Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?

The Shunned Muslim

Journalist Wajahat Ali wrote about Israeli settlers, and now some Muslim Americans have denounced him as a Zionist sympathizer. Is the backlash warranted?

This is part of Season 2 of “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” a series featuring Slate’s Aymann Ismail investigating fears about Muslims in America. Watch the entire series.

Last month, Wajahat Ali bylined a long story called “A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers.” Soon after, amid an intense backlash, he was disinvited from speaking at the largest Islamic gathering in the country.

The piece involved Ali talking to settlers in the West Bank. As a Muslim journalist, I’ve been told my work betrayed Islam or our common cause before, but never at a volume anywhere close to this. It didn’t take me long to learn that the objections to the article, and to Ali’s work in general, were far deeper than I understood.


In this episode, I talked to Ali, as well as a Palestinian comedian and activist who has decried some of his work for years. I also spoke to a professor who was critical of both the article and the criticism of the article itself. The debate about Ali’s work raised real objections that many of his critics consider life and death. But it also pointed to deeper friction in the fast-growing and increasingly diverse American Muslim community, which I couldn’t ignore. —Aymann Ismail

This series is written and produced by Aymann Ismail and Jeffrey Bloomer, and edited by Aymann Ismail.

Watch more episodes:

Why the Far Right Believes Every Muslim—Including Me—Is a Liar

What Happened When a Devout Muslim and Catholic Got Married in Small-Town Iowa

Fox News Claimed a “Sharia Law Court” Is Enforcing Islamic Law in Texas. So I Went to See It.