ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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White House slams 'shocking, antisemitic' remarks

US Muslim leader ‘happy to see Gazans breaking siege on Oct. 7’

Head of CAIR casts massacre as self-defense, while saying Israel ‘does not have right’ to defend itself; Columbia University hosts event praising Hamas ‘liberation fighters’

File: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director Nihad Awad speaks during a news conference, Jan. 30, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
File: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director Nihad Awad speaks during a news conference, Jan. 30, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The founder and executive director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) said last month that he was “happy” to see Gazans “break the siege” on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst through the enclave’s border with Israel, massacred 1,200 people, and took some 240 hostage.

“The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege — the walls of the concentration camp — on October 7,” Nihad Awad said in a speech during the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) convention in Chicago, in footage published Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in,” he added, referring to the blockade Israel and Egypt enforced on Gaza after Hamas took control of the strip in 2007, to prevent the terror group from importing weapons, materials and equipment for attacks.

The October 7 massacre, which came under cover of a massive barrage of rockets fired at Israel, saw terrorists overrun communities and engage in mass slaughter of civilians of all ages. Families were murdered as they huddled together in their homes or were burned to death. Victims, including children, were raped, tortured or mutilated. At an outdoor music festival, over 360 people were massacred.

“And yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, have the right to defend themselves, and yes, Israel, as an occupying power, does not have that right to self-defense,” Awad continued. “Gaza transformed many minds around the world, including people who are not Muslim. What kind of faith do these people have? They are thankful, they are not afraid.

“Israel did not scare them because they knew their heaven is in Gaza, and if they would like to die, they will go to another heaven. That is the faith of the people of Gaza. That is why Gaza and the people of Gaza were able to transform everyone who is watching,” he said.

“They have learned from these people. Those who felt bad for Gaza. They don’t understand the equation. Those who thought that Gazans are less than those who can help them, they are mistaken. They are mistaken. The Gazans were victorious.”

The White House later Thursday condemned the CAIR director’s “shocking, antisemitic statements in the strongest terms.”

The horrific, brutal terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7th were, as President Biden said, ‘abhorrent’ and represent ‘unadulterated evil.’ October 7th was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust,’ said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates Thursday.

“The atrocities of that day shock the conscience, which is why we can never forget the pain Hamas has caused for so many innocent people. There are families who are in agony mourning loves ones, and there are also families in agony as they do everything in their power to free loved ones being held hostage,” Bates went on.

“Every leader has a responsibility to call out antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head,’ said Bates.

CAIR bills itself as a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, but its critics have accused it of promoting antisemitic conspiracies and of links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Four days after October 7, CAIR issued a statement saying that “targeting civilians is wrong, whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, American or any other nationality.”

Meanwhile, students at Columbia University hosted an event on Wednesday — called “Significance of the October 7th Palestinian Counteroffensive” — that praised the October 7 onslaught.

“The Palestinian liberation fighters demonstrated their refusal to be dominated. They showed us that through creativity, determination and combined strength, the masses can accomplish great feats,” one student said at the event.

The university had previously stated the event was canceled, but organizers went ahead with it anyway.

The Columbia School of Social Work, where the event was held, said in a statement that the students were barred access to the room they had intended to use, and instead held it in the lobby without permission.

“School and University administrators informed the students of the possibility of disciplinary action and urged them to disperse, which they did. The matter is now under review under university procedures,” it said.

The event took place as presidents of three top universities in the US refused to explicitly say that calls for genocide of Jewish people violate campus rules on harassment at a high-profile congressional hearing, amid a spike in campus antisemitism since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

When New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked directly if “calling for the genocide of Jews” is against the codes of conduct of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, all three presidents said the answer depended on the context.

“It is a context-dependent decision,” Penn president Liz Magill responded, leading Stefanik to reply, “Calling for the genocide of Jews is dependent on the context? That is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer ‘yes,’ Ms. Magill.”

The presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday appeared to walk back some of their comments in an apparent attempt at damage control.

The college presidents did agree at the hearing that antisemitism was a serious problem on their campuses and had grown more severe since the murderous attack on Israel, and the university leaders all personally criticized anti-Israel activism.

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