X files

Imam whom Allred praised in 2019 has history of anti-Israel rhetoric

The Texas congressman and Senate contender won endorsements from AIPAC’s PAC, DMFI and J Street during his 2022 reelection

Emil Lippe/Getty Images

Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) speaks to reporters following a special service on January 17, 2022 in Southlake, Texas.

Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) in 2019 praised a well-known imam with an extensive history of anti-Israel commentary, including comparing the Jewish state to the Nazi regime and calling for a third intifada, as “the best of North Texas.”

Allred, a former NFL player and third-term congressman, recently became the Democratic nominee for Texas’ Senate race, where he’ll face Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The race is a longshot for Democrats, but is one of the few opportunities for the party to pick up a GOP-held seat. In office, Allred has maintained good relations with the pro-Israel establishment, but also has built up ties with progressive groups more critical of Israel, while Cruz has positioned himself as one of the most stalwart pro-Israel senators.

Allred posted a photo on Twitter in 2019 with Omar Suleiman, a Muslim activist and author who had been invited to deliver the opening prayer on the House floor. Allred, in the tweet, praised Suleiman as “representing the best of North Texas” and said that Suleiman’s “message of peace, unity, and support for our fellow Americans is needed now, more than ever.”

Suleiman has an extensive history of antisemitic and anti-Israel comments extending over a number of years. Prior to his 2019 meeting with Allred, Suleiman in public comments compared Israel to the Nazis, called to “resist” Israel “by any means necessary,” called for a third Intifada and “the end of Zionism,” promoted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and described Israel as a “terrorist regime” and as “a racist, oppressive, psychotic Apartheid regime.”

Suleiman also described “Zionists” as “the enemies of God, His Messengers, sincere followers of all religions, and humanity as a whole,” and said that support for Israel has made the U.S. “unprincipled and contradictory” and that support for Israel undermines “our claim to greatness and our claim to being the moral superpower of the world.”

Since Oct. 7, Suleiman has repeatedly accused Israel of genocide.

Allred did not respond to a request for comment.

Allred boasts a generally pro-Israel voting record since Oct. 7, largely bucking left-wing pressure for Israel to end its war against Hamas. He has pushed back against calls for an unconditional cease-fire, arguing at a Jan. 28 candidate forum against any deal that does not free the hostages and remove Hamas from power.

“It is unacceptable that we would pursue something along those lines,” he said, according to the Texas Tribune. “We can limit — and do everything we can to limit — civilian casualties while also prosecuting this conflict against Hamas, but a cease-fire is not a magical term” that will solve the conflict.

Since Oct. 7, Allred has voted in favor of a bill blocking funding for Iran, a bill imposing additional oil sanctions on Iran, a bill adding new sanctions on backers of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, a resolution calling for college presidents to resign over their testimony to Congress on antisemitism, an amendment barring funding to schools that support antisemitic events and a resolution describing anti-Zionism as antisemitic and supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. 

In the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he voted for a measure to redesignate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, overruling the Biden administration. 

Each of those votes saw opposition from a significant number, and in some cases a majority, of Democrats.

He also voted for broadly bipartisan legislation on the House floor supporting Israel’s right to exist and its defense against Hamas, calling for the immediate release of all hostages, and condemning rising antisemitism since Oct. 7.

However, Allred also voted with most Democrats against two separate GOP proposals for a stand-alone Israel aid bill, against censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for anti-Israel comments and against a bill requiring additional disclosures by colleges and universities about donations from foreign nations and entities.

He accused Republicans of playing politics with both of the stand-alone Israel aid bills, and of including “poison pills” — referring to an Internal Revenue Service funding cut in the first bill. He criticized the GOP for failing to include aid for Ukraine, support for Palestinians or funding for border protection.

“Israel is our ally, and we must provide them with the support they need to defend themselves, but the House needs to stop playing politics with our national security and border security,” he said in a statement following the second vote. He has signed a discharge petition seeking a House vote on the Senate-passed Israel and Ukraine bill.

In the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he voted against permanently cutting off funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. In 2021, he had joined a letter urging the continuation of U.S. aid to the Palestinians with nearly 150 other Democrats, including several pro-Israel moderates.

During the 2021 war in Gaza, Allred pushed for a cease-fire. He was also critical of Israeli judicial reform efforts in 2023, urging U.S. intervention. He most recently traveled to Israel with J Street in 2023, following a previous visit with AIPAC. In 2019, he voted to remove U.S. forces from military engagement in Yemen.

Allred has, during his career, maintained ties across a broad cross-section of the Jewish community during his time in office. He was endorsed in 2022 by the mainstream pro-Israel groups Democratic Majority for Israel and AIPAC PAC as well as the progressive Israel advocacy group J Street. Both J Street and AIPAC pulled in significant donations for Allred’s 2022 race, and J Street was an early backer for his Senate bid.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.