A Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates special election scheduled for next week has apologized after old anti-Semitic posts resurfaced.
Dr. Ibraheem Samirah, a second-generation Palestinian refugee, issued the apology last Friday, saying that the posts are five years old and from his time in college.
Dr. Ibraheem Samirah today released the following statement in response to online attacks about his position on Israel and Palestine. pic.twitter.com/uMbKTPqzAS
— Samirah for Delegate (@IbraheemSamirah) February 8, 2019
“This slander campaign is using 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,” Samirah said in a statement. “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 divide us use these words out of context of time and place to accomplish their hateful goals.”
According to Arutz Sheva, Samirah posted that sending money to Israel is “worse” than funding the Ku Klux Klan. He also reportedly said that the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would burn in hell.
Democratic Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton have previously endorsed Samirah, with Connolly calling him “the face of the Democratic Party.” Neither of their offices responded to immediate requests for comment.
Congresswoman @JenniferWexton supports Dr. Ibraheem Samirah and encourages you all to #GetOutTheVote on Febraury 19th! Be the vote that makes a difference. #VA86 #VoteSamirah pic.twitter.com/srx8vn2trV
— Samirah for Delegate (@IbraheemSamirah) February 3, 2019
Back in college, Samirah was the first “Palestinian Muslim to join Sigma Alpha Mu, a historically Jewish fraternity,” according to a statement from American University’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu, where he attended.
“The comments Dr. Ibraheem Samirah made regarding Ariel Sharon and the state of Israel were inappropriate and do not help to foster productive conversations regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” their statement read in part. “Nevertheless, the notion that Dr. Samirah is anti-Semitic is not only unfounded, it is unequivocally false.”
Samirah is not the first politician this week to face accusations of anti-Semitism. Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar on Sunday accused the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of buying pro-Israel support from American politicians. (RELATED: Omar Retweets Statement Equating Her Israel Comments With Calling Jews ‘Hooked-Nosed’)
Omar apologized for the comment Monday afternoon after she faced significant backlash on both sides of the political spectrum.