Posted by Heba Mohammad on March 20, 2020 in Blog

As we have all seen, the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business as usual. Indeed, it is not just our daily routines that have changed. Primary elections have been impacted as well – from moving polling locations (including moving some out of senior living facilities), and in some states – like Ohio – the primary has been postponed.  Yet a less publicized issue has been the postponement of, or revisions to, local Democratic and Republican conventions in the lead up to the National Conventions in July & August, respectively. 

Despite being less publicize, state party conventions are a critical aspect to our political system – and they play a key role in our community. From amplifying Arab American political power to contributing to conversations around what values and issues matter most to your party – state conventions are incredibly important.

For example, in Texas, County/Senate District Democratic Conventions are scheduled for this weekend, March 21. Similar to Texas, other states also employ local nominating conventions as the first step in the platform and delegate selection processes. While the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) is working to make remote participation possible for those who want to run for delegate, you can take an ACTIVE ROLE in shaping your state party’s platform.

Every state party has a process for passing resolutions that can alter the state party's platform. The Texas Democratic Party's process, starts at the County/Senate District level. Any Texas Democrat can submit a resolution for consideration, and this year the TDP has set up an online form for those submissions. The final window to submit resolutions is this Saturday, March 21. The form will open early in the morning on the 21st, and will close after the last convention is adjourned, so don't delay on your submission! Once a resolution is submitted, it will need to be approved at the State Convention. There is an important caveat for making sure a resolution has a fighting chance at being incorporated into the TDP's platform: it must be passed by ten (10) of Texas’ 31 State Senate Districts.

In other words, whichever resolution you want to be incorporated into the Texas Democratic Party’s Platform has to be submitted via the online form by as many people as possible representing as many State Senate Districts as possible.

Each person who submits the resolution automatically becomes a named sponsor of the resolution in their district, so anyone coordinating a resolution will need to ensure they have a dedicated team of sponsors who can speak to the resolution and convince others to vote for it at the State Convention.

If passed by ten Senate Districts, the resolution will be incorporated into the TDP's Platform, which represents the values of the State Party.

State party platforms don’t just impact the state party – in fact, the process of introducing and passing these resolutions can sometimes inform what happens on the national level with the national party platforms.

That is why it is important that Arab Americans engage in their local and state political parties – they can impact what their party’s values and shape the conversation around issues of importance to Arab Americans and diverse communities across the country.

There is something you can do right now, remotely, to advocate for Palestinian human rights. And yes, it starts in your local community, in this case - Texas.

Indeed, there is a movement to pass resolutions at state party conventions that promote Palestinian human rights. California and Iowa have both had success promoting similar values in their state parties' platforms. This movement doesn’t have to stop there.

An experienced and committed group of Arab American Democrats in Texas are coordinating the introduction of a “Resolution in Support of  H.R. 2407: The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act." This resolution (full text available at the end) addresses a congressional bill that proposes withholding U.S. aid to Israel until Israel stops detaining Palestinian children. Repeatedly introduced by Representative Betty McColloum (MN-4), the bill addresses a longstanding violation of human rights perpetrated by Israel. 

The proposed resolution calls on Texas's congressional representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 2407.

This isn't the first time Arab Americans in Texas have stood up for Palestinian human rights. We spoke with Emad Salem, a member of the TDP's State Democratic Executive Committee, to learn more about their history of Palestine advocacy in the party. Every convention cycle for over ten years, resolutions supporting the human rights of Palestinians have been introduced. At a recent convention, in fact, one of those resolutions was passed in seven (7) Senate Districts, just a few short of getting it incorporated into the TDP's Platform. With each convention, advocates find themselves one step closer to making Palestinian Human Rights a part of the TDP's values – 2020 could be that year.

While many individuals have successfully submitted this resolution, more names need to be added to the resolution in each Senate District – and the more Senate Districts that must consider the resolution because members of those districts submitted it – the better chance it has of passing and making it in to the Texas Democratic Party Platform, and serve as an example alongside Iowa and California of how the advocacy for Palestinian human rights can start in our local communities.

So – if you are a Texas Democrat who supports human rights, this is a simple, tangible way to make a difference.

Go to the online form first thing on the Saturday, March 21, and copy & paste the resolution below in the appropriate text boxes.

And if you're not in Texas? Or you're a Republican? Your state party's process is likely still underway, and it's not too late to get involved. You can repurpose the resolution below for your state, and contact AAI at communications@aaiusa.org for helping getting involved in your party's process. Yalla, 2020 needs our engagement!

Learn more about the Texas Democratic Party's State Convention here.

Sign up here to get started if you want to be a Texas delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Milwaukee. And learn more about the process here.

 

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF H.R. 2407

The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act

Whereas, numerous international human-rights organizations (UNICEF, Defense of Children International-Palestine, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem) and even the State Department have documented ill-treatment, frequent arrest, detention without due process, and in some cases torture of Palestinian children by the Israeli military detention system; and 

Whereas, every year, 500 to 700 Palestinian children as young as 12 years old are arrested (often taken from their beds at night by Israeli soldiers and police), bound, blindfolded, driven to detention centers and denied access to lawyers and their parents during interrogations and frequently to sign coerced confessions presented in Hebrew, a language they don’t understand; and

Whereas, with 40 percent of the Palestinian population under the age of 14, a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians starts with promoting the dignity and the inherent human rights of Palestinian children; and

Whereas, Israel is the single greatest beneficiary of American military assistance, receiving $3.8 billion, some 25 percent of its defense budget, from American taxpayers each year; and       

Whereas, Israel is allowed to spend as much as $800 million a year of this American taxpayer assistance with little transparency, accountability or oversight by U.S. officials; and

Whereas, the passage of H.R. 2407 will amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (“The Leahy Law”) to provide that “no funds authorized to be appropriated for assistance to a foreign country may be used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children in violation of international humanitarian law . ..”; and 

Whereas, the passage of H.R. 2407 will authorize to be appropriated not less than 19 million dollars each fiscal year to be made available for monitoring human rights abuses associated with Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children and make public the findings of such monitoring and to provide treatment, support, and rehabilitation for Palestinian children victims of military detention, abuse and torture.

Whereas, wherever children are being abused, mistreated, or degraded, responsible adults, especially elected officials, have a duty to speak out and work to seek justice;

Now therefore, be it resolved that The Texas Democratic Party calls on our Texas Congressional representatives to join Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and other Congresspersons in co-sponsoring H.R. 2407.