Summer Lee's Progressive Opponent Calls for 'Squad' Member To Return Donations From Prominent Anti-Semites

Summer Lee (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
February 20, 2024

Rep. Summer Lee's (D., Pa.) primary opponent called on the "Squad" member to refund campaign contributions from Muslim activists known for pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Bhavini Patel, Lee's primary challenger in Pennsylvania's 12th district, called on her to return "tainted" contributions from officials with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Students for Justice in Palestine, and American Muslims for Palestine. CAIR president Nihad Awad donated to Lee's campaign on Dec. 29, weeks after the White House denounced him for saying he was "happy" to see Hamas attack Israel, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

"Summer Lee must immediately follow President Biden's lead and distance herself from these hateful, dangerous individuals by returning their tainted contributions," Patel, who serves on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and was a Biden delegate in 2020, said in a statement. "Taking money from anti-Semites who celebrate terrorist attacks and encourage their followers to monitor synagogues is abhorrent behavior."

Patel's remarks highlight the growing rift in the Democratic Party over the Israel-Hamas war. If elected, Patel—who pledges to fight for "reproductive justice" and "climate action"—will likely find herself at loggerheads with other progressives. Lee and her fellow "Squad" members have maintained their criticism of Israel since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, a move that has hurt their fundraising efforts and put them at odds with the White House.

Rabbi Daniel Fellman, the senior rabbi at Pittsburgh's Temple Sinai, echoed Patel's remarks, saying that Lee "must immediately return this money and apologize for her decision to associate with these dangerous individuals."

Lee, who will speak next month at the annual fundraiser for CAIR's Philadelphia chapter, received campaign contributions from other activists known for anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist remarks.

Students for Justice in Palestine founder Hatem Bazian, who gave Lee $2,500 on Dec. 29, has called for "intifada" in the United States and pushed the anti-Semitic claim that the Israeli government harvests Palestinian organs.

Zahra Billoo, the head of CAIR's San Francisco chapter, has referred to mainstream Israeli groups as "enemies," the Free Beacon reported. She was removed from the board of the Women's March in 2019 after she said she was more concerned with "racist Zionists who support apartheid Israel" than with ISIS. She contributed $350 to Lee's campaign.

Osama Abuirshaid, the founder of American Muslims for Palestine, gave $500 to Lee on Dec. 29. He has repeatedly defended Hamas in the past and falsely claimed after the Oct. 7 attack that "most" of the Israelis killed that day "were killed by their own army."

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel group, is spending heavily against Lee and other progressive lawmakers who have criticized Israel's response to Hamas's terrorist attack in October. Lee in private social media posts has called AIPAC an "existential threat to the Black community."

Lee's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.