Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas who resigned from Hearst newspapers in the wake of comments she made about Israel last June will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) during the group’s 16th annual Leadership Conference and Fundraising Banquet next month. Thomas’ comments in which she told Israelis to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to “Poland, Germany . . . and America and everywhere else” sparked a national outcry which forced the former journalist to apologize and retire.
Putting the icing on the cake, Dr. Tariq Ramadan will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Ramadan, an Islamic Studies professor and Swiss national of Egyptian and Muslim Brotherhood descent, was banned by the Department of Homeland Security from entering the United States from 2004 to 2010. According to the DHS, Ramadan’s ban was based on “public safety or national security interests” in accordance with a law that denies entry to aliens who have used a “position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.”
Dr. Tariq Ramadan
Ramadan’s ban was lifted in January 2010 by the Obama administration as part of the president’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim world.
For an organization whose mission is to “enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding,” CAIR’s timing with honoring these not-so-honorable individuals is telling, but not surprising. For years, analysts have criticized the Islamic advocacy group for its connections to terrorist organizations. The proof: In January 2009, the FBI severed its ties with the Islamic organization after a 15-year investigation culminated with the conviction of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Shining a light on CAIR’s past and present practices is important given its support for the more radical factions in Islam. The question that remains now is: is the moderate Muslim community best served by CAIR?