Executive director of the Council for American-Islamic Relations - CAIR Nihad Awad addresssed in a December 9, 2023 interview with Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) the backlash of his statement that he was happy to see the people of Gaza break the siege on October 7 (see MEMRITV clip number 10705). Awad said that White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates' condemnation of his remarks as antisemitic was "unjust." Awad added that if the White House actually saw the video of his speech, "they would not have uttered the word that they did."
However, the video of Awad's November 24, 2023 speech at the AMP convention, titled: "Palestine Convention Session 3 Gaza in Context," which was posted on the YouTube channel of American Muslims in Palestine was removed from the channel. Awad clarified that when he said he was happy on October 7, he meant that he was happy "that regular Palestinian residents walked free in the land that was ethnically cleansed."
Interviewer: "I don't know, you walked [into] a hornet's nest, or you threw a hornet's nest, with your comments that you were glad to see the siege of Gaza ended on October 7. The White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates, the New York Times, said: 'We condemn these shocking antisemitic statements in the strongest terms.' What are your reactions to the White House, and what were you trying to say?"
Nihad Awad: "I am shocked that the White House misconstrued my statement, and labeled me the way they labeled me, unjustly, and without any justification. That is not what I said, I never said that. Actually, if they saw the video, if they saw my speech, they would not have uttered the word that they did. So for that, I ask the White House to reconsider their position, and hear what I said. What I said is that the siege on Gaza is illegal and the Palestinians deserve freedom.
"I always said, and I continue to say, that I will fight antisemitism in the same way, the same strength and vigor that I fight Islamophobia, because both phenomena are evil, and those communities – both the Jewish community and the Muslim community – are targeted because of their faith by extremists, and usually by white extremists.
"I never meant and I never said actually that I support the violence against civilian people – both Israelis and Palestinians.
"So when I say I was happy [on October 7], I meant that regular Palestinian residents walked free in the land that was ethnically cleansed.
"Dehumanization is the first step towards genocide. Jews have gone through this experience in Europe, in many places, and the Palestinians are going through this now in Palestine.
"You cannot live in peace if your neighbor is not in peace, and if you look at your neighbor as a subhuman, and you can exploit them and subjugate them just because you think that somehow you are promised something that was never promised to you."