Keith Ellison (D-MN) is shaping up to be the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, and the mainstream media is treating his candidacy as a huge human-interest story and a triumph of multiculturalism. The Christian Science Monitor gushed that “when Keith Ellison arrives at the Karmel Square, one of Minneapolis’s Somali malls, a rock star might as well be walking by the bustling stalls of bright fabrics, jewelry, phone cards, and videos.” It quoted Larry Jacobs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota exulting: “You think of the stereotype of Minnesota -- Garrison Keillor and white Norwegian farmers. The first Muslim congressman coming from Minnesota? It says a lot about the changing face of the United States and Minnesota.”
Of course, not all is rosy: the Monitor notes that “conservative bloggers” and Ellison’s Republican opponent, Alan Fine, have raised questions about Ellison’s alleged ties to the Nation of Islam, as well as about a number of unpaid parking tickets that led to the suspension of his drivers’ license. But the Monitor doesn’t mention the most troubling aspect of Ellison’s record: the support he has received from the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Journalist Joel Mowbray has been virtually the only journalist who has pursued this connection, exploring in a recent column “Mr. Ellison’s seemingly tight connection with Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whom he met almost two decades ago at the University of Minnesota.” Mowbray reports that “Mr. Awad headlined a fundraiser last month that the campaign estimates netted $15,000 to $20,000, and in July, and it appears that CAIR’s co-founder bundled contributions totaling just over $10,000. (The campaign issued a terse denial on the latter point, though it refused to explain away overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)” Faced with this evidence, Ellison’s backers have “attempted to paint attacks on the candidate as overtly partisan or even bigoted. A Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist, for example, recently suggested that Mr. Ellison is under attack solely for being Muslim.”
What is so troubling about Ellison’s connection with Awad and CAIR? Mowbray quotes the assessments of two leading Democrats: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has declared that CAIR “is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its association with groups that are suspect.” New York Senator Charles Schumer, once said that CAIR “has ties to terrorism” and that Ellison’s supporter Awad has “intimate connections with Hamas.” Mowbray establishes the latter point from Awad’s own mouth, quoting his 1994 statement: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.”
Awad himself responded to this in an AP story about Ellison’s candidacy: “I don’t support Hamas today,” he explained. “My position and CAIR’s position is extremely clear -- we condemn suicide bombings. We are mainstream American Muslims.” AP reporter Frederic Frommer added that a Republican charge that Ellison had received “financial support from a self-identified supporter of Hamas” was a “reference to Awad's 1994 statement that he preferred Hamas to the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In an interview, Awad said that was before the group engaged in suicide bombings and was designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.”
But of course, saying flatly that “I am in support of the Hamas movement” is not simply stating a preference for Hamas over the PLO. In any case, if Awad supported Hamas before 1994, it is useful to examine what that means. I have here preserved the old Hamas website’s “glory record” of attacks against Israelis – the terrorist organization’s own record of its murderous actions. Here are some of Hamas’ self-described exploits from before 1994:
3. Boureen Operation: The militant Hamdan Hussein Al:najar, a member of Hamas, killed the Israeli settler Ya’coub Berey using a big rock as his weapon. The militant was shot down as a martyr after he had ambushed an Israeli patrol using the dead settler’s weapon....
6. Bus No. 405 Operation: Militant Ahmed Hussein Shukry, a member of Hamas, was able to lead an Israeli soldier to a secluded place in Tel Aviv where the militant hit the soldier with a chisel and killed him on 8 September 1989. The following day, the militant got on bus No. 405 and stabbed the driver to take over the bus; however, the passengers were able to stop the militant....
12. Keryat Youval Operation: The militant Mohammed Mustafa Abu Jalala stabbed four Israelis and injured another at a bus station in Keryat Youval in Jerusalem before he was arrested by the Israeli forces.
13. Askalan Road Operation: While driving a taxi, the militant Jameel Ismail Al:baz, a member of Hamas, ran over a group of Israelis waiting on this road on 19 July 1991....
15. Shailou Operation: A military group belonging to Al Qassam Brigades attacked an Israeli bus carrying some settlers on their way to Tel Aviv to participate in demonstrations organized by the extremist party Likud against the peace process. The bus was completely destroyed; two Israelis were killed and five more were injured....
17. Eid Al-maskhara Operation: The militant Ra’ed Al:reefy attacked an Israeli crowd in Jaffa on 17 March 1992. He was able to kill 2 and injure 21 Israelis who gathered to celebrate Eid Al:maskhara, also known as Al:boureem.
18. Beit Lahya Operation: On the third anniversary of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's arrest, a group belonging to Al Qassam Brigades attacked an Israeli settler at Beit Lahya and shot him down then withdrew safely....
21. Carlo Factory Operation: Four militants belonging to Al Qassam Brigades broke into a citrus packing factory (Carlo) near Nahal Oaz at 2:30 p.m. on 25 June 1992. Three militants stabbed two Israelis while the other was guarding....
Suicide bombings? No. Terrorist attacks on civilians? Sure. And there are many, many more on the list dating from before 1994. So are we to understand that Awad supported such operations and only stopped supporting Hamas later, although these was no change in its ideology and no change in its taste for victimizing civilians?
When Awad says that he and CAIR do not support Hamas today, it should be recalled that in March 2004, when Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was killed by Israel, CAIR condemned his killing -- without ever mentioning that Yassin was the mastermind and director of suicide killings for Hamas: “We condemn this violation of international law as an act of state terrorism by Ariel Sharon's out-of-control government. Israel’s extra-judicial killing of an Islamic religious leader can only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence throughout the region. The international community must now take concrete steps to help protect the Palestinian people against such wanton Israeli violence.”
When did CAIR stop supporting Hamas? On Monday I searched the CAIR website for “Hamas.” There are three possible searches: News Briefs, Action Alerts, and Press Releases. Only News Briefs turned up anything at all: an old article from Haaretz attacking Ariel Sharon.
So if CAIR now condemns Hamas, where is it saying so? Just in the lower paragraphs of articles about other subjects? We can’t even get one press release about it? Not one Action Alert calling on Muslims everywhere to condemn Hamas?
Before Minnesotans elect Keith Ellison to Congress, they need to know the answers to these questions.
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