July 7, 2021 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) does not normally take positions on nominees requiring Senate confirmation. However, accusations around Dilawar Syed’s nomination based on his national origin or involvement in a Muslim advocacy organization are so base and unamerican that AJC is compelled to speak out.
Syed has been an active partner of the San Francisco Jewish community, including taking part in a program for the national Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, co-convened by AJC. He traveled to Israel with the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco and has been involved in other Muslim-Jewish dialogue efforts.
The unsupported accusation that somehow Jewish businesses or those with ties to Israel may not fare as well under Syed’s leadership in the Small Business Administration (SBA) has no factual grounding. Indeed, he has specifically disavowed support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks the dissolution of Israel. In a question for the committee record, Syed stated, “Let me unequivocally state that I do not support BDS. 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 is also being attacked for his involvement with Emgage, an organization with which AJC has made common cause on a number of shared policy issues. While AJC often disagrees with Emgage on matters related to Israel, its advocacy is done in the great American tradition of respectful public debate. AJC rejects the charge that simply an affiliation with Emgage would reflect negatively on an individual, organization, or agency.
Marc Stern, AJC Chief Legal Officer, said, “As an organization which focuses on combating antisemitism and all forms of hate, and cultivating allies for the State of Israel, AJC is not in a position to comment on Syed’s qualifications to be the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). However, his national origin or his involvement in a Muslim American advocacy organization are not and should not be disqualifying factors.”