CAIR-NJ Condemns Rep. Gottheimer’s Alleged Anti-Muslim Remarks at Caucus Meeting, Calls on Him to Address Israeli Violence
(NEWARK, NJ, 10/12/2023) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-N.J.) reported anti-Muslim remarks about Israel’s war on Gaza at a closed-door caucus meeting.
Rep. Gottheimer allegedly interjected when a Pennsylvania House Democrat said that she did not want any religious community to feel ostracized, referring to a vigil she attended virtually in the wake of Israel’s war on Gaza. The vigil was absent of Muslim leaders. Some of the caucus meeting attendees reportedly overheard Rep. Gottheimer saying, “because they’re all guilty,” while others said he stated, “because they should feel guilty,” allegedly in reference to the Pennsylvania representative’s comment.
Others in the room were also taken aback by Rep. Gottheimer’s remarks, which they saw as insensitive to Muslims, according to Politico. One Democratic lawmaker shouted out: “Joshua!”
Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas) told Rep. Gottheimer that his remarks were a “sh-t thing to say,” according to Politico, and called him “shameful.”
Rep. Gottheimer later told other Democrats at the meeting that his comments were taken out of context.
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:
The allegations against Rep. Gottheimer are deeply disturbing, particularly because members of his constituency wrote to him this week expressing concerns and making direct and clear asks.
If such allegations are true, it stands that his remarks are not only insensitive, but also accusatory and inflammatory. What, exactly, are Muslims guilty of? What should they feel guilty about? What sort of message does this send?
The representative’s approach to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its ongoing siege of Gaza — and current war — have been consistently inaccurate and unethical. They overlook and dehumanize Palestinians as a whole.
We reiterate our asks and call on him to condemn the root cause of violence in Gaza, which is Israel’s ongoing siege and blockade of the strip. We continue to mourn the loss of innocent life and stand firmly in unwavering solidarity with Gazans, who have the right to freedom.
Separately, CAIR-NJ wrote an open letter to New Jersey elected officials, calling on them to respond to the calls of Palestinian civil society and to act in response to Israel’s war on Gaza.
Muslim community members also wrote to their representatives, calling on them to address Israel’s belligerency in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank, which the UN calls a “substantial obstacle to peace.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, firstname.lastname@example.org, 908-668-5900 ext. 103