Washington Watch: Not the Way to Defend Christians

Posted on June 03, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby

The recent horrific massacre of 29 Egyptian Coptic Christian pilgrims served as a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of minority faith communities in many parts of the Middle East.

As a Maronite Catholic with family and friends in the Middle East, a PhD in Comparative Religion, and over 40 years of work experience throughout the Arab World, this issue is a deeply personal one for me. I know that in many parts of the world, there are religious communities that are facing threats to their very survival or dealing with serious problems of discrimination and dispossession....

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Washington Watch: Trump Returns

Posted on May 27, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby  If I were a movie critic writing reviews of audience reactions to US President Donald Trump's performances abroad, they would look something like this: "...a big hit in Riyadh"; "...a smash sensation across the Holy Land"; "...subdued, but a success in Vatican City"; and "...a disaster, a flop in Brussels". Those were the reactions abroad.     The White House must be feeling quite good about the trip, since the President played to script and appeared to accomplish multiple objectives. He reset frayed relations and restored confidence with Gulf Arab allies—to the tune...

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Washington Watch: Cloud Over Trump’s Trip

Posted on May 20, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby As I write, President Donald Trump is on his way to the Middle East where he has set a high stakes program addressing some of the United States' and the Arab World's most critical concerns: Gulf security, defeating extremism, reining in Iran, and resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is a heady agenda, to be sure, but looming large will be the turmoil that is roiling the Washington the president left behind.   In Trump's mind, the crises he is facing are "fake" and manufactured by his enemies. He complained in a Tweet on the eve...

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Washington Watch: More Problems with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Posted on May 13, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby There is no question that in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, vulnerable religious communities are facing threats to their very survival or serious problems of discrimination. In situations such as these, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) should be able to play a constructive role making policy recommendations that would help protect vulnerable communities and support efforts to advance religious freedom. That's why Congress created it. But as I complete my four years as an Obama appointee to this Commission, I must acknowledge that we have not been...

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Washington Watch: I am Neither Confident, nor Optimistic

Posted on May 06, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby During a confusing and unsettling time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came to Washington to meet with US President Donald Trump. As has been the case with most issues, Trump has been remarkably unpredictable when addressing the Middle East. During his campaign for the White House, not only did his party's platform drop any mention of a "two state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he personally condemned President Obama for abandoning Israel at the United Nations and promised to be "the most pro-Israel President ever". He also pledged to immediately move the US...

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Washington Watch: What “Land Day” Means

Posted on April 01, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby March 30, 1976 was a transformative moment in Palestinian history. On that day, Palestinian citizens of Israel organized and implemented a nation-wide strike to protest the Israeli government's plans to confiscate thousands of acres of Palestinian-owned land in the Galilee region. The confiscations were designed to provide for the expansion of the Jewish population in the Galilee—since Israeli leaders were concerned that the composition of the region had remained overwhelmingly Arab. Confiscations were nothing new. In the three decades between the founding of their state in 1948 and 1976, Israel had seized 1,500,000...

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Washington Watch: Elevating Palestinians

Posted on March 25, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby It was 40 years ago that I co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign (PHRC) and wrote "Palestinians, the Invisible Victims". I was concerned that in the American mind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been reduced to a simple equation: Israeli humanity versus the Palestinian problem. When most Americans thought of the conflict they were able imagine Israelis as people just like us. They were parents who loved their families. They wanted what we wanted—peace, prosperity, and a chance to watch their children grow and realize their dreams. They had names and faces. They experienced...

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Washington Watch: No "Great Deal" on the Horizon

Posted on March 18, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby It looks like the Trump Administration has come to agree with the conclusion reached by every US President and Central Command Chief since the Gulf War of 1991—that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is necessary to promote regional security and US strategic interests in the Middle East.  When viewed this way, the struggle for justice for Palestinians becomes not an end in itself, rather it is the price to be paid so that the US can successfully consolidate its regional allies in order to confront threats to stability, whether from Saddam's Iraq, revolutionary Iran,...

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AAI Welcomes Court Actions on Muslim Ban

Posted on March 16, 2017 in Press Releases

Once again, the courts are demonstrating there is a mechanism built into our system that protects our constitutional rights. The decisions of the judges in both Hawaii and Maryland halt the implementation of Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees and immigrants from six Arab and Muslim-majority countries. While the government tried to clean up this discriminatory action, the courts see it for what it is – exactly what President Trump campaigned on and what his staff have been advocating for – a Muslim ban. The actions by the courts yesterday are welcome news to all Americans who believe in...

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Washington Watch: Trump's Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America

Posted on March 11, 2017 in Washington Watch

by James J. Zogby This week President Donald Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO or Order) restricting immigration from six majority Muslim countries and more than halving the US refugee program. This version includes some significant changes: it is more carefully written; it removes Iraq from the list of countries falling under the ban; and it exempts those with green cards and valid visas. Nevertheless, it remains a false, dangerous, cruel, arbitrary, and bigoted assault on Muslims and the very idea of America as an open, welcoming society. The EO is based on the false premise...

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