The Los Angeles Times editorial page has decided to give U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell the benefit of the doubt — for now — on his past voting record on Israel and his numerous past associations with terrorist-linked radicals. But the editorial acknowledges that “His positions are fair game” and urges those who are concerned to challenge him within the confines of reasonable debate. I’m happy to oblige.
The editorial board was not pursuaded by Campbell’s relationship with Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor who donated to the Campbell campaign and later pled guilty to conspiring to help associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (More on their relationship here, here, here and here.) But in the Al-Arian case, Campbell defenders can claim that when he defended Al-Arian on civil rights and academic freedom grounds, Campbell didn’t know the full extent of the evidence that would later link Al-Arian to terrorism. It’s much harder to make that excuse, however, in the case of many other radicals with whom Campbell was connected. Let’s take the example of another supporter, Abdurahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council, whose views in support of Hamas and Hezbollah were well known — and captured on videotape back in 2000. Yet Campbell was still defending him even as other politicians were running for cover.
Here is a video (originally from the Investigative Project on Terrorism) of Alamoudi rallying a crowd at Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on October 28, 2000, declaring, “We are all supporters of Hamas” and “I am also a supporter of Hezbollah.”
Yet a week after the rally, Campbell publicly claimed that Alamoudi “had never supported violence nor encouraged anybody to engage in it.” From a November 4, 2000 San Jose Mercury News story (accessed via Nexis):
With his campaign for U.S. Senate struggling to emerge from obscurity, Congressman Tom Campbell spoke out Friday in defense of American Muslim organizations in the wake of a flap that caused New York Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to return more than $50,000 in campaign contributions.
“I will not insult a single donor to my campaign by returning their contribution because the American Muslim Council or the American Muslim Alliance was associated with raising it,” Campbell said outside the Islamic Center in Los Angeles.
Clinton returned money to donors associated with both groups after news accounts said that an AMC member, Abdurahman Alamoudi, had made statements in support of terrorist organizations, and that the Fremont-based president of the AMA, Agha Saeed, has supported armed resistance by Palestinians. Both men said their remarks were taken out of context and that they and their organizations condemned violence. But Clinton’s opponent, Republican Rick Lazio, accused her of having taken “blood money.”
Campbell, who has long enjoyed good relations with the American Muslim community and has advocated a neutral American position between Israel and the Palestinians, received a $1,000 donation earlier this year from Alamoudi. Both Clinton and Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush returned $1,000 donations from Alamoudi last week.
Campbell said in an interview that he spoke with Alamoudi after the New York flap broke out and felt comfortable with his position.
“He had never supported violence nor encouraged anybody to engage in it,” Campbell said.
In his statement in Los Angeles, Campbell said Muslim Americans must not suffer “guilt by association” and defended their right to participate in the American political system.
Now, some may be inclined to praise Campbell for his tolerance toward Muslims, but clearly Alamoudi is another example of Campbell using the wrong person to make his stand. In 2004, as reported by the Washington Post, “A federal judge yesterday sentenced Muslim activist Abdurahman Alamoudi to the maximum 23-year prison term for illegal dealings with Libya that included his involvement in a complex plot to kill the Saudi ruler.”
What’s more, Al-Arain and Alamoudi aren’t the only instances of Campbell’s radical ties. As I reported yesterday, one month after Sept. 11, Campbell accepted a lifetime achievement award from a Muslim group at a conference in which speakers argued that America needed to rethink its policy of support for Israel. Agha Saeed presented him that award — the same Saeed who is referenced in the above excerpted article becuase he “supported armed resistance by Palestinians” (“armed resistance” being code words for terrorism). And when rasing money during his 2000 campaign from Muslim groups, Campbell touted his voting record of cutting aid to Israel — the same record he now claims is being misrepresented in an attempt to portray him as anti-Israel. And as Daniel Halper details, Campbell praised the work of Alison Weir at a time when she lamented U.S. support for Israel while claiming Palestinians were being “terrorized” in Gaza. She’s since moved on to pushing conspiracy theories about Israeli organ harvesting.
Excusing Campbell’s support for Al-Arian, the Los Angeles Times argued, “we’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt,” suggesting, “He was naive, perhaps, and gullible…” If the Times still wants to argue this, then Campbell would have to be the most naive and gullible person in American politics.