Columbia Basin Herald (Friday, July 30, 2004)

Ephrata doctor to run for U.S. Senate

By Sebastian Moraga
Herald staff writer

Mohammed Said

This is third statewide office bid for Mohammad Said

Seeking to change the focus of this nation’s foreign policy, Ephrata doctor Mohammed Said has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Said (pronounced Sah-EED), running as a Democrat, will compete in the party’s primaries of September against incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Describing himself as socially conservative but liberal in other issues, Said said he is running to convey a message not heard in today’s American politics.

“The major problem we have in our country is our foreign policy,” he said, “and the total, unconditional support of Israel.”

The Spain-educated Said declared that he is not anti-Semite. “Arabs are Semites, too,” and he has nothing against Jewish people. Nonetheless, he expressed his dislike for what he sees as the Zionism guiding Israel’s politics.

“It’s the cause of violence and hatred against the U.S.,” he said, “of our huge debt of trillions of dollars, of terrorism in our country.”

If elected, Said said he hopes to unveil a plan that could bring peace to the Middle East and reduce the tension between that area of the world and the U.S: the creation of another, more inclusive nation in the Mideast.

“People living in a secular, united country,” he said. “Arabs, Muslims, Jews living in one state.”

The Ephrata physician said that the American people are sick and tired of the Israel-Palestine conflict, dragging on for decades, with no end in sight.

Said said that both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton spent weeks in the Middle East, working on the issue and nothing had happened.

For Said, born in Haifa, formerly part of Palestine and today of Israel,the problems on foreign policy are directly connected with the domestic troubles of this country.

“Foreign policy gets us into trouble,” he said. “We are isolated.”

Said added that the reason this country does not have enough money to solve national problems is because the funds go to military experiments overseas.

“Iraq is a rich country,” he said. “Why build them a political structure, an army and then foot the bill.”

If he beats Murray, and then goes on to beat Republican candidate George Nethercutt, Said said he has other changes in store, among them amending the War Powers Act to give state legislatures the responsibility in declaring war.

The U.S. could only go to war if two-thirds of the state legislatures approve it. State legislatures are closer to people, Said said, and not to special interests.

Said said he hopes to campaign for four to six weeks throughout the state, centering part of his efforts in getting minorities to vote and participate in the political life of the state.

He has also ran in primaries for the U.S. Senate in 1992 and for governor in 1996. Comparing himself with his primary opponent this time around, Said said Murray rarely mentions foreign policy. “She is afraid like the rest of Congress to say anything bad about Israel.”

He added that, in his opinion, Murray had “blindly” voted for the Patriot Act, which, he said, affect the civil rights of some American citizens such as himself and his children. Said did praise Murray for voting against the Iraq war.

Said believes his political points of view will play well in the Columbia Basin area, as he considers himself conservative in the social arena.

“I am against gay marriage and abortion,” he said. “Marriage is the union of husband and wife, the XX-chromosome and the XY chromosome.”

Regarding abortion, he said that his Islamic beliefs were the cornerstone of his opposition. Calling himself pro-adoption, he said that he accepted abortion if it endangered the life of the mother.

Conversely, Said said he was extremely liberal in issues such as the environment and defense.

“I am against the war,” he said. “I am not against the soldiers.”

Said said that a number of soldiers are kids who went into uniform because of the benefits, and wanting to go to school.

“These are good kids, doing their job,” he said. “I will support them by bringing them back.”

Said has lived in Ephrata since 1982 and said he is very grateful to the U.S., a feeling which has spurred his interest in politics.

“We have to bridge the gap between the U.S., the Arabs and the Jews,” he said. “We have to go back to the old days when we were free to travel without looking over our shoulder.”