Sinema’s email chain on ‘demilitarized Palestine’

We’ve obtained an email from someone who identifies himself as Ahmed Al-Sidawi that appears to have been sent July 11 to candidates for the District 9 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives:

Dear candidates,

I have been working with one candidate to educate her on the importance of human rights in Palestine. I would like to open that opportunity for dialogue with all other candidates. Would you be interested to learn the real truth about the Middle East Peace process?  If each candidate can send a one paragraph statement on their position on Palestinian issues, I will work to begin this dialogue. Please e-mail a time and date that work for you to meet with leaders of the Muslim community.

Sincerely,

Ahmed Al-Sidawi

Below that note is a string of emails between Al-Sidawi and Kyrsten Sinema, the former Arizona state senator who is running in the Democratic Party’s primary in the district. To make a long story short, Al-Sidawi presses Sinema on her position paper that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What had him up in arms was that her position paper calls for the potential Palestinian state to be demilitarized. He writes: “You talk about how there should be a ‘demilitarized Palestine.’  Please explain – this is no different than saying you cannot have a state for Palestine. This is not acceptable. This is a violation of international law and goes against everything we know is right.”

Multiple emails are exchanged. And in one of her responses to him, Sinema writes: “I have never even used the term demilitarized Palestine, so I have no idea where that came from.”

He presses her for a meeting with the local Palestinian Arab community, saying: “we would like you to remove offensive language from your policy paper. That would include ‘demilitarized’ and it should include a statement that you believe in US ‘neutrality’ as Israel and Palestine negotiate a two-state solution.” Then, he suggests: “We understand if you cannot alter your statement as it is done but we would need private assurance that this is your position – that you disavow the offensive language from your policy paper and that your position, as you said to me, is US neutrality as Israel and Palestine negotiate.”

Her response on June 23, concluded: “Thank you SO much for contacting me. Running a campaign for Congress is busy and difficult, and one relies on staff immensely. I also rely on friends in the community to help ensure that all our materials accurately reflect my opinion. Thank you for being that friend.”

This is where the email stream ends in Al-Sidawi’s missive to the other candidates, which according to the time stamp was sent July 11.

As soon as we obtained this email, we contacted Sinema’s campaign chief, Rodd McLeod, who responded by forwarding an email stream that included all of the above (except for Al-Sidawi’s note to all the candidates) and more communication between Al-Sidawi and Sinema that took place from June 26 through July 11.

McLeod highlighted Sinema’s final note to Al-Sidawi, which is time-stamped 7:21 p.m. July 11, about four hours after Al-Sidawi sent his note to other candidates: “I am eager to hear more from you and the Palestinian and Muslim communities about your perspective.  After researching the issue, I do stand by the terminology used in the position paper and I’m eager to talk about why — and hear your concerns — with the Muslim community.”

So she ultimately said she would not change the position paper, which supported a demilitarized Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution, after Al-Sidawi sent his note to everyone else in the race.

A column she sent to Jewish News regarding Israel and peace efforts was consistent with this stance.

These are the facts — at least as much as can be determined by looking at email chains. But here’s a question to ponder, how did someone like Al-Sidawi, who is clearly seeking a backroom deal with Sinema (that effort to get private assurance regardless of what she put out as a public position paper), become so naive that he sends the whole conversation to her political rivals to help make mincemeat of her?

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