Pro-Israel Arab candidate runs for US Senate
Candidately speaking

Pro-Israel Arab candidate runs for US Senate

Bader Qarmout, a Jordanian-born Christian, faces long odds in campaign to represent New Jersey in Washington

Bader Qarmout, a pro-Israel Arab Christian running for Senate in New Jersey. (photo credit: courtesy)
Bader Qarmout, a pro-Israel Arab Christian running for Senate in New Jersey. (photo credit: courtesy)

As this week’s AIPAC Policy Conference demonstrated, finding American politicians who support Israel isn’t exactly difficult.

Finding pro-Israel politicians who were born in Jordan? Also possible — at least if you live in New Jersey.

Bader Qarmout, a Republican currently running for the US Senate, recently told the New Jersey Jewish News that Israel deserves considerable leeway in its relationship with the Palestinians. “I believe negotiation of that detail has to be hammered out by both parties,” he said of a potential Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. “If Israel said, ‘This is something we have to do,’ I would respect that. If Israel said, ‘This is not something we could do and exist with a group that is building missiles close to us,’ I have to respect that.”

An Arab Christian who works in real estate and education, Qarmout moved to the US as an 8-year-old. His campaign website says of his family background, “Being Christians in any Arab nation isn’t easy.”

The website devotes a special section to what it calls “the only stable democracy in the Middle East.”

“If Israel wants peace and the Palestinians want the destruction of the Jewish state, then peace is impossible . . . Both sides must love their children more than territories,” Qarmout writes. He later adds, “As a sovereign nation, Israel should not ask for the right to defend itself. Israel does not need anyone’s permission to exist.”

While that will surely be music to the ears of many New Jersey residents, Qarmout’s Senate run faces long odds — he’s a clear underdog in the Republican primary, set for June 5. Recent polls show that even the GOP front-runner, State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, would get creamed in a general election against incumbent Robert Menendez, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Like any smart politician, Qarmout sees no reason Jews shouldn’t support his candidacy. “I would like my Jewish brethren to see me as an American more than anything else because my solutions are geared toward a unified America,” he says.

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