Posted on May 04, 2018 in Countdown

Click here to subscribe to Countdown, AAI's weekly take on news from Washington, around the country, and abroad.

DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 240 days since President Trump moved to end DACA. The courts did step in to block the move, but Congress has yet to provide a permanent fix. TWEET THIS

No Muslim Ban Apology Ever

The president hosted his Nigerian counterpart, Muhamaddu Buhari, at the White House this week to discuss continued military assistance from the United States. While the leaders were eager to talk about warplanes and helicopters, both were equally resistant to hashing out President Trump’s history of vulgar statements regarding Nigeria and other African nations. “We didn’t discuss it because [Buhari] knows me, and he knows where I’m coming from,” Trump said to reporters. The press did extract a response from the president about his campaign-era proposal for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” When asked if he should apologize for the inflammatory remarks, the president said “there’s no reason to apologize.” While we know President Trump never says sorry, his statement contradicts an assertion Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco made in defense of Muslim Ban 3.0 last week at the Supreme Court. But then again, maybe Francisco misspoke when he said the president “made crystal-clear … he had no intention of imposing the Muslim ban,” after all, he shortly thereafter called Islam “one of the great countries of the world.” You can read this gaffe, and the rest of oral arguments, here.


Loopy Logic on Iran

You may have noticed, Israel seems to be trying to provoke a confrontation with Iran, striking Iranian targets in Syria not once, but twice in the past few weeks. It was reported in the Israeli press that US officials “said Israel seems to be preparing for open warfare with Iran and is seeking U.S. support.” So it is no surprise that, in coordination with Trump’s White House, Netanyahu has made a big fuss about documents stolen from Iran by the Mossad, alleging that a long, long time before the nuclear deal, Iran may have at some point wanted to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Wait a second, is this the case against or FOR the Iran Deal? President Obama’s senior advisor Ben Rhodes summarized the “absurdity” on Twitter, explaining that opponents of the Iran deal want it scrapped, even though Iranian compliance with it is preventing it from the very pre-deal activities they are complaining about. The EU joined the sane world in explaining that nothing in Bibi’s presentation casts doubt on Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal. Our president, however, joined Netanyahu in La La Land, praising his presentation for supposedly revealing that the situation is “not acceptable.” But the best response to Netanyahu came from an unlikely source, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who had the Israeli leader on his show. But while Bibi was expecting to talk Iran, Cuomo turned the tables on him, grilling him about Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. That was refreshing to see on a major US network.


It Ain’t Partisan, But It’s Still Ugly

The Indiana Republican Senate Primary election is coming up next week on Tuesday, May 8th. Recent headlines have called this race one of the GOP’s nastiest primaries, as three candidates have spent more time going after each other than after incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. Congressmen Luke Messer and Todd Rokita and businessman Mike Braun are going head-to-head-to-head to win the Senate seat by competing over who is more authentically Trumpian. Apparently, the final debate between the candidates last Monday night was completely devoid of all “Hoosier Hospitality” as Messer, Rokita, and Braun spent more time calling each other fake, swamp-dwelling, Trump-hating career politicians than they did addressing issues or their opponent, Donnelly. Whoever wins the May 8 primary will be responsible for carrying the GOP’s hopes of defeating Hillar.. Sorry, of defeating Donnelly and maintaining the narrow Republican Senate majority.


Our 20th Gibran Gala was Awesome

We just celebrated the 20th Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala on April 26th, and what a special event it was! Every year the Foundation has the pleasure of honoring the organizations and individuals who exemplify the very best of humanity, and this year gave us the opportunity to reflect on the collective impact two decades of commitment to excellence can have on the world. Awardees at this year’s Gala exemplify this excellence: Irish Senator Frances Black, Chef José Andrés & World Central Kitchen, Former Ambassador Marcelle Wahba, and the ACLU. This well-rounded group of awardees touched on some of the primary opportunity areas available---legislative, humanitarian, and diplomatic---for helping others. Attendees at this year’s Gala left with a shared experience that rejuvenated them, and prepared them to continue their own efforts for a better world. We hope to see everyone again next year, and if you missed this year’s event, make sure you sign up to receive updates about next year’s Gibran Gala.



Last week, we hosted our annual Arab American Leadership Days, in partnership with NNAAC, NAAP and ADC, to encourage Arab Americans from across the country to become more politically engaged, and discuss the policy concerns we, as a community, need to raise in Washington, DC. Participants traveled from 14 states, ranging from high school students to state-level political leaders. Experts from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU, and Jewish Voice for Peace joined us, along with Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN), Congressman Keith Ellison (MN), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI), and Congressman Hank Johnson (GA) to discuss key civil rights issues. Following the sessions, dozens of Arab Americans also met with lawmakers in both the House and Senate. Learn a little more about Leadership Days here and here.