Calif. Gov. Newsom met with CAIR representatives in December

The meeting took place as the White House distances itself from the Muslim advocacy organization over its leader’s defense of the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to union workers and volunteers on election day at the IBEW Local 6 union hall on September 14, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom met in December with representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy organization that has faced scrutiny in recent months for its executive director’s controversial statements celebrating the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel. 

The Dec. 16 hour-long Zoom meeting, which was organized by CAIR’s California chapter and included roughly 15 Muslim leaders from across the state, was meant to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza, according to a CAIR press release. The participants also urged Newsom to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, now entering its fourth month.

On Oct. 7, Ayloush tweeted a prayer for Allah to “grant relief, freedom, and victory to the people of Gaza.” Three days later, he called the attack “our Warsaw Uprising moment” and linked to an Al Jazeera article praising the attack

Newsom’s office declined to comment.

“The administration is actively engaging with Muslim and Jewish community leaders across the state to support the safety and security of California’s diverse communities,” a spokesperson for Newsom told the publication CalMatters in December after the meeting.

CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in November that he was “happy to see” the Oct. 7 attack, which he described as “self-defense.” The White House condemned “these shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms,” a spokesperson told Jewish Insider in December.

The White House pledged not to include CAIR in discussions around the White House national Islamophobia strategy, which is underway. 

In 2021, CAIR San Francisco executive director Zahra Billoo came under fire from Jewish leaders after delivering a speech in which she called Jewish organizations that support Israel, including synagogues, Hillels and Jewish federations, “enemies.” 

Newsom traveled to Israel in October less than two weeks after the attacks, which killed more than 1,200 people. Since then, he has directed the shipment of humanitarian aid to both Israel and Gaza.

This story was updated at 9:48 p.m. on 1/4/2024.

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