Posted on September 27, 2019 in Countdown

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Impeachment is Upon Us

It’s official: Nancy Pelosi has announced the launching of an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, with the backing of the majority of House members. This is based on a whistleblower reporting that the President of the United States possibly tried to condition aid to Ukraine on the Ukrainian government’s willingness to assist the President in his re-election bid by trying to get dirt on Joe Biden. On top of that, the White House is accused by the whistleblower of attempting to cover up this exchange between Trump and the Ukrainian president by removing electronic transcripts of those phone calls from where they’re typically stored and placing them instead in a more highly secure location that’s typically reserved for the most highly-sensitive national security secrets. In essence, Trump is accused of abusing the power of his office for personal gain, which is ironic when considering that what Trump wants Ukraine to investigate Biden for is (you guessed it) abuse of his public office for personal gain. What dirt is Trump hoping to get on Biden? This NPR piece gives a good summary. The most damning evidence against Trump is that, after he mysteriously withheld aid to Ukraine, he talked on the phone with the Ukrainian president, and responded to the Ukrainian president’s request for increased aid with: “I would like you to do us a favor though.” And what’s the favor Trump wanted? Investigating Biden. Abuse of power. Period.

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The Rash That Won’t Go Away

After a narrow election defeat, Bibi Netanyahu sat down with Benny Gants (the leader of the Blue and White party that won the most seats in the Knesset) to figure out a compromise that would allow them to form a unity government. After they failed to reach a compromise on their own, the ball moved to Israeli president Reuven Rivlin to pick someone to attempt to form a ruling government. And who did Rivlin pick? Nope, you guessed wrong (yes, we can read your mind), Rivlin picked Benjamin Netanyahu to try and form a government. There is no reason to believe Bibi will have better luck this time after he failed to form a government in the last election, and Gantz has already made clear that his party “will not sit in a government which has a prime minister against whom stands a severe indictment.” The Arab Joint List (which is divided over whether to support Gantz as the next PM) said that Gantz’s party asked them to make clear that not all their MKs support Gantz. Yes, you read this right: Gantz wanted less support from the Arab Joint List, in what is thought to be a strategic maneuver to give Netanyahu the first (and likely failed) shot at forming a government, so Gantz can go second in attempting to form a government, which he believes could be more successful. But what happens if they both fail? The options include (we kid you not) a third Israeli election this year.

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Members of Congress Call for Passage of Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act

In the words of Senator Richard Blumenthal, “Hate crimes shatter lives—they shred people’s sense of trust and wellbeing.” At AAI we are determined to improve our response to hate crime so that victims, families, and communities can live free of fear and are able to participate in our democracy without threat of harm. On Wednesday AAI Executive Director Maya Berry joined the families of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Don Beyer and other sponsors of the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Actas well as fellow civil rights organizations, to call for the swift passage of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act (you can watch the full press conference here). With the well-established problem of underreporting, we need thislegislation to improve our response to hate crime. So contact your member of Congress asking them to become a cosponsor now.

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Letting the Days Go By, Let the Water Hold Me Down

Earlier this week, high school student Karla Stephan (an intern of ours, we’re proud to say) took to the streets and to MSNBC to let you know that climate change is a serious threat that needs to be addressed. The mass, global action that Karla joined coincided with the UN Climate Action Summit which was held at the UN in New York. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg also visited the US—and was insulted by Trump, as has become tradition for newcomers to our shores. We don’t often cover climate change, but it’s notable that some of the states most impacted by climate change—including Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts—just so happen to be a majority of the states with the highest number of Arab Americans. Further, climate change is driving conflict and hitting the Arab world particularly hard, rendering droughts, heat waves, and dust storms worse each year. The most vulnerable countries in the region appear to be Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. If we care about our species’ future, we should take Karla’s lead and do something!

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Are You Registered to Vote?

Thanks to our partners across the country, AAI celebrated another successful National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) this week. Taking place on the fourth Tuesday of September each year since 2012, NVRD is a national holiday that mobilizes thousands of volunteers at hundreds of events to register, or update the registrations of, hundreds of thousands of Americans. As a proud Premier Partner, AAI has worked with volunteers in nearly every state throughout the years to execute #YallaVote voter registration events to register many individuals annually. This year saw #YallaVote events at a variety of venues, including college campuses, at local Arab American organization meetings, businesses, and even at local city halls through partnerships with clerks’ offices. The preliminary voter registration numbers from our partners are shaping up to make this year’s NVRD one of the biggest yet. And as the last NVRD before the 2020 Census, the efforts of our partners were vital to spreading information about #YallaCountMeIn, the Arab American community’s Get Out the Count campaign, and the importance of the census to our democracy. These combined efforts to engage more individuals in democratic processes was met with great enthusiasm, and we want to thank every person, organization, school, and city that participated and made NVRD 2019 a success. And if missed out on NVRD and are still not registered, we can help! Give us a call at 844-YALLA-US