pennsylvania politics

McCormick calls on Lee to resign over scheduled appearance at CAIR gala featuring antisemitic speakers

Sen. Bob Casey criticized CAIR in a statement, but declined to speak out against Lee’s appearance at the event

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Pennsylvania GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick greets supporters at the Indigo Hotel Tuesday evening after the polls revealed he had an early lead over Dr Mehmet Oz in the primary race on May 17, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick called on Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) to resign from Congress after she scheduled an appearance at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) gala featuring a lineup of antisemitic speakers, including one who praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel.

McCormick, a Republican, shared a video statement with JI condemning Lee, as well as his main rival, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

“I can assure you that the people of Pittsburgh and the people of Pennsylvania, they expect more of their leadership,” McCormick said. “They expect more than associating themselves with antisemites. They expect moral leadership, moral clarity,”

McCormick also made reference to Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, the site of the deadliest antisemitic attack on U.S. soil, which is inside Lee’s congressional district.

“I’m also calling on Bob Casey to disavow his endorsement of Summer Lee. Bob has endorsed Summer Lee and he’s not called back on that despite the terrible things that keep coming out of her mouth,” McCormick continued. “The people of Pennsylvania deserve more from Bob Casey. He needs to demonstrate leadership, not weakness, he needs to demonstrate moral clarity.”

Casey, the state’s senior senator, distanced himself from CAIR leadership without directly addressing Lee’s participation in the event.

“October 7th was a brutal and vicious attack on innocent Israeli civilians,” Casey, a Democrat, said in a statement to JI. “I unequivocally condemn the antisemitic and hateful comments made by CAIR’s leadership and any comments that celebrate the despicable acts of Hamas terrorists.”

Prior to Oct. 7, Casey had participated in events with CAIR in Pennsylvania and offered praise for the group, but has distanced himself following revelations that the group’s leader had praised the Oct. 7 attacks. He shared the same statement with Fox News in December.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, asked about the governor’s reaction to Lee’s scheduled CAIR appearance, told JI that political leaders should not associate themselves with hate speech.

“Governor Shapiro has been very clear that in the face of rising hate speech, leaders have a responsibility to speak and act with moral clarity,” Shapiro spokesperson Manuel Bonder said. “The Governor believes there is no place in our Commonwealth – founded by William Penn, centered on the values of tolerance — for religious intolerance, whether it be antisemitism or Islamophobia. This hateful, antisemitic rhetoric cannot be tolerated — and it should be condemned, not elevated by our political leaders.”

Bhavani Patel, who is challenging Lee in the Democratic primary, said Lee “needs to cancel this appearance and apologize for agreeing to share a stage with them in the first place. This is appalling.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that Lee “can’t say that you are committing to fighting hate when you openly sit and support those who celebrate,” calling for a “zero-tolerance policy on intolerance” and describing Lee’s planned speech as “the opposite of that.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition condemned Casey for “a failure of leadership and lack of moral clarity,” calling Lee’s appearance “a disgrace.” It subsequently called on Casey to support Lee’s resignation.

Jewish Insider’s senior national correspondent Gabby Deutch contributed reporting.

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