Palestinian rights group endorses congressional challenger Imani Oakley

Americans for Justice in Palestine Action is endorsing Imani Oakley for Congress, in recognition of her support for legislation supporting the human rights of the Palestinian people and ending all forms of US support for Israel.

Oakley is vying for the Democratic nomination against Donald Payne Jr., who is serving his sixth term in the House since being elected to take his father’s seat following his 2012 death after a battle with colon cancer; and Akil Khalfani, a sociology professor at Essex County College.

Oakley described herself as a 31-year-old progressive activist running for Congress in the Newark-based district, but her social media accounts have used anti-Israel talking points accusing the Jewish state of committing “apartheid” and “genocide.”

“For the 2022 midterm congressional elections, Americans for Justice in Palestine Action is excited to endorse candidates for office whose positions toward Israel and the Palestinian people broadly align with our principles and our mission of ending Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people,” said a statement on the group’s website.

“Ideally, the candidate receiving AJP Action’s endorsement will align with our principles and our mission of ending Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through its settler-colonialism, apartheid, and military occupation; backing the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination; and ending all forms of US support for Israel until Palestinians achieve their long-denied rights to freedom, justice, and equality,” says the group.

“As a Black woman, I grew up on the history of Apartheid in South Africa and I know all too well the types of state violence inflicted on Black people here in the United States,” said Oakley. “As such, it is imperative that, as I seek to eradicate state violence at home and abroad, I also show solidarity with the Palestinian Liberation Movement. As a Congresswoman, that is exactly what I’m going to do.”

Oakley has pledged to work to end all forms of state violence on the international stage by eliminating taxpayer-funded support for foreign countries —including the Israeli, Chinese, and Myanma(sic) governments — that commit genocide and other violent human rights violations.

Myanmar also called Burma, is a Southeast Asian nation bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. It has been under military control since a coup d’état occurred the day before the parliament was due to swear in the members elected at the 2020 election, and officials have used lethal force to supress a democratic resistance movement.

Israel has occupied the West Bank for more than five decades, and critics say the government routinely subjects Palestinian residents to discrimination, harassment and violence, including unlawful killings.

Payne, who attended after-school programs at the YMHA on Chancellor Avenue, has said that his “relationship with the Jewish community goes back to my early days in Newark, when I became a resident of the Weequahic section and lived there for 50 years.”

When asked about the appropriate role of the United States in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Payne said he advocates a two-state solution, “but not at the compromise of Israel’s security. They have been our closest ally in that area…. They should not have to worry about bombs being lobbed into their nation.”

The only legslation that Donald Payne Jr. sponsored in Congress that became law was a 2015 resolution naming a Jersey City mail facility as the Judge Shirley A. Tolentino Post Office Building but he was chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications on the House Committee on Homeland Security, for a full year before the United States was caught flat-footed when struck by the coronaorus pandemic.

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