Posted on March 23, 2018 in Countdown

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DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 198 days since President Trump moved to end DACA. The courts did step in to block the move, but Congress has yet to provide a permanent fix. TWEET THIS

Nuts and Bolton

“DO NOT CONGRATULATE” was written in ALL CAPS in Trump’s briefing by his national security advisors (the latest one fired) about Putin’s election “victory,” but to hell with the advisors, Trump had a better idea! He congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning an election whose fairness is disputed by many. There was ample frustration with Trump’s move, including from fellow Republican senator John McCain, who said: "An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections." In other news, CNN warns “Trump is now facing a triple-barreled litigation drama involving a porn actress, a reality show star and a former Playboy model that promises further embarrassing allegations.” In other news still, Trump and Joe Biden are threatening to physically beat the crap out of each other (the sort of thing you’d scold a 15-year-old over). In final other news, remember that fired national security advisor, well Trump has appointed a new one, John Bolton. All you need to know is that he has never met a war he didn’t want to start, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theory he didn’t love and that this appointment does not require senate confirmation. Yes, those memes you are seeing about how “we’re all going to die” are scaring us too.

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Massive Turnout in Illinois Primaries

The Illinois Primary election results this past Tuesday were interesting, and not just for us elections nerds (read us). After Texas, the Illinois’ were the second set of party primaries held this year. Not that the Republicans were sleeping on this election, but Democratic voters and candidates were exceptionally eager to vote – Democratic voter turnout skyrocketed 300 percent up from the last off-year election in 2014, and the number of Democratic candidates increased from 24 to 49 in those four years. Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District has a significant Arab American population, and their presence was felt in the Democratic primary, pitting incumbent Dan Lipinski against progressive challenger Marie Newman. Newman released a video ad (watch it) reaching out to local Arab Americans and American Muslims, featuring voices from these communities giving support for Newman, and encouraging the community to get out and vote. Before Newman’s ad was cut a few seconds shorter, the original ad specifically called out AIPAC by name as a special interest group Newman won’t pander to, and criticized Lipinski’s support of legislation penalizing First Amendment-protected boycotts targeting Israel. That ad was blasted out on a fundraising email by a former AIPAC president, accusing Newman of pandering to district residents who they called “anti-Israel” (translation: those who support free speech and human rights), and urging supporters to donate the “maximum” amount possible to Newman’s opponent. Newman was ultimately narrowly defeated (51%-49%), losing by just over 2,000 votes. Outcome aside, seeing candidates courting the votes of their constituents -- including, Arab Americans is how it should be done.

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Ahed Tamimi: Sentenced, But UnBroken

After rejecting her request for a public trial, Ahed Tamimi and several family members were forced to accept a plea deal by which the Palestinian teen was sentenced to eight months in prison, and fined 5,000 shekels ($1,437). Apart from the systemic violations of the rights of Palestinian minors in Israeli military prisons, there is a more brazen injustice at play, namely the unequal treatment of Palestinians and Israelis. While a Palestinian teenager gets eight months for slapping an occupation soldier, an Israeli settler served an equal time in prison for clubbing an 11-year-old Palestinian child to death. And just this week, it was announced that an Israeli soldier who executed a disarmed Palestinian is being released after serving just nine months in prison. If this doesn’t sound like justice to you, Ahed agrees.  When she was asked how she felt about the sentence, she replied: “There is no justice under occupation, we are in an illegitimate court.” It sure sounds like no prison can break her spirit of resistance. In a better world, Ahed would receive a medal of courage for standing up to a heavily-armed intruder who is part an army that denies her people basic rights. In this world, however, she goes to prison for challenging the occupation. #FreeAhedTamimi.

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Biased Judges Insist on Rule of Law

We told you in a previous Countdown about the Pennsylvania (PA) Supreme Court striking down an effort to gerrymander districts in favor of Republicans, saying the plan “plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.” When the PA court mandated a non-gerrymandered map, PA Republicans took it up to the US Supreme Court to try to block it. The US Supreme Court, however, rejected the PA GOP effort. The Court has already agreed to hear two political gerrymandering cases this term: Gill v. Whitford out of Wisconsin and Benisek v. Lamone from Maryland. Fearing both big and small “d” Democratic victories in the election, a dozen Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers are now resorting to impeaching the PA judges who oppose gerrymandering. Folks, this should NOT be a partisan issue, as Democrats have also been accused of gerrymandering, the subject of the aforementioned case Benisek v. Lamone. There comes a time when one must put democracy above partisanship. This is one of those times!

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Never Forget

The past week coincided with some tragic anniversaries, but ones we must remember: March 15th marked the 7-year anniversary of the war in Syria, a devastating war to which many have grown numb. But as the massive loss of life in Ghouta reminds us, this is very much an active tragedy, and the Syrian people deserve better than the world’s silence. March 16th was the 15th anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, an American hero who, at just 23, put her life on the line to protest the injustices of Israel’s occupation, and paid the ultimate price. March 20th marked the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which also devastated Iraq and set events in motion that would later lead to an uncontainable wave of terrorism and sectarian violence. So many years later, Syria remains at war, Palestine remains under occupation, and some of our leaders still want to drag us to other unnecessary wars in the region, with untold consequences. Peace and justice are not easy to achieve, but they are absolutely worth fighting for, and we’re committed to keeping this fight going.