Bush’s Two-State Vision Speech: Five Years Later

Posted on July 02, 2007 in Washington Watch

It was five years ago that President George W. Bush delivered the speech that outlined his “vision” for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There had been some speculation that the President would mark the occasion by reprising his “vision” speech. I, for one, am glad that he did not. It was a disastrous speech that marked a radical change in U.S. policy toward the Middle East peace process – the consequences of which are still with us.

Hype having overtaken history, the actual speech delivered on June 24, 2002 has been forgotten. What is remembered is...

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Tragedy in Gaza

Posted on June 18, 2007 in Washington Watch

The scenes playing out in Gaza are reminiscent of those we’ve seen too many times before. The pictures are so common, in fact, that they have come to define the Palestinian reality in the West: masked young men ducking behind walls firing semi-automatic weapons, emptying their clips into distant buildings or at other young armed men behind other walls. These are matched by pictures of women and children running for shelter from the deadly thugs. This time, of course, is different because the shooting is all part of a blind and pointless fratricidal war.

And toward what end?...

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Four Decades of Heroes in Palestine

Posted on June 07, 2007 in Washington Watch

We are forty years into this occupation, and the systematic destruction of Palestine, its people and their culture continues. I am not Palestinian, but throughout my adult life their story has been important to me.

From my first visit to the Palestinian camps in Lebanon in 1971, which led to my doctoral dissertation “Arabs in the Promised Land,” a study of the emergence of Palestinian national consciousness, and later motivated me to found the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, I have been haunted by the plight of this captive and displaced nation.

Along the way, I...

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Arab Americans and American Jews

Posted on June 07, 2007 in Washington Watch

In the flush of excitement that greeted the 2002 release of the Geneva Agreements (a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiated by leading, though “unofficial,” Israelis and Palestinians), the Arab American Institute (AAI) and Americans for Peace Now (APN) polled Arab Americans and American Jews to test their support for the terms of the agreement.

We found that not only did both communities demonstrate significant support for a resolution to the conflict along the lines of the Geneva Agreements, they also agreed on a host of other issues related to U.S. Middle East policy.

Five years later, our two groups undertook...

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Self-Inflicted Deadly Wounds

Posted on May 29, 2007 in Washington Watch

Circumstances beyond one’s control may shape life options and limit possibilities, but one need never be a helpless victim of fate. I make this observation, in part, in reaction to the horrific scenes of violence playing out in Lebanon and Gaza. Both can be seen as a consequence of the lack of peace and realization of justice, and the failure to resolve the region’s long-festering problems. But while some injuries are inflicted, others are self-inflicted. And so, while fingers of blame can be pointed in many directions, for Lebanese and Palestinians, some should point close to home....

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What Secretary Rice’s Agenda Should Be

Posted on February 20, 2007 in Washington Watch

If U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had wanted to make a real contribution to enhancing future prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, she would not be spending her time in the region “sketching out broader political issues” with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. After too many years of U.S. neglect, these issues are abstractions that pale in comparison to immediate needs.

What the Secretary should be focusing her energy on is reinforcing the Mecca Accords and pressing Israel to end its strangulation of the Palestinian economy and society.

The agreement signed in...

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AAI: Bush Administration Should Call for Halt to Construction

Posted on February 09, 2007 in Press Releases

AAI Concerned by Israeli Dig in Jerusalem; Requests Bush Administration Call for a Halt to Construction Activity

WASHINGTON – Feb. 9, 2007 – The Arab American Institute (AAI) is concerned about ongoing Israeli building activity near the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) compound in Jerusalem and calls on the Bush Administration to request a halt to the work.

The compound, where the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque sit, are one of the holiest places in the Islamic world. Muslims throughout the region have expressed concern that ongoing Israeli work could damage or weaken the foundation...

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Israel’s Illegal Use of Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

Posted on February 02, 2007 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Feb. 1, 2007 – As the State Department announced its decision to notify Congress of likely Israeli violations of U.S. law in its use of cluster bombs in Lebanese civilian areas, the Arab American Institute (AAI) renewed its calls for humanitarian and political action. On Monday, the State Department sent the results of its preliminary investigation into a possible Israeli breach of the Arms Export Control Act to Congress.

AAI again called for the prohibition of U.S. tax dollars from being spent to acquire, utilize, sell or transfer cluster munitions, and for Israel to disclose details...

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Study Finds Illegally Built Israeli Settlements

Posted on November 22, 2006 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Nov. 22, 2006 – The Arab American Institute (AAI) joins Peace Now in criticizing the Israeli government’s systematic disregard for the intrinsic and internationally-recognized property rights of the Palestinian people and calls upon the Bush Administration to publicly acknowledge the eroding effect this has on prospects for a longterm Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In its recently published report, Peace Now found that close to 40% of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on land which the Israeli government recognizes as privately-owned by Palestinians. The study, based on information culled directly from Israeli government sources responsible...

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AAI Welcomes State Dept. Complaint Against Israeli Discrimination of Arab Americans

Posted on October 19, 2006 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Oct. 19, 2006 – The Arab American Institute (AAI) welcomes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent efforts to secure and defend the rights of Arab Americans of Palestinian descent to travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

At Secretary Rice’s direction, the U.S. recently filed a complaint with the Israeli Embassy in Washington over implementation of an Israeli policy that has resulted in the barring of entry to Arab Americans.

“We applaud Secretary Rice for following up on this important issue for Arab Americans,” said AAI President James Zogby. “Arab Americans have been regularly traveling to...

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