White House distances itself from CAIR, condemns director’s ‘antisemitic statements’
The White House scrubbed a mention of CAIR from an antisemitism fact sheet and pledged that the group has no involvement in efforts to draft a national Islamophobia strategy
Safvan Allahverdi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The White House on Thursday distanced itself from the Council on American-Islamic Relations after the leader of the Muslim advocacy organization gave a speech celebrating the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack in Israel.
“We condemn these shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms,” White House’s deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told Jewish Insider. “Every leader has a responsibility to call out antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head.”
Bates’ comments come after a JI report documenting a November speech delivered by Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of CAIR, in which he said of Oct. 7 that he “was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not allowed to walk in.”
Bates pointed out that “October 7th was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust,” and noted that “the atrocities of that day shock the conscience, which is why we can never forget the pain Hamas has caused for so many innocent people.” Awad’s speech, which was first reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, did not mention Hamas.
The White House faced criticism in May when its release of the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism included a fact sheet that said CAIR would educate religious communities about protecting houses of worship from hate, given the organization’s history of antisemitic remarks. Today, CAIR’s name was deleted from that fact sheet, which the White House attributed to Awad’s comments.
“CAIR was not listed in the strategy. They were one of several independent organizations listed in a supplemental document,” a White House official told JI, referring to the online fact sheet. “The White House removed their commitment from the supplemental document today as a result of the comments.”
The White House official also made clear that CAIR is not part of conversations happening now as the White House drafts a national strategy against Islamophobia.
“CAIR is not consulting on the development of the Islamophobia strategy, period,” the White House official said.