A Democratic congresswoman from Pennsylvania has canceled her scheduled Saturday address to an Islamic organization, some of whose leaders celebrated Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 rape and slaughter of more than 1,200 Israelis, after she received harsh, bipartisan criticism.

Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa., announced her change of heart Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter, claiming that she hadn’t been aware of “speakers’ previous comments.” But this isn’t the first time Lee has engaged with the individuals connected to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose banquet she had been set to address.

CAIR invited Lee to address its Philadelphia chapter’s annual banquet after at least two of its officials donated to the freshman lawmaker’s campaign.

Nihad Awad, one of her donors and the executive director of CAIR, said in a November speech that the rape and violent killings of Israelis at the hands of Hamas made him “happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land.” 

Zahra Billoo, another donor and the executive director of CAIR for the San Francisco Bay Area, was removed from the board of the liberal Women’s March organization after making comments supporting Hamas’ rocket attacks and encouraging people to “pay attention” to “Zionist synagogues.”

Two of Lee’s other donors, including the co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine and the executive director of American Muslims for Palestine have referred to Jews and Israelis as “organ-harvesters” and “parasites.”

Students from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have introduced a petition that calls for Lee to return those donations.

“We, the undersigned students of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and community members, petition for the immediate return of campaign contributions received by your campaign from Hamas sympathizers and antisemites,” the students wrote.

They asserted that “accepting funds from such donors sends a message that you condone such actions and statements.” 

Those living in Lee’s 12th Congressional District and in Pittsburgh are being encouraged to sign the petition before it’s delivered to Lee’s office “at the end of the week.”

Democrats from Gov. Josh Shapiro to members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives and state Senate had condemned Lee’s prior decision to address the banquet on Saturday.

Bhavini Patel, one of two other women challenging Lee in the April 23 Democratic primary, called Lee’s planned address “appalling.” 

“Summer Lee needs to cancel this appearance and apologize for agreeing to share a stage with them in the first place,” Patel stated in a post on X.

Pennsylvania Republicans also called out Lee’s speaking engagement plans. U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick called on Lee to resign over the scandal on Monday.

Lee hasn’t responded to concerns that her actions and rhetoric might condone and encourage antisemitism, but does describe political opponents as antisemitic. Lee described House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., as a “white supremacist antisemite” in October in response to his nomination at the time for House speaker.

In December, Politico reported that Lee accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee of “textbook racism” and described the organization as “an existential threat to the black community” in private Facebook posts.

Lee had not responded to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by time of publication.

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