Summer Lee Cancels CAIR Speech, Still Praises the Pro-Hamas Group

Summer Lee (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
February 27, 2024

Rep. Summer Lee (D., Pa.) canceled an upcoming appearance at a fundraiser for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an anti-Israel group whose leader recently praised Hamas’s attack on Israel.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that Lee was slated to speak at a CAIR fundraiser on March 2, and that the Squad member received donations from Nihad Awad, the group’s executive director. The White House denounced Awad in December for stating he was "happy" that Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Jewish Insider reported that other speakers at the fundraiser have a history of anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks.

Lee, whose district encompasses the site of the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting, quickly came under fire for associating with the pro-Hamas group. Bhavini Patel, Lee’s Democratic primary challenger, called on Lee to cancel her appearance and return Awad’s campaign contributions. Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick this week called on Lee to resign from Congress and urged Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey, who backs Lee, to do the same.

In a statement Tuesday, Lee distanced herself from other speakers at the CAIR event, but defiantly defended the anti-Israel group.

She said she does "not condone or endorse" any of the speakers’ past remarks, but accused critics of trying to "demonize" CAIR, which she called "our country’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization."

Lee said she is canceling her appearance in part "to prevent the Muslim community from being the target of any more politically-motivated Islamophobia."

CAIR, founded in 1994, was named an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity found guilty of raising money for Hamas. A Department of Justice report released during the Obama-Biden administration stated that evidence at the Holy Land Foundation trial "linked CAIR leaders to Hamas."