Strong Words Must Be Followed by Strong Action

Posted on October 08, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby I was both understanding of and puzzled by the Obama Administration's reaction to Israel's announcement of new settlement construction in occupied Palestinian lands. It was just a few weeks ago that the White House signed a new 10 year agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committing a total of $38 billion in military assistance to Israel. In announcing the deal, President Obama noted that this is the most significant support package ever offered to Israel, demonstrating his unparalleled commitment to that state's security. Shortly thereafter, Obama, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly,...

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JASTA: Irresponsible and Dangerous

Posted on October 01, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby Congress' vote to override President Obama's veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was both embarrassing and irresponsible. The bill, known as JASTA, amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allowing US citizens to sue foreign governments and entities for damages resulting from acts of terrorism committed on US soil on or after September 11, 2001. Clearly directed at the Government of Saudi Arabia, JASTA has caused enormous concern and not only in that country. In his veto statement, President Obama cited three reasons for his strong opposition to the bill. 

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Washington Watch: Don't Play Politics With Syrian Christians

Posted on September 24, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby  Elliott Abrams, a former Reagan and Bush Administration official and a former colleague on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has written an article "The United States Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria". It is provocative, as its title suggests, but it is deeply flawed in its argument, its evidence, and its conclusions.   Abrams begins by noting that of the more than ten thousand Syrian refugees admitted this past year, only 56 are Christian. Out of that single thread he weaves a whole cloth using unsubstantiated anecdotes, bad math and...

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Washington Watch: Stymied (and Appalled)

Posted on September 22, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby I am stymied. I've been writing this column each and every week for almost 24 years now. Since it appears in papers across the Arab World, I've attempted to explain American politics and policy to Arab readers.         

Most weeks, the columns practically write themselves. This week is different with the news dominated by events that almost defy explanation. In the first place, there's Donald Trump leading or tied in a number of national polls. Added to this, Congress overwhelming passed legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi...

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That Fateful Day

Posted on September 10, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby 

September 11, 2001 was a lovely day in Washington. I was driving to work, stopped at a red light. I looked over at the woman in the next lane because she was frantically motioning to me to roll down my window. As I did, she shouted "Did you hear? A plane flew into the World Trade Center. My father works there." The light changed to green and we drove off. I never saw her again. But I don't think I'll ever forget the fear in her eyes, just as I will always wonder if her...

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Ghassan's Prediction and the Emerging New Palestinian Reality

Posted on September 01, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby During the past year, I've had the pleasure of receiving visits from Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, and most recently Basel Ghattas—as they passed through Washington. All are Palestinian citizens of Israel. And all are Members of the Israeli Knesset, part of the Joint Arab List that won a record 13 seats in the last Israeli election. It was a delight to sit with them and learn from them not only about the difficulties they face, but the progress they have made.   I have written about how I first became attached to the...

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Khalid Jabara: Victim of Hate and Negligence

Posted on August 22, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby One week ago, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Stanley Vernon Majors murdered his next door neighbor, 37 year old Khalid Jabara. He shot Khalid dead on the front porch of the Jabara home. It was a horrific crime, but it could have been prevented. As I have reflected on the developments leading up to this murder, I have been both saddened and outraged, because while there is no doubt that Majors pulled the trigger, there are others who share varying degrees of culpability for this violent act.   Majors was a sick hate-filled man who for...

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Washington Watch: To Hell in a Handbasket

Posted on August 13, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby This presidential election is exposing deep fault-lines in our society and the failure of some of the basic institutions of our democracy. If we don't change direction, we're on our way to "hell in a handbasket".   I begin with the difficult situation in which Republicans now find themselves as they watch their out-of-control nominee wreaking havoc. Once the "party of Lincoln", the GOP was, as late as a generation ago, led by George H.W. Bush and James Baker, in whose steady hands we emerged from the Cold War, and Congressional leaders like Howard...

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Platform and Politics: The Change We Made

Posted on August 03, 2016 in Washington Watch

The quadrennial process of party platform writing is more of a political exercise than a policy deliberation. When party leaders sit down to debate what will or will not go into their platform, their eyes are less focused on what will constitute sound policy. Instead they consider the politics involved in the positions they want in the document: will they cause concern with important constituencies; will they result in negative press; and will they provoke donors? Given this, I feel good about what we accomplished with this year's Democratic Party's platform. I say this not only as a proud...

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Washington Watch: The Two Conventions

Posted on July 30, 2016 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby After back-to-back Republican and Democratic conventions, the stage is set for a 100-day mad dash to the November presidential contest. There were telling differences between the two events. To begin with, the conventions revealed the state of play within each party. Both Republicans and Democrats confronted insurgencies with dramatically different outcomes. On the Republican side, one of the insurgent candidates, Donald Trump, vanquished the establishment leaving the party in some disarray. Many national GOP leaders boycotted the convention and refused to endorse Trump. Those who endorsed the victor did so either because they...

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