Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Blog

On Friday, October 12, AAI and the Arab American Cultural & Community Center (ACC) hosted a town hall discussion entitled “Israeli-Palestinian Peace: A U.S. Policy Imperative.” The event focused on the latest political developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role that the Arab American community must play in helping to guide U.S. policy.

Farouk Shami, the founder and chairman of Farouk Systems, Inc. and a member of the Arab American Institute’s President’s Circle, spoke about the historical injustices faced by the Palestinian people, and the barriers faced by Arab Americans in advocating on their behalf. Shami warned that the Arab American community needs to shed its fear of otherness, and embrace its Arab American identity. By organizing as a community, Shami believes that Arab Americans will be able to hold greater influence on U.S. policies both domestic and foreign.

Dr. Abdel-Kader Fustok, a founder of the Arab American Cultural and Community Center, spoke about the history of Arab American community organizing, the growing awareness of a shared ethnic identity, and long campaign to increase Arab American socio-political involvement. Dr. Fustok praised the great strides that community organizations have made in furthering Arab American causes, and mentioned the resounding DNC delegate opposition to new platform language on Jerusalem as an example of the community’s growing influence.

The community members in attendance also shared their views, discussing the perceived intransigence of both political parties on matters related to Palestine, and various strategies for increasing Arab American political engagement to pressure elected officials to take a more open-minded perspective. The evening concluded with a commitment by many community members to participate in a Yalla Vote phone bank the following morning, to encourage Arab Americans to vote on November 6th.

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