A Democratic congressional candidate who’s hoping to represent a longtime Republican district in California has a unique family heritage
Ammar Campa-Najjar, who the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported is set to be endorsed by the California Democratic Party, is the grandson of Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, a senior member of the Palestinian terror organization Black September.
The the terrorists group massacred 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The athletes first were taken hostage by the terrorists and later killed. Black September had demanded that 234 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel and the German terrorists Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof of the Red Army Faction be released. Police killed five of the eight Black September terrorists in a failed rescue effort, and a German policeman was killed in the crossfire. Three Black September survivors were captured, but the next month, the German government released them in a hostage exchange for suspects in the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 615.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in 2012 that German authorities had had warning of the looming attack but failed to act on it. The Israeli athletes were either shot at point-blank range or incinerated when the terrorists threw a grenade into a helicopter into which they had been loaded. Killed were wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, weightlifter Yossef Romano, weightlifter Ze’ev Friedman, weightlifter David Berger, weightlifting judge Yakov Springer, wrestler Eliezer Halfin, wrestling referee Yossef Gutfreund, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, wrestler Mark Slavin, fencing coach Andre Spitzer and track coach Amitzur Shapira.
Campa-Najjar’s family background “could become one of his greatest challenges if he makes it to the 2018 midterm elections in November,” Haaretz reported.
The report said the candidate, who has become a Christian and served as an assistant pastor, now “rejects violence as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
When his family heritage was revealed, the San Diego Union Tribune reported Campa-Najjar called for “lasting peace.”
The candidate, 28, said he never met his grandfather.
“To achieve peace, Palestinians and Israelis will have to make the same personal choice I’ve had to make: leave the dark past behind so that the future shines brighter through the eyes of our children,” he said in a statement.
“For the sake of the victims, I hoped this tragedy wouldn’t be politicized. But if these old wounds must be re-opened, then I pray God gives purpose to their unspeakable pain. I pray that purpose is to see peace prioritized by my generation of Palestinians, Israelis, and the whole of humanity,” the said.
He’s seeking the Democratic nomination for the 50th congressional district seat held by Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter.
The Union Tribune noted his grandfather was head of the intelligence wing of Fatah, the organization founded by Yasser Arafat.
“Some Fatah members formed the Black September organization, a terrorist group that was responsible for a series of attacks against Israelis, including the 1972 killing of 11 athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympics,” the report said.
“Israel launched a series of responses to the Munich attack, including a 1973 commando raid in Beirut, Lebanon, where Yusuf al-Najjar and his wife were both killed.”
Campa-Najjar was born in 1989, years after his father, Yasser Najjar, had moved to Egypt and then to San Diego County, where he met his wife, Abigail. Najjar also lived for several years in Gaza, where he moved on the founding of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.
Campa-Najjar lived there for a time, too, but returned to the U.S. to attend the Islamic School of San Diego.
“As many know, I am of Mexican and Palestinian descent,” the candidate said. “And like many American families, my heritage bears a heartbreaking history. Palestinians and Israelis have lost too much over the years of bloodshed, that’s why I am committed to helping broker a lasting peace in my lifetime.”
Haaretz reported the candidate’s views on the Middle East’s biggest conflict are “far removed” from his grandfather’s perspectives.
“I will never be able to understand or condone the actions and motivations of my grandfather,” he said.
He admires Sen. Bernie Sanders, the far-left socialist who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
He says he wants to be in Congress to address inequality in the United States.
He calls his grandfather’s actions “horrific.”
“There is never justification for killing innocent civilians,” he said, in opposition to the views of his father, who said in a 1996 Washington Post article he would not “accept that killing athletes was more repugnant than the violence of Israeli occupation.”
The Union Tribune reported that with both Catholics and Muslims in his family, he is a Protestant, having taken a job at 15 as a janitor and groundskeeper at Eastlake Community Church.
He later was an assistant pastor and worked with youth.
“My Christian faith informs a lot of what I do, this ‘caring for the least of these’ has a lot to do with my campaign,” Campa-Najjar said.
He’s also worked as a community activist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, handling constituent correspondence.