Ammar Camp-Najjar
Ammar Campa-Najjar. Campaign photo

Ammar Campa-Najjar, who has raised half a million dollars in his battle to defeat Rep. Duncan Hunter, was forced to defend himself Tuesday when an Israeli newspaper reported that a grandfather he never knew was a terrorist.

“I’m blessed to have been born in America, a country where regardless of your appearance, the sound of your name, or where your family came from, you can achieve your dreams if you work hard and believe enough,” said Campa-Najjar.

The Democratic candidate, who is of Mexican and Palestinian descent and grew up in El Cajon, issued a statement after the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a grandfather was a Palestinian terrorist in the 1970s. Yusuf al-Najjar was assassinated in Beruit by an Israeli commando force in 1973 after the Munich Olympics massacre.

“Like many American families, my heritage bears a heartbreaking history,” said Campa-Najjar. “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 in the eyes of our children.”

Haaretz noted that “the grandson of one of the architects of the Munich massacre is running for Congress in California, and winning praise from members of the local Jewish community for his moderate positions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Campa-Najjar has been endorsed by the California Democratic Party and San Diego City Council members Chris Ward and David Alvarez.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.