Posted by Kristin McCarthy on July 28, 2016 in Blog



It was a packed night last night. The Convention was bursting from the seams with Democrats eager to salute the Party's top elected officials - Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. We also got a first hand look at Hillary Clinton's pick for Vice President, Senator Tim Kaine. There's a lot to cover on all fronts, so here is your DNC Day 3 dispatch:

Arab Americans at the Convention
  • In addition to throwing a pretty spectacular party on Tuesday night, we're here at the DNC convention to educate delegates and inform the conversations happening around issues that matter to us. Yesterday, AAIF hosted two forums with nationally recognized experts in the field of civil rights, and then on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Watch them using the links below.
    • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in a Climate of Suspicion. (VIDEO)
      • Mike German, Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice
      • Susan Herman, President of the ACLU
      • Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights
      • Moderated by AAI Executive Director Maya Berry
    • The Untenable Status Quo: US Policy Options for Palestine-Israel. (PART 1 | PART 2)
      • Sam Bahour, Chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy
      • Peter Beinart, Columnist and Author
      • Debra DeLee, President & CEO of Americans for Peace Now
      • Moderated by AAI President Dr. James Zogby
        • During the panel Jim released results from his latest poll, "American Attitudes Toward the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." Read and download the poll here.
  • SPOTTED: Arab American Councilman and PLEO delegate Sam Hindi of Foster City, California supporting Palestinian human rights during CIA Chief Leon Panetta's speech last night.
  • We've got a great write up on our Tuesday programming including a luncheon for the nearly 50 Arab American delegates here in Philly and from our "Ahlan wa Sahlan Philly!" Block Party.
Inside the Convention

Day 3 was devoted to selling Hillary Clinton as the only candidate ready and capable of being President, and speakers drew heavily from Clinton's experience versus Donald Trump's cluelessness. We're not going to go into excruciating detail about all the significant speeches last night, but there are many things to pause briefly over.

First on the crowd dynamics in the arena last night, the rowdy Bernie supporters held back their jeers, unlike the previous nights. There were no walk outs and no disruptions. At various points in the evening lonely chants of "No TPP" seemed to be quickly stifled by fellow protestors. Former CIA Chief Leon Panetta was at times over shouted by chants of "No More War" during his own endorsement speech. However, we are disappointed to hear reports that some of Bernie's supporters carrying unofficial signs, including a Palestinian flag, were harassed by their fellow state delegates. That shouldn't happen. Our political system - Democrat, Republican, and other - has enough space for all of our voices to be heard. The only notable disruption of the night wasn't a TPP related one. 

The night's headliners started with Vice President Joe Biden, who by some accounts delivered the night's best speech. Biden delivered a tough, serious, and at times desperate call to defeat Trump and the policies (and non-policies) his campaign is putting forward. But Biden's message was far from the doom and gloom speeches that were characteristic at the Republican convention. Biden - and all of the night's speakers - spoke to the highest ideals of America and proudly reflected on the strength of the nation.

Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine was introduced to the largest audience of his career - and his personable, funny, and sometimes corny speech showcased his impressive life story and his optimistic vision for America. Kaine, who is somewhere on the political spectrum between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, got the crowd chanting on multiple occasions, and his Trump impersonation drew frequent laughs. Kaine sought to engender trust in Hillary Clinton by casting a negative light on Trump's business record, his relationships with employees, his reality show days, and his lack of public service and political experience. Kaine also treaded into tumultuous waters by trying to bring die hard Bernie supporters into the Hillary camp with a dose of pragmatism and perhaps a bit of shame. Many of those "Still Bernie" delegates were holding "No TPP" signs silently throughout the evening. 

President Obama's speech also treaded into the waters of inter-Party division. Saying that Hillary Clinton is unfairly caricatured by some people on the left, Obama sought to calm the discontent with Clinton as the Party's nominee. By acknowledging his own failings, and the failings of every political leader and average person, Obama seemed to make the case for progressives to elect Clinton and then work hard to hold her accountable to the compromises they've secured. But beyond the dynamics in his own party, the President also sought to discredit the vision of America that Donald Trump's campaign is pushing. Casting a proud and optimistic forecast of the future, President Obama cited the spirit and stature of the American people as our nation's greatest asset. We do, however, have to take issue with a part of the President's speech that hasn't gotten any media coverage. In a stark departure from his careful language about ISIL and terrorists abroad, President Obama used the word "jihadists" when naming threats to the United States. However, the word 'jihad' is not equivalent to 'terrorist', and it shouldn't be applied to people who commit acts of violence they claim are inspired by their faith. Indeed ascribing the term jihad, which means holy struggle, to a brutal, violent death cult bestows upon ISIL and other terrorists a term they are not worthy of. We are disappointed that the President chose to play into the conflation of these terms, because by calling ISIL and other terrorists 'jihadists' he is acknowledging their cause as a holy struggle - which it is absolutely not.

Beyond the night's biggest speakers, there were compelling cases made for Hillary Clinton by families who suffered tragic losses to gun violence in Newtown, Orlando, and the wife of a veteran who was killed in battle. The speakers underscored the real cost of inaction and Clinton's leadership in getting to the political action they want to see moving forward. You can read and watch their speeches here.
Outside the Convention

Protestors continued to make their voices heard outside of the Convention arena, but we were concerned to learn that protestors breached the security fences leading to the arena on the night that Secret Service protection was in full swing for VP Biden, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton. There were also new incidents of flag burning that - although protected political speech - are troubling for their symbolism.

The major news of the day outside of the convention is Donald Trump's latest self-inflicted wound, which was once again in regards to his relationship with Russia. In an interview, the Republican candidate suggested that if elected he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, lifting sanctions on Russia, and seemingly encouraging Russian hackers to meddle in the election by further hacking Hillary Clinton's email. The policy thoughts - or jokes, as Donald later suggested - are no laughing matter and were quickly condemned by leaders on both sides of the aisle.

One Republican leader who rushed to defend Donald's comments yesterday on Russia was former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani. It was a busy day for Giuliani, who serves as a senior advisor to Donald Trump. He also made news (but not nearly enough) suggesting to NJ.com that he thought it was an "excellent idea" to electronically tag American Muslims who are on the "terrorist watch list." This is just the latest iteration of Trump's plan to profile, police, surveil, deport, and/or discriminate against American Muslims without any respect for law and order. It is reprehensible and should be condemned by Trump and party leaders.