More than 9,000 Americans have signed a petition calling on members of congress to withdraw statements of support issued to Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization which the petition’s signatories say is antisemitic.
More than 120 members of Congress including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Pramila Jayapal and Mark Poucan, and presidential hopefuls, senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, wrote letters to CAIR last year ahead of the organization’s 25th anniversary, praising its work.
The letters were printed in full in the program for a gala held to mark the occasion; three were from Republican representatives.
But thousands of Americans have called on the congressmen to renounce their letters, arguing that CAIR is an antisemitic organization and therefore cannot be supported by anyone who claims to oppose racism.
“Although CAIR leaders claim to oppose antisemitism, they routinely put blatantly antisemitic speakers front and center at some of their biggest events, including their recent 25th anniversary gala. No organization that truly opposes antisemitism would highlight such prominent bigots,” the petition text states.
The petition statement cites four figures connected with CAIR who have displayed antisemitism publicly.
The first is Democratic representative Ilhan Omar, who is herself one of the authors of the letters of support. Omar headlined the gala at which the letters were circulated.
According to the petition, Omar “has used multiple anti-Semitic tropes, some remorselessly, that are internationally recognized as antisemitic, including the dual loyalty canard and promoting the falsehood that Israel controls the world.”
Fellow gala headliner Linda Sarsour was also referenced, with petitioners highlighting her “double standard” over omitting “any reference to the Jewish people in a statement commemorating the Holocaust after previously attacking a White House statement the year prior for an absence of a reference to the Jewish people.”
The petition notes that Sarsour “has also accused Jewish progressives of having dual loyalty with Israel.”
UC Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian, who has tweeted antisemitic cartoons and has spoken at a CAIR event, and CAIR Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, who has called for the “termination” of Israel were the other two figures referenced.
The petition argues: “You supported a resolution in 2019 that proclaimed opposition to hate and antisemitism. Then, you wrote a letter of endorsement for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an intolerant and antisemitic organization, on its 25th anniversary. You can’t oppose antisemitism and support CAIR.
The resolution referenced by the signatories was a motion brought to the House of Representatives in March which condemned “hateful expressions of intolerance,” originally as a statement against antisemitism. However, debate on the resolution descended into a row over antisemitism, during which Rep Omar insinuating that backers of Israel exhibit dual loyalty.
By the time it was passed, by a majority of 407-to-23, the resolution text cited “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others” victimized by bigotry – prompting Democrat representative Ted Deutch to ask: “Why are we unable to singularly condemn antisemitism? Why can’t we call it antisemitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?”
The petition has been organized by New Tolerance Campaign, an organization which aims to promote consistency in the standards of tolerance set across mainstream America.
“It is hard to believe that these 120 Members of Congress are all ignorant of CAIR’s problematic history,” a spokesman for the organization said. “The group was an unindicted co-conspirator in one of our country’s largest terrorism financing trials, and continues to voice support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Although acknowledging that America is a free country, and that therefore the representatives were free to support whomever they chose, the spokesman said the congressmen had made a “grave mistake” in opting to back CAIR, and that doing so exhibited “terrible judgement and leadership.”
“It is imperative that they stand against racism in all forms and retract their support rather than enable it as they’ve done by sending these letters,” the spokesman continued, adding: “Anything less is un-American. We are encouraged that so many have already taken a stand by signing the petition, and optimistic that our elected officials will choose to do the right thing.”
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