The Biden administration distanced itself from the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Thursday after its leader praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel.
The disavowal came after Nihad Awad, CAIR’s CEO, made positive statements about the Oct. 7 attack on Israel at an American Muslims for Palestine conference on Nov. 24, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) noted. (RELATED: Pro-Palestinian Org Kicks Jewish Reporter Out Of ‘Interfaith’ Event, Threatens To Call Police)
“I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in. And yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, have the right to defend themselves, and yes, Israel, as an occupying power, does not have that right to self-defense,” Awad said in a statement picked up by MEMRI.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad at AMP Convention: I Was Happy to See the People of Gaza Break the Siege on October 7; They Were Victorious; the People of Gaza Have the Right to Self-Defense – Israel Does Not #Hamas #Gaza #Palestinians @CAIRNational @NihadAwad pic.twitter.com/WDbSRjFJo0
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) December 7, 2023
These statements by the Muslim organization’s leader are at odds with his own Oct. 10 statement that denounced the targeting of civilians irrespective of nationality.
Targeting civilians is wrong, whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, American or any other nationality. Yet our nation has given a green light for Netanyahu’s far-right, openly racist government to continue its medieval siege and mass bombing of civilians in Gaza.@POTUS must… pic.twitter.com/ap8OBoIm3i
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) October 11, 2023
“We condemn these shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms,” White House’s deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told the Jewish Insider. “Every leader has a responsibility to call out antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head,” Bates added.
BREAKING @J_Insider: “The White House scrubbed a mention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations from an antisemitism fact sheet and pledged that the group has no involvement in efforts to draft a national Islamophobia strategy” (via @GSDeutch)https://t.co/tTHvmKmcVD
— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) December 7, 2023
The Biden administration had previously partnered with CAIR in its development of a strategy to combat antisemitism as the White House’s own fact sheet documented back on May 25, 2023. The references to CAIR were scrubbed from the fact sheet Thursday.
“CAIR was not listed in the strategy. They were one of several independent organizations listed in a supplemental document. The White House removed their commitment from the supplemental document today,” Bates told the Jewish Insider, explaining the White House’s decision to remove the references. Bates further clarified that CAIR was no longer part of the administration’s drafting of its national strategy against Islamophobia, the outlet reported.