The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee encouraged Muslims to boycott tonight’s Iftar dinner at the White House in celebration of Ramadan, citing the administration’s support for Israel.
The dinner is scheduled in the State Dining Room for 8:55 p.m., after the sun goes down to break the daily fast in accordance with Islamic law. Ramadan ends July 28.
In a statement, the committee aid the “deplorable situation” in Gaza, “brought on by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned illegal occupation of Palestine, has received no direct action from President Obama.”
“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will not be attending this year’s government iftars and calls upon members of the Arab and Muslim communities to join us in the boycott, including tonight’s White House Iftar hosted by President Barack Obama, given the government’s condoning of the current slaughter of Palestinians in Palestine and the spying of American Arabs and Muslims domestically,” the group said in a statement.
“In the government’s silence, Israel is committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault. Our American tax dollars have contributed to over 100 civilian casualties as of Monday morning, of which 70% are estimated by the United Nations to be women and children,” continued the statement.
The ADC cited recent reporting from Glenn Greenwald that revealed “the government’s indiscriminate and ongoing criminalization of the community” through NSA spying on some Arab and Muslim community leaders.
“Political engagement is important and having a seat at the table is crucial — but only when that seat is intended to amplify our voice as a community, not tokenize or subdue it… In lieu of this year’s government iftars, ADC asks that senior officials take immediate steps to end Israel’s current military operation in Palestine and abolish the problematic practices of the NSA regarding the illegal surveillance of our community,” said the ADC.
“If President Obama and the U.S. government truly seek to empower and connect with the Arab and Muslim communities, they must provide a forum for such dialogue to take place. While our request for a meeting with Secretary of State John F. Kerry continues to be ignored, we ask that senior officials meet with the community to discuss these important issues. Government iftars, such as the White House Iftar, are highly politicized events that will be taking place in the shadow of the government’s lack of representation of the community, and will provide no room for this productive dialogue.”
Asked about the boycott at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the purpose of the Iftar dinner “is to observe a religious tradition that Muslims all around the globe are observing at this time of Ramadan.”
“It also is an opportunity for the president and other senior administration officials to pay tribute to the important role that Muslim Americans play in American communities all across the country,” he said. “There are immigrants to this country from a variety of regions of the world who are Muslim, and it is important for every American to understand that they are critical to the success of our country and inter-woven into the basic fabric that makes United States of America such a unique place to live.”
“We certainly respect the differences that some people may have on this — on these matters, but we would not want that to overshadow the efforts of the president and other senior administration officials to pay tribute to the contribution that so many American Muslims play in their communities.”