Democrat Raphael Warnock was already struggling to beat back allegations of anti-Semitism, and then Linda Sarsour and Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib jumped into the Georgia Senate election picture.
The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] plans to hold Sunday evening a virtual “vote-a-thon” aimed at encouraging Georgia Muslims to vote in the Jan. 5 run-off elections, an event featuring the Democratic congresswomen as well as Ms. Sarsour.
All three have expressed support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment cause, and all three have been embroiled in recent years in headline-grabbing anti-Semitism controversies. All three deny being anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish.
The campaign of Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces Mr. Warnock in the run-off, issued a statement Saturday accusing CAIR of “amplifying the voices of notorious anti-Semites such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – both of whom are participating in CAIR’s campaign event tomorrow night for Warnock.”
“It’s no surprise to see such a radical fringe group support Raphael Warnock,” said the Loeffler campaign. “On Israel, CAIR and Warnock’s beliefs align perfectly. Warnock has been repeatedly exposed for his anti-Israel positions.”
Murtaza Khwaja, CAIR-Georgia legal and policy director, countered that the virtual gathering, co-sponsored by the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, is aimed at getting out the vote and not endorsing any political candidate.
“Almost every word of this dangerous and defamatory anti-Muslim screed is factually inaccurate,” said Mr. Khwaja in an email. “As a nonpartisan civil rights organization, we cannot and do not endorse any political candidates; we instead encourage all Georgia Muslims to vote, regardless of which candidates they support.”
Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib, the first two Muslim congresswomen, are also “American Muslim community leaders, and their presence encourages Muslims to turn out to vote in a non-partisan fashion,” said Robert McCaw, CAIR government affairs director.
Both congresswomen are also known for their progressive-left stances on issues. Ms. Omar recently defended Mr. Warnock after he was slammed for saying in 2011 that “nobody can serve God and the military,” calling the GOP criticism “a disgrace and shameful.”
TONIGHT: CAIR-GA: #Georgia Muslim Virtual Vote-A-Thon to Feature Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and National Leadershttps://t.co/S9Xlr47LMC@EdAhmedMitchell@CAIR_GA@RashidaTlaib@IlhanMN@Ilhan@GAMVP#Election2020pic.twitter.com/ZD3iEVj6rj— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) December 13, 2020
The Rev. Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, has sought to defuse anti-Semitism charges based on his previous Israel criticism, which includes accusing Israel of shooting unarmed Palestinians like “birds of prey” in a 2018 sermon and signing a 2019 letter comparing Israel control of the West Bank to “apartheid South Africa.”
Last week, Mr. Warnock said on a call organized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America that he opposes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and referred to his “increasing recognition of Hamas and the danger they pose to the Israeli people,” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“As you might imagine, I’m a pastor,” Mr. Warnock said on the Tuesday call. “I preach every Sunday, I preach a lot of sermons. And I think that, as I recall that sermon, I was speaking to the issue of activists and human rights, and the ability of people to be heard.”
Ms. Tlaib came under renewed criticism for retweeting on Nov. 29, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will soon be free,” which the group Stop Antisemitism described as “code for eradicating the state of Israel and its millions of Jews.”
Rashida Tlaib RT’s out the same message that got Marc Lamont Hill canned from CNN.— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) November 30, 2020
From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free - code for eradicating the State of Israel and its millions of Jews.
Reminder - this is a sitting U.S. Congresswoman pic.twitter.com/zEWOptrGPW
Ms. Sarsour stepped down last year as a co-chair of the Women’s March amid a shake-up over the leadership’s alleged anti-Semitism. She appeared at a 2015 rally sponsored by the Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan, and hugged convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh before her 2017 deportation.
Ms. Omar has been accused repeatedly of making anti-Semitic statements—Stop Anti-Semitism named her “2019 Anti-Semite of the Year”—including a 2012 tweet saying “Israel has hypnotized the world,” for which she apologized last year.
Others scheduled to particulate in the vote-a-thon include Imam Suhaib Webb; Dalia Mogahed, director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding; CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad, and actor Rizwan Manji.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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