AAI Interns Hear from Congressman Ellison

Posted by Guest on July 05, 2017 in Blog

By Zaina Ujayli

Brown Bag lunches with the Arab American Institute always promise the most interesting guests. So, on Friday, June 23, the interns gathered outside of AAI to meet Representative Keith Ellison in his office.

Friday was my first time anywhere near Capitol Hill. Walking down the white hallways, spotted with flags from the different states, representatives’ names engraved on metal plates beside the wooden doors, I could not help but feel like I was walking on the other side of the field. Organizations like AAI advocate for the...

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Washington Watch: What an Italian American Leader Did for Arab Americans and for Me

Posted on July 01, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby Fred Rotondaro, an Italian American leader, died on June 26th. He was, by every measure, a remarkable man. On hearing of his passing, my brother John commented, "Fred was a creation God would be proud of. He was a smart, elegant man who never forgot where he came from".  To this I would add that I feel fortunate, because for nearly four decades Fred was my friend and my mentor.  When, in the 1970's and 1980's many in Washington refused to work with Arab Americans, Fred took me under his wing and taught me, often...

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Maram Abdelhamid: Leading the way forward for immigrants to succeed

Posted by Guest on June 30, 2017 in Blog

By Maram Abdelhamid

My family and I immigrated to the United States from Egypt in the fall of 1988. We moved here after my family lost their business in times of intense corruption in the country. 

I remember moving here to a beautiful townhouse in Woodbridge, New Jersey, seeing snow for the first time and having our landlord bring us a turkey and an old black and white television for Thanksgiving.

The first few years in America were difficult. We moved a lot from New York to California to Los...

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AAI Statement on Passing of Longtime AAI Friend and Ally Fred Rotondaro

Posted on June 29, 2017 in Press Releases

Fred Rotondaro, an Italian American leader, died on June 26th. He was, by every measure, a remarkable man. What many may not realize is that he was also responsible with providing Arab Americans political access at a time, in the 1970s and 1980s, when many in Washington refused to work with our community. Fred always led by example and took the time to teach Arab American leaders the nuts and bolts of ethnic politics. He gave our community a boost when others would not. He was there for the...

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Statement on Passing of Longtime AAI Friend and Ally Fred Rotondaro

Posted by Arab American Institute on June 29, 2017 in Blog

Fred Rotondaro, an Italian American leader, died on June 26th. He was, by every measure, a remarkable man. What many may not realize is that he was also responsible with providing Arab Americans political access at a time, in the 1970s and 1980s, when many in Washington refused to work with our community. Fred always led by example and took the time to teach Arab American leaders the nuts and bolts of ethnic politics. He gave our community a boost when others would not. He was there for the...

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From Palestine to Arkansas

Posted by Guest on June 29, 2017 in Blog

By Isaac Filat

Down South, in the small state of Arkansas, in the small city of Little Rock, in the small community of Chenal, you’ll find a Palestinian family living amongst the bunch. Though mostly assimilated, my family retains many of our Hebron ways. We are loud. We are hard headed. We cook good food. But, more importantly, we are Arkansan! I was born and raised in Arkansas, but my family’s arrival in the South was mostly chance. My grandfather...

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Together We Came: Ray LaHood

Posted by Guest on June 28, 2017 in Blog

By Annie Riley

“Arab Americans have made America a great country. You should never run away from that. You should never be ashamed of it. We should be proud of it,” exclaimed Raymond H. “Ray” LaHood, a proud second generation Arab American and life-long public servant. LaHood represented Illinois’ 18th congressional district in the US House of Representatives for 14 years before serving as the 16th Secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. 

Back in 1895, LaHood’s grandparents left their small village of Aitou,...

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From Northwestern Syria to Southwestern Pennsylvania: An Immigration Story

Posted by Joan Hanna on June 26, 2017 in Blog

William "Chad" Hanna, back left; Senator John F. Kennedy, right.

At the age of 14, in 1904, George Hanna emigrated from Mashta al-Helu, Syria to Pennsylvania, settling in the town of Clymer, 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. George supported himself as a businessman, selling housewares in a cart to local coal miners. He was charismatic, an astute entrepreneur, and spoke four languages. Through his military service in World War...

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Annual iftar brings together community in times of hardship

Posted by Guest on June 23, 2017 in Blog

By Dina Al Zubi

Growing up, iftars have always been my favorite part of Ramadan; water after a long day, a feast with wonderful food, and being surrounded by a feeling of celebration and appreciation for community (and the meal, of course). 

Last week, on Thursday, June 15th, AAI hosted its fifth annual Generations Iftar. The AAI team, Generations network, friends, and family gathered to break the fast of the day, share a meal, and connect. Those of us who are new to the AAI family had the chance to...

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Together We Came: Hisham Matar

Posted by Guest on June 21, 2017 in Blog

By Haley Arata

Ten hours writing, three coffees, and two hours on the Internet: the magic writing formula for award-winning Arab American writer Hisham Matar. 

Matar was born in New York, grew up in Tripoli and Cairo, and now lives in England. Hisham’s father, Jaballa Matar, opposed the Gaddafi regime and when Hisham was young his entire family fled to Cairo to avoid political persecution. It was during one of early days in Cairo that Matar remembers hearing the words of the one of the most influential books to his life and...

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