In a February 22, 2019 Friday sermon at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, New Jersey, Imam Baker Assaf warned his followers not to joke about Hitler "not finishing the job," and said that hatred should be directed toward the "theology and practice" that is Zionism rather than the Jewish religion. These comments appear to come against the backdrop of the news the previous month that the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio had fired Muslim American physician Lara Kollab who over the course of six years had written antisemitic posts on social media, including tweeting that Jews are "dogs," that the Holocaust was "exaggerated and the victimization of the jews (ignoring the others killed) is overdone," and "hahha ewww.. ill purposely give all the yahood [Jews] the wrong meds..."
Imam Assaf went on to state that the Israeli army's chief rabbi had issued a religious ruling instructing soldiers to rape Palestinian women in order to boost morale. These comments refer to current IDF chief rabbi Brig.-Gen. Eyal Krim, who many years ago, before he joined the army, gave an ambiguous response to a religious question on whether the Bible, in Deuteronomy, permits rape during wartime. Assaf added that a chief rabbi at Ben Gurion University had made similar statements.
Imam Assaf said that the few Muslims – no more than "a portion of a fraction" – who carry out terrorist attacks may be "psychologically messed up" because of some trauma – "maybe somebody witnessed his sister get gang-raped by 30 people, and then all he wanted to do was kill as many people as he could the rest of his life." He further said that while homosexuality would never be accepted in Islam, "we are not kicking anybody off the Empire State Building, since "we live in a non-Muslim country that does not practice shari'a law." He was referring to majority interpretations of shari'a law according to which homosexuality is punishable by stoning or being thrown from a high place.
Baker Assaf teaches classes regularly at the Muslim Student Association at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and has served as the president of the NJ chapter of the AlMaghrib Institute. On Facebook, Assaf has promoted events featuring imams who have made controversial statements.
On his Facebook page, Assaf circulated, in April 2018, a petition calling for Starbucks to drop the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a consultant in its anti-bias training program; the post stated that "an anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian organization like the ADL should not be a part of your anti-bias training." He added: "Kudos to them [Starbucks] for shutting down 8,000 stores to do anti-racia [sic] training BUT they are making a mistake by using ADL to help them with that training." Also, in February 2018, he circulated a petition calling for the release of Swiss Islamic academic Tariq Ramadan from prison.
The Facebook page of the Muslim Student Association at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJITMSA), where Assaf lectures every week, has promoted events featuring other imams who have made controversial statements.
To view the clip of Imam Baker Assaf on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
The following is the transcript of the MEMRI TV clip of Imam Baker Assaf's statements:
Imam Baker Assaf: "There Is A Misunderstanding Of Where To Direct That Hate, And It Is Towards Zionism – Not The Jewish Religion"
Baker Assaf: "We were sitting down during lunch break with some of my co-workers – and they are not Muslim. Something appeared in the news that morning. There was a Muslim sister who was a medical doctor, and she had written all over her social media, in Arabic, how frustrated she was with the condition of the world.
"She said: 'If I could, as a medical practicing doctor in the United States, I would give the yahud...' – which is the Arabic word for Jewish people –
"'I would give them incorrect medication, so that they can suffer and die for what they have done to the Muslims in Palestine.'
"And then [the non-Muslims] said: 'Is it true? I also heard that you Muslims hate gay people – that you are supposed to take them to the Empire State Building, stone them, and then kick them off.'
"Where did this confusion happen, amongst the Muslims – that we all of a sudden hate Jewish people? Where did that come from?
"Where did this practice of if something goes wrong... There is a statement that a lot of Arabs say: May Allah curse the Jewish people.
"Where does it come from? It is not in the Quran. It is in certain instances, because of certain things that had happened in that situation. When somebody wants to say: 'God might be cheap.' Oh, excuse me.
"Where did [the Muslim doctor] get this from? Where did this [expression], 'may Allah curse the Jews' come from? I will tell you where it came from. There is a misunderstanding of where to direct that hate, and it is towards Zionism – not the Jewish religion."
Imam Baker Assaf: IDF Chief Rabbi Issued A Fatwa Saying "If You Wanted To Boost The Morale Of The Soldiers... 'Have Them Rape The Palestinian Women To Boost Morale'"
"Then you might say: 'Wow, that is where it comes from.' And I said: If you think that Muslims don't have a right to be upset with Zionism, then just look at the quotes that you get from this kind of theology and practice. You have the chief rabbi of the IDF having a statement that says the following... He issued a religious verdict, a fatwa. He said that if you wanted to boost the morale of the soldiers – you find it down a little bit... He said: 'Have them rape the Palestinian women to boost morale.' That is a fatwa from the high priest, the high rabbi. That's Christians and Jews alike. You have one of the chief rabbis in Ben Gurion University saying: 'If you want to control the Palestinian people'... He said: 'Go after their women, because they are very sensitive to that.' He said: 'Rape their women.'
"Yes, we should not be joking as any Muslim, Palestinian, or anyone who has suffered by these kind of tyrants, about 'Oh, [Hitler] didn't finish the job, he let them live because he wanted to show the world why he did that with them.'
"The Prophet told us: 'Do not curse their god. Do not curse who they worship. Do not make fun of them.' Why? Because then they will curse Allah. What is more hurtful? That they are going to respond like that. So you have to think a little bit more wisely, as a Muslim."
Imam Baker Assaf: "We Live In A Non-Muslim Country That Does Not Practice Shari'a Law, And Allah Instructed Us To Follow The Law Of The Country We Live In... So We Are Not Kicking Anybody Off The Empire State Building"
"If a billion plus people are following [Islam], and when you add up the people who are carrying out these plots and plans – it doesn't even hit a portion of a fraction. Couldn't you ask: Maybe something is wrong with these people? Maybe you ought to ask that. What happened with them? Maybe they became psychologically messed up? Maybe somebody witnessed his sister get gang-raped by 30 people, and then all he wanted to do was kill as many people as he could the rest of his life?
"I said: '[Regarding] homosexuality, you are right.' Homosexuality will never be accepted in our religion. That is a fact.
"We live in a non-Muslim country that does not practice shari'a law, and Allah instructed us to follow the law of the country we live in. Very simply put. So we are not kicking anybody off the Empire State Building."
 Nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ohio-doctor-fired-after-anti-semitic-tweets-surface-including-threat-n953916, January 2, 2019; Timesofisrael.com/dismissed-ohio-medical-resident-sorry-for-vowing-to-give-wrong-meds-to-jews/, January 6, 2019.
 The matter was investigated and clarified and Krim was appointed to the post. Then-IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot released a statement saying: "Col. Krim made it clear beyond any doubt that he and all soldiers are fully subject to military orders." Washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/13/israeli-army-wants-to-appoint-controversial-rabbi-as-spiritual-chief/?utm_term=.5161d99a9c82, July 13, 2016; Blogs.timesofisrael.com/fight-or-flight-2/, July 19, 2016.
 See for example MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5993, ISIS Campaign Of Executing Homosexuals – By Stoning, Shooting, Throwing Off Roofs, Public Torture: In Accordance With Shari'a Law As Explained By Influential Mainstream Islamic Preachers, Scholars On Leading Arab Media Outlets, Including Al-Jazeera, Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2015.
 Facebook.com/baker.assaf, accessed March 28, 2019.
 They include included Mufti Muhammad ibn Muneer (see MEMRI special dispatch no. 7808 NY Cleric Ibn Muneer: Islam Without Jihad Is Like Honey Without The Sweetness; Don't Apologize For Speaking The Truth About Jihad, Jews, And Christians, December 17, 2018) ) and Salah Al-Sawy (see MEMRI Special Dispatch no. 1735 Fatwa by Influential Islamic American Jurist: Marriage of Muslim Woman to Non-Muslim Man – Forbidden and Invalid, October 16, 2007.).
 Nytimes.com/2018/02/02/world/europe/tariq-ramadan-rape-accusations-.html, February 2, 2018; France24.com/en/20181116-islamic-scholar-tariq-ramadan-wins-conditional-release-france-rape-case, November 16, 2018.
 Facebook.com/NJITMSA, accessed March 28, 2019.
 They include Suhaib Webb (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 6973 American Imam Suhaib Webb Denounces "Whiteness" And "Disinvests" From His "White Male Privilege"; Says Donald Trump Is Worse Than Isis (Archival), May 28, 2016) and Zaid Shakir (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 7042 Prominent American Imam Zaid Shakir In Chicago: Obama Was "Bomber-In-Chief," Murdered Anwar Al-Awlaki; We Should Eat Grass Before Taking Trump's Jobs, December 30, 2018. ).