The Jewish Community Relations Council recently criticized Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid for advocating bringing Hamas into Middle East peace talks.
A statement released by the Jewish council criticized Walid's remarks at a September 3rd Jerusalem Day Rally held outside of Dearborn City Hall. According to the group, Walid "rejected this week's Washington peace talks, which were led by President Obama and attended by Arab and Israeli leaders…Walid called for Hamas to be invited to the talks."
When questioned by The Detroit News Walid's response was simply:
"I didn't even mention the word Hamas."
He didn't use the name "Hamas," but Walid most definitely referred to the group during his speech, implying that there couldn't be legitimate peace talks without them:
"Now how in the world can there be a realistic discussion about peace talks when the entity which represents the elected government of the Palestinian people during a fair election that was monitored by international inspectors, including former president Jimmy Carter is not at the peace table?"
Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006, so Walid's reference to "the elected government of the Palestinian people" has limited interpretations. Still, he continued:
"Whether you agree with their politics or not, and there are certain things that the government in Gaza has done that I do not agree with, but we know that Mahmoud Abbas is not voted in as the legitimate president of the Palestinian people, and we know that these talking points that even the Obama administration is repeating which is Bush administration talking points, that somehow there was a coup d'états and the government in Gaza actually took over Gaza from Fatah. We know this is complete nonsense. We know this is nonsense, so therefore how can there be real peace talks?"
Longstanding American policy prohibits contact with Hamas until the terrorist group recognizes Israel's right to exist and agrees to negotiate peacefully.
Walid omitted this when he added: "You don't sit down with someone who is not even the representative of the people to sit down to make peace with the people."
It's not surprising that Walid wanted to avoid the issue, considering the heat that his organization, CAIR, has taken for its ties to Hamas.
CAIR was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas financing trial, which ended in all guilty verdicts in 2008. CAIR Co-Founder Omar Ahmad was separately listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. When CAIR asked the court to strike its name from the list, the government responded:
"CAIR has been identified by the government at trial as a participant in an ongoing and ultimately unlawful conspiracy to support a designated terrorist organization, a conspiracy from which CAIR never withdrew."
In 2009, the FBI ended all formal relationships with CAIR. In an April 28, 2009 letter, Assistant Director of the Office of Congressional Affairs Richard C. Powers explained the reason for the FBI's decision to suspend its working relationship with CAIR. In the letter to U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, Powers cited HLF evidence and explained that "until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."