When you think about it, Ibraheem Samirah’s timing couldn’t be better.
Amid the scandalous blackface controversy and allegations of sexual assault against Democratic leaders in Virginia, and a growing wave of Antisemitism within the party, as recently seen with Rep. Ilham Omar, D-Minn., Samirah, a Democratic candidate running in a special election Tuesday for the Virginia House of Delegates, was forced to apologize for previous social media posts attacking Israel.
Blaming his “impassioned college days,” the second-generation Palestinian refugee and dentist apologized in a release for comments made on Facebook five years ago.
More on those social media posts from Haaretz, which cited the conservative site Big League Politics:
Samirah, a Chicago native who is Muslim, said that sending money to Israel is “worse” than sending money to the Ku Klux Klan and that the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would burn in hell upon his death. He also accused Israeli teenagers of using Tinder to “cover up the murders in their names.”
In his apology, Samirah characterized the attention drawn to his previous posts as a “slander campaign.”
“This slander campaign is using five-year-old Facebook posts from my impassioned college days, posts that upon my reflection and with the blessing of time, I sincerely regret and apologize for,” he said in a statement. “I am so sorry that my ill-chosen words added to the pain of the Jewish community, and I seek your understanding and compassion as I prove to you our common humanity. Please do not let those who seek divide us use these words out of context of time and place to accomplish their hateful goals.”
Dr. Ibraheem Samirah today released the following statement in response to online attacks about his position on Israel and Palestine. pic.twitter.com/uMbKTPqzAS
— Del. Ibraheem Samirah (@IbraheemSamirah) February 8, 2019
Samirah reportedly helped the get out the vote effort for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the first Palestinian-American elected to Congress. Like Omar, Tlaib has a history of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes.
The first two Muslim women elected to Congress support boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel, and Samirah has reportedly advocated on social media for BDS.
And, according to Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, the candidate’s father was once a spokesman for the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.
Samirah’s father, Sabri, whom the candidate had described in social media posts as his “role model,” has served as a spokesman for the Islamic Action Front, a Jordanian party that is the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in that country. Between 1993 and 2002, Sabri Samirah also served as board member of the American Muslim Society, also known as the Islamic Association for Palestine, an organization listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial for serving as the propaganda and fundraising arm of Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department.
American University’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu, a historically Jewish fraternity, released a statement in defense of Samirah, who was the first Palestinian Muslim to join the organization.
“The comments Dr. Ibraheem Samirah made regarding Ariel Sharon and the state of Israel were inappropriate and do not help to foster productive conversations regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” their statement read in part. “Nevertheless, the notion that Dr. Samirah is anti-Semitic is not only unfounded, it is unequivocally false.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the director of global social action agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Tablet that if Samirah has “matured” in his views, then “it’s fine,” but he needs to be clear about what his views currently are.
“If this is an individual who’s matured from mouthing what, unfortunately, generations of Palestinians have been raised on, and has a different worldview that includes an understanding of the relations between Israel and the United States, and if he supports the two-state solution, it’s fine,” Cooper said. “But now that he’s out in the public arena, he needs to enunciate fully whether or not his views have changed, and, if so, what these changes are. The ball’s in his court.”
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