Justin Amash is now seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President. Once a Republican, he stepped away from the party in July and declared himself an independent. His family is from the Middle East: his father is from Palestine and his mother is from Syria. Read on to learn more about his background.
His Dad Is a Palestinian Refugee & His Mom is Syrian
Both of Amash’s parents are immigrants. His dad was a Palestinian refugee and his mother is Syrian. His dad and his dad’s family came to America as Christian refugees, sponsored by Rev. and Mrs. Ralph Wagoner, when his father was 16. Justin Amash wrote on Twitter that his dad’s family had been expelled from their home in 1948 for being Christians, and they came to the U.S. in 1956 as refugees. His father and his family had been at a refugee camp near Bethlehem before coming to the U.S., MLive reported.
Amash’s mom, Mimi, is a Syrian Christian and his father, Attallah, is a Palestinian Christian. They met in Damascus through family friends and the two married in 1974. He wrote on Twitter about his dad: “America welcomed my dad as a Palestinian refugee at age 16. He is kind, generous, intelligent, dedicated, and loves his family more than anything. His life story is a blessing that inspires us all.”
Amash often talks about his heritage on Twitter. He reminded Ilhan Omar about his heritage in January 2019, after she tweeted that the 116th Congress included the first Palestinian-American. Amash wrote: “My father is Palestinian, and I’ve been in Congress since 2011… I should add that my mother is Syrian! I’m proud of my heritage on both sides, though I more often have mentioned my father’s background because he was a refugee.”
In November 2019, he said that he was grateful to God for his family, friends, and America. The American people, he wrote, “welcomed my refugee father and immigrant mother.”
Amash is proud of his heritage. Like his parents, he’s a practicing Orthodox Christian. From time to time, you’ll see him participating in religious discussions on Twitter too.
But Amash has long said that his Middle Eastern heritage doesn’t inform his political opinions. In 2011, he said that then-President Barack Obama shouldn’t be getting in the middle of Middle East peace negotiations. He did not believe the United States should play a role in deciding Israel’s borders, MLive reported. This was part of Amash’s belief that the U.S. needed to decrease its foreign presence and military spending.
He said at the time: “I don’t have anything against Israelis or Palestinians, I hope they have peace… But I don’t think the President should dictate the outcome.”
Amash has also said that he’s American first, before his heritage, MLive reported. “I’m an American, and I look it at from that perspective,” he said. “I’ve been here 54 years. I am here, and I want to be here forever.”
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