Foster and Rashid have some common ground on Gaza — but plenty of differences

The Democratic candidates for Illinois’ 11th Congressional District seats have similar stances about the war in Gaza — but one goes further than the other in criticizing Israel’s campaign against Hamas and its allies.

Both U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and challenger Qasim Rashid have condemned the Hamas-led terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, which led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the wounding and kidnapping of many more. And both have said Israel has the right to defend itself.

But in public comments and on social media, Rashid has been much more critical of Israel’s military response, going as far as to accuse it of violating international law.

Foster and Rashid, both of Naperville, have discussed Gaza and other issues facing Congress in public forums, questionnaires and a joint interview with the Daily Herald.

“The response to war crimes cannot be more war crimes,” Rashid told the Daily Herald last month.

Rashid repeated that allegation in a subsequent online forum organized by the League of Women Voters Naperville, insisting that the U.S. should end military aid to Israel.

“The fact that politicians continue to support more and more aid (to Israel) when more than 30,000 innocent civilians have been killed … is deeply concerning,” said Rashid, a human rights lawyer who said the situation is proof more people in his profession are needed in Congress.

Instead of sending military aid to Israel, the U.S. should assist the Palestinian people, Rashid said.

Additionally, in a questionnaire for the Daily Herald and elsewhere, Rashid has called for an end to “Israeli settlements and occupation of Palestine” and for Israel to allow Palestinians to return to their ancestral lands.

Both Rashid and Foster support a two-state solution that recognizes the autonomy of Israel and Palestine as a means of resolving the conflict there.

This is Rashid’s first run for elected office in Illinois, but he’s no political novice. While living in Virginia, Rashid ran for a state Senate seat in 2019 and for a congressional seat in 2020. He won both Democratic primaries but lost the general elections.

Foster has served the 11th District since 2013, following nearly three years as the representative for the neighboring 14th.

Foster said he’s “deeply disappointed” with how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has conducted the war.

“Israel’s tactics in Gaza have created a mounting and unnecessary civilian death toll and a humanitarian crisis,” Foster said in a Daily Herald questionnaire.

While supporting humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, Foster has resisted calls for an, immediate, unconditional cease-fire because it would prevent Israel from responding to additional Hamas violence, and in the Daily Herald interview he criticized Rashid for supporting such a pause.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization and must be defeated,” Foster said in his questionnaire.

Foster said the U.S. must continue giving Israel military aid, but only on the condition “that it is used in accordance with U.S. and international humanitarian law.”

He also accused Rashid of repeatedly misquoting an inflammatory comment he made about Netanyahu during a meeting with local Democrats. Foster acknowledged he said there’s “a special place in hell” for Netanyahu, but he insists the comment had to do with Netanyahu’s impact on Israeli politics, not the current war as Rashid has implied.

The 11th District encompasses portions of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.

The winner of the March 19 Democratic primary will face one of three Republican candidates in the Nov. 5 general election: Jerry Evans of Warrenville, Susan Hathaway-Altman of Geneva or Kent Mercado of Bartlett.

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