A Nuanced Lens Capturing the Middle East

Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Blog
By Maha Elsamahi Winter Intern, 2015 Having a foot in both the Middle East and the U.S. profoundly influenced Matar’s photography, “Although I belong in many ways to the Middle East, I am still seeing it with fresh eyes and perspectives.”
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Unsung Heroes

Posted by on April 02, 2015 in Blog
By Maha Elsamahi Winter Intern, 2015 As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it’s important to remember the women in the Middle East and all over the world who work daily and without fanfare to ensure that their communities are just and peaceful places. When the cameras are off and journalists have moved on to the next story, their work continues�often at great personal risk.
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Perseverance at Its Best

Posted by Eddie Bejarano on March 30, 2015 in Blog
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement that public schools in New York City will be closed in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, represents a meaningful achievement for the American Muslim community in New York, but also for the community nationally.
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Spy Games

Posted by Margaret Lowry on March 25, 2015 in Blog
A new game, TouchTone, released this week to the iTunes app store puts you in the shoes of a National Security Agency analyst. To move through the levels, you must solve puzzles in order to intercept communications from potential security threats, all while answering to your handler, codenamed “patriot”. The game is unsettling, after solving a puzzle correctly, you’re able to read private emails and make an assessment on whether to report them as suspicious activity. The more of these messages you read, the less sure you are of your ability to distinguish threats, and the less agency you feel you have in making your assessments.
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Arab Portrayals in Film: A History of Stereotypes

Posted by Shadi Matar on March 20, 2015 in Blog
Dr. Jack Shaheen, the author of “Reel Bad Arabs” and “A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in US Popular Culture”, has spent his career analyzing the way Arabs have been portrayed in American film and television over the last century. In 2006, his book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies People” was adapted into a documentary and shown across the United States and to global audiences. In his book Shaheen asks “What is an Arab? In countless films, Hollywood alleges the answer: Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women.” Shaheen’s book and documentary highlight the many examples in the American media that portray Arabs and the Middle East with the same repetitive negative stereotypes over the last century.
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What does an Arab festival have to do with losing your bid for mayor?

Posted by on March 09, 2015 in Blog

Every summer since 2006, Chicagoans have looked forward to watching traditional Arab dances, eating delicious Arabic cuisine created by local chefs, and learning about the diversity of Arab culture at the Arabesque Festival. The Arabesque festival was, in part, created by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and ran until 2011. In 2012, that came to an end with the election of Rahm Emanuel.

Ever since Rahm Emanuel was elected as the Mayor of Chicago, the large Arab American community in Illinois has been sidelined from the city’s political discourse. Now, the 30,000+ Arab American voters...

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50 Years After Selma: Our Past, Our Future

Posted by on March 07, 2015 in Blog

Today, President Barack Obama is in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the iconic marches that turned violent. Aptly referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” the march in Selma was an important turning point in the civil rights movement. Worldwide TV coverage broadcast powerful and shameful images of police officers brutally attacking nonviolent marchers who were attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The resulting media attention and government intervention to protect future civil rights marches helped spur the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) just five months later,...

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Obama’s retroactive request for war authority to combat Islamic State is ‘puzzling’

Posted by National Catholic Reporter on February 24, 2015 in News Clips

In 2013, the Islamic State group began an extermination campaign in the Levant, ripping through Syria and later Iraq in a brutal effort to establish a caliphate. In August, the U.S. began dropping bombs in response.

Now, six months later, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for war authority in that fight.

While the threat the Islamic State poses is clear, the president's retroactive request for Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) could be described as confusing.

On the one hand, it proposes to sunset military action after three years and ban "enduring offensive ground operations."...

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Nakba Museum: Of Memory and Hope

Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Blog

In 2011, Bshara Nassar participated in a New Story Leadership program that brought together young Israelis and Palestinians in a powerful learning experience. The program took 10 participants to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which certainly seemed like an appropriate site for reflection. However, he realized that there was not a museum dedicated to showing the suffering of the Palestinian people. Although the program aspired to fairly expose participants to the historical underpinnings of the Israeli and Palestinian narratives on modern history and conflict, Nassar realized that it was missing a key element of the Palestinian experience - which inspired him...

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Syrian Refugees: We’re Not Buying the Security Threat

Posted by Kristin McCarthy on February 13, 2015 in Blog

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, AAI has advocated for increased resettlement of refugees in the United States. Last January, we were pleased to be a part of Senator Durbin’s landmark hearing on the subject that has since led to meaningful action both in Congress and in the Obama administration. Through a State Department led effort, the U.S. will accept up to 2,000 screened refugees for resettlement in 2015 – which is a huge jump from the 284 refugees resettled between 2011 and 2014. Keep in mind that 3.5 million is a modest estimate of the number of...

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