Connections between the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Hamas, or CAIR's anti-Israel stance, are not relevant to a lawsuit seeking to block San Diego's Unified School District (SDUSD) from working with CAIR, the school district argues in court papers.
In its lawsuit, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) cites "CAIR's longstanding ties to Islamic extremist groups such as Hamas, which is opposed to Jewish statehood and which calls for the elimination of all Jews."
"These allegations have no bearing on Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants, and are only included to inflame the public against SDUSD by its association with CAIR," the school district's lawyers wrote last week.
They also claim that mentioning of CAIR's Hamas ties, which the FBI has acknowledged in writing, is "scandalous" and gives a "nefarious" character to the school district's relationship with CAIR, which involved an anti-bullying campaign.
Internal records seized by the FBI from members of a Hamas-support network to support Hamas in the United States show CAIR was under the network's umbrella. CAIR's co-founders also were included on a telephone list of "Palestine Committee" members. In addition, witnesses told the FBI that CAIR was founded to aid Hamas.
The school district agreed to stop working with CAIR last July because CAIR's executive director acknowledged it is a primarily a religious organization, creating constitutional challenges for a governmental body..
The school district's motion also complains that the FCDF failed to explain how CAIR's Hamas ties affected the instructional materials used by the school district.
"By incorporating these politically charged claims – Plaintiffs' clear intent is to attack CAIR on impertinent matters and hope that the scandalous nature of these allegations will confuse the relevant issues and reflect poorly on SDUSD. This is not allowed," the district's motion said.
FCDF Executive Director Dan Piedra dismissed the district's claim as a "delaying tactic." "To say that our claims lack factual support at this stage of the litigation is inappropriate," Piedra said. At this point in the litigation courts assume that what the plaintiffs say is true.
FCDF's claims about CAIR's Hamas ties and anti-Israel stance is relevant, Piedra said, because the group already helped shaped the curriculum and replace textbooks it didn't like. This could lead to CAIR censoring textbooks that run contrary to its narrative about the Palestinians.
He dismissed the school district's assertion that including reference to CAIR's Hamas ties in his suit prejudiced the school district, saying the district already has accomplished this by working with CAIR. The jury will never see any of FCDF's claims in its lawsuit; consequently, Piedra sees no chance the paragraphs about CAIR's Hamas ties would prejudice the case's outcome.
"Their arguments are scattershot and doggedly resistant to seeing why parents are aghast that they are defending CAIR because this organization that has indisputable ties to terrorism and a history of anti-Semitic statements," Piedra said.