By Sean Savage
(JNS) A number of Massachusetts Jewish and pro-Israel groups are condemning several Democratic state lawmakers for participating in an Eid al-Fitr event at the Massachusetts State House being co-hosted by the Massachusetts branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has a long history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment.
In response to an inquiry from JNS regarding the event, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) executive director Jeremy Burton responded:
“We welcome the efforts and intentions of our political leadership to honor and support our Muslim neighbors through events such as an Eid celebration. On the specific partner you have asked about, JCRC has discussed this over the years internally, with our local and national member organizations, and with our interfaith partners. Based on our understanding of unresolved questions about this organization, we consider CAIR to be an inappropriate partner for ourselves and for the mainstream community,” he told JNS.
“We believe that our commonwealth is stronger when faith communities and elected leaders come together and stand with each other in public civic space. It is unfortunate that, in these times of urgent and necessary solidarity across communities, inappropriate actors are being unnecessarily mainstreamed.”
According to a flier for the event, it is being co-hosted by Democratic State Reps. Kay Khan, David Paul Linsky, Tackey Chan, Marjorie Decker, Aaron Vega, Sarah K. Peake, Jonathan Hecht and Denise Provost, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations-MA. The event is set to take place at the State House on June 5 at 11:30 a.m.
The flier says it is an “Eid al-Fitr social” and encourages participants to “join us for traditional Eid sweets to celebrate the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.” Democratic State Rep. David Paul Linsky, who represents the 5th District in Middlesex County and is a co-host for the event, defended his decision to participate.
“I see this event as the same type of event when I host a Purim celebration when we eat hamantaschen in my office or light Hanukkah candles in the State House. This is not a political event or a foreign-policy event. It is a celebration of a happy time in the Muslim religion,” he told JNS.
Linsky reiterated: “One should not read any political stand or policy stand into this. It is purely a happy event. I take pride in celebrating in all cultures and religions.”
‘A long record of ant-Israel activity’
The Massachusetts Republican Jewish Committee called on the state’s Democratic leadership to reprimand its members for participating.
“While we recognize and respect that the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr should be celebrated at the Massachusetts State House, it is monumentally inappropriate for any elected official to co-sponsor this or any event with CAIR,” the group said. “We call upon the Massachusetts State House Democrat Leadership to reprimand its Democrat Members for doing so.”
While Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League’s New England regional director, was not familiar with this event, he pointed JNS to the ADL’s longstanding position on CAIR.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, CAIR has “a long record of anti-Israel activity. Its leadership has accused Israel of being a racist state engaged in genocide and Israel supporters in the U.S. of promoting ‘a culture of hostility towards Islam.’ Its chapters partner with various anti-Israel groups that seek to isolate and demonize the Jewish state.”
In 2007, federal prosecutors named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal conspiracy to financially support the terrorist group Hamas as part of the Holy Land Foundation case. In 2009, the FBI severed relations with CAIR due to concerns of its continued ties with terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. At least seven CAIR board members or staff have been banned from the United States, arrested, indicted, convicted or have pleaded guilty to terrorist charges. The United Arab Emirates also designated CAIR as a terrorist entity in 2014.
More recently, in November 2018, CAIR Los Angeles director Hussam Ayloush was widely condemned for calling for Israel’s “termination.”
Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, also condemned the CAIR event, noting its anti-Israel history.
“According to the ADL and the FBI, ‘CAIR and its founders were part of a group set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to support Hamas,’ an organization whose charter calls for the murder of every Jew on the planet,” he told JNS. “It is tragic that Jewish politicians are now hosting Hamas lobbyists in the State House.”
CAP: The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.