By Lori Lowental Marcus
Why is a US Congressman helping to raise money for an American Islamic organization of which nearly a dozen associates have verified connections to terrorism?
Freshman Congressman and former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak (District 7-PA) obstinately refuses to withdraw from speaking at a CAIR fundraiser in Philadelphia tomorrow, April 7th.
CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, has a lengthy dossier proving it has had and continues to have associated with it dangerous individuals who have been convicted of, charged with and deported because of, actions that threaten America and its allies. Middle East and terrorism experts such as Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes have written extensively about CAIR's connections to terrorism.
Unfortunately, the public and in particular the mainstream media have embraced the rejection of the experts' warnings by CAIR and its fellow travelers who claim those experts are right-wing conservatives and - to make matters worse - Jews, who are furthering their personal agendas by vilifying CAIR.
Apparently many believe that CAIR is being victimized by neo-conservative Jewish operatives, and that any criticism of the organization or its supporters is evidence of Islamophobia. Indeed, that is precisely what CAIR leaders claimed was motivating (the primarily Jewish) critics of Congressman Sestak's financial connection to CAIR.
The public pandering to this dangerous group of Muslims is only possible by a refusal to distinguish between fact and opinion. FACT: five CAIR board members and employees have been convicted of terrorism-related activities. Fact: CAIR received seed money from and subsequently raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, an entity shut down by the US government because of its proven connection to Hamas. HLF is designated by the US State Department (hardly a coterie of neo-cons) as an official Foreign Terrorist Organization. Fact: CAIR is an offshoot of the Islamic Association of Palestine, an organization that also was dissolved and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Fact: CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, announced during a public appearance that he was a Hamas supporter. Fact: Immediately following 9/11 CAIR posted on its website a link seeking donations to what it labeled "the NY/DC Disaster Relief Fund." Unsuspecting potential donors who clicked on that link were connected to the web site of the HLF.
CAIR bills itself as a "civil rights organization," which is, perhaps, why it gets a free pass from those who should know better. But consider CAIR's peculiar understanding of civil rights: Randall "Ismail" Royer, CAIR's former communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, is currently serving a 20 year sentence after having been charged with possessing "AK-47-style rifles, telescopic lenses, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, documents on undertaking jihad and martyrdom" and instructional booklets for manufacturing and using explosives and chemicals as weapons.
Several weeks before Congressman Sestak's scheduled appearance at a Philadelphia-CAIR fundraiser, he was scheduled to appear at a "town meeting" in a Philadelphia-area synagogue. Sestak's appearance at that event had been arranged by local Democrat party officials and was sponsored by the local Jewish Federation and the synagogue.
To his credit, but not necessarily to those who invited him and would not withdraw the invitation, Sestak showed up on March 11th to speak to what he had to know would be a very hostile audience. Area residents had been calling his office to register their disapproval. Unfortunately, the former CAIR employee and the one who arranged his appearance at the CAIR event was the Sestak staffer who was charged with taking calls on the topic.
And what was Sestak's response to the critical questions put to him? First of all, he told his questioners, dozens of his constituents were going to be present at the fundraiser and wanted him to be there. He told the town meeting participants that just as he meets with all his constituent groups: Irish groups, Polish groups, Jewish groups, the NAACP, he was going to meet with this group as well.
Second, the Congressman told the audience that during his campaign, whenever he needed people to help him hand out flyers he first called the Muslim community because they were always eager to help. In other words, Sestak's first go-to volunteer group during his campaign was the Muslim community rather than the Democratic Party machine. Odd. Finally, Sestak defended his association with CAIR by pointing out that the US government would have shut it down if there were any problems. Perhaps, but the myriad and verifiable dangerous activities with which so many CAIR members have been involved should be more than enough to deter a sitting Congressman from helping CAIR raise money. Meet with them if you feel you must, but assist in fundraising? That smacks of, at the very least, poor judgment.
Sestak told the audience that he had his campaign staff investigate CAIR during his campaign. Perhaps that happened when CAIR-PA Director Iftekhar Hussain made a several hundred dollar contribution to Sestak's campaign and with whom Sestak allegedly visited in his home.
At the town hall synagogue appearance Sestak floundered for several hours during which he was forced to face angry Americans who rejected his flaccid responses to their pointed questions. Since that time, though, no one has called him to task for what certainly seems to be an unnecessarily provocative, some might suggest unwise, decision. Joe Sestak is a US Congressman. Claiming that he is merely satisfying his obligation to meet with Muslim constituents by financially assisting a group like CAIR is not only an insult to non-terrorist related Muslims, but also to all his other constituency groups, and, frankly, to all Americans.
A local newspaper that covered Sestak's appearance at the Philadelphia-area synagogue editorialized that if there were anything to the terrorism-related allegations, there would be a huge public outcry. In fact, the first line of that editorial was: "Give Joe Sestak a break." The mainstream media has been giving Sestak a break which is why there has been no outcry. It is time for those who believe we should be fighting terrorism to stop pandering to dangerous groups. Joe Sestak refuses to break his connection to CAIR, a group with terrorist connections. Because of that, he does not deserve a break. And if he still gets a pass, then shame on all of us.
Here's what you can do about it. Contact his Washington, DC and District offices by phone and fax and tell him that you object to using his position as a U.S. Congressman in supporting a Islamic fundamentalist advocacy group like CAIR with known terrorist ties.
Congressman Joe Sestak's contact information
Washington D.C. Office
1022 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2011
Fax: (202) 226-0280
600 N. Jackson Street
Media , PA19063