The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a long record of anti-Israel rhetoric. It has accused Israel of genocide and described Israel as a terrorist state. In addition, CAIR's criticism of Israel has at times crossed the line into anti-Semitism.
While CAIR has denounced an Iranian-sponsored Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran and attacks against Jewish centers in the U.S., its public statements cast Jews and Israelis as corrupt agents who control both foreign and domestic U.S. policy and are responsible for the persecution of Muslims in the U.S. CAIR has also never disassociated itself from the anti-Semitic ideology of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).
Immediately following Israeli Navy's raid of a flotilla of ships heading towards Gaza, CAIR issued a statement calling Israel’s action a “massacre.” In the days after, Ahmed Rehab, director of CAIR’s Chicago chapter, accused Israelis of “failure to apply Jewish values,” and Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's Southern California chapter, called for the dismantlement of Zionism.
CAIR's Florida chapter operates a Web site that makes anti-Semitic material available for visitors interested in learning about Islam. The site, Calling Islam, is part of a public relations campaign ostensibly designed to provide information about Islam and to counter negative portrayal of the religion. The campaign received public attention when it ran ads on 50 Broward County buses, directing the public to the site.
The site features several articles by Harun Yahya, an anti-Semitic Turkish writer who denounces Zionism as a fascist movement akin to Nazism, as well as "a racist and colonialist ideology" that is based on "Social Darwinism."
One Yahya article on the site, entitled "A Muslim Call To The Israelis," blames the Israeli army for committing atrocities, admonishing: "The Torah commands Jews to establish peace and security, not to occupy other lands and spill blood." Another article quotes Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy. The site also includes a link to Jews for Allah, an anti-Semitic Web site that aims to convert Jews to Islam.
CAIR, which continues to offers a platform to conspiratorial Israel-bashers and outright anti-Semites, is also affiliated with InFocus News, a California-based publication that similarly publishes anti-Semitic articles and cartoons, in addition to content that praises terrorist groups.
The following examples further demonstrate CAIR's positions on Israel and Jews:
- June 1, 2010: Ahmed Rehab, director of CAIR’s Chicago chapter, published an op-ed in The Seeker, a Chicago Tribune blog, about the flotilla incident, in which he accused Israel of “failure to apply Jewish values.” According to Rehab, Israel’s policies reflected a turning away from religion in favor of embracing an immoral pursuit of power.
- May 31, 2010: Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's Southern California chapter, posted several messages on Facebook in response to the flotilla incident in which he denounced Israel and Zionism. Ayloush called on supporters of the Palestinian cause to "channel this rightful anger into more commitment and resolve to ending this failed destructive and racist experiment called zionism." He also wrote: “The zionist political system that has engaged in such inhumanity and barbarism must be dismantled the same way the apartheid regime in South Africa was dismantled.”
- May 2009: Ahmad Daniels, the executive director of CAIR’s Arizona chapter, published an article in a local Muslim online publication about the anti-Israel speech of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Durban Review Conference in Geneva the previous month. In his article Daniels, who assumed his CAIR position in February 2009, called Ahmadinejad’s description of Israel as “a racist government” bold. He claimed that “criticism of the Israeli government stems largely from its treatment of Palestinians.” The article did not openly endorse Ahmadinejad’s position but still, it appeared to be sympathetic with the anti-Semitic leader, reserving its criticism for the United States for boycotting the event.
- February 16, 2009: Edgar Hopida, the public relations director of CAIR's San Diego chapter, reportedly said that his preferred solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict will include "the total dismantlement of the Israeli government." Hopida made the statement during a CAIR screening of Occupation 101, an anti-Israel propaganda film that denounces Zionism, in Hillcrest, California.
- December 2008 – January 2009: CAIR organized several anti-Israel rallies in response to Israel's military action against Hamas in Gaza. At one rally in Washington D.C. on January 10, protestors marched with signs that read: "Jewish Run Media Hides Jewish Terrorism" and "Jewish Controlled Congress Supports Jewish Terrorism."
- October 27, 2007: Ahmad al-Akhras, CAIR vice-chairman at the time and a current board member, published an article in the Saudi online publication, Arab News, titled: "HLF Case: An Israeli Trial Conducted on American Soil." In the article, al-Akhras argued that the trial was "an Israeli trial tried on American soil in which guilt by association was used as a substitute for actual evidence."
- August 28, 2006: CAIR hosted professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for a discussion about the "Israel Lobby" and the war in Lebanon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director, argued that the "American government offers unconditional support for Israel and its occupation and humiliation of its neighbors." He further claimed that "our one-sided support for Israel is a liability in the war on terror…America's Middle East policy should be based on our nation's interests, not on those of a powerful domestic lobby for a foreign government."
- August 7, 2006: Altaf Ali, executive director of CAIR's Florida chapter, published an opinion piece in the Sun-Sentinel in which he compared Israel and the U.S. government to Al Qaeda. He also warned that American support for Israel may cause "the conflict [to] be transplanted here."
- July-August 2006: In response to renewed fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as with Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza, CAIR issued statements claiming that Israel controls American politics and monopolizes its public debate. It further called for a halt to American economic and military aid to Israel.
- June 1-8, 2004: CAIR's Southern California chapter sponsored a speaking tour by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, of the Neturei Karta, whose members have a long record of extremist statements and support for anti-Semites. CAIR billed the tour as part of an effort to "foster better cooperation between Muslims and Jews."
- November 19, 2003: CAIR included a link to an article entitled "The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection," by anti-Israel writer Justin Raimondo, in an email to its supporters. A book's description, included in the email, asks, "Did Israeli intelligence have foreknowledge of 9/11? As one law enforcement source close to the investigation told Fox News, the real question is: how could they not have known? But if they knew, then why didn't they tell us?"
- August 2003: CAIR's Florida chapter invited William Baker to its annual banquet. Baker, a known right-wing extremist, warned in his book, Theft of a Nation, that Jews throughout the world "can easily become agents for specific world powers in order to create unrest and disharmony." Although Baker cancelled his scheduled appearance, CAIR defended him when his views were publicly challenged.
- February 20, 2003: Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman, suggested on MSNBC that U.S. investigations of terrorism were politically driven by support for Israel. "The entire controversy began with the attack dogs of the pro-Israel lobby going after Sami Al-Arian, the Holy Land Foundation [and] other groups in the United States," he said. "The [pro-Israel lobby] wanted to shut them down because they oppose the occupation in Palestine." Hooper added a warning about the "Israelization" of "American policy and procedures."
- December 19, 2002: CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter issued a press release condemning the arrest of Ghassan Elashi and four of his brothers, who were then accused (and later convicted) of funneling money to a Hamas leader through their Texas-based company InfoCom. The release stated: "One is left wondering whether these arrest orders were issued from Tel Aviv or from Washington, D.C.!"
- December 1, 2002: Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's Southern California chapter, wrote an article for the Orange County Register in which he equated Zionism with racism. "Zionism is a political ideology whose tentacles are rooted in racism," Ayloush wrote.
- September 6, 2001: In response to an FBI raid on InfoCom, Nihad Awad stated that "we suspect that all these attempts are to please the Israeli government but not to protect the U.S. interests. Siding with Israel, a racist country and state, I think does not do us any good."
- February 24, 1998: Nihad Awad said during a lecture at Georgetown University that "many [U.S.] presidents are servants to Israel, and it's hard to see someone who is…disobeying the political authority of Jewish interests."