Ammar Campa-Najjar seems like the ideal candidate to represent California’s 50th congressional district in the U.S. House of representatives. He is young and good looking and endorsed by many politicians including former President Barack Obama. A recent poll of likely voters in November shows the race is close with Campa-Najjar, a Democrat, with 45% compared to 48% for his Republican opponent, Darrell Issa.
He recently called to mobilize the military to battle the “war with the coronavirus.”
Usually described in the media as Palestinian-Mexican, Ammar’s ethnicity and religion are ambiguous. A recent twitter post not only wished the Jewish community a happy Passover but also claimed that he would be celebrating the Jewish holiday with his “partner.” His girlfriend is Jewish.
Chag Pesach Sameach! Wishing all those who observe, including my family and friends, a joyous #Passover.
Tonight, I’ll be having Seder dinner virtually with my partner’s family as we relive the sacred story of overcoming plague and hardship together.
This too shall pass. pic.twitter.com/DSWV355Fjt
— Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) April 8, 2020
His website states that Campa-Najjar was born in California and raised in San Diego by his mother who is described as both “Christian” and “Catholic.” His bio does not mention his father but an investigative article by the Clarion Project identified him as Yasser Mohammad Yousef al-Najjar, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Norway appointed in 2005 who was accused by his own people of corruption. More significantly, Yasser Al-Najjar’s father, the potential congressman’s grandfather, was Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar also known as Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September headed by Yasser Arafat. Abu Youssef was one of the masterminds who took part in the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Though the congressional candidate claims to have rejected his grandfather’s legacy and has been endorsed by the Jewish community in his district, he has also referred to his terrorist grandfather as a “legend” and a “public servant” on social media.
“It’s back breaking work being my dad, and being his son requires broad shoulders,” he posted in 2015 on Instagram (since removed). “For me, it’s dealing with the pressure of being his son. In the eyes of many, Yasser Mohammad Alnajjar is the son of a legend, and a hero in his own right…I have two generations of public servants running through my veins.”
Campa-Najjar also claimed to have a personal connection with Yasser Arafat. In another Mothers’ Day Instagram post that has also been removed, he wrote to his Mexican-American mother, “You’ve always been there for me: as a baby throwing cookies at your head from a car seat, as a toddler who never believed in diapers, cursed and spat at Yasser Arafat’s wife for trying to feed me soup.”
Despite proudly proclaiming his Catholic/Christian family ties, his own religion remains ambiguous. In an op-ed published in The Hill in 2017, Campa-Najjar criticized President Trump’s travel ban. In the article, he openly admits that as a child he attended an Islamic school in San Diego that was part of a mosque in which three of the terrorists who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks prayed.
In 2012, Campa-Najjar served as Deputy Regional Field Director for Barack Obama’s successful reelection campaign and was repaid with an endorsement in his own unsuccessful campaign for the Congressional seat in 2018. Campa-Najjar lost even though his opponent, the incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter, was indicted on charges of improperly using $250,000 of campaign funds for private use.
As disturbing as it might be for some Jews to see the grandson of a notorious terrorist sitting in the Capitol Building in Washington, it may be even more so for his opponent. Issa is a successful businessman and politician. With a net worth of approximately $250 million, Issa during his tenure was the wealthiest serving member of Congress. In 1970, on his 17th birthday, Issa dropped out of high school and enlisted for three years in the Army. He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician assigned to defusing bombs. His father was a Lebanese American of the Maronite Catholic faith and his mother is of German and Bohemian (Czech) descent and a Latter-day Saint. In 2006, he was one of four Arab-American members of Congress.
Under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization relocated to Southern Lebanon after an unsuccessful Black September attempt to overthrow the Jordanian government in 1970. While in Lebanon, the PLO engaged in horrific acts of violence against the people of Lebanon, especially targeting the Christian population. Over time PLO were able to gain almost complete control over areas of Lebanon using their own police force, military and economic infrastructure. This resulted in several massacres and the PLO established bases for launching terrorist attacks against Israel. This continued until 1982 when the IDF launched an incursion into Lebanon to disable the PLO power structure.