Smears are like McCarthyism

May 12

The Florida Times-Union
May 10, 2007

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a long history of positive social and political activism.

Our educational initiatives have opened doors to dialogue and mutual understanding with Americans of all faiths. Yet a recent letter to the editor was published with a provocative but blatantly false headline, “CAIR supports Hamas.”

Former President Carter, in a recent CNN interview, said “there’s a good chance” that Hamas, which has operated a network of successful social and charitable organizations for Palestinians, could become a nonviolent organization.

After meeting with Hamas leaders, he said, “They told me they want to have a peaceful administration.” Should anyone now allege that Carter is a “terrorist” sympathizer because he advocates political dialogue with Hamas? Just as truth is the first casualty of war, so is rationality the first victim when fear overcomes reason.

After attending a CAIR banquet, Rabbi Arthur Waskow (named as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America) wrote the following in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice: “A larger number of Jews attended as supporters … I spoke as a religious Jew committed to peace between Israel and Palestine. … They strongly applauded my remarks about the need for each single one of us members of the family of Abraham to feel personally wounded when any member of the family kills another. Former Ambassador Ed Peck gave the keynote address.

“Some of his family were Jewish, and were murdered in the Holocaust. Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania gave a warm and warmly received speech. He is himself Jewish. … CAIR strongly condemns terrorist actions, but not whole organizations. … So CAIR’s view is that to condemn the whole organization outright, as distinct from specific terrorist actions, is to demonize all its parts instead of trying to peel away the disgusting actions that CAIR does oppose.”

The New York Times on March 14, wrote, “More than one (government official) described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association. …A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link [CAIR] to Hamas and Hezbollah.”

We are comforted by the wise words of the Rev. Martin Luther King: “Our finite disappointments ought not to make us give up on the infinite hope of equality and justice for all people.”
Over the years, CAIR has received hundreds of letters of support from elected officials, law enforcement agencies and interfaith leaders.

The statements from these leaders can be found on our Web site (

A recent letter of support signed by 203 Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i leaders, professors and concerned citizens said, “We could and would have freely and accurately characterized CAIR as a responsible and highly esteemed force for reconciliation and sanity, both in international affairs and in deepening interfaith understanding here in the United States.”

People who engage in smear tactics never had the temerity to talk to us or get to know us. Which group should Americans of conscience pay attention to?

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