nominee for a top Small Business Administration (SBA) position. 

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, led a letter with seven of his GOP colleagues to Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Ben Cardin, D-Md., calling for another hearing on Dilawar Syed, Biden’s nominee for SBA deputy administrator.  

The lawmakers cited Syed’s board membership with Emgage Action, the political action committee arm of Muslim advocacy group Emgage USA, saying the group is “vocally anti-Israel.”

“While his membership was disclosed to the committee prior to his nomination hearing on April 21, the political organization has since made alarming statements that have members of your committee and the small business community that we represent seriously concerned,” the letter reads.


The senators said Emgage Action “released incendiary statements during the regional unrest” that gripped Israel last month, citing a quote where Emgage Action referred to the state of Israel as the “occupier.”

Additionally, the senators wrote that Emgage Action “amplified accusations that Israel is an apartheid state and issued a statement of support” after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., “inexcusably equated” the U.S. and Israel to terrorist organizations Hamas and the Taliban.

They also cited “Emgage’s history of supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement” as well as the organization’s “overtly anti-Israel positions and rhetoric” as the reasons another confirmation hearing to make sure Syed’s confirmation “would not jeopardize small businesses” with Israeli ties or owned by Jewish Americans.

“If an individual who supports these accusations was to be confirmed, it would hinder the close cooperation businesses in America and Israel have in areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, medicine, bio-medicine and more,” the letter concludes.


Emgage Action’s website page on “Palestinian Annexation” used to contain a paragraph claiming that Israel is undemocratically engaging in “apartheid rule” that “steals” Palestinian land and “destroys their homes to make way for illegal Jewish settlements,” as well as preventing education and medical care.

Since an April report by the Washington Free Beacon, however, Emgage Action appears to have whitewashed that page of the website page of the language.

Emgage Action also expressed their support for “the right to boycott, divest, and sanction, as well as the Right of Return of Palestinians” on their website.

Cardin has been an outspoken opponent of the BDS movement and introduced a resolution in 2019 to “oppose efforts designed to delegitimize Israel or circumvent direct negotiations, specifically the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.”

The Maryland Democrat was joined by 69 of his Senate colleagues on the resolution, which blasted the BDS movement as “a campaign that does not favor a two-state solution and that seeks to exclude the State of Israel and the Israeli people from the economic, cultural and academic life of the rest of the world.”


When asked for comment, Cardin’s office pointed to the senator’s previous statements from Syed’s confirmation hearings in April.

“I am confident that Mr. Syed’s experience as a business and civic leader has prepared him to lead SBA in this pivotal moment,” Cardin said in his opening statement. “Mr. Syed’s decades of building and scaling companies will help SBA as it continues to implement new small business relief programs.”

“SBA will also benefit from Mr. Syed’s many years as an advocate for underserved entrepreneurs, including his service as Chair of the White House Initiative on AAPI’s Economic Growth Committee during the Obama Administration, founder of the California Entrepreneurship Task Force, and leader of California’s rapid response engagement with underserved small businesses during the pandemic,” Cardin continued.

In the hearing, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked Syed if he supports the BDS movement and if he would condemn the BDS movement as “as hateful and anti-Semitic.”

“First, let me unequivocally state that I do not support BDS,” Syed answered. “Throughout my career, I have supported engagement with Israeli business. I have personally conducted business with Israeli companies and have mentored entrepreneurs based in Israel.”

Syed said he has “traveled to Israel as part of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s (JCRC) study tour” and noted that he worked to “increase the dialogue and engagement between Muslim and Jewish communities” through his work with the San Fransisco JCRC.

“This work with the JCRC has allowed me to build strong relationships with those who care about Israel, and I am grateful for that,” Syed said. “As laid out in my ethics agreement with the Office of Government Ethics, if I am confirmed I will resign from the board of Emgage.”

The White House and Emgage did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The letter was signed by Risch as well as other high-profile Republican senators, including Rubio, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

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