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Dem Candidate Criticized Guest For Praising Jews ‘As If they Are Great People’

A former talk radio host-turned Democratic congressional candidate has faced criticism for his remarks about Judaism and Israel, including criticizing a guest for sounding “like you are praising the Israeli people and the Jewish civilization as if they are great people,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Rush Darwish, a Palestinian-American community leader and business owner who is running in the primary of a heavily Democratic district in the Chicago suburbs, made those remarks in 2015 while interviewing Ray Hanania, the founder of an Israeli-Palestinian coexistence group called Comedy For Peace. “I may have misspoke if I said the word Jews,” Darwish told the Sun-Times. “That was a mistake on my part. Usually I think I’m pretty good at knowing on the show not to use the word Jews because Jews are not, that’s not the problem.”

Darwish is one of three progressive challengers hoping to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski, one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats in the House. At his campaign launch event in June, Darwish claimed that his chief progressive rival in the race, Marie Newman, had received $15,000 in donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC as an institution does not donate to campaigns, though its individual members do. Darwish did not provide any evidence for his claim to the Sun-Times, saying that he would “take a closer look.”

Newman, who also ran against Lipinski in 2018, supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel at the beginning of her race last year but had pivoted to opposing it by election day. At his kickoff event, Darwish also claimed that Newman had told community members she had changed her position because, she allegedly said, “I want to attract more Jewish donors.”

Newman told the Sun-Times that that was “an absolute lie.” Darwish stood by his remarks. “My job is to make sure that I distinguish myself before all my opponents,” he added.

The district, Illinois’s Third, is the most Arab-American in the state and has a minimal Jewish population, according to a University of Chicago political scientist. It’s also heavily Democratic – so much so that only one person ran in the Republican primary and automatically got the nomination: Arthur Jones, a longtime local neo-Nazi leader. On election day, Jones received 57,000 votes, more than a quarter of the total ballots cast.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

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