Commonwealth Club virtual event went forward on Feb. 11 despite heavy criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which charged the two speakers with holding “anti-Muslim” and “anti-Palestinian” views.
CAIR, a national organization with a chapter in Santa Clara, not only lobbied to have the event canceled at the 11th hour, but the resulting dust-up led to the resignation of a Jewish member of the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum board, an advisory group that co-hosted the discussion. The Commonwealth Club is based in San Francisco.
The event featured former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born author, in conversation with Jewish writer and pro-Israel activist Bari Weiss. The two discussed women’s rights, particularly in the context of Muslim immigration to Europe. Hirsi Ali’s controversial new book “Prey” was also discussed.
In a Feb. 10 press release posted on its website and titled “Stop Bigotry & Hate at the Commonwealth Club,” CAIR denounced both speakers, saying that the event would “stoke fear” and hatred, and that neither Hirsi Ali nor Weiss were “qualified” to speak on the subjects advertised.
CAIR’s condemnations were the first thing mentioned as the event kicked off.