The White House has publicly denounced the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its executive director, Nihad Awad, over recent remarks commending a deadly terror attack.
In response to Awad's perceived endorsement of the October 7 Hamas terror attack in Israel, which claimed 1200 lives, the White House condemned the comments as "shocking, antisemitic statements."
Nihad Awad, in a speech, expressed satisfaction over the terror attack, stating his happiness at "people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land." This rhetoric has been widely criticized, especially given CAIR's previous controversies.
CAIR has a history of being embroiled in legal issues. Notably, it was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror financing trial, leading to the FBI discontinuing its work with the organization due to alleged ties to Hamas.
In 2009, a federal judge ruled there was sufficient evidence of CAIR's connections to Hamas, further tarnishing the organization's reputation. The United Arab Emirates went a step further in 2014, labeling CAIR as a terrorist organization.
Despite these serious allegations and legal challenges, the Biden administration has previously engaged with CAIR on strategies to combat antisemitism, a decision that has drawn criticism.
On Thursday, the White House took a definitive stance against CAIR and Awad, denouncing his recent comments. White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates voiced this condemnation, stating that leaders must condemn such rhetoric.
Awad's history of supporting Hamas and his role in founding CAIR has raised many eyebrows, especially given the current controversy.
As a direct consequence of Awad's comments, the White House undertook the action of removing CAIR from an antisemitism fact sheet, signaling a possible distancing from the organization.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) played a crucial role in bringing Awad's comments to light through a video. This revelation has sparked a robust conversation about the role and influence of organizations like CAIR and their impact on American policy.
The Biden administration had previously faced backlash for including CAIR in its strategy against antisemitism, given the organization's history and affiliations. CAIR, on its part, has claimed to have helped protect extreme criticism of Israel in the White House strategy.
Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, voiced strong condemnation of Awad's statements:
"We condemn these shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms. Every leader has a responsibility to call out antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head."
As the dust settles, the recent developments mark a significant change in the relationship between the White House and CAIR. This public condemnation and the subsequent actions signal a hardening of the administration's stance against organizations linked to controversial statements and actions.