Illinois congressional candidate uses racism against Palestinians to get votes
Posted Jun 19, 2010

Illinois congressional candidate uses racism against Palestinians to get votes

By Ray Hanania

Some candidates for public office take on issues. Others, usually who are more desperate, turn towards racism and hatred to fuel their campaigns.

In the 2nd Congressional District, an obscure Republican named “Isaac Hayes” has issued a press release defending Israel as a part of his platform. That is his right, of course, and in America, we can debate issues of foreign policy and discuss how they impact our nation. “Isaac Hayes” is seeking to unseat incumbent Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr.

But, in the case of “Isaac Hayes,” he goes far beyond a political debate and uses a pejorative assault against the Palestinians as a means of trying to build support.

Normally, I might ignore the ignorant, but I thought that we should be reminded that there are many people, including in public office, who engage in race baiting and hatred rather than focusing their efforts on debating legitimate issues.

Here is a portion of a press release that “Isaac Hayes” – I know, he is not the popular singer but I am sure he hopes his name will bring him some votes – issued this week:

The Palestinian Menace

“It is evident from the last incident in the eastern Mediterranean that the flotilla of peace was a rouse to smuggle terrorists and weapons to Gaza in order to attack Israel. Specifically, the supporters of the so-called flotilla of peace were pro-Palestinians and pro-Hamas organizations and individuals in various European nation-states mainly from Britain, Greece, and Turkey. These specific organizations were involved in sending previous aid convoys to the Gaza Strip by land and sea. The main purpose of these organizations and individuals was to make a show of sending humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in order to embarrass Israel and exert diplomatic and media pressure. I will stand with Israel in the U.S. Congress and expose these terrorist activities and support a strong U.S.-Israeli nexus in fighting global Jihad.

“I strongly believe that America and Israel are the last hope on earth to fight Jihadist terrorist activities. As a result, I do not believe a two state solution is possible under the current socio-political situation in the region because Hamas poses a serious and unwavering threat to Israel. The main priority is to guarantee a safe and secure environment for Israel.

“Moreover, I support and promote the right of self-defense for Israel against any symmetrical or asymmetrical threats. The Israeli settlement growth-natural growth-will not bring Arab concessions to the peace talks. Also, I support the moving of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in accordance with the Jerusalem Act of 1995.”

There is absolutely no link between the violence of Hamas and others against Israel and the terrorism of al-Qaeda. Hamas is engaged in a battle with Israel, one I reject but not for the reasons cited by “Isaac Hayes.” The use of any violence by any side is wrong in the Middle East. Violence does not achieve any solutions and in fact has often made the situation for Israelis and especially Palestinians worse.

I also reject Hamas because they engaged in a decade-long campaign of violence and terrorism, using suicide bombings not simply to kill Israelis and other innocent victims but to destroy the peace process that the legitimately elected government of Palestine, represented by the late President Yasir Arafat, entered in to in good faith with Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Whether seeking a two-state solution was the right or the wrong strategy for the Palestinians is not the issue. That is an issue Palestinians can debate among themselves. But that Hamas acted as a government within a government, using violence to sabotage and destroy the government’s peace process made them a threat to Palestinian justice.

But the battle Hamas fights, rightly or wrongly, is not a battle it is fighting with the United States. Nor is Hamas targeting Americans. It is engaged in a war with Israel; Israel’s government policies sustain the occupation and oppression of more than 4 million Palestinian civilians. And the war, which I believe is based on unjustified use of violence, is directed against Israel.

Comparing Hamas to al-Qaeda shows that “Isaac Hayes” has not left the hate mentality that emerged after September 11th, 2001 when 19 individuals who asserted that they represented Islam hijacked four airplanes and murdered nearly 3,000 innocent American lives.

Every side has their fanatics and extremists. Palestinians. Israelis. And, yes, Americans, too.

“Isaac Hayes” is clearly one of those fanatics who, being African American, should understand more than most others that attacks against an entire race of people, in this case Palestinians, is racist. How can you stand up to represent a district the majority of whose people were victimized by racism for generations in this country when you use racism as the cornerstone of your naïve foreign policy choices.

Normally, we ignore obscure candidates. And “Isaac Hayes” is certainly an obscure candidate. But racism, even when it emerges from weak voices, must be confronted.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, Chicago Radio Talk Show host and a member of the National Board of the ADC.)