The Charities Review Council Stumbles Regarding CAIR

Despite being informed about the Council for American-Islamic Relations’ origins,  ties  to terrorist organizations, anti-Semitism, and racism, the Charities Review Council refuses to remove CAIR from its list of worthy nonprofits. 

The Charities Review Council (CRC) is a nationwide organization that matches donors with not-for profit organizations that meet its “accountability standards.”  Established in 1946, CRC claims to strengthen nonprofits internal policies and accountability and prides itself that “every precious dollar goes to strong, ethical, and trustworthy nonprofits.” They claim to educate nonprofits about transparency and how being transparent is crucial in meeting its rigorous accountability standards. Its strategic priorities include culturally responsible giving and being a model for integrity. 

In November the executive director of CRC, Kris Kewitsch, admitted in a telephone discussion that she was unaware of CAIR’s origins or its ongoing support of terrorist organizations and anti-Semitism.  She welcomed the opportunity to be informed.  She was provided information about the FBI’s wiretapped evidence from a 1993 meeting of Hamas leaders discussing the formation of CAIR.  She was sent links about U.S. prosecutors identifying CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator  in the federal case against the Holy Land Foundation raising money for Hamas in the United States. She was shown that United Arab Emirates, a pious Muslim country, designated CAIR a terrorist organization. She was informed that the State of Arkansas passed a House Resolution suspending outreach and contact with CAIR because CAIR officials were sentenced to prison on terrorism charges. She was advised that the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau severed its partnership with CAIR because of its ties to the terrorist group Hamas.

CRC specifically lists  CAIR-Los Angeles and CAIR Philadelphia as meeting its “Accountability Standards.”  CRC was presented with information how the Anti-Defamation League exposed  CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush’ history of anti-Semitism, including calling Israel  a ‘cancerous tumor’ and implying that denying the Holocaust is morally equivalent to supporting “Zionism and its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”  (The Palestinian Arab population has increased since the establishment of Israel).

Ms. Kewitsch was sent a link to an article  CAIR-Philadelphia executive director Jacob Bender  wrote in which he said Jewish Americans “will argue that slavery is dwarfed by the Holocaust” and accused them of “counting the corpses competition.”  Bender’s statement is in line with numerous other examples of CAIR’s anti-Semitism. The organization urged supporters to lobby against the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019, legislation directing the U.S. Department of Education to adopt the same International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism that the U.S. State Department embraced in 2016. All this was sent to CRC.     

CRC was informed that when the Philadelphia branch of the Muslim American Society (MAS) uploaded a video of children singing, “We will chop off their heads, and liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Bender said the incident “was not an example of radicalization.”  And when Imam Abdelimohsen Abouhaab delivered three anti-Semitic sermons at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in North Philadelphia, CAIR-Philadelphia rewarded the mosque leader by hosting him at its upcoming banquet.

CRC was also advised that CAIR had temporarily lost its tax-exempt status for failing to disclose funding from foreign governments.

Kewitsch seemed grateful for all the information and promised to present it at the board of directors’ January meeting for their review.  She also invited additional information that might help form the board’s decision.

Kewitsch was informed about Jacob Bender’s baseless, racist remarks about the Capitol police in the wake of the Capitol Hill riots on January 6. Bender wrote  “We can only imagine the number of rioters that would have been killed by the Capitol police had hundreds of Black men and women stormed the U.S. Capitol Building… Or if the rioters had been American Muslims, how many would have been shot by the police.”  In the same article he attacked pro-Israel commentators even though the riots on Capitol Hill had nothing to do with Israel.

In February, Kewitsch was given addition information about  CAIR Philadelphia’s Board Chair Osama Al-Qasem, whose name is mentioned on CRC’s website. His father, Anis-Al-Qasem was one of the co-founders in 1964 of the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It was explained to Kewitsch that at that time the area commonly known as the West Bank, where Palestinians say they would like to have their own state, was under the control of Jordan. Therefore the only purpose for the establishment of the PLO was to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.  Anis–Al-Qasem also helped financially support jailed Palestinian terrorists. 

Since November numerous voicemails were left and many emails were sent to CRC.   All were ignored. Yet CAIR Philadelphia and CAIR Sacramento remain two of CRC’s highly regarded nonprofits that meet its accountability standards, its transparency standards and models for integrity.  By continuing to endorse CAIR the Charities Review Council legitimizes extremism and provides a platform for anti-Semites, terrorists, and racists.   

Leonard  Getz is the Philadelphia Associate with the Counter-Islamist Grid, a project of the Middle East Forum.   He’s also the author of the film book From Broadway to the Bowery

Image: Charities Review Council