To its credit, the group did denounce the Netanya Passover Massacre in 2002, though it avoided criticizing Hamas, which perpetrated the attack. Bizarrely, CAIR couldn’t bring itself to acknowledge that the innocent victims were murdered in Israel—perhaps because CAIR hews to the Hamas party line refusing to recognize the Jewish state—noting instead that the bombing happened in “the Middle East.”
Last December, CAIR executive director and co-founder Nihad Awad refused in an interview with Newsweek to condemn Hamas, claiming that the question was “the game of the pro-Israel lobby.” Of course, Awad knows that whether or not one backs Hamas is not a “game,” as he willingly declared at a speech in 1994: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.” (Transcript provided by the Investigative Project.)
Rather than seize opportunities for unambiguous denunciations of Islamic terrorism, CAIR shrewdly offers up what it labels condemnations, but in fact are not.
Emblematic of CAIR’s elaborate deception is the much-hyped fatwa against terrorism and extremism. Both terms are left intentionally undefined. Fundamentalist Muslims who wish harm upon the U.S. and Israel do not consider themselves “extreme.” Nor do Hezbollah and Hamas believe that they are terrorists.
For that matter, neither apparently does CAIR. Chairman Parvez Ahmed this spring authored a lengthy policy paper—posted on CAIR’s web site—in which he implicitly argued that Hamas and Hezbollah were not “terrorist” entities: “Unlike al-Qaeda they do not embrace such violence as a matter of policy. These groups have not targeted people who are outside the land they view as occupied territories.”
Since both terrorist groups have repeatedly murdered innocent civilians inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel, the only possible justification Ahmed could have for not taking issue with Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s propaganda is that he, too, considers all of the Jewish state to be “occupied territory.”
Refusing to recognize the right of the Jewish state to exist is in keeping with the group’s roots. Founded in 1994, CAIR was spun off from the Islamic Association of Palestine. Whereas IAP was widely seen as a Hamas front, CAIR was designed to be a kinder and gentler “civil rights” organization. It was a smart move. A federal civil court judge in 2005 found CAIR’s founding organization liable for providing material support to Hamas on the basis of “strong evidence that IAP was supporting Hamas.”
Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper did not return a call seeking comment, but CAIR undoubtedly would point to the video clip on its web site in which its Chicago director, Rehab, in a local TV interview, said, “Islam wholeheartedly condemns this type of behavior.”
While admirable, it is not the same as the group actually condemning the UK’s Islamic terrorists. Considering that CAIR put out roughly 20 press releases in the week following the terror incidents, including several “condemnations” of non-terrorists, it is hard to give the group of the benefit of the doubt.
CAIR’s history makes it simply impossible.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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