CAIR’s Co-founder’s Controversial Remarks
At the 16th Annual Convention for Palestine in the U.S., the co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, made controversial remarks regarding the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza. Awad claimed that the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, while criticizing Israel’s right to defend itself as an occupying power.
White House Reacts and Scrubs CAIR as Partner
Awad’s comments have sparked outrage, leading to the White House removing CAIR as a committed partner in the fight against antisemitism from its website. A spokesperson for the White House strongly condemned Awad’s statements, labeling them as shocking and antisemitic. The spokesperson highlighted President Biden’s denouncement of the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7th, calling them abhorrent and unadulterated evil.
Silence from Federal Lawmakers
Despite Awad’s controversial remarks, numerous federal lawmakers have previously expressed support for CAIR. Some lawmakers, including Senator Krysten Sinema and Senator Bob Menendez, remained silent when questioned about their stance on Awad’s comments and CAIR’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Lawmakers’ Mixed Responses
Senator Sinema, who had previously praised CAIR’s work in advocating for a more just society, did not respond to requests for comment regarding Awad’s statement and whether she still supports the organization. Senator Menendez, while also not responding to questions about CAIR’s stance on the conflict, emphasized his condemnation of Awad’s remarks and expressed strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
Congressional Thank-You Notes and Criticism
Over 100 members of Congress, including Vice President Kamala Harris when she was a senator, had sent personalized thank-you notes to CAIR in 2018. However, some lawmakers, such as Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Tammy Baldwin, have condemned CAIR’s recent comments as antisemitic and expressed their loss of faith in the organization.
“The Squad” and Controversial Ties to CAIR
Members of “the Squad,” including Representative Rashida Tlaib and Representative Ilhan Omar, have shown support for CAIR in the past. Omar, who delivered a controversial speech at a CAIR fundraiser in 2019, faced criticism for her statement that CAIR was founded after 9/11 because “some people did something.” The Democratic representative received backlash for her comments, with some calling it disrespectful.
In conclusion, the White House’s condemnation of CAIR’s co-founder’s antisemitic remarks has sparked a debate among federal lawmakers who have previously shown support for the organization. While some lawmakers remain silent or express continued support, others have strongly criticized CAIR’s recent comments and distanced themselves from the organization. The controversy surrounding CAIR’s role in the fight against antisemitism continues to unfold.