Posted on October 10, 2014 in Countdown


Netanyahu: Expert on American Values

Netanyahu is proud to be an American – apparently the Prime Minister of Israel understands American values better than the U.S. president and the administration does. In an interview over the weekend, Netanyahu said the U.S. condemnation of Israeli settlement plans goes “against American values.” We told you last week how awkward the meeting was between President Obama and Netanyahu and about the welcome criticism of continued settlement building, but we didn’t expect Netanyahu to continue his high horse claims of moralism by lecturing us on our own values and what is and isn’t “American.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded by saying "It did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response did not reflect American values" but then insisted on ways our “American values” are actually the reason the United States has “unwavering support to Israel.” When will we stop getting fooled by Netanyahu?

These Midterms Have Us Confused

The midterm elections are less than a month away, and nothing looks certain. Amid changing polls, debating about debating, and independent candidates who might decide the fate of the Senate, it’s shaping up to be an exciting month. Races have been tightening in key states, leading some polls to project a narrow Republican victory, while others are saying the Democrats will keep their slim majority. We may be looking at a no-wave primary. But this Washington Post piece says it doesn’t matter anyway, because you are probably the only one of your eight friends who cares about the midterm election. With low projected turnout, we want you to make sure you and your friends are registered to vote! We are sending out weekly emails to states with high concentrations of Arab Americans through our Yalla Vote campaign. Let us know if Arab American candidates are running for office in your area and share events happening in your community.

Foreign Policy Becomes a Domestic Issue for Erdogan

While the U.S. has seemingly backed itself into a corner by having to choose between Assad’s stability or a vacuum of instability in Syria, Turkey is also facing a tough choice– ISIS or the PKK. Turkish Prime Minister turned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated his willingness to support ground troops in Kobane, a border town that is on the verge of falling into ISIS hands. The battle has gained national attention due to the continuous stream of video from the ongoing fight coming out of Turkey, and it threatens to spark tensions between Turkey and the Kurdish population in northern Syria. This has put the Turkish government in a bind – even Vice President Biden weighed in during his now infamous speech at Harvard where he claimed that Turkey (among others) was partly responsible for ISIS’s strength and advancements. Biden went on an apology tour after the statement, but it does seem true that Turkey is standing on the sidelines, fearful of how developments in Syria could impact their domestic positions back home. We know our politicians are posturing domestically on foreign issues. It seems it’s no different in the Middle East.

Is Panetta Engaging in a “Worthy Fight”?

Former Secretary of Defense and head of the CIA Leon Panetta’s memoirs “Worthy Fights” was released recently, and here in DC, pundits and policymakers are already scouring the book for notable lines. The book follows a series of recent releases from Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, all shedding some light on the inner workings of the Obama White House. While partisan bickering is a staple of election year politicking, this time, criticism of Obama comes from within the Democratic party, and a loyal and highly-regarded Democrat at that. In addition to saying President Obama should have left troops in Iraq after 2011 and act more forcefully in Syria, Panetta writes that Obama “too often relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” Panetta seems to be channeling frustrations with the President’s handling of foreign policy, particularly the centralization of decision-making in the White House. It’s easy to dismiss some criticisms, but Panetta seems to have no pretense for his writing, other than to provide some advice and personal thoughts on important regional matters.

Michigan Arab Americans Sue over Watchlist

A few weeks ago, we let you know about the placement of Dearborn on a list of cities with the highest concentrations of “known or suspected terrorists”. Well, action is being taken. Earlier this month, the Arab-American Civil Rights League (ACRL) filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Terrorist Screening Center. The lawsuit is in response to the discrimination of Arab Americans when traveling, especially in the form of prevention from flying and harassment at US airports. When Dearborn is only second to New York City on the watchlist – despite the huge population difference – we can’t take claims seriously that Dearborn is not being unjustly targeted because of its Arab American and American Muslim communities.  Sure, it will take a while for any decision on the lawsuit, but this is a positive step we need to be aware about.

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