ICAN Rejects CAIR’s Call for Boycott of Israeli PM Address to Congress

On June 15, CAIR-LA issued a call for the Southern California Congressional delegation to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress, which is scheduled for July 24, 2024. 


CAIR’s press release is filled with both inflammatory language and misinformation in its attempt to discredit the Jewish State of Israel. Despite CAIR’s self-description as a “civil rights organization,” its misleading and anti-American rhetoric should not be surprising, coming from an organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center has labeled an “antisemitic hate group.”


Unsurprisingly, CAIR’s press release parrots Hamas’s talking points, including using inflated, discredited casualty figures taken directly from the terrorist group.  Last year, CAIR’s National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, openly celebrated the October 7 massacre while denying Israel’s right to self-defense; the Biden Administration denounced his remarks.


Not only does ICAN want to set the record straight about CAIR’s misrepresentations, we also want to urge our Congressional Delegation to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s perspective on the October 7 massacre and the Gaza War and to continue the dialogue with the goal of achieving a lasting peace in the region.


CAIR’s continual attacks on Israel not only demonstrate the need for the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) working definition of antisemitism at all levels of government and within our educational institutions, but are textbook examples of human rights activist Natan Sharansky’s “3D’s” of antisemitism, which he formulated to distinguish between legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and antisemitism: the demonization, delegitimization, and use of double standards when it comes to Israel.


We call upon the Southern California Congressional delegation to reject all forms of racism, including antisemitism, anti-Jewish racism, anti-Israeli racism, and Islamophobia and to support the expansion of the Abraham Accords in an effort to establish regional peace, including for the Palestinians.


CAIR’s efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel must not distract from the real threats to regional peace, including the fascist Islamic Republic of Iran’s support for a variety of proxy terrorist groups aimed at the destruction of Israel and the United States, and the active support and funding of these terrorist groups by other countries such as Qatar, whose influence peddling and infiltration of our educational institutions represent a major threat to our democracy.


Point-by-Point Response to CAIR’s Allegations:


Allegation of Genocide and Apartheid

CAIR-LA Claim: “For the past eight months, we have witnessed a genocide unfold before our eyes at the hands of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the apartheid Israeli government.”


These accusations are baseless and inflammatory. They not only misrepresent the complex situation in the region but also fuel antisemitic sentiments. Despite comments made by CAIR’s National Executive Director, openly celebrating the October 7 massacre, ICAN stands by Israel’s right to self-defense and rejects the false allegations of “genocide,” which are a blood libel employed in the attempt to delegitimize Israel’s government. The false charges of “apartheid” coming from CAIR are even more shocking, considering CAIR’s silence on the gender apartheid of the Iranian regime and other repressive, non-democratic governments in the region.


Support for Human Rights and Democracy

CAIR-LA Claim: “The U.S. can no longer be complicit as the Israeli government continues to cross every conceivable line of morality and legality.”


Israel is a democracy that upholds human rights and the rule of law. Criticizing its government without acknowledging the context of self-defense against terrorism is disingenuous – especially against the background of CAIR’s refusal to condemn Hamas and CAIR’s stony silence about human rights violations by other countries within the region, such as the fascist regime in Iran – and undermines genuine efforts for human rights, justice, and regional peace.


International Legal Claims Against Israel

CAIR-LA Claim: “The International Court of Justice concluded that Israeli military operations in Gaza are plausible violations of the Genocide Convention.”


These claims are politically motivated and lack legal basis. Israel’s actions are in response to terrorism and are conducted within the bounds of international law as confirmed by the United States Department of State.  ICAN supports Israel’s right to protect its citizens from attacks.


Impact on Palestinian Civilians

CAIR-LA Claim: “The Israeli military’s violent campaign in Gaza has killed more than 40,000 Palestinian civilians.”

The numbers cited by CAIR-LA come directly from Hamas and are grossly inflated and misleading. Israel takes extensive measures to minimize civilian casualties, unlike Hamas, which uses civilians as human shields and seeks to maximize civilian casualties. The true tragedy is the loss of any innocent life, and the solution lies in addressing the root causes of conflict. If CAIR really cares about Palestinian casualties, it will condemn Hamas’s use of Gazan civilians as human shields and will call upon Hamas to release the hostages and to surrender.


Calls for Congressional Boycott

CAIR-LA Claim: “CAIR-LA sent a letter to Congressional Delegation Members urging them not to attend Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress.”


Whatever one may think of the current Israeli government, it reflects the results of the democratic process.  Boycotting an address by the democratically elected leader of a key ally undermines U.S.-Israel relations and disrespects our own democratic institutions. Dialogue and engagement, not boycotts, are the pathways to achieving peace and mutual understanding, including in the Middle East.  We urge our Congressional representatives to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address before Congress as part of the important process of American participation in the development of the region and in ensuring self-determination and a lasting peace for all the region’s inhabitants.

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