Human rights activist and attorney Huwaida Arraf is running for the 10th Congressional District in this August’s primary.
Voters will have a choice of candidates for representation in Washington D.C. from a crowded pool of five Democrats (including Arraf), two Republicans and a Libertarian.
The newly drawn 10th Congressional District covers much of southern Macomb County, with populous and increasingly diverse communities like Warren, Roseville, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Shelby Township, Eastpointe and more. It also covers the Oakland County cities of Rochester and Rochester Hills.
The district is home to a vibrant and politically active Chaldean community.
Besides Arraf, Democratic candidates for the 10th District are Carl Marlinga, Rhonda Powell, Angela Rogensues and Henry Yanez.
Mike Saliba is running on the Libertarian Party ticket.
Of the Republican candidates, former U.S. Senate candidate John James, who barely lost out to Gary Peters in the 2020 election, has monetary support from pro-Israel and anti-Arab extremist groups. The other Republican candidate for the 10th District is Tony Marcinkewciz.
Like several big and dark money attacks against congressional candidates in the primary, James’ campaign support contrasts with the Palestinian American Arraf’s work in human rights for Palestinians living under Israel’s illegal occupation.
As the journalist Ray Hanania points out, Arraf has been the subject of attacks from right-wing Jewish leaders who have called her “anti-Semitic” and even a “terrorist.”
Arraf rose to prominence for her activism over the years, co-founding the International Solidarity Movement. She previously helped to organize the 2010 “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” to confront and challenge Israel’s illegal blockade of the 2 million civilians living in the Gaza Strip. Ten civilians were killed when the flotilla was attacked by the Israeli military.
She was born and raised in the district she is now running for and is the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant mother and a union GM employee father. She previously worked for the Detroit-based Goodman Hurwitz & James, a prominent civil rights law firm.
Included in Arraf’s platform are proposals to cracking down on “greed-driven monopolies”, antitrust enforcement, supporting the right to organize, affordable healthcare, environment mental justice and more.
Arraf responded to these questions from The Arab American News through email.
Q) In your estimation, what are some of the most pressing issues for working families in the newly-formed 10th District, and how could you impact those issues if elected to the U.S. House?
The economy (inflation) is the number one concern for working families right now. I will join forces with my colleagues to reduce inflation by, first and foremost, tackling the shameless price-gouging taking place by big companies, including oil and gas companies. Then we must work to bring manufacturing home. We have allowed too many of our jobs to be shipped overseas, while simultaneously becoming too dependent on foreign countries for things that we can produce right here at home.
Bringing manufacturing home will create good jobs and will address the supply chain issues that have also been driving up prices. Finally, I will fight to pass legislation that will support small businesses and help working people keep more money in their pockets. These include breaking up monopolies that are squeezing out small businesses and providing tax and other incentives for small businesses to develop and pay employees a living wage; guaranteed health care, universal pre-K, paid family and sick leave, child tax credit and no taxes on overtime earnings.
Q) As you speak with voters in that district, how does your background and work in international human rights resonate with families?
It honestly doesn’t come up very much as I’m speaking to voters more about things that concern them. However, the times where it has come up, voters have expressed support for the human rights work that I’ve been involved in and absolute agreement that no U.S. taxpayer money should be going to enable human rights abuses abroad.
In a recent poll that we conducted, my support for stopping all military funding to Israel was seen as a strong reason to support me by 66 percent of Democratic voters.
Q) You are running in a crowded field of Democratic candidates for the 10th. What sets your campaign and vision for the district apart from theirs?
I am the only candidate talking about the corrupting influence of big money in politics and the only one who has pledged not to take money from corporate donors. We need to get big money out of politics if we’re going to make our government and economy work for working people and not just the ultra wealthy and well-connected few. From guaranteeing health care and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, to cleaning up our environment and passing safe gun laws, if candidates or representatives are not willing to stand up to big corporate interests, they are not going to be fighting for the people.