In fight against antisemitism, CAIR is a problem, not a partner

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) sign at its headquarters building entrance in Washington, D.C. CAIR bills itself as a Muslim civil-rights organization located on Capitol Hill. Credit: DC Stock Photograph/Shutterstock.

by James Sinkinson

(FLAME) — How could the notoriously antisemitic Council on American-Islamic Relations have ended up — embarrassingly — as a “resource” in President Biden’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism?

CAIR was launched in 1994 by a Muslim Brotherhood-related Hamas support group called the Palestine Committee. The organization was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a 2007 trial that convicted five former officers of the Holy Land Foundation for funneling millions of dollars illegally to the murderous terror group Hamas.

Moreover, CAIR’s statements on Jews and Israel over the decades are infamous for their open antisemitism and anti-Israel vitriol. No wonder it has been denounced by many American Jewish organizations.

How, then, could President Biden have chosen CAIR to help him fight Jew hatred?

Biden’s choice is as puzzling as it is appalling — an insult to all Jews, especially those who have been victims of Jew hatred. It utterly discredits the Biden initiative.

Indeed, CAIR is no solution to antisemitism: It’s part of the problem. As such, it has no place in the NSCA or any other strategy aimed at ending antisemitism in the United States.

CAIR was conjured up by supporters of Hamas — the virulently antisemitic Palestinian group that rules Gaza and whose charter calls for murdering Jews to erase the State of Israel from “Palestine.”

As mentioned, CAIR was founded as part of the Palestine Committee, a support network for Hamas, of which the Islamic Association for Palestine was the propaganda arm. In 2002, a federal judge found that the IAP “acted in support of Hamas.” In 2004, another federal judge found IAP civilly liable for the 1996 shooting death of an American teenager by a Hamas member in Judea and Samaria, aka, the West Bank.

CAIR was incorporated by three IAP leaders: Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber. The FBI identified Omar Ahmad as one of the leaders of Hamas. In 1994, upon CAIR’s founding, Nihad Awad, currently the executive director of CAIR, publicly declared, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

Records from the Palestine Committee were used as evidence in a federal terrorism trial in 2008, during which the presiding U.S. District Court judge found “ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR… with Hamas.”

Was Team Biden aware of CAIR’s terrorist heritage?

In addition, CAIR has a well-documented history of antisemitic behavior. Its officials blame Jews for the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. For example, in 2021, Zahra Billoo, the executive director of CAIR in San Francisco, blamed “Zionist synagogues,” the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel and other Jewish organizations for being part of a conspiracy to spread Islamophobia.

In a speech to the American Muslims for Palestine Annual Convention for Palestine, Billoo said, “We have to connect the dots between the organizations that promote Zionist agendas materials marketing and legislation [they] are the same ones that want to ban Muslims, are the same ones that want to pass anti-sharia legislation.”

Note that Biden’s National Strategy includes, as one of its cornerstones, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which has been endorsed by 1,116 global entities, including 30 U.S. states and the U.S. State Department. According to the IHRA, accusing Jews of collective conspiracy is a clear-cut example of antisemitism.

Did anyone in the Biden administration see the obvious conflict with blatantly anti-Jewish statements by CAIR’s leadership?

CAIR also frequently demonizes and delegitimizes the State of Israel. Hussam Ayloush, CAIR’s executive director for Greater Los Angeles, even went so far as to equate Israeli Jews with Nazis, saying in an email, “Indeed, the zionazis are a bunch of nice people; just like their nazi brethren!”

CAIR’s Zarah Billoo also compared Israel to the Nazis. During the Gaza War in 2014, she said, “Israel ‘defending’ itself from Palestinians is analogous to Nazi Germany defending itself from Jewish uprising.” The IHRA specifically cites comparing Israel and its policies to Nazi Germany as an example of antisemitism.

No wonder CAIR opposes the IHRA definition. When the French parliament endorsed the IHRA definition in 2019, CAIR’s National Strategic Communications Director, Ahmed Rehab, responded by saying, “F*** Zionism. And F*** you too France.”

Most notably, CAIR has been vigorously denounced by American Jewish organizations. Several Jewish organizations have specifically criticized CAIR’s involvement in the NSCA.

A group of American rabbis, the Coalition for Jewish Values, called for CAIR‘s removal from the NSCA initiative, saying the organization has “incited antisemitism since its inception.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations expressed similar sentiments. Its CEO, William Daroff, said it was “deeply troubling” that CAIR “is included as anything other than as an organization that definitively traffics in antisemitic tropes and propounds policies of anti-Zionism that are antisemitic.”

Following the release of the NSCA, Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, responding to criticism of CAIR, lamely implied the organization should be judged on what it does in the future rather than what it’s done in the past.

While in recent months, CAIR has condemned some acts of white supremacist antisemitism, it has ignored any acts of such hate speech by leftists or Muslims.

Clearly, CAIR’s recent efforts to whitewash itself as a group fighting antisemitism ring hollow. Though the organization condemns some antisemitic acts, it continues its own tradition of Israel-bashing.

Steve Flatow, the president-elect of the Religious Zionists of America, noted, for example, that on the day the NSCA was released, CAIR issued a press release condemning “apartheid Israel.” In fact, according to Flatow, “CAIR issued no less than nine anti-Israel press releases in the first 30 days since it was embraced by the Biden administration.”

In short, naming CAIR in the NSCA and relying on the organization to counter Jew hatred thoroughly discredits Biden’s strategy. In fact, the plan seems at pains to avoid holding CAIR — or any Muslims or left-wing Jew- or Israel-haters — responsible for their blatant antisemitism.

CAIR is not an organization that fights antisemitism, but rather one that fuels Jew-hatred. Its inclusion in the Biden plan is a schande — a scandalous shame.

James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.