Nihad Awad, the founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was presented with the Robert Coles “Call of Service” award this weekend at Harvard University to celebrate his work with defending Muslims and for advancing “justice and mutual understanding,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The student-run organization, the Phillips Brooke House Association (PBHA), found Awad’s work to be quite exemplary and worthy of such an honor, even though Awad and his organization support Hamas and reject Israel’s right to exist. Of course, the PBHA has a terrible history of handing the award over to recipients such as former Vice President Al Gore and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and other leftists, but giving it to a terror-tied organization is even more baffling.
As our very own Discover the Networks database explains, Awad’s past should easily exclude his receiving any praise:
- Awad was the public-relations director of the Islamic Association for Palestine - a front for Hamas.
- Has fought for the removal of the word “Israel” from Muslim magazine articles and in its place, “Occupied Palestine.”
- Awad opened the first CAIR office in Washington, DC with a donation from a Hamas group.
- Has complained that “many presidents… are servants to Israel.”
- Has spoken multiple times on a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated website, where he charged the “Christian Right and the pro-Israel lobby” as “extremists.”
- Awad also partly blames Israel for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and America for the 9/11 attacks.
And in spite of that, Harvard believes he deserves a heap of praise for helping Muslims. But it’s not sitting well with others outside the leftist academia bubble.
Co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress, Zainab Al-Suwaij, is one of them, calling the PBHA “ignorant” for failing to see Awad’s associations in its zeal to crown him with the honor. Al-Suwaij said her organization was formed post-9/11 in response to what she calls the Muslim community’s “very defensive response” to the attacks. She adds that the AIC doesn’t play the Islamophobia card like CAIR does and prefers not to portray itself as perpetual victims.
The Jewish campus organization Hillel International sent a letter to Harvard President Drew Fraust criticizing the student group’s decision:
"To honor Mr. Awad with such a prestigious award validates and glorifies his extremist views and actions, and provides him a prestigious forum to further his harmful oratory.
“We do not seek to ban any speech or speaker, but neither will we stand by when an institution as esteemed as Harvard honors a supporter of terrorist organizations and provides him with a prestigious platform to espouse his hateful views. Until now, PBHA has developed a sterling reputation for public service. With its choice of honoree this year, PBHA is applying its good name and reputation to a normalization or countenance of support for terror. It is wrong for PBHA to teach by way of example that support of terror can be accepted or ignored."
Harvard Hillel executive director Rabbi Jonah Steinberg described the award to Awad as “truly dangerous.” Yet, Harvard has so far refused to respond to the Free Beacon’s request for comment. CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper did respond, eventually, with a vociferous defense of the associations of his organization’s founder: “Show forgiveness, speak for justice, and avoid the ignorant.”
And also, avoid the serious issues being raised against Awad, apparently.