Arab American Women Mobilize in Michigan

This post was originally published on the Arab American Institute newsblog on July 10, 2012, and on the Yalla Change blog on July 11, 2012.

A group of Arab American women in Dearborn, Michigan are mobilizing get out the vote efforts in preparation for November’s presidential election. Founded by Jumana Judeh, Arab American Women for Obama (AAWO) has formed a committee of 20 members and is currently planning strategies and programs to increase voter participation amongst Arab American women this fall, including phone banking, canvassing, and outreach at community events.  Judeh is serving as a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte this summer, and is also the founder of the Arab American Women’s Business Council.

Arab Americans comprise a substantial percentage of the population in southeast Michigan, which is expected to be a highly contested swing state. Judeh criticized Romney’s dismissal of bailouts for the automotive industry, saying that he does not understand the economy in Michigan. Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s father served as Governor of the state from 1963-1969. While they acknowledged the importance of foreign policy, Judeh noted, ““the issues for us as Arab American women are jobs, our kids, education and opportunity.” She also highlighted immigration and health care reform, as well as the rising cost of higher education, as being key issues for members of AAWO.

AAWO’s efforts are intended to encourage the civic participation of its members as women, and as members of an immigrant community.  Judeh believes the organization will provide agency for its members, while counteracting negative portrayals of Arab women as represented by the media.

To join or get more information about Arab Women for Obama, contact Jumana Judeh (judehj@aol.com) or call:(313) 277-1986.

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Land Swaps?

Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s  speech last Thursday, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

“So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

and here is the reality:

It’s no wonder that in his meeting with Obama on Friday, Netanyahu said,

“While Israel is prepared to make generous, compromises for peace it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible…They don’t take into account demographic changes that have taken place on the ground.”

Demographic changes.

Fabulous euphemism. What Netanyahu fails to mention, what seems to be omitted from Israeli discussion of the logistics of creating borders, is that their illegal settlement construction which has occurred for decades is the cause of the “demographic changes” that frankly make a two state solution inconceivable.

Just what sort of “land swaps” do you ever see happening that could possibly resolve the “demographic realities” of that map?

OBL’s Death; Hoping for the End of an Era

Last night, as it was being announced that the president would make a speech my friend said, half-jokingly, that we had probably found bin Laden.

We did.

I was in fifth grade on September 11, 2001.
I have grown up watching my country descend into a quagmire of
militarization, subjugation of Muslim and other Arab Americans, and self-destruction as it stains its international reputation by torturing and committing other war crimes.

The America whose freedoms I was raised to love and treasure, and under whose flag I said the Pledge of Allegiance that and every morning has, under the guise of the “war on terror,”  consistently abandoned its values and ideals in pursuit of the nebulous other of “Islamofascism” in lieu of the real bad guy, OBL and Al-Qaeda.

My America has a volunteer-run military, not a hotbed of economic coercion.
My America believes in the value and dignity of every human being, not just those in a United States or Allied uniform.
My America believes in freedom of speech, not hate-speech, bigotry, and legislated ignorance.

I was ten years old when we invaded Afghanistan… I never dreamed I would have friends deployed there.

2,000 + people dead in IED drone strikes in Pakistan.
14,000-34,000 estimated civilian deaths in Afghanistan
over 1,000,000 people dead in Iraq since 2003
Trillions of dollars spent….

How many of those who serve will come back de-sensitized, traumatized,
horrified with a system that promised a paycheck and a college degree,
but didn’t warn about their inability to treat PTSD?

I agree with Peter Beinart that OBL’s death opens the door for a re-evaluation and re-prioritization of American policies, both foreign and domestic– and for that I am glad it has happened. A renewed focus on actually solving the mountain of debt is important, but insufficient as a final goal. I’m going to continue (naively) holding out hope that we will cut the defense budget and bring my friends home soon. Meanwhile, let’s take a step back, learn from our mistakes, learn from each other, and figure out how our nation can participate in a mutually beneficial way in this global age.

Over half of my life as a citizen of the United States has been spent with my country at war, devastating the lives of people across the globe: in Afghanistan, In Iraq, in Pakistan, at Guantanomo and other detention facilities, at United States military bases all around the world, in the homes of the family members of those directly affected by the conflict: 9-11 families, civilians in occupied lands, the loved ones of service-members, and in the bank accounts of every American whose federal taxes paid for much of this destruction.

Forgive me if I’m not outside with fireworks just yet.

Democratization and the Will of the People

“I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. … let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”    MLK JR

Every iteration of strength and hope I can muster I direct towards the people of Libya tonight, and to all my brothers and sister’s under the fist of oppressive regime and brutal dictatorship. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Cornel West speak two nights ago, and he reminded the audience that, “A blues person is always a long distance runner.” I agree, but the omnipresent spark of  hope in me senses the finish line is just around the corner for the people of the Middle East. Your legs may be weary and heavy, but I urge you to keep pushing. The free world is watching, and we recognize our collective histories in your marches. Ya Yemen, Ya Jordan, Ya Bahrain, Ya Libya, we hear your pleas for freedom, and affirm your right for just governance, even if the governments representing us hide behind policies that support stability over justice. I reject  American hypocrisy and honor the nobility of your activism. Stay strong.