To say that The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has contorted logic and language to avoid criticizing its early patron, the terrorist group Hamas, would be damning enough. But the full truth is even worse: CAIR and its leaders have, over the years, actively supported Hamas positions and regularly done their best to discredit critics of militant Islamic activity.
Those ties with Hamas are at the center of today's installment in our examination of CAIR's history and activities.
• CAIR's incorporator and current executive director, Nihad Awad, stated his position unequivocally in a 1994 symposium at Barry University in Florida. "I am in support of the Hamas movement," he declared.
Awad also echoed Hamas' absolute rejection of Israel's right to exist, writing later that year to the American Muslim publication, The Messenger, that he hoped its use of the word "Israel" in an article had been "the result of an oversight" and that the magazine would "return to the terminology ‘Occupied Palestine' to refer to that Holy Land."
• Awad repeatedly has sought to justify his pro-Hamas statements by contending that they came before the group had been designated by the United States government as a terrorist organization. That argument falls apart when one considers a long history of Hamas terrorist acts committed before the 1995 designation -- acts that included the stabbing of five people in a Jerusalem market in 1989 and of a Jewish seminary student in 1992, and the bombing of busses in 1993 and 1994, killing 14 and wounding dozens more.
Indeed, U.S. government condemnation had come as early as 1992, when the State Department found "various elements of HAMAS have used both political and violent means including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian State in place of Israel…Other elements, operating clandestinely, have advocated and used violence to advance their goals."
• CAIR questioned the 1995 executive order labeling Hamas as a terrorist group. Said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper: "We've been fearing something like this for a long time because there have been elements in the pro-Israeli lobby accusing Muslim groups of raising money for these kinds of purposes, with no evidence whatsoever of diversion of funds."
• Direct statements of support for Hamas continued even after that 1995 designation. Ghazi Khankan, then executive director of CAIR-NY, told an audience at a 2001 event, "The people of Hamas who direct their attacks on the Israeli military are in the correct position."
In Khankan's mind, legitimate "military" targets included any Israeli past his eighteenth birthday. "Anyone [in Israel] over eighteen is automatically inducted into the service and they are all reserves. Therefore, Hamas in my opinion looks at them as part of the military. Those who are below 18 should not be attacked," he reasoned.
• The Washington Post reported that Hooper responded to a 2001 Anti-Defamation League request for a statement directly condemning Hamas by saying, "It's not our job to go around denouncing, that when they say jump, we say how high."
• Asked in a 2003 deposition whether he supported Hamas, Omar Ahmad -- a CAIR incorporator -- responded, "It depends. Qualify ‘support.'" Asked whether he had "ever taken a position with respect to… [Hamas'] ‘martyrdom attacks,'" Ahmad responded, "No."
CAIR seemingly reserves its condemnation for anyone who fails to share its affection for Hamas, or any media outlet that dares refer to militant Islamic activity. For example:
• In 1997, it assailed the U.S. government for failing to investigate and "seek justice" for the death of Ahmed Hamida, an Arab-American terrorist killed by Israeli civilians after deliberately driving his car into a group of Israelis waiting at a Jerusalem bus stop. It described Ahmed as an innocent "Palestinian-American Muslim" -- even after Hamas had taken credit for the attack.
• It has condemned as "anti-Muslim" a wide range of publications, including The New Republic, US News & World Report, The Atlantic Monthly (for an article about the militant Islamic rule and oppression in Sudan), The Dallas Morning News (for exposing the Hamas infrastructure in Texas), The Reader's Digest (for describing the repression of Christians by Communist regimes and Islamic extremists), The Tampa Tribune (for exposing the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in Tampa), The Weekly Reader's Current Events (for featuring a story on international terrorism) and even The Journal of the American Medical Association (for an article about the victims of terrorism).
• It conducted a two-year campaign aimed at Paramount Pictures, ultimately succeeding in having the terrorists in the film, "The Sum of All Fears," portrayed as neo-Nazis rather than Arabs as originally intended.
• It attacked columnist Nat Hentoff, a consistent advocate of human rights and free expression, for a pair of columns criticizing Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and others for failing to speak out against slavery in Sudan and Mauritania. Hooper wrote, "Perhaps this hesitancy results from a reluctance to indulge in politically and religiously motivated sensationalism that plays on and amplifies existing Islamophobic tendencies in Western society."
Again, to read today's full report, click here: http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/113.pdf