CAIR’s Zahra Billoo Announces Sabbatical, Claims We Twisted Her Words

Zahra Billoo, the executive director of CAIR in San Francisco who landed in hot water thanks to her antisemitic speech getting some airplay, has posted the following on Facebook:

Sabbatical Day One.

In my ninth year at CAIR, I began this conversation for myself. How do we sustain senior, long-term Islamic workers? They are all overworked, traumatized, under resourced, and care deeply.

Then there was me. Without blood relatives nearby, a female in predominantly male spaces, on multiple flights each week, taking legal advice calls non-stop, and frequently under attack by right wingers, Zionists, and Islamophobes.

I had worked hard. So hard, for so long. It was my ninth year of full-time work at CAIR, but I had been doing this work much longer.

Allah had enabled me here and now to grow my office from a time where we worried about payroll to the third largest Muslim civic organization in its own right. It remains the only one of its size led by a Millennial Muslim woman and a second generation immigrant.

Our team of nearly 20 was on the national stage, representing clients, empowering the community, leading campaigns and legislation, and doing it well.

So I advocated. Yes, for myself but also for everyone who would benefit if we could build it. My colleagues and our board at CAIR California understood. Our work is grinding and requires rest, real rest.

Not the kind of rest where I take calls about FBI visits at the beach or advocate for people stuck at airports while spending time with family.

When we were ready to move forward, the pandemic began. So we paused. Our organization and community needed us more than ever before. It continued in to this year, and it became yet another challenging new normal.

We implemented a modest and yet progressive policy. I don’t yet know of many other Muslim led organizations who offer sabbaticals. So we are starting.

I could not have known I would marry my best friend this year. That my sabbatical would overlap with our desire to travel as a family and take an extended honeymoon. Allah’s plan is always perfect. If we had not delayed the policy for the pandemic, it may not have happened this way.

Allah’s tests are also custom made. I reminded myself that all of these last few weeks.

I am still in the middle of a prolonged Zionist onslaught. They have twisted my words, lied about me, attacked me on social media, email, and by targeting our partners. They are writing letters to CAIR even today, as though they have not paid attention to our incredibly principled track record.

We are still uncovering details about the Islamophobic, pro-Israel campaign to place moles in our organization and others. I lost a colleague and friend but may never know why.

These attacks, these battles, and this work is age old. This is not a job, it is a life calling, Alhamdulillah. It will continue even without me away, and I will return, rested, rejuvenated, and ready.

What isn’t clear is whether she advocated for these sabbaticals before the shiite hit the fan…or afterwards. Either way, as the person who first exposed the words that led to what she is describing as a “prolonged Zionist onslaught”, there was no twisting of words or lying about her. The video is there for all to see, and you can also see her entire speech if you think it is the editing only that makes her look bad.

So take all the time you need, Billoo. I will still be here – along with many others – to make life hell for the antisemites of the world. And that includes you.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media