After the November 2016 elections, the Washington Post ran an op-ed designed to console Americans who had been traumatized by the triumph of Donald Trump. The author, Ammar Campa-Najjar, began his piece by explaining that he was a “Hispanic-Arab-American” and arguing that the prospect of Trump in the White House represented “not only a challenging time for diversity in America but also an empowering one.” He went on to celebrate America as a country where “our individual differences don’t outweigh our common humanity,” and as proof of this statement cited his own life story, which he summed up as follows: “Only in America can the son of a Hispanic woman from the barrio and an Arab man from an occupied territory have the freedom to reimagine his life and pursue his dreams.”
If you’re curious about his reference to “occupied territory,” Campa-Najjar went on to provide details: his father, Yasser Najjar, saw “both his parents gunned down right in front of him when he was only 11 years old.” Najjar then moved to America, married a Chicana woman, and fathered Campa-Najjar. He then took his family back “to the Middle East…so that he could help Yasser Arafat lead a secular unity government.” Hence Campa-Najjar “spent my early years with my family under siege by American-made helicopters and F-16s that leveled entire buildings on the block where we lived.” But he survived, ending up back in America, where he ended up working in the Obama White House. This, he says, “is nothing short of an American miracle.”
Campa-Najjar’s backstory raises more questions than it answers. Exactly why were his grandparents “gunned down”? What’s the deal with his father’s ties to Arafat, whose apparently not inconsiderable role in the family’s story Campa-Najjar glides past quickly, innocuously representing that vile terrorist, anti-Semite, Soviet tool, and cynical profiteer as the head of a “secular unity government.” Arafat is the main reason why the Palestinian territories are now a failed culture, their people so inculcated with hate and lies that there seems to be little if any possibility of them ever being able to enjoy anything resembling peace, prosperity, and true civil society. How, one wondered, did somebody with family ties to the man who created this nightmare of a non-state ever get a coveted job in the Obama White House?
Besides, the more one looked at Campa-Nijjar’s Post article, the more one found oneself asking: What kind of a cockeyed tribute to America is this, anyway? Campa-Najjar, and the Post, offered his article up as a tribute to America. But just beneath the surface was something very different. For example, Campa-Nijjar mentioned that while he was living in the Middle East, he “watched a boy my age, Muhammad al-Durrah, get shot and killed while hiding behind a barrel.” The al-Durrah case, in case you missed it or forgot about it, was an infamous fabrication – a fake child-killing, supposedly committed by the Israeli Defense Forces, that was invented out of whole cloth by Palestinian “news” cameramen and their allies with the sole purpose of defaming the IDF. Why was Campa-Najjar still trying to sell this lie as fact?
There’s more. In his Post op-ed, Campa-Najjar mentioned 9/11 –but he brought it up for one reason and one reason alone: so that he could let us know that he wasn’t able to attend his “Islamic school” in the U.S. that week because it “was vandalized and declared unsafe to study or pray in.” Is this a lie, too? Where was this school? Who, exactly, declared it unsafe? In any event, the Post piece, all in all, was most curious document indeed: while Campa-Najjar kept fervently asserting that he adores, worships, and cherishes America, the parts of his text between these fervent assertions read as if they would fit a lot better into an article savaging America as the Great Satan.
Flash forward two years. Campa-Najjar is now the Democratic candidate for Congress from California’s 50th district, which includes parts of San Diego County and Riverside County. in the earliest part of his campaign, he sailed along smoothly enough, buoyed by his twofer identity as an Arab and a Latino. But the truth will out. And out it did soon enough. The people of San Diego and Riverside were told the real story about Campa-Najjar and his family. And as we’ll see on Tuesday, it’s quite a story.