Israeli candidate for US Congress makes headlines

Monday, May 07, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Itamar Gelbman has become the new talk of the US political blogosphere after he promised as part of his congressional election campaign to "stop the Islamization of America." That promise was listed among others on a campaign flyer sent to Republican voters in Texas' 6th congressional district ahead of party primaries, when Gelbman will challenge long-time incumbent Joe Barton.

The American Muslim community is in something of an uproar over the Gelbman flyer, but a Tea Party-aligned candidate who opposes any hint of Sharia Law in America is nothing new. What is unique about Gelbman is that he, as his name indicates, is not just American.

Gelbman's flyer identifies him as an "Army lieutenant for Congress," but it's not referring to the US Army. Gelbman was indeed born in the US, and is a US citizen, but as a child he immigrated to Israel with his family. Growing up in Israel, Gelbman joined and served with distinction in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and also had a brief career as an undercover police officer in Tel Aviv.

Israel's continued security ranks even higher on Gelbman's list of campaign promises than stopping the "Islamization of America." In fact, Gelbman told The Jerusalem Post that if elected, he "would defend Israel and be their voice in the House."

While Gelbman would not be the first Israeli citizen in Congress, he maintains that he would be the first true Israeli. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was in Congress from 2002-2009 and is also a dual US-Israeli citizen, but has never lived in Israel and did not serve in the IDF.

Rep. Joe Barton has easily won reelection since first being elected to Congress in 1984. But there is much speculation that Gelbman could unseat him given that the population of Texas' 6th district (near Dallas) is largely Evangelical Christian, and therefore prone to be very pro-Israel.

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