California, USA - It seems the Arab Jewish conflict in the Middle East is fast spreading through congress as political and cultural jousting matches get underway.
“It doesn’t matter if they are Arab or Jew, just as long as the American people are shown justice and fairness. Isn’t that the American way?” says David Karim, Chaldean political science major in San Diego. “Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant and it seems Issa is upsetting a whole bunch of people that want to keep things hush, hush.”
Issa, a Lebanese American has drawn the ire of Jewish groups and pro-Israel congressmen, news papers and media. Hatred for the representative grew so fierce that Issa was the target of an assassination attempt by Jewish terrorists. An attempt that implicated two members of the Jewish Defense League and was thwarted by the FBI just days before it was carried out.
The pro-Isreal congressional supporters at both the American State and Federal levels are upset at California Rep. Darrell Issa. Issa has been vocal about congressional members misuse of funds. Most recently, Issa reveled that tax payer funds have overwhelmingly, and what many consider to be unfairly, used for private Jewish organizations and synagogues in California.
Issa known for his business savvy and fiscal control challenged the unfair distribution of $4.6 million to California for security. More than half of the money went to private Jewish organizations to pay for such things as blast barriers and bulletproof glass. Five of the six grants awarded in San Diego County went to Jewish organizations, including Chabad Center of University City. The center will use the $36,000 it received to upgrade the private facility's security cameras, Rabbi Moishe Leider said.
The latest flare-up has New York democratic congressman Rep. Eliot Engel on edge.
Rep. Eliot Engel, of Jewish descent, angrily accused Issa of unethical behavior. In late October Issa disclosed in a campaign letter that efforts to limit civilian causalities on both sides of the Israel and Palestine conflict were blocked by pro-Israeli congress members.
In his letter, Issa criticized members of the “pro-Israel lobby” for blocking the civilian casualty language in the 2006 measure. Issa singled out the The New York Democrat by stating that Engel, "said language urging restraint to protect civilian life would have been interpreted as a slap to Israel."
The letter from the California Republican was sent to nearly 100,000 members of the Arab community in late October. “We thought about writing to a community that is disenfranchised,” Issa said, stressing that it was important for that community to know that it had an advocate in Washington. An Issa campaign spokesman said the response to the letter has been excellent.
Issa a four-term republican congressman said he did not intend to disparage any group. Many political experts estimate that Jewish votes tend to go more than 80% for the Democrats and feel the campaign letter will have little or no affect on Issa.
“Issa is a Republican. Anyone who would get mad at him for revealing that tax payer money was being used to assist religious organizations or being a victim of an assassination attempt is voting Democrat already,” says Karim. “This is real balance of power.”
Engel "expressed shock" that the letter would have used another member of Congress' name. "This is unusual and I think it is unfortunate," Engel said to reporters.
After being made aware of Engel’s frustration to his letter, Issa replied that it was common practice to quote other members of congress.
“I would be shocked if he is shocked,” Issa said to reporters.
Issa’s campaign letter stated that he is only one of five Arab-Americans in Congress and that he understands racism, hate speech, and being treated wrongly. “With such little representation or understanding of the Arab culture in local, state, and federal government Issa wanted to reach out to the community,” says Karim. “There is nothing wrong with that. Many in the Arab and Chaldean community are well aware of the racism and invisible blockade against Arabs or Chaldeans. In Warren, Michigan, you had a Mayor stoking the flames of an Arab invasion to rouse racism in that city to defeat a highly endorsed and qualified Chaldean candidate.”