Bob Casey Praised CAIR Official Who Urged Fetterman To 'Hang His Head in Shame' Over Support for Israel

Casey has been slow to defend Fetterman from left-wing attacks

L: Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu (CAIR-Philadelphia) R: Sen. Bob Casey (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
June 27, 2024

Sen. Bob Casey has touted an official at a pro-Hamas activist group who this week attacked the Pennsylvania Democrat’s Senate colleague, John Fetterman, for meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relation’s (CAIR) Philadelphia chapter, called on Fetterman to "hang his head in shame" for meeting Netanyahu during a trip to Israel this week. "It is shameful that a senator from our state would meet with and express support for a genocidal war criminal like Benjamin Netanyahu," said Tekelioglu.

That attack could put pressure on Casey to weigh in on the fracture between Fetterman, who has campaigned aggressively on his behalf, and a politically active group Casey has praised in the past.

Casey, running in one of the highest profile Senate elections of the cycle, spotlighted Tekelioglu in May 2021, for his work on "civic engagement." In 2016, Casey praised CAIR’s "fight against rising discrimination" as a "testament to the bravery, work ethic and ideals of everyone involved." Just seven years before that glowing statement, the Department of Justice labeled CAIR an "unindicted coconspirator" of Hamas as part of a terrorism finance investigation. In November, CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said he "was happy to see" Hamas attack Israel on October 7.

Casey has expressed support for Israel in its war with Hamas, but like many Democrats he has shied away from aggressively criticizing the anti-Israel groups aligned with Democrats' left-wing base. President Joe Biden has dispatched campaign and White House officials to Michigan to preserve support from Arab and Muslim voters in the swing state. The Biden team has met with several pro-Hamas activists during those visits, including a newspaper publisher who has called the terrorist group "freedom fighters."

While Fetterman has gone to bat for Casey on the campaign trail, lobbing attacks on Republican Dave McCormick and soliciting campaign donations, Casey has not reciprocated as Fetterman has drawn fire from anti-Israel groups and former staffers over his ardent support for the Jewish state. Activists have adopted the hashtag #GenocideJohn to protest his support for Israel, which a group of former campaign staffers called a "gutting betrayal."

Casey has not publicly defended Fetterman against those attacks. He has also stayed silent on his endorsement of "Squad" member Summer Lee (D., Pa.), one of the most vocal anti-Israel members of the House. Lee, who lists Casey’s endorsement prominently on her website, has accused Israel of genocide and opposed measures to condemn Hamas. She was slated to speak at the annual fundraiser for CAIR Philadelphia earlier this year but pulled out at the last minute because of controversial remarks from some of her fellow speakers.

Casey’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.