Arab American Democratic Club urges Pritzker to apologize
Arab Americans in Illinois called on gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker Wednesday to publicly apologize for insensitive comments he made in which he accused a Muslim American group of being “terrorists” when he ran for Congress in 1998.
Arab American Democratic Club President Samir Khalil said the comment has never been properly addressed by Pritzker and raises a concern that he remains “anti-Arab” and anti-Muslim.”
Pritzker ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois 9th Congressional seat in 1998 against rival State Senator Howard Carroll. During the campaign, Pritzker accused Carroll of accepting funds from a Muslim donor who he alleged had “ties to terrorists.” Jan Schakowsky won the Democratic nomination succeeding Congressman Sidney Yates.
“J.B. Pritzker is now running for another important position, as governor of the State of Illinois and he must clean the slate of his past comments,” Khalil said.
“Just as issues of sexual harassment have haunted many candidates from their past, racism is equally of concern. Mr. Pritzker needs to clearly apologize for that incident that haunts his candidacy and state categorically that he supports the rights of Arabs and Muslims to fully engage in our election process not just in Illinois but throughout the United States.”
Pritzker accused Carroll of accepting money from leaders of the American Muslims Council, which is one of the state’s most reputable Islamic organizations.
But, Pritzker alleged that several of the AMC’s leaders “supported Hamas,” an organization based in the Gaza Strip that consists both of a political wing and a military wing that has battled Israel over the issue of Israel’s refusal to recognize Palestinian rights.
Pritzker wrote in a press release during that campaign, “It is improper for Sen. Carroll to accept money from and attend a fundraiser held by the leaders of an organization that supports terrorism.”
“Mr. Pritzker made his accusation not based on the facts of the organization supporting Hamas, which has never made any threats against America, but on the fact that the leadership of the AMC is Muslim and Arab, and that is wrong,” Khalil said.
The Arab American Democratic Club represents Arab American voters in Chicagoland and in Illinois and had previously invited Pritzker to address the group to outline his campaign platform on standing up to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination.
But Pritzker refused to attend. Later, the AADC formally endorsed gubernatorial candidate Christopher Kennedy for governor.
“Mr. Pritzker’s refusal to address our members was an insult on its own. But it is compounded by his failure to set the record straight and publicly address the issues of Arab American and Muslim American rights,” Khalil said.
Samir Khalil can be reached at 1-773-767-3333. Samirk08@yahoo.com
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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