The first Palestinian Muslim American running for U.S. Congress in Illinois, Rush Darwish, declared that Palestine is home, and vowed to support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.
On June 15th, Darwish, a Democrat, announced he is running in Illinois' 3rd Congressional District, during a rally held at Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, Illinois.
The college lies within the largest Islamic community in Illinois, and the largest Palestinian community in the U.S. Additionally the Muslim community's leadership in the area has historically leaned towards the radical. The 3rd district is home to the largest two mosques in the state, each led by imams with ties to Hamas terrorism funding, and who were identified as unindicted conspirators in federal terrorism cases.
This may explain why Darwish's announcement seemed to emphasize the political concerns of those in the Palestinian territories, over those of Illinois as he runs in the Democratic primary against incumbent Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski.
Darwish told the audience he is running for Congress after having lived in the Palestinian territories for two years when he was six, and seeing friends and family detained or harassed "for no reason whatsoever" by an occupying military force. He added that his two years there, made him understand: "This is home. This is Palestine."
In a press release, Darwish repeated the sentiment that "nearly two years as a child living in Ramallah, Palestine," made him understand "the fear and 'otherness' that a hostile government can instill in people."
Darwish's press release stated, "The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is a non-violent protest movement that I will proudly champion on the floor of the House of Representatives, much like Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar."
Darwish also praised neighboring Democratic congressmen Bobby Rush and Chuy Garcia for opposing a resolution against the BDS movement during a vote in Congress last month.
Darwish added that he "sees many parallels between the second-class citizenship of undocumented immigrants in American cities and Palestinians surrounded by Israeli settlements and military in their own hometowns."
Darwish echoed similar Pro-BDS statements in a June 28th speech shared on Facebook by the Al Nahda Center, a local mosque which recently held a memorial service for the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi:
"I will stand against any nation that attempts to bully Americans by punishing the First Amendment right to boycott, divest, and sanction other foreign countries that are breaking the international law every single day. When you ask me, when the media asks me, or the people outside the community ask me 'Rush what are your thoughts on BDS? Do you support BDS?' My response to them will be "BD YES. I am running for Congress because I am going to represent the largest Palestinian community in the country,"
Darwish added that Lipinski — who has supported anti-BDS measures — doesn't care about Palestine, and that congressional candidate Marie Newman opposes BDS in order to "attract Jewish donors. They don't care about us [Palestinians]."
TOH claims that it "inspires a positive perception of Arab and Muslim Americans (...) and opposes and stands against all forms of hate and bigotry toward any group of people," it invokes one of the icons of Palestinian terrorism in the 20th century on its Facebook page — Rasmea Odeh.
In an online debate between Darwish and American Palestinian journalist Ray Hanania, Darwish exonerates the Palestinians of all blame in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and criticizes Hanania for playing as a "middleman" in the conflict. Darwish said, "You are either with us, or against us" and stressed: "I stand for Palestine. A place I can go and call home."
Finally, in the on-air "scuffle" as Darwish calls it, Darwish taunts Hanania by saying: "You are a Howard Stern, because you love the Jewish media, you love the Jewish people, they stole our Hummus... no! ... they stole our food, our culture, you love them!"
Darwish's references to Jewish media control and theft of culture are anti-Semitic tropes. If elected, Darwish will almost certainly join other freshmen members of Congress who have received national attention for Anti-Semitic remarks, support for BDS, and clashes with Democratic establishment leadership.
Hesham Shehab is the Illinois Associate of the Counter Islamist Grid (CIG)