The press release is titled "CHICAGOANS TO MARCH AGAINST ISRAELI MASSACRES: Press Conference at Daly Plaza and Rally in front of Israeli Consulate" and begins thus: "The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is co-sponsoring a mass protest along with a coalition of over 30 organizations."
The CAIR release refers to a demonstration that took place in Chicago on January 9. Called the "Mass Protest Against Israel's Attacks on Gaza," its institutional sponsors included, as indicated at ChicagoIndyMedia, the national offices or local affiliates of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, International Solidarity Movement, Muslim American Society, and Muslim Student Association.
When queried by the Chicago Tribune about these signs and flags, CAIR's representative in Chicago, Ahmed Rehab, did acknowledge that the offensive ones should have been confiscated; but this did not happen and neither CAIR nor the other co-sponsors took steps to distance themselves from the street venom. To make matters worse, Rehad insouciantly added:
I think both the protesters who exaggerate the message out of emotion or to draw attention—as well as their critics who jump on it to score a "gotcha"— are distracting from the real and tragic humanitarian crisis at hand … As hundreds of innocent human lives are crushed in full view of the world by a belligerent Israeli government, I find it appalling that some on the pro-Israeli side are better concerned with cardboard paper.
Comments: (1) The war in Gaza has lead to many ugly street demonstrations around the world, including in the United States, often with antisemitic or genocidal themes. The one is Chicago was typical – except for its quasi-establishment quality.
(2) Making political arguments is legitimate (such as the signs in the demonstration stating "YES WE CAN – END US AID TO ISRAEL NOW") but not these signs.
(3) In combination, the signs capture the essential Islamist anti-Zionist message of unrestrained language and imagery, political extremism, pro-terrorism, and Islamic supremacism.
(4) Normally, this sort of message is kept under wraps, especially by CAIR, which seeks to project itself as a civil-rights organization (in the words of Ibrahim Hooper) "similar to a Muslim NAACP." Throughout its history, however, CAIR has occasionally revealed its true colors.
(5) Rehab's airy dismissal of these rank signs is particularly astonishing from an organization that went into overdrive to protest the Danish cartoons. Why were those not just a matter of newsprint and ink?
(6) Amusingly, CAIR has announced its plan to welcome the inauguration of Barack Obama by joining with other American Muslim groups to release what it calls "peace doves." More fitting would be to release Israeli flags being trampled by shoes. (January 19, 2009)