The men in question are Rep. Joe Sestak, the freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania. By appearing at a fundraising dinner for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations this past weekend, the two have allowed their personal prestige to be used to bolster a group whose conduct and goals remain anathema to democracy and the defense of the United States and Israel.
Though CAIR presents itself as a group whose purpose is to advocate for embattled American Muslims, it was founded a decade ago as the public-relations arm of American supporters of Hamas, a terrorist group declared as such by the U.S. government. It raised money for Hamas' front group, the Holy Land Foundation, which has since been deemed illegal by the federal government. Its members and leaders have been known to advocate for terrorist acts against Israel and the United States.
CAIR has declared its opposition to such things, yet it has remained a loyal supporter and apologist for Hamas and Hezbollah. A campaign on its behalf (funded largely by sources in the Arab world, whose antipathy to America and Israel are well-known), has sought to whitewash it. But there is no evading the fact that CAIR is a hate group, as well as a vicious opponent of both Israel and America's war on Islamist terror.
You would think that such a record would render the group's events off-limits to national leaders.
However, Sestak, whose planned speech was a source of controversy for weeks, and Rendell, who made an unscheduled appearance at the same event, defend their behavior as simply a matter of meeting with constituents. In particular, Sestak has claimed that it was his obligation to speak to CAIR, even if he disagreed with it.
To his credit, in his speech the man did chide CAIR for refusing to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. He rightly said that to do so was akin to those who "did not speak out against the perpetrators of Jim Crow laws." But by his presence there, Sestak has lent credibility to CAIR's laughable pretense that it is a "civil-rights group." The truth is that CAIR has more in common with segregationists and other hate groups than it does with the NAACP. Would he — or Rendell, for that matter — show up at a Ku Klux Klan fundraiser and say it was just a matter of talking to voters?
Their appearance has also unfortunately helped bolster the false argument that the only opponents of CAIR are anti-Muslim extremists. Opposition to the group runs across the board among national Jewish organizations and anti-terror experts. Sadly, Sestak and Rendell's misjudgment also helps stifle the efforts of genuinely moderate American Muslims and Arabs who have been crowded out of the public square by extremists.
It must be clearly stated that although both these men are Democrats, this is not a partisan issue. Leading national Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others have stated on the record that they want nothing to do with CAIR. Like most Democrats, Sestak has an established record of support for Israel, as does Rendell, the longtime mayor of Philadelphia. But by helping to sanitize CAIR's image and to boost its already bulging purse, they have materially damaged the fight against terrorism and the efforts to defend the Jewish state.
We have a right to expect much better from our leaders.