Many Democratic members of Congress have a long history of public support for the organization whose leader recently ignited a firestorm over controversial comments regarding Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israeli citizens.
Nihad Awad, executive director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), recently said he was “glad to see” Hamas invade Israel on October 7, and that the Jewish state has no right to do so. Self-defense because it is an “occupying force.”
“The people of Gaza decided to break the siege – the walls of the concentration camp – only on October 7,” Awad said at the 16th Annual Palestine Conference in the United States on November 24. “And yes, I was happy about that.” You see people breaking the siege, throwing off the shackles of their land, and walking freely in their land that they were not free to walk in.”
He continued: “Yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense. They have the right to defend themselves. And yes, Israel, as an occupying power, does not have this right to self-defense.”
The White House seeks to distance itself from the Islamist group after its leader praised the Hamas massacre on October 7
Awad’s comments forced the White House to scramble and dismiss CAIR as a committed partner in combating anti-Semitism on its website. A White House spokesperson also strongly rebuked his comments in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“We condemn these shocking and anti-Semitic statements in the strongest terms,” a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The horrific, brutal terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7th were, as President Biden said, ‘abhorrent’ and represented ‘pure evil.’”
Meanwhile, dozens of federal lawmakers across the US have previously expressed their support for CAIR, as appeared on the organization’s website, and some remained silent when asked by Fox News Digital about the co-founder’s stance on the horrific attacks that left 1,200 dead. And others were captured. .
Sen. Krysty Sinema, R-Ariz., who faces re-election in the 2024 cycle, has previously praised CAIR’s work as “advocating for a more just society” and has also accepted thousands of dollars in campaign donations from former directors and presidents of CAIR. Separation of the group in Arizona.
“I applaud the Council’s devotion to our nation’s democratic values and your work in advocating for a more just society,” Sinema said in November 2019, before she changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent.
Federal Election Commission filings show the independent senator accepted contributions of $2,500 from the former director of CAIR’s Arizona chapter, Deidra Abboud, $250 from the chapter’s former vice president, Manan Abdul Mohamed, and $100 from the chapter’s former president over the years.
Sinema did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on Awad’s statement about Israel and whether she stands by her comments praising the group.
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“This organization’s inspiring service is a testament to your success in creating a caring, supportive and responsive organization,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is currently facing criminal bribery charges.
Menendez also did not respond when asked about CAIR’s position on the war between Israel and Hamas.
In 2019, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, praised the group for “empowering American Muslims nationwide in political and social activism through our country,” as written on the Council on American-Islamic Relations website.
Brown, who is defending one of the most vulnerable Senate seats for Democrats in 2024, condemned CAIR’s latest comments on the conflict in the Middle East.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms these anti-Semitic statements and anyone who tries to make excuses for Hamas’ killing of innocent civilians,” Brown told Fox News Digital. He added, “I strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself, and I will continue to stand by the Israeli people in their fight against Hamas terrorism.”
More than 100 members of Congress, including then-Vice President Kamala Harris, wrote personal notes of thanks to CAIR in 2018 congratulating them on more than two decades of work.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Mich., thanked CAIR in 2018 for “all you do in defense of justice and civil liberties across our state and nation… Now more than ever, it is critical that you continue to fight for the right to speak out.” “Civil”. and civic engagement.”
However, Baldwin also told Fox News Digital that she condemns the “blatantly anti-Semitic comments” made by CAIR.
“There are no two ways about it: Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel were absolutely horrific – innocent Israelis were slaughtered, hundreds of civilians were kidnapped, and now countless families are saddened and afraid. I condemn these anti-Semitic comments Blatantly, without a doubt, the terminology and these statements led to a complete loss of confidence in the organization and its work.”
Far-left members of the “Squad” have expressed support for the group over the years.
While running for Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., wrote in a letter that CAIR “has played an instrumental role in helping America move forward.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, gave a controversial speech at a fundraiser for the group in 2019 before she was named “Muslim American Public Servant of 2021” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
While CAIR was founded in 1994, Ilhan Omar claimed in her speech that the group “was founded after 9/11 because they realized that some people had done something and that we were all starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
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The Democrat received immediate backlash over the “some people did something” comment, with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel calling the statement a “brazen display of disrespect.”
Fox News’ Timothy Nirozzi contributed to this report.