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Rena Cohen
An Israel-born, US-raised, Israel returnee

STOP Letting CAIR Speak for American Muslims

A recent Wall Street Journal Editor Board op-ed, “The True Face of the Anti-Israel Movement” highlights the excellent job of exposing the viciously anti-Israel and anti-Jewish stance of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

As one of MEMRI’s online clips reveals, on November 24th, Nihad Awad, Executive Director of CAIR, told an audience attending the American Muslims for Palestine Convention (sadly, I must note, to applause): “The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege, the walls of the concentration camp, on October 7. And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in. And yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, have the right to defend themselves, and yes, Israel, as an occupying power, does not have that right to self-defense.”  But wait, there’s more.  He also added, “Gaza became the liberation source.  The inspiration for people.  Gaza transformed many minds around the world.  Including people are not Muslim….”  I could go on, but hopefully this makes things clear enough.  As far as Nawad is concerned, the Hamas murderers and rapists did a simply terrific job on October 7th, and the wave of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment that their killing spree sparked around the globe is “an inspiration”.

Having CAIR’s dirty laundry aired so publicly prompted the White House to do a fast about-face and pull CAIR off its list of partners in its Strategy to Counter Antisemitism and denounce Awad’s remarks.  This is not the first time that the White House has cozied up to CAIR — President Biden was doing something that was also done under the administrations of Presidents Obama and George W. Bush despite CAIR’s being named as an undicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case that revealed how money was being funneled out of the U.S. to bankroll Hamas terror activities.  You would think the White House would finally learn.

You would also think that the media, and certainly the Israeli press, would finally learn.  One thing that really would help is to stop turning to CAIR as some kind of an authority on what American Muslims think.  As this is the second time, at least, that CAIR has been caught actively promoting Hamas’ agenda, how about we assiduously cease the practice of delegitimizing and empowering it by not asking what CAIR thinks or quoting its representatives when an event occurs that might prompt interest in the opinion of the American Muslim community?  It would seem a very logical first step.  And I more than venture to guess — as I am privileged to know and to work with some members of the Muslim community in America, one of whom called my house in dismay and concern as soon as he had heard about the October 7th massacre — that there is not a uniform opinion in the community.  And most certainly not the one that CAIR is peddling.

About the Author
Born in Kibbutz Nachshon Israel, raised in the U.S. and lived there on both coasts with lots of visits (even a few residential stays) in Israel, and intending to return yet again. Entrepreneurial generalist -- worked for others, built my own medical reporting business (with NO seed money), and since have had an extended career in the U.S. biotech industry in early startups through late clinical stage firms, holding positions in everything from investor relations and corporate communications to business development to Director, Facilities (my current post). Longtime editor, particularly on foreign policy topics. Co-founder, with my sister, Jade Bar-Shalom, Z"L, of the Books for Israel Project during the Second Intifada, which connected synagogues, churches and community centers in the U.S. with low-income Israeli Jewish, Arab, and Druze schools to help them build much-needed English language libraries for the kids. Author of the book, LambBunny and His Friends (on Amazon). On and off painter. Writer of op-eds. Blogger for The Times of Israel.