AIPAC's bid to defeat Hilliard is neo-McCarthyism

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        Congressman Earl Hilliard, a member of the US House of Representative, from the 7th district of Alabama, is under attack. The America-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) is after him, to defeat him in his district, and to make him a lesson to future dissidents. Being the first African American to represent Alabama in the US Congress and a civil rights figure could not shield him from the wrath of supporters of Israel. So, What did Hilliard do? He exercised his right not to sign the embarrassing House resolution that was a tantamount of pledging allegiance to Israel, at the time the Israeli occupation forces were committing war crimes against the Palestinian people. He was one of the 21 brave representatives who said no to AIPAC's tyranny, when the rest of the members of the US House of Representative signed the resolution on May 2, 2002. Not only that, in December 2001, Hilliard also dared to challenge the pro-Israel lobby when he was one of the eleven members of Congress who voted against a Congressional resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in its fight against Palestinian resistance that Israel calls "terrorism." 

        Pro-Israel groups have decided to defeat him, so he does not come back to the House of Representatives. Through a national campaign, they raised substantial funds for his challenger, Artur Davis. By doing so, AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups are bringing back to the United States the notorious days of McCarthyism, with an additional component, that is zero tolerance to dissent, even in Congress. This is neo-McCarthyism big time. Americans should be alerted to the danger this incident represents for their freedoms, rights, and liberties. Alabama voters should know that unseating their representative would only serve Israel, not the 7th district of their state. More important, Americans should be alerted to the tactics used by pro-Israel groups in their nationwide efforts to pressure members of Congress to vote for resolutions that serve Israel, not the US interests.

Hassan A. El-Najjar

6/1/02


Read more information about the subject in the following article written by James Zogby, President of the Arab-American Institute.


Washington Watch, May 27, 2002

A CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION TO WATCH: THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT IN ALABAMA'S SEVENTH

Dr. James J. Zogby , President, Arab American Institute

The lead sentence in a national Jewish newspaper said it all: "The Democratic primary in Alabama's Seventh Congressional District, is being closely watched by Israel's supporters, who view it as a chance to 

unseat an incumbent with ties to Arab countries and a spotty record of
support for the Jewish state."
 
On June 4th, 2002, voters in the Seventh Congressional District of Alabama's
Democratic primary elections will do more than determine the political
future of Democratic congressman Earl Hilliard. They will also determine
whether, once again, pro-Israeli groups around the U.S. will be able to
claim that they defeated a supporter of Palestinian rights.
 
The Seventh Congressional District of Alabama is the historic home of many
of the legendary civil rights struggles of the 1950's and 1960's. It was in
Montgomery, Alabama, that a young African American minister, Reverend Martin Luther King, led the bus boycott against racial segregation--a campaign that energized the movement. And it was from a Birmingham, Alabama, jail cell
that Martin Luther King wrote the famous open letter that served as one of
the most important statements challenging the conscience of a nation to
address the injustice of racial discrimination.
 
Hilliard was one of the participants and beneficiaries of those early civil
rights struggles that gained voting rights for African Americans. In 1974
he was elected to the Alabama State Legislature, becoming one of the first
African Americans to serve in that body. After leading many successful
efforts to bring economic benefits to his district, he was elected to
Congress in 1992, becoming the first African American to represent Alabama
in the U.S. Congress in the 120 years that had passed since the end of the
post-Civil War period.
 
Early on, Hilliard antagonized supporters of Israel by traveling to Libya
and voting against economic sanctions against that country. He defended his
visit by quite simply noting "Libya is an African nation. It carries no
negative connotation in my community." Hilliard also noted once that "I see
more and more blacks identifying with Arabs and Muslims than I do with Jews.
They see Arabs...being profiled like we are."
 
While Hilliard has sometimes voted for pro-Israel positions--for example, he
did support a 1996 resolution to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem--in recent years, he has consistently supported a more
balanced position.
 
In December of 2001, he was only one of eleven members of Congress to vote
against a congressional resolution "expressing solidarity with Israel in its
fight against terrorism." Once again, on May 2, 2002, he was one of 21
members of Congress to vote against the notorious and one-sided pro-Israel
and anti-Palestinian resolution that passed in the House of Representatives.
All of this, of course, has encouraged some Jewish leaders to try to target
Hilliard for defeat. In 2000 the Congressman was challenged by a young
Birmingham lawyer, Artur Davis. The Harvard-educated Davis has let it be
known that he shares many of the same views as Congressman Hilliard except
those regarding Middle East policy. This has enabled Davis to raise support
from the Jewish community. In 2000, Davis won 34% of the vote in the
Democratic primary against Hilliard's 54%.
 
Two factors, however, have served to weaken Congressman Hilliard's position
during the past year. He was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for
irregularities in his handling of campaign funds, and his position has been
further harmed by recent redrawing of the Seventh Congressional District.
By law, congressional districts are reconfigured every ten years--to account
for population changes. This year's redistricting has hurt Hilliard by
taking away some of the areas that contain his strongest support, and by
adding rural areas that have given him less support. So with redistricting
having changed the Seventh Congressional District in Davis' favor, and the
Jewish community nationally having raised substantial funds for his
campaign, the young attorney is back again to challenge Hilliard's
reelection bid.
 
In a fundraising appeal to supporters of Israel, two of Davis' Birmingham's
supporters, David Kahn and Jeffrey Snyder, wrote:
 
"We have a very important opportunity in Alabama to help challenger Artur
Davis (D) defeat an incumbent five term congressman, Earl Hilliard (D-AL-7)
who has not been a friend of the U.S./Israel relationship...Hilliard has
been extremely dangerous to not only our community but the U.S./Israel
relationship. As Chairman of the Black Caucus he has lobbied members of the
Black Caucus to oppose initiatives supporting Israel...Two years ago in
2000, Artur Davis challenged Earl Hilliard in the Democratic Primary. Artur
took 34% of the vote and Hilliard won 54% of the vote. Artur ran an under
funded campaign. Since then the district has been re-drawn with some of
Hilliard's strongest counties removed and replaced with areas that Artur ran
stronger in."
 
Having so far reportedly raised $300,000 to purchase TV ads attacking
Hilliard's record, Davis stopped by the AIPAC convention a few weeks back to
say:
"I have received support from the Jewish community in Birmingham and the
rest of the
country, and I wanted to thank them personally."
 
The Middle East issue came out even more forcefully in a pro-Hilliard flier
that had been reportedly passed out at different locations in the Seventh
District. Under the inflammatory headline "Davis and the Jews: No Good for
the Blacks", the flier charges that Davis supports Israel's "policy of
complete domination". It goes on to note:
 
"Lest we forget, it was Israel that stood with apartheid in South
Africa...If the current invasions, murder and abuse within the Palestinian
territory sound familiar, it's only because we've seen apartheid do exactly
the same in the black villages of South Africa with Israel's support."
 
While Davis' campaign has denounced the flier, Hilliard personally distanced
himself from it.
 
For their part, Arab Americans have recently stepped up their effort to
assist the embattled Congressman. Some major fundraisers have been held in
Birmingham and around the U.S. and the local Arab American community in
Alabama has become engaged to work on the Congressman's behalf.
 
As one Arab American leader from Birmingham, Alabama, recently noted in an
appeal for support, "it's time to do something...this is our one chance to
make a difference."
 
With Alabama's primary election only one week away, activity will be quite
intense in the coming days. We will learn a great deal from the outcome of
this vote. Stay tuned.
For comments or information, contact jzogby@aaiusa.org or
http://www.aaiusa.org.

jzogby@aaiusa.org.