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Thursday April 03, 2014

Half Good, Half Bad

Countdown is not exactly known for its coverage of uplifting and inspiring stories. Politics, especially in our line of work, is rather messy. This edition contains some uplifting information and, sorry to say, some frustrating news.  Read More »

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Thursday March 27, 2014

Pulling the Plug

No, not on Countdown. Keep reading: Read More »

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Thursday March 20, 2014

Naughty or Nice?

With elections season on its way, political commentators more often than not love to interpret special elections and significant political events as a sign of things to come in November. The prevailing notion right now - even among some Democrats, it seems - is that Democrats are toast in November because of Obamacare, and will likely lose the Senate as a result.  Read More »

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Wednesday March 12, 2014

Shaking in Their Boots

Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), won’t bash the National Security Agency (NSA) for spying on everyday Americans - in fact she stood by the NSA after the Snowden revelations - but if you spy on her Senate staff, she’s coming after you. That’s the lesson CIA Director John Brennan is learning right now after Senator Feinstein’s heated speech on the Senate floor yesterday.  Read More »

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Thursday March 06, 2014

Back to the Future

Has Mitt Romney been vindicated? After calling Russia the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” in 2012 and being jibed for his blast from the past rhetoric on Russia by President Obama, it looks like Russian President Vladmir Putin really does deserve Forbes magazine’s 2013 title of “Most Powerful Person.” Read More »

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Wednesday February 26, 2014

At Least Three Reasons to Watch the Oscars

If you’ve been following our blog, chances are you know that this Sunday night we’ll be glued to our TV’s to watch the Academy Awards. Three Arab films are up for Oscars this year: Omar, by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, The Square by Egyptian American Jehane Noujaim, and Karamah Has No Walls from Yemen’s Sara Ishaq. All three shed light on events in the Middle East through perspectives not usually found in American media.  Read More »

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Wednesday February 19, 2014

The Day We Fight Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech directly to 300 Israeli students and youth leaders in Ramallah to discuss the peace process. Taking a page from the Obama playbook, Abbas went over Netanyahu’s head and spoke directly to the Israeli public to outline the Palestinian position on peace negotiations.  Read More »

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Wednesday February 12, 2014

Living in Limbo

We don’t have to tell you that resolving the crisis in Syria hasn’t been easy. Russia has offered to meet directly with the United States to discuss Syria after the first Geneva II negotiations did not produce much substance, and it was also revealed that Syria is behind schedule in shipping out its chemical weapons arsenal. Still, there is a small piece of good news that could have a big impact for those suffering in Syria: in a welcome step, the Obama administration announced it will ease some restrictions to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States.  Read More »

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Wednesday February 05, 2014

Three Strikes, No Outs

Talk of the demise of what is easily rated as one of Washington’s most prominent lobby groups is nothing new and not surprisingly untrue. However, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has swung and missed on three issues they have been publicly pushing for over the past year. First, U.S. public opposition and Obama’s reversal of military involvement in Syria succeeded in trumping AIPAC’s calls for U.S. missile strikes.  Read More »

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Thursday January 23, 2014

All Bark, No Bite?

There isn’t much good news to report out of the Middle East these days. But amid all the chaos, Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring began, is showing promise of achieving the goals of its revolution. Three years ago this month, Tunisians revolted against their government and began what has no doubt been a rocky transition. Read More »

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Tuesday December 17, 2013

Countdown to 2014

We know, it’s sad, but yes, this is in fact the last Countdown of the year. We promise to come back in 2014 with even better material as we aim to give you a unique breakdown and topical analysis of issues in the U.S. and Middle East. Read More »

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Wednesday December 11, 2013

Practically Wrote Itself

According to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), if you’re Middle Eastern, you can’t help but lie. It’s not your fault, though; it’s just part of your culture. In one of the more bigoted and downright stupid things we’ve heard out of Washington in a while (and that’s saying something), Rep. Hunter told C-SPAN that we can’t trust Iran to live up to its end of the nuclear deal brokered by the P 5+1 because “In the Middle Eastern culture it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible, no matter what it takes, and that includes lying."  Read More »

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Tuesday December 03, 2013

A Change of Course

Friday, November 29 marked the one-year anniversary of the United Nations vote to upgrade the Palestinian Mission to the UN’s status to “non-member observer state.” To mark the event, the United Nations passed a resolution labeled 68/L.12 declaring 2014 the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”  Read More »

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Tuesday November 26, 2013

We Have a Deal

We have a deal. The U.S. (and other world powers) announced on Saturday that Iran has agreed to put the first significant limits on its nuclear program, in the most significant agreement reached between Tehran and the international community in decades. The agreement requires Iran to hold its uranium enrichment capacity in place for six months, under tight supervision, and in exchange, Iran receives temporary sanctions relief.  Read More »

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Wednesday November 20, 2013

Still Searching for a Strategy

The Daily Beast reported on more infighting between top Obama Administration officials on US policy in the Arab world. The flavor of the week is the United States’ policy on Egypt; not only are U.S. administration officials clashing over foreign policy, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to widen rifts between world powers, and between members of the United States Congress, over an Iranian nuclear deal; you may have missed it, but last week the Palestinian negotiation team engaged in US-brokered talks with the Israelis resigned. Read More »

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Wednesday November 13, 2013

Telling Their Stories

Next Tuesday, November 19, AAI is partnering with several human rights and religious organizations, and Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) office to convene a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled, “Wadi Foquin: A Microcosm of the Urgency for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” Presenters from the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin and their Israeli neighbors in Tsur Hadassa will give a vivid account of how their current situation is unsustainable for both groups, stressing the need for movement on Israeli-Palestinian peace.  Read More »

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Wednesday November 06, 2013

Elections 2013: No Such Thing as an Off-Year

As anyone who gets our action alerts knows, we get pretty excited about Election Day. Don’t be fooled by the odd-numbered year – just because there wasn’t a big election in Congress this week doesn’t mean the results aren’t worth paying attention to.  Read More »

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Wednesday October 30, 2013

The Right Messaging

AAI president Jim Zogby argues that Arab Americans and supporters of the Palestinians here in the US need to focus more on Palestinians' rights, and less on the “debate as to what the 'deal' [between Israelis and Palestinians] should include or whether no deal is the best outcome – since that result, some say, would lead inevitably to a one-state solution.” Don’t get him wrong, though, it’s not that the outcome of the “deal” doesn’t matter - it most certainly does. Instead, Zogby says we should focus on what we can do: “shine a light on the daily injustices visited upon Palestinians, and mobilize support for those whose human rights are being abused.” “As long as Palestinians are not known, discourse about the issue in the US will remain hopelessly one-sided.” “Only when Palestinians are known and their rights are fully recognized will the US feel the need to press for balanced peace that recognizes the rights and needs of all.” Cynical about this approach? Consider this: In 1977 when the Palestine Human Rights Campaign (PHRC) was created, no then-existing human rights group would adopt Palestinian cases. Now, movies like “Five Broken Cameras” highlighting gross human rights violations are getting nominated for Oscars. Read More »

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Monday October 21, 2013

Spying, Prying and Justifying

You don’t need us to tell you we like what we see from Bill de Blasio, the progressive Democrat who seems a shoo-in for the next mayor of New York City and has been harshly critical of the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program. But this week he gave us the best reason yet to support his election in two weeks: he promised to end NYPD’s pervasive, widespread surveillance of Arab Americans and American Muslim New Yorkers. Read More »

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Wednesday October 16, 2013

The Clock is Ticking

Washington’s nuclear-stakes game of “deal or no deal” might finally come to an end today, just hours before the Treasury Department says it the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just announced that they’ve agreed to a deal to reopen the government and raise the statutory debt ceiling, ending the ongoing government shutdown now in its third week and preventing an unprecedented and catastrophic default by the United States.  Read More »

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