Well, Joe Sestak's appearance at the Philadelphia CAIR fundraising dinner last night has come and gone and created barely a ripple. As Sestak had hoped. The media pretty much gave him a pass. The governor gave him a boost. And the tiny smattering of protesters who showed up didn't make much of a dent, but did attract a group of CAIR supporters with their own quickly scrawled signs who appeared to be protesting the appearance of Joe Kaufman more than anything else. CAIR, of course, doesn't like Joe Kaufman, founder of CAIR Watch and Americans Against Hate, who they attempt to brand a "racist" and a "bigot" on the basis of nothing other than the fact that he's a pain in their butt.
But what's the real story on CAIR? Look, they post a long list of condemnations of terrorism on their website, including one of the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya on Passover, 2002. The text of that press release is interesting:
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/28/2002) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today condemned a bomb attack on a Passover celebration in the Middle East that left 20 people dead and more than 100 wounded.
In a statement, CAIR said:
"We condemn this attack and all other attacks on innocent civilians. Illegitimate and counterproductive tactics must not be used in the legitimate struggle to end Israel's brutal occupation.
The Passover celebration was "in the Middle East" but the name of the country in which it occurred only appears in the context of the "legimate struggle" against "brutal occupation." And that's exactly the sort of "condemnation" of terrorism those familiar with CAIR have come to expect. The problem is, those who aren't as familiar with CAIR don't bother to check the details.
And speaking of CAIR press releases, let's have a look at this one on last night's fundraiser. CAIR praised Sestak for "refusing to back out of speaking at the dinner after facing rhetorical attacks from Islamophobic Internet bloggers who objected to his decision to address hundreds of local Muslims." In fact, the "attacks" that Sestak faced were hardly "rhetorical" and came mostly from his own constituents (including many non-bloggers) who showed up in considerable numbers at a town meeting at a synagogue in Havertown, PA, last month (more on that here). And, naturally, the objections were not to Sestak addressing local Muslims. The objections were to Sestak participating in fundraising for CAIR. More details.
After once again enumerating its many condemnations of terrorist attacks (including, again, "the bombing of a Jewish Seder party in Israel"), CAIR elected to highlight this statement by its national board chairman, Parvez Ahmed:
"It is time apologists for Israeli apartheid issue similar condemnation statements against the usurping of Palestinian land, the demolition of their homes, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Until this happens they stand on no moral ground to lecture us..."
CAIR refuses to acknowledge that Hamas and Hezbullah are terrorist groups because, it says, it condemns actions, not organizations. Obviously, that qualm doesn't apply to countries. Or at least it doesn't apply to one country in particular.
When Joe Sestak spoke to his constituents at The Suburban Jewish Community Center/B'nai Aaron synagogue last month, he said he intended to deliver a clear message to CAIR that the failure to condemn terrorism, by name, specifically, is wrong. His delivery, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Near the end of the speech, amid clanking silverware and the burble of table conversations, the former Navy admiral said it was not sufficient for any group just to condemn terrorist acts.
He said it was CAIR's duty to condemn individuals or groups that commit terrorism, and he specifically mentioned Hamas and Hezbollah.
"It's the same as those who did not speak out against the perpetrators of Jim Crow laws . . . or the Holocaust," he said.
The remark drew no reaction from the audience. At the end of his speech, he was applauded.
Umm hmmm. Sestak also promised to publish the full text of his speech on his website. Still waiting for that.* What's not clear is whether the "apologists for Israeli apartheid ... stand on no moral ground to lecture us" speech came before or after Sestak's admonitition. My guess is after, since Ahmed's speech is described as taking place during the banquet.
Good job, Joe. You clearly got your message across. Not.
So, again, what is it that CAIR is really up to? I have some ideas. For a clue, pay careful attention to this story. To be continued...
*Update: And here it is. wow.