Biden Surrogate Ro Khanna Attended Michigan Event With Imam Who Accused Pro-Israel Lawmakers of 'Treason'

Members of Congress who voted for Antisemitism Awareness Act are 'stooges of Israel' who should be 'convicted of treason,' Hassan Qazwini said

Ro Khanna, Hassan Qazwini (Ro Khanna YouTube video)
May 28, 2024

Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) attended an awards gala this month with a Michigan cleric who called for pro-Israel members of Congress to be charged with "treason" and an activist who has repeatedly praised the terrorist group Hamas.

Khanna, a top surrogate for the Biden campaign, was in Dearborn on May 16 to accept a "Courage in Public Service Leadership" award from the Arab-American Civil Rights League. During his acceptance speech, Khanna called for an end to Israel's "occupation" of Gaza and the West Bank and reiterated his calls for a "permanent ceasefire."

Footage of the event released by Khanna's office shows the lawmaker speaking with Hassan Qazwini, the imam for the Islamic Institute of America. A day before the event, reports emerged that Qazwini said in a May 3 sermon that members of Congress who voted for the Antisemitism Awareness Act were "stooges of Israel" who should "be indicted and convicted of treason." Khanna voted against the bill, which requires the Department of Education to adopt a widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism for investigations into anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.

Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley in Congress, shared a stage at the event with activist Amer Zahr, who serves on the board of the Arab-American Civil Rights League. Zahr, a former Bernie Sanders surrogate, has a history of defending anti-Israel terrorist groups. In 2017, he said that "whether it's called Hamas, whether it's called Hezbollah, we stand with everybody who stands against the Israeli occupation." In 2021, Zahr urged activists who are "condemning anti-Semitism and condemning terrorism" to "stop it," the Washington Free Beacon reported.

It's the latest example of Bidenworld courting anti-Israel and pro-Hamas activists. The White House and Biden campaign sent officials to Dearborn earlier this year to meet with activists who openly praise Hamas and refer to Biden as "Genocide Joe."

Democrats have sought to shore up Biden's waning support among Michigan's Muslim and Arab communities, which constitute a large voting bloc in the swing state. Khanna has embraced what the New York Times called an "unofficial role" as mediator between the Biden campaign and Michigan activists disenchanted with the president's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

"We cannot win Michigan with status quo policy," Khanna told the Times following a visit to Dearborn in February. Khanna told the paper he obtained approval from the Biden campaign before the trip.

It is unclear if Khanna's latest visit to Dearborn was approved by the campaign.

A spokeswoman for Khanna said the congresswoman "was not aware of comments made by other individuals" at the gala and that the other speakers' remarks "do not reflect his own position."

"Rep. Khanna has clearly and repeatedly condemned the horrific October 7 Hamas attack and kidnappings, held a town hall to bring awareness to rising antisemitism, voted to condemn antisemitic phrases, and introduced a bipartisan resolution to tackle antisemitism on college campuses," Khanna spokeswoman Marie Baldassarre said.

Update 4:50 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from Khanna's office.