- Former board member of the UC Berkeley Muslim Students Association
- Researcher and writer with the Center for American Progress
- Views Israel as an oppressor state
- Defended the Hamas-affiliated Holy Land Foundation and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian
- Believes that the U.S. must engage diplomatically with “democratically elected Muslim governments and representatives, such as Hamas and [the president] of Iran”
- Was the lead author of Fear, Inc., an August 2011 report whose objective was to “expose” an allegedly intricate “Islamophobia network in America”
- Co-host and digital producer of a nightly news program aired by Al Jazeera America
See also: Muslim Students Association Al Jazeera
Center for American Progress
Born in 1981 to Pakistani immigrants in California, Wajahat Ali in 2002 earned a bachelor's degree in English from UC Berkeley, where he was a board member of the campus Muslim Students Association. He subsequently wrote, co-produced, and co-directed The Domestic Crusaders, a 2005 play about post-9/11 “scapegoating of Muslim Americans.” In 2009 the Muslim Public Affairs Council honored Ali as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist.”
Since 2007—the year he graduated from the UC Davis School of Law—Ali has written numerous opinion pieces for such publications as the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, and the Washington Post. Also in 2007 he launched the blog Goatmilk: An Intellectual Playground, which commonly castigates the state of Israel and laments the ubiquity of Islamophobia.
Ali made plain his contempt for the Jewish state when he defended the now-defunct, Hamas-affiliated Holy Land Foundation, depicting the 2007 federal prosecution of that “once highly-respected” organization as an initiative of the George W. Bush Administration’s “‘Get a Terrorist’ club.” Around that same time, Ali also supported Sami Al-Arian—the former head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad's terrorist activities in North America. On his blog, Ali ran a third-party piece that (a) described Al-Arian as “one of the earliest victims of the ‘war on terror,’” and (b) named a website that was accepting donations for Al-Arian's legal defense.
In a 2007 interview that appeared in Counterpunch, Ali and professor Norman Finkelstein agreed that the Jewish “Holocaust Industry” was guilty of routinely and cynically exploiting tales of the horrors of Hitler's Final Solution, “to shield and deflect legitimate criticism of Israel.”
While interviewing anti-Israel authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in 2008, Ali discussed what he viewed as the disproportionate influence that “the Israel Lobby” has had on American foreign policy. Moreover, Ali described members of “the Christian Right” as people who “believe that the Second coming of Christ will end in either the mass slaughter or mass conversion of Jews in Israel.”
In December 2008 Ali impugned the “tone-deaf moral vacancy” that had caused the Bush Administration to “suppor[t] Israel's contention that the onus is on Hamas to renew the truce.” Israel, he said, was “fully responsible for the festering, radioactive sore that is the Palestinian human rights crisis in Gaza and West Bank.”
The day after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, Ali wrote: “Americans finally heard the death rattle of Whiteness – an ideology of supremacy based on politics and rhetoric of exclusion.”
Following Obama's inauguration in January 2009, Ali told the President that he “must at the very least interact with democratically elected Muslim governments and representatives, such as Hamas and [President] Mahmoud Ahmadinijad of Iran.” “A wholesale demonization and rejection of Islamic-based governments and political groups,” Ali elaborated, would be “an affront to the Muslims who elected them.”
Also in January 2009, Ali condemned America's “dangerously belligerent offensive [via drone attacks] in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He subsequently denounced the “hypocritical and brutal U.S. foreign policy” that had “killed thousands of innocents” in a “unilateral, reckless and unnecessary war in Iraq.”
When Obama ceremoniously announced his plan to address the Muslim world in a June 2009 speech from Cairo, Ali stated that the President should have chosen Turkey as the venue instead, given the latter's “successful marriage of secular democracy and Islam.” Further, Ali praised the AKP, a Turkish political party infamous for ruthlessly suppressing its secular opposition, massacring civilians, and supporting terrorism.
In 2009 Ali began his career as a practicing attorney and founded a consultancy (Ali Consulting) that later helped promote Voice of Witness, a book series about discrimination against Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Americans.
Since February 2011, Ali has been a researcher and writer with the Center for American Progress (CAP). He was the lead author of Fear, Inc., an August 2011 CAP report whose objective was to “expose” and “marginalize” the “sinister,” “hateful,” “purposively deceptive,” “bigoted,” and “racist” individuals and groups that allegedly comprise an intricate “Islamophobia network in America.” As UK MediaWatch puts it, the CAP report “conflates criticism of radical Islam with Islamophobic bigotry.” For further details about the report, click here.
Ali co-edited the 2011 book All American: 45 Men on Being Muslim, wherein a number of high-profile, U.S.-based Muslims discuss the difficulties and prejudices they claim to encounter on a regular basis because of their faith.
In the fall of 2011, Ali spoke at the Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference in Detroit, where he shared the podium with such notables as Grover Norquist and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan branch.
In 2012 the U.S. State Department recruited Ali as a consultant to help design, strategize, and implement “Generation Change,” an online platform “dedicated to empowering and networking a new generation of innovative young leaders in Muslim communities around the world.” Ali was subsequently honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Since July 2013, Ali has been the co-host and digital producer of The Stream, a nightly news program aired by Al Jazeera America.
Largely intolerant of Muslims who criticize Islamic extremism, Ali once smeared the lesbian feminist and reformer Irshad Manji as an “info-tainment prostitute” and a “paid henchm[a]n” of “Islam-haters.” He has likewise condemned Zudhi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, for refusing to endorse the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” and for “dangerously and incorrectly label[ing] mainstream Muslim-American organizations” like the Islamic Society of North America as “subversive.”
Claiming that “Muslim tradition overwhelmingly accepts differences of opinion outside th[e] core values” of Sharia Law, Ali contends that Sharia is mostly “concerned with personal religious observance such as prayer and fasting, and not with national laws,” and thus poses no serious threat to the West.
In February 2015 Ali participated in the Obama administration's Countering Violent Extremism Summit, rooted in the premise that Islamic radicalization and terrorism has nothing to do with authentic Islam or its supremacist ideology.
For additional information on Ali, click here.