In a profile of Jacob Bender, the Jewish executive director for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the New York Times suggests that the Jewish community has an unfounded distrust of CAIR which it claims has been “expunged” from US court records on a terrorism financing case. The article begins:
August 8, 2014 Shortly after the latest cease-fire expired in Gaza on Friday, Jacob Bender gingerly climbed the steps of the mimbar, the pulpit at the Islamic Society of Delaware here. A Jew in a mosque, his hands palpably quivering but his reedy voice steady, he read some brief comments to close the afternoon’s worship service, called Juma’a.
Mr. Bender offered both hope and censure, twinned: Muslims and Jews could still be ‘partners for peace and justice,’ he said. Israel and Hamas bore shared responsibility for the current carnage, he added, and more hatred would lead to more violence, while love would lead to reconciliation.
After he finished those words, he intoned the Judaic funeral prayer, El Malei Rachamim, adapting its English translation to remember the victims in Gaza. He closed the prayer by saying ‘amen,’ and the several hundred men and women replied in kind. Then, unbidden, they joined in sustained applause.
It was an emblematic moment for an unusual man. For the past 10 months, Mr. Bender has served as executive director for the chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Philadelphia — the first non-Muslim to ever hold such a high-ranking position within CAIR, as the council is commonly known.”
Read the rest here.
The NYT article goes on to describe the relationship between CAIR and the US Jewish community as one of “suspicion” and makes the inaccurate claim that CAIR’s name has been expunged from court records relating to the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terrorism financing case:
Describing itself as an advocacy and civil rights group, CAIR has often been the object of suspicion in Jewish quarters, particularly since being named an unindicted co-conspirator in a 2007 court case involving a Texas charity that funneled money to Hamas. Even after references to the group were officially expunged from the court records, and even after it formally condemned terrorism by groups including Hamas, CAIR has made few inroads with Jewish organizations.
In fact, in his July 2009 ruling US District Court Judge Jorge A. Solis ordered exactly the opposite and refused to strike CAIR’s name, along with the other co-conspirators, from court records, reaffirming that the government had produced “ample evidence” to connect CAIR and the other groups to Hamas:
Finally, CAIR, NAIT and ISNA ask the Court to strike their names from any public document filed or issued by the government. (Mot. at 6.) While it is clear from the Briggs line of cases that the Government should have originally filed the unindicted co-conspirators’ names under seal, the Court declines to strike CAIR, ISNA and NAIT’s names from those documents. The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas. While the Court recognizes that the evidence produced by the Government largely predates the HLF designation date, the evidence is nonetheless sufficient to show the association of these entities with HLF, IAP, and Hamas. See U.S. v. Ladd, 218 F.3d at 704-05 (“the Government must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed”). Thus, maintaining the names of the entities on the List is appropriate in light of the evidence proffered by the Government.
Judge Solis goes on later to explain that the reason the list itself should have been sealed was because it listed names without presenting the the supporting evidence for public examination.
CAIR was founded in 1994 by three officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine, part of the U.S. Hamas infrastructure at that time, and is still led by Nihad Awad one of the original group. As noted above, documents discovered in the course of the HLF terrorism trial confirmed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood and that CAIR itself is part of the US. Muslim Brotherhood and associated with Hamas. This background together with vile anti-Semitism from Hamas and CAIR leader Awad’s attempts to incite the US Islamic community against Jews, the Jewish community’s “suspicions” would seem well-founded and Mr. Bender’s judgment to be questionable at the least.