Washington Watch: Lasting Damage to the "Idea of America"

Posted on June 23, 2018 in Washington Watch

By Dr. James J. Zogby

The sights and sounds of Central American children being ripped from their parents by U.S. Border Patrol officers have, by now, spread across the globe. The experience has been traumatizing to its victims and deeply painful to watch. It has also done incalculable damage to the very idea of America.

This is June when we are supposed to be celebrating "Immigrant Heritage Month." Each year, I have taken this opportunity to recall my family's immigrant story—the opportunity and freedom they sought, the hardships they endured, and the remarkable progress they made in just one generation. ...

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Washington Watch: The Liberal's Lament

Posted on June 16, 2018 in Washington Watch

By Dr. James J. Zogby 

I find it exceptionally irritating when I hear liberals worry about whether Israel will be able to remain a "Jewish and Democratic State" if it retains control of occupied Palestinian lands. It's irritating because Israel is not now a democratic state nor has it ever tried to be one.

A state which prioritizes rights for one group of citizens (in this case Jews, who comprise 80% of the population) over the rights of another group (Arabs, who are 20% of Israel's citizenry), cannot be democratic. Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens in law, social services,...

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Washington Watch: The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act Is Back: Free Speech Is at Risk

Posted on June 09, 2018 in Washington Watch

By Dr. James Zogby 

Back in 2016, without debate or an actual vote, the US Senate stealthily passed a disturbing and dangerous piece of legislation called "The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016" (AAA). The bill would have required the Department of Education (ED) to apply a State Department (DOS) working definition of anti-Semitism in evaluating complaints of discrimination on US campuses. Because some conservative Members of Congress had concerns that the legislation would violate free speech, AAA didn't pass the House and died. Last week, the bill was reintroduced with minor changes. As I wrote back in 2016, the AAA was...

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Washington Watch: On the Path to Authoritarianism

Posted on June 02, 2018 in Washington Watch

By Dr. James Zogby 

When Donald Trump was elected, I, like many others feared what his presidency might do to the country. A year and a half into his term in office, our concerns have been justified. 

He and his team are dismantling health care reform, erasing needed environmental protections, casting aside international treaties and agreements, exacerbating income inequality, and putting vulnerable communities at risk.  What I find as troubling as these policies, however, is the profound damage he has done to civil discourse and our political culture, and the danger he poses to our democracy. There are warning signs that...

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Washington Watch: Taking the US Commission on International Religious Freedom from Bad to Worse

Posted on May 26, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby

The GOP's appointment of prominent purveyors of anti-Muslim hatred to positions on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is both disturbing and instructive. It exposes the cynical and misguided approach Republicans have taken to the entire enterprise of promoting religious freedom.

Twenty years ago, pushed by right-wing religious fundamentalists in the Republican Party, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). It was described as an effort to establish "a multifaceted program for ensuring that religious freedom has a permanent place in the formulation of US foreign policy."

To fulfill this mandate, the IRFA...

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Washington Watch: A Week of Horrors and Changing Perceptions

Posted on May 19, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby

This has been a week of horrors in Palestine. On Monday, 63 mostly young Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli snipers. Another 2,700 were injured, mostly by live fire or tear gas. Adding insult to this injury, on the same day, the US opened its Embassy in Jerusalem, pounding what may be the final nail in the coffin of the hopes for just Israeli/Palestinian peace.

For hours on Monday, we sat glued to our televisions, watching these two events playing out, on split screen, in real time. The juxtaposition of the...

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Washington Watch: Palestinians: The Invisible Victims

Posted on May 12, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby

This year will mark the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish regions, and the anniversary of the first Middle East War of 1948. In the West, these are commemorated as the events which paved the way for the founding of the State of Israel, “the return of Jewish rule to the land of Zion.” For the people of the East however, they have a very different meaning. There, 1948 is known as the “Year of the Disaster”, the year of the destruction of Palestine, and the dispossession and...

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Washington Watch: What is Facebook Trying to Do?

Posted on May 05, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby

This week, Facebook made a rather strange and disturbing set of announcements. In response to concerns raised by several civil rights organizations—including my own, the Arab American Institute—about hate groups using their platform to harass and at times, to threaten Black, Muslim, Arab, and other minority communities. Facebook executives announced that they were asking Laura Murphy, former Director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to conduct an "audit of [Facebook's] impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color." What was troubling was that Facebook coupled this action with the appointment...

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Washington Watch: Celebrating Service to Others

Posted on April 28, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby This week, the Arab American Institute held its 20th Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Awards Gala. This annual event provides an opportunity for Arab Americans to recognize organizations, leaders and activists from around the world for their service to humanity. During the past two decades, the Institute has honored such illustrious figures as: Mohammad Ali, Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity Movement and former Prime Minister of Poland, Queen Noor al Hussein, Salma Hayek, and former President of Ireland...

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Washington Watch: The Struggle for the Idea of America

Posted on April 21, 2018 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby This week I traveled to Dearborn, Michigan to speak at the 15th annual "Images and Perceptions" Diversity Conference. The focus of my remarks were the challenges we are facing today. Dark forces have been unleashed in our society that are threatening the very meaning of the America that we have fought to create and that we must now fight to protect.    Before discussing this issue, I want to reflect on how important it is that Arab American leadership brought together this convening of elected officials, law enforcement, educational institutions, social service agencies and a broad...

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