Two weeks ago Ibraheem Samirah, a second-generation Palestinian running for an open seat in the 86th district of the House of Delegates, joined other Democrats in calling for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam for appearing in black face in 1984. Now, it turns out, Samirah has to answer for some intemperate remarks he made five years ago about Jews.
Samirah has kinda-sorta apologized for saying on Facebook that sending money to Israel is “worse” than sending money to the Ku Klux Klan, that Israeli teenagers used Tinder to “cover up the murders in their name,” and that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would burn in hell — assuming that calling the charges against him a “slander campaign” constitutes an apology.
The charges, he said, cite “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. 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 to divide us use these words out of context of time and place to accomplish their hateful goals.”
The would-be delegate says the charges are taken out of context. Opposing Israeli policies does not make him anti-Jewish. To the contrary, he joined the traditionally Jewish Alpha Mu fraternity at American University, co-founded a chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, and took a class taught by Yossi Olmert, brother of former Prime Minister Eduh Olmert. He has participated in intesectional events with rabbis and pastors. “I believe that human supremacy of any kind is damaging to the world we live in.”
In other words, Samirah pleads for understanding on the grounds that (a) he made his intemperate comments a long time ago, and (b) his statements should be viewed in the full context of his views and actions over his life. Those are pretty much the arguments I advanced against rushing to judgment about Northam’s blackface revelation: He wore blackface 35 years ago, and he should be judged based on his words and deeds since then.
Samirah’s argument would be a lot easier to swallow, however, had he given Northam the same benefit of the doubt. But he didn’t. On Feb. 3, the Samirah for Delegate Campaign tweeted:
It has been a painful 48 hours for Virginians. I am confronting @RalphNortham’s actions in the hopes that we start a conversation about a more equitable society. We should ensure opportunities for people of color by advancing healthcare, education and environmental justice…
… For these reasons, I stand with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in calling on Governor Ralph Northam to do the right thing and step down immediately. This kind of behavior, past or present, is unacceptable in Richmond.
Bacon’s bottom line: I’m willing to forgive Samirah for his use of intemperate language. But I cut him no slack for sanctimonious hypocrisy.There are currently no comments highlighted.