Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has welcomed recent peace deals between Israel and neighboring Arab countries. His opponent, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, has been relatively quiet, though he has offered support for peace in the past.
Issa and Campa-Najjar are facing off in November for the open seat in California’s 50th congressional district. Former Rep. Duncan Hunter resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges last year. Campa-Najjar narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018 in the predominantly Republican district.
Issa, who used to represent the coastal 49th district, which has become increasingly liberal, retired in 2018, but has returned to the political fray.
Last month, Issa, who is Lebanese-American, welcomed the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying that President Donald Trump deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for the deal.
The agreement was signed Tuesday on the White House lawn, along with a similar agreement between Israel and Bahrain, part of the “Abraham Accords.”
Campa-Najjar, whose father is Palestinian, has been relatively quiet about the peace agreements, despite commenting regularly about other issues on social media.
In August, he welcomed the fact that Israel had dropped plans for the “annexation” of communities in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank), which was demanded by the UAE as part of the deal.
In Congress, I will continue to push for two states for two peoples, and advocate that the principles of security, self-determination, and equal human rights be afforded to both the Israelis and Palestinians.
— Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) August 14, 2020
In response to a query, Campa-Najjar told Breitbart News via Twitter direct message: “Issa doesn’t have the most stellar track track record on the Middle East.” He declined to provide further comment on the peace deals.
Campa-Najjar has criticized Issa for his past comments on Israel.
In 2001, Issa warned that Israel could, in the future, become “an apartheid state” if it did not reach a two-state solution with Palestinians. In 2006, he was critical of some Israeli responses to Hezbollah terrorists during the Second Lebanon War, warning about danger to Christian civilians in the north of the country, calling an Israeli attack on a fuel depot at a Beirut depot “a July Fourth fireworks event.”
The Jewish Insider commented in August that both candidates had “similar postures” on Israel: “Issa and Campa-Najjar both support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and believe the United States should maintain foreign aid to Israel.”
However, Campa-Najjar, who worked in the Obama administration, supports the Iran nuclear deal, which is opposed by Israel and most Arab states in the region.
Campa-Najjar is of both Palestinian and Mexican descent. He is the paternal grandson of the late Palestinian terrorist Muhammad Yousef al-Najjar (Abu Yousef), who shared responsibility for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Campa-Najjar publicly denounced his grandfather’s actions in 2018, though he referred to him as a “legend” in a 2015 Instagram post.
He legally changed his name from “Ammar Yasser Najjar” to “Ammar Joseph Campa-Najjar” after the 2018 California primary, when he had appeared on the ballot as “Ammar Campa-Najjar.” Contrary to false rumors spread by critics during the 2018 campaign, he is a Christian, not a Muslim.
Campa-Najjar opposed the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
In 2019, Campa-Najjar posted a tribute to his Palestinian grandmother, explaining that she inspired him to support peace:
#MyPalestinianSitty was killed in her own home 16 yrs before I was born. She never hurt a soul.
The last memory her children have of her is stepping over her to get to the doorway.
I honor her by choosing peace over violence & progress over bitterness.
I’m a prisoner of hope. pic.twitter.com/aYYXrpHvWO
— Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) August 19, 2019
She was killed in an Israeli raid in Beirut in 1973 targeting Najjar, her husband, in retaliation for Munich. The raid was led by Ehud Barak, a special operations commando who would later become the Prime Minister of Israel.
In 2020, Campa-Najjar expressed skepticism about Trump’s Middle East peace plan, saying he was opposed to bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Campa-Najjar has been endorsed by J Street, a left-wing organization that bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” though in practice it is usually critical of the Israeli government.
Recent polls indicate a close race.
Update: Campa-Najjar responded with an addendum:
I welcome the formalization of relations that have been normalized for many years.
And hope it will move us toward a bilateral and final resolution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
He indicated that he had stated his position to Jewish Insider, but that it had not included his response in its article (above). He also said that he opposed the Iran deal.
He added that it was Abu Daoud, not his grandfather, who was considered the “mastermind” of the Munich attacks, referring to an obituary for Daoud in the UK Independent.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.