Michigan State Senator Sylvia Santana apologized on Thursday for making a trip to Israel.
According to the Dearborn Press & Guide, Santana received backlash from visiting Israel from members of the Arab-Muslim community in her district, which includes Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
Taking to social media via Facebook and X, Santana said she “should have exercised better discretion” about accepting the invitation for the Michigan Jewish Federation-sponsored visit.
"It has come to the attention of my constituents, specifically those in the Arab/Muslim community that I recently visited Israel in my capacity as a state senator. This is a trip offered to state lawmakers to learn more about Michigan's relationship with Israel."
"After speaking with friends and members of the community I recognize my presence on this trip has sparked anger and disappointment by many in the Arab/Muslim community. For this I truly apologize, seek your forgiveness, and hope that you will understand that I had no malicious intent. There is no perfect combination of words that I can offer that truly reflects the feelings in my heart. My only goal was to learn about this region of our world and to improve my understanding of matters related to Michigan."
Exercising proper discretion
Santana said that she "should have exercised better discretion," and sought guidance from community leaders before going on the trip.
"I hope those who know me will continue to support me and reflect on my dedication and all that we have accomplished together," she wrote. "I understand now more than before the level of pain, sensitivity, and deep-rooted emotions that this trip has produced.”
Her statements provided mixed responses, the Dearborn Press & Guide added.
Hussein M. Dabajeh, the legislative director for Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun, wrote in reaction: "You have many friends in the Arab American community that you could have talked to before committing to this trip and we could have talked to you about many reasons why you should not have taken this trip. You have no actual idea how big of a deal this trip actually was to half your constituents."
Another constituent, Khalil Rammal, responded on Facebook that "there's no excuse for you to visit Israel when your Democratic President himself refuses to meet with Israel's prime minister. Even pro-Israeli lobby organizations are speaking out for the first time in history and calling for the reduction of US military aid to deter Israel's expansionism. The majority of the world including European politicians have boycotted Israel. We are disappointed in your visit. I don't know if an apology will be enough."
However, another constituent, Ociel Torres, responded that Santana shouldn’t have to apologize for” taking a trip to a free country
"There are other states in the Muslim world that engage in apartheid against Palestine. You did nothing wrong and the antisemitism is rife in various communities. Israel has a right to exist."