Wednesday, May 18, 2016

One More City Proclaims Arab American Heritage Month!

On Tuesday, May 16, 2016, the Anaheim City Council under the leadership of Mayor Tom Tait, proclaimed April as Arab American Heritage Month. The council recognized key Arab American leaders for decades of community development in Anaheim, as well as the work of the Arab American Civic Council in taking the lead on celebrating the month.

The proposal to recognize Arab American Heritage Month was submitted in late April following the AACC's inaugural Arab American Heritage Gala, which took place on April 24th, however, due to Anaheim's strict rules on agendizing items in advance, the proposal was added to the council May 10th meeting, which passed to be presented on the 17th.

In late April, the City of Garden Grove was the first city in Orange County to pass a proclamation for the same purpose.

Friday, April 15, 2016

STOP ANTI-BDS BILL (Vote on 4/19) #RightToBoycott

Tell the Assembly Judiciary Committee to Vote NO on anti-BDS bill AB 2844
(Time Sensitive - Vote is on 4/19)

We need constituents in the following districts to contact their reps below so please share with anyone you know in Orange County, Santa Cruz, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, Monterrey Park, San Francisco, Salinas. -- though all contact from our side is encouraged today and Monday so do email or call.

Tell the following Assemblymembers to vote NO on AB2844 ("Anti-BDS Act of 2016") when it goes to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tues., April 19th at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Link to the Bill
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2844

The bill would bar state and local contracts with private companies that boycott the Israeli occupation by refusing to bulldoze homes or build more settlements in the illegally occupied West Bank. This could impact thousands of workers at Veolia, which runs transit.

In pushing this bill, the Legislative Jewish Caucus is attempting to silence debate on Israel/Palestine, while supporting violations of international law. Below is a list of the Judiciary Committee members . Thank you and warm regards, Marcy Winograd

Chair, Mark Stone (D- Santa Cruz, 29th AD)
http://ajud.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff
(916) 319-2029

Donald Wagner (R-Anaheim, Irvine 68th Ad)
Vice-Chair
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD68
(916) 319-2068

Luis Alejo (D-Salinas)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD30
(916) 319-2030

Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park, 49th AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD49
(916) 319-2049

David Chiu (D-San Francisco, 17th AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD17
(916) 319-2017

James Gallagher (R-Sacramento Valley, 3rd AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD03
(916) 319-2003

Chris Holden (D-Pasadena, South Pasadena, 41st AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD41
(916) 319-2041

Brian Maianschein (R-San Diego, 77th AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD77
(916) 319-2077

Phil Ting (D-San Francisco, 19th AD)
https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD19
(916) 319-2019

## ##

Sample message:

Dear Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee:

I call on you and your committee to oppose AB 2844, an unconstitutional attack on free speech with provisions that would be impossible to implement in any rational manner.

Whether or not one agrees with any particular boycott or divestment campaign aimed at pressing Israel to end its occupation, obey international law and respect Palestinian human rights, participation in such activities, in response to a call from Palestinians using nonviolent methods to secure their freedom, is a legitimate form of expression, protected by the U.S. and state constitutions. The state must not deny financial relationships to people or organizations on account of their political views.

California can lead the way in stopping a wave of such illegal legislation around the country. I look forward to hearing your commitment to oppose AB 2844 or anything like it.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, April 10, 2016

TAKE ACTION: Stop AB 2844 anti-BDS bill in California!!

Please forward to your lists!

Please take action to stop 
AB 2844This state bill attacks efforts to end Israel’s occupation and violations of human rights by penalizing companies that are identified as observing a boycott of Israel -- a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
1) This Wednesday, April 13attend the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee hearing on the bill, starting at 9 a.m., room 437 of the Capitol. (AB 2844 could come up first, or it could be later.) We will have two or three main speakers. All others who want will be able to state briefly their name, affiliation and opposition; the more the better -- to show legislators how many of us care.
2) If AB 2844 passes at this first hearing, it will be considered by the Judiciary Committee April 19. Save the date.
3)  Please send an email now to the members of the first committee telling them to vote against AB 2844 and to enter your opposition as part of the public record. Here are their emails; you can copy and paste them individually (best if you have the time) or all at once into one message; followed by their cc's to their legislative directors (in the same order).
Accountability and Administrative Review:

Legislative directors:

Sample message:
     
Dear Members of the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review:
     I call on you and your committee to oppose AB 2844, an unconstitutional attack on free speech with provisions that would be impossible to implement in any rational manner.
     Whether or not one agrees with any particular boycott or divestment campaign aimed at pressing Israel to end its occupation, obey international law and respect Palestinian human rights, participation in such activities, in response to a call from Palestinians using nonviolent methods to secure their freedom, is a legitimate form of expression, protected by the U.S. and state constitutions. The state must not deny financial relationships to people or organizations on account of their political views.
     California can lead the way in stopping a wave of such illegal legislation around the country. I look forward to hearing your commitment to oppose AB 2844 or anything like it.
     Please register my opposition to this bill as part of the public record.
Sincerely,

4) Email your own Assembly member and tell her or him to speak out now against AB 2844. Here are emails for some LA/OC area Assembly members; if yours isn’t on the list or you aren’t sure who it is, click here.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon 
assemblymember.rendon@assembly.ca.gov
Assemblymember Richard Bloom assemblymember.bloom@assembly.ca.gov 
Assemblymember Matt Dababneh assemblymember.dababneh@assembly.ca.gov
Assemblymember Tom Daly assemblymember.daly@assembly.ca.gov
Assemblymember Young Kim  assemblymember.kim@assembly.ca.gov 
Assemblymember Travis Allen assemblymember.allen@assembly.ca.gov
Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang Assemblymember.Chang@assembly.ca.gov
Assemblymember Don Wagner assemblymember.wagner@assembly.ca.gov 
5) Share the above information!
MORE INFORMATION
Remember California Assembly Bills 1551 and 1552? Introduced in January, they would have barred state pension fund investment in and state/local government contracting with companies, churches, unions, etc. that were thought to be engaged in boycott of Israel, in some form.

Many of you helped kill these bills by telling legislators that they were an unconstitutional infringement on political speech, were impossibly vague and had a hidden agenda of legitimizing illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The bills languished in limbo until last week, but after a complex set of parliamentary maneuvers, they have reemerged with a new name and number: AB 2844. It was hastily assigned to two committees: Accountability and Administrative Review will hear it Wed., April 13. If it passes there, Judiciary will consider it April 19.
AB 2844 is narrower in scope and some ways less extreme (e.g. it applies only to for-profit corporations), but it is still unconstitutionally violates free speech and remains loaded with vagueness and arbitrariness.
Either of these committees can kill AB 2844, and with your encouragement, they will.
Thanks! Together we’ll stop AB 2844.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Comedian featured on 'Conan' to perform at Arab American Heritage Gala


Arab American comedian Sammy Obeid has been confirmed to perform at the Arab American Civic Council’s first annual Arab American Heritage Gala, which will be held on Sunday, April 24 at the Pacific Hills Banquet Hall in Laguna Hills.


Saturday, March 05, 2016

This Assembly bill will punish those who engage in peaceful action

Assembly Bills 1551 and 1552, introduced by Assembly Member Travis Allen on January 4, 2016, would penalize those who engage in “politically motivated” boycotts as a nonviolent means to influence Israel to end its occupation and human rights abuses. 

During the California Democratic Party convention in San Jose on February 27th, David Mandel of Jewish Voice for Peace gave us an update, with good news and bad news, during the Arab American Caucus meeting. 

Here's what he had to say: 

TAKE ACTION!
  1. Call your CA State Legislators and ask them to oppose AB 1551 and AB 1552.
  2. If your organization would like to endorse this letter email David Mandel (JVP and NLG, Sacramento):
    dlmandel@gmail.com.
To: California state legislators
From: Coalition to stop AB 1551 & AB 1552 (see list of endorsing organizations)
Date: Feb. 1, 2016
Contact: stop.1551.1552@gmail.com; 916 407-2814 (message line)

An attack on free speech

Under these bills, the state could not invest in entities that comply with foreign boycotts against Israel (AB 1551), and could not contract with entities that engage in “discriminatory” boycotts (AB 1552). Although AB 1552 does not explicitly refer to Israel, press releases make clear that it is a companion bill to 1551 and the goals are the same:
to shield the Israeli government from criticism of its policies.
The bills fail to take into account that boycotts and other economic measures based on support for social justice are by nature “politically motivated,” and have been recognized by the Supreme Court as political speech that “occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.” See NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware, 458 U.S. 886 (1982).
Moreover, regardless of one’s views on Israel and Palestine, it would be blatantly unconstitutional for California to punish political speech by withholding the potential benefit of financial relationships with the state based on the speakers’ viewpoints. See Rutan v Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62 (1990).
Boycotts aimed at securing civil and human rights are an integral part of American history, beginning with the Boston Tea Party and through the Montgomery bus boycott against segregation, grape boycotts in support of farm labor rights, boycotts of companies enabling South African apartheid, and current divestment campaigns against fossil fuel and private prison companies. The boycotts imposed by AB 1551 and 1552, however, not only do not seek to secure social justice – they aim to use the heavy hand of the state to unconstitutionally punish and silence those who do.

Contrary to longstanding U.S. foreign policy

AB 1551 includes “Israeli-controlled territories” – the Palestinian areas under Israeli occupation for almost half a century – as a prohibited target of human rights boycotts or divestment measures. But successive U.S. administrations have reiterated that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegitimate and a serious “obstacle to peace.” In 2015, the State Department declared that the U.S. government “has never defended or supported Israeli settlements or activity associated with them, and, by extension does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.” Neither should California.

Who would be blacklisted?

A growing number of businesses, major church denominations, charitable foundations, university student governments, unions, and socially responsible investors have all heeded the grassroots call to boycott or take other economic measures against companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses. In addition, a number of multinational corporations under fire for such complicity have ended their business operations in the occupied Palestinian territories or in Israel altogether.
All could be blacklisted under AB 1551 and/or AB 1552. This would foreclose valuable investment opportunities for state pension funds, and would prohibit essential contractual relationships with, for example, large corporations, churches that run public charitable programs, and contractors who employ workers represented by unions that have voted for divestment.

California can do better

Similar legislation passed or pending in other states will likely be found constitutionally wanting. But California has the opportunity to lead the way in blocking the true agenda of such bills, which is to enforce uncritical support of Israeli policies. The Legislature must uphold precious constitutional liberties while acting in the best interests of the people of California and their democratic institutions.
Take action by calling today.

Friday, February 12, 2016

One Year On: Islamophobic Attacks on the Rise!

Press Release from the California Democratic Party's Arab American Caucus:

This week, the Arab American community and the Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, observed the one-year anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Caucus noted that this past year there has been a dramatic increase in Islamophobic rhetoric and actions from ordinary people and politicians alike.

On February 10, 2015, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were gunned down in their home by their neighbor, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks. 

"It is time that we start talking about how real Islamophobia is - it's not just a word tossed around for political purposes, but rather a harsh reality that we observe at our college campuses, workplaces, schools, supermarkets, and places of worship", explains Arab American Caucus chair, Murad Sarama. 

"When ridicule and disrespect become socially acceptable, tangible discrimination can easily follow, along with harassment and acts of hatred, culminating in murder. This was clearly expressed by Jewish Voice for Peace in response to the North Carolina killings, when it posted:  'Those of us who are non-Muslims know that we have SUCH a great responsibility to call out racism and Islamophobia where and when we see it, especially in our OWN families, communities, and houses of worship, where silence only perpetuates violence and ignorance. There is no excuse for silence.'"

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#RefugeesWelcome Guide & Campaign Launched

The #RefugeesWelcome guide and campaign was recently launched by the Arab American Civic Council, PAX Manifesto in partnership with World Relief, a refugee resettlement agency with a local office in Garden Grove.

The guide, which is currently in the works, will be a multi platform hyper local book for refugees who settle in the Greater Los Angeles Area. For more info, click here: www.refugeeswelcomeguide.org.

To support this project, contact refugeeswelcomeguide@gmail.com to volunteer, or give a tax-deductible donation here: https://givingtuesday.razoo.com/story/Welcomerefugees

On Saturday, January 16 the groups will conduct their first outreach activity in Garden Grove.