The Arab American News

Posted by The Arab American News on October 29, 2015 in News Clips

By Hassan Khalifeh

Many local Arab Americans say the current Republican presidential candidates are out of touch with their issues and see Democrat Hillary Clinton as the strongest presidential candidate so far. 

Fay Beydoun, the third vice chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said Arab Americans are left no other choice than to lean toward candidates from the Democratic party, especially in light of the anti-Muslim comments that Republican candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump have made in the past.

Beydoun said that although some of the candidates seem electable, their campaigns still need to work on a stronger outreach to the Arab American community and address their issues.

"We need to send one strong message from the Arab American community and continue to voice those issues time and time again and educate candidates," Beydoun said.

She added that although it's too early to tell, many Arab Americans see Clinton, the Democratic front-runner and former secretary of state, as a viable candidate for the presidency.

Beydoun said Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland, is seen among community members as having a promising political future.

Jacklin Zeidan, who describes herself as a community liaison and lifelong Democrat, said she identifies with the party because its politicians better understand Arab issues and causes and tend to be more open minded.

"I don't wanna build walls," Zeidan exclaimed, referring to Republican candidates who she said often distance themselves from other cultures.

She also views both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I Vt.) as strong candidates.

"This country is built on diversity and yet I have to listen to Republicans talk about building walls and sending people back home," Zeidan added. "That's not what this county's all about."

Some of the presidential candidates attended the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference last week, a three-day summit aimed at allowing Republican and Democratic leaders to make a case for why their party should receive the Arab American vote.

During the conference, Sanders said that because Arab Americans are being targeted by the far right, political participation is crucial.

State Senator Morris Hood, a Democrat and member of the Dearborn Democratic Club, told The Arab American News that Arab Americans should vote for a Democratic candidate because they tend to better understand how every nationality plays an integral role in the American system.

"We're more sensitive to the plight and to the cause of people coming from other countries over to this country," Hood said.

He added that most Democratic caucuses include groups and politicians from almost every nationality and minority group.

"They all know how it was in some point in time of their foremothers and forefathers to come over to this country and struggle to achieve the American dream," he said. "And that's what a lot of Arab Americans come over to do."

Although Hood has not decided which candidate he’ll endorse, he said he strongly leans toward favoring Clinton. He said Clinton would bring great value to the presidency, understands foreign affairs and has come from a position that understands the middle class better than others.

Hood added that Arab Americans are essential to the success of the United States’ economy and shutting immigrants out, as many Republican politicians advocate, is a mistake.

He pointed out that the U.S. is a melting pot and said that's what makes both Democrats— who he said welcome everyone’s input—and America great.

Walid Fidama, executive board member of the National Association of Yemeni Americans, said he is disappointed by the current White House's outreach to the Arab American community and would like to see a more involved effort by the next president.

"Candidates often address Middle East issues, but in reality all they do is hold dinners during Ramadan and invite Muslim and Arab community members from Washington and Virginia," Fidama said. "They don’t even go far from their backyard."

He added that he is also contemplating voting for Clinton.

Sami Khaldi, head of the Dearborn Democratic Club, encourages Arabs to vote Democrat because the party shares many of the values and issues that Arab Americans hold.

He added that the Democratic Party gives Arab Americans a voice and chance to grow within the party, unlike the Republican Party, which he said does not welcome many Arab Americans in their political clubs.

Khaldi said he also might vote for Clinton, because she is the only one who can deal with the issues related to Arabs most effectively.

"The more these guys talk, the more they look like they're out of touch," he said of Republicans.

Khaldi pointed to candidate Carson, who attacked American Muslims by saying they should be excluded from the presidential race, as well as Trump— who attacked hijabi women— calling him a "wild man" who is creating more enemies than friends. 

Original Article