ARLINGTON, Va. (JTA) — A Democrat in Virginia’s legislature blamed Israel for “fossil fuel” wars, including the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and the 2003 Iraq war, and said identifying Zionism with Judaism was a form of antisemitism.
The tweets by Ibraheem Samirah, a dentist, came as he agreed with a call by the Washington D.C. branch of the Sunrise Movement, an environmental advocacy group, to boycott three Jewish progressive movements with Israel ties.
“Mossad creates fossil fuel wars using malicious intel, most famously the WMD lie Colin Powell spewed to the world to justify the Iraq war,” Samirah said Wednesday on Twitter, referring to Israel’s intelligence agency. He attached to the tweet a Guardian article that made no such claim.
Powell, who died this week, was the U.S. secretary of state who privately doubted the George W. Bush administration’s case for war against Iraq, but agreed to argue in the United Nations for war, citing flawed U.S. intelligence that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. Powell did not cite Israeli intelligence. By the time Powell delivered the speech, he himself said years later, Bush was already determined to go to war.
Challenged by others on Twitter, Samirah doubled down, blaming Israel as well for the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, and attaching a 1986 article from The New York Times revealing weapons deals between Israel and the Shah of Iran. The Shah deposed in 1979 was dead in September 1980 when Iraq launched the war against the Islamist regime that replaced him.
Samirah, who joined a historically Jewish fraternity in college and helped found a campus chapter of the Jewish anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace, also tweeted, “It’s anti-Semitic to confuse Judaism, a whole religion, with Zionism, an ethno-religious supremacist ideology heavily used by Israel to advance it’s [sic] well-documented, inhumane 70+ year military aggression against Palestinians.”
A spokeswoman for Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the Jewish Democrat who is the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, did not return a request for comment. Republicans called out Democrats for not condemning him. “Where are the @USJewishDems to call out this hate?” said Boris Epshteyn, a Jewish adviser to former President Donald Trump, referring to the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which also did not return a request for comment.
Another Jewish Democratic group, the Democratic Majority for Israel, suggested on Twitter that Samirah was not worth the time; he had been defeated in a Democratic primary in his northern Virginia district earlier this year and will no longer be a delegate in January.
“Virginia Democrats were wise to remove him from the state’s House of Delegates,” the group said in a tweet.
Samirah, who is Palestinian American, is the son of a Muslim activist from Chicago who was deported in 2003 by the Bush administration as a “security risk.” A U.S. judge mandated the elder Samirah’s return a decade later, saying the government never made the case that he was a security risk.
The younger Samirah made headlines in 2019 when he disrupted a rally by former President Donald Trump.