Citing America's support for Israel and its alleged spying on Muslims, a powerful Arab-American group has called for a boycott of Monday night's annual Iftar dinner at the White House.
The event, celebrating Ramadan and scheduled to be held in the State Dining Room, is inappropriate in light of current violence in the Middle East, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
"In the government's silence, Israel is committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault," the organization said in a statement. "This deplorable situation, brought on by Israel's U.S.-sanctioned illegal occupation of Palestine, has received no direct action from President Obama. Yet, as this humanitarian crisis continues abroad, we do no believe it is appropriate to attend iftar dinners sponsored by government agencies while lives are being lost."
The group also cites reports that the National Security Agency spied on Arab and Muslim community leaders and organizations while calling on others to join the boycott.
"Political engagement is important 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," the ADC statement said.
The White House defended the event and said it plays an important role in highlighting the contributions that Muslims make to the U.S.
"It is important for every American to understand they are critical to the success of our country," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. "Tonight's dinner is an opportunity to pay tribute to that contribution. And we certainly respect the differences some may have on these matters, but we would not want that to overshadow ... the contributions so many American Muslims play in their communities."
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