Wednesday, October 28, 2015

CA-46 Debate: Progressives Except on Palestine

[Originally posted on the Orange Juice Blog
“The state of Israel maintains its illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and continues to expand its illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. As a Member of Congress, will you demand that our government cuts the annual US taxpayer-funded aid of more than $3,000,000,000, or will you support subsidizing the longest occupation in recent history?”
That was the question I submitted to the organizers of the LULAC/NAACP 46th Congressional District candidates debate.  One of these candidates will replace Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who's running for US Senate. The moderators chose to ask a different question Palestine: What is your position on bringing justice and freedom to Palestine?

In their typical PEP stances, the candidates leaned far to the left most issues, except on Palestine. Click here to get tested whether you're a PEP (Progressive Except on Palestine.)

All four candidates provided vague and predictable answers that lacked much substance. In a district heavily populated by Arab Americans and includes Little Arabia, none of the four candidates was able to directly outline how they'd want to support justice for Palestinians.

Bao Nguyen: "Israel, as I said earlier, is one of our greatest allies in the region and I support a two-state solution. Diplomacy is what America stands for and that's the direction we need to go with."

It seems as though Bao Nguyen wanted to avoid addressing this issue since he didn't even use a quarter of the minute allocated to answer the question. He simply reiterated that Israel is America's greatest ally. I am not aware of a large pro-Israel community in the 46th district, but perhaps this was his attempt to appease AIPAC and powerful pro-Israel individuals who don't live in the district. Three out of the four candidates felt the need to mention that they support a (dead) two-state solution to answer a question about bringing justice and freedom to Palestine.

Jordan Brandman: "we actually need a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. We have not been able to even get close to that since Isaac Rabin was assassinated... The president is working hard, leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is committed to it and once we have an implementation of a two-state solution we will hopefully have peace in this region."

Mentioning Palestine, without referring to it as "Palestinian Territories" or simply "Palestinians" passes as - and I use the term loosely - progressive nowadays. While Brandman's answer wasn't particularly progressive, acknowledging Palestine without feeling the need to blindly repeat an AIPAC talking point makes him the least PEP out of the candidates.

Lou Correa: "We must create the incentives for all sides, all interested parties, to come to the table and come up with a solution. I support the president's role in mediating a solution that works for all sides. We can push as much as we can push to get people to the table but folks in that region have to want to have peace."

As if a peace agreement brokered by the US would be an extracurricular activity out of the goodness of our hearts, both Lou Correa and Joe Dunn said that the Palestinians and the Israelis must want peace themselves. The reality on the ground is that Israel, with the support of our government, continues its expansionist policies and land theft through its illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel implanted 400,000 Jewish settlers on Palestinian land covering approximately 42% of the West Bank. All while the US taxpayer continues to subsidize the Israeli occupation without accountability. Without US pressure on Israel, no peace agreement will come to fruition.  We must hold Israel accountable or simply cut our annual American taxpayer-funded $3 billion military aid to Israel.

Joe Dunn: "...I do support the two-state solution... We have a significant role in bringing peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis... but it is tragic every time we see on TV whether it be Israeli children who are killed in a rocket attack or Palestinian children in a response attack, but they do have to want it themselves."

Joe Dunn's answer was the most condescending for parroting a pro-Israel talking point that gets repeated over and over every time Israel launches a war on Palestinians, including during last year's war on Gaza. According to the UNbetween July 7 and August 26, 2014, the duration of last year's Operation Protective Edge, 2,251 Palestinians were killed (1,462 of the civilians) including 551 children. During the same time 5 Israeli civilians, 1 Thai national, and 67 Israeli combatants were killed. Such large scale offensive cannot be simply a response to rocket attacks which should be treated as a symptom of the military occupation rather than the cause of each Israeli assault on Gaza.

What all four candidates failed to mention was the root cause of the conflict; it's the occupation, stupid! 

Demonstrators in Anaheim's Little Arabia at a rally to support justice in Palestine on October 18

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Walmart Discontinues Racist Halloween Costume Sales

Washington, DC | | October 27th, 2015 - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes the decision by Walmart to pull the “Israeli Soldier Kids Costume” and “Sheik Fagin Nose” from their store shelves and website. Earlier today ADC, joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), called on Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears Marketplace to remove the offensive and racist costumes.

ADC President Samer Khalaf explained, “The costumes are very problematic, and offensive to many people. The Israeli forces are responsible for the continued death and occupation of the Palestinian people. Such a symbol of fear, violence and a long history of dispossession should not be used for entertainment purposes.” About the “Arab” costumes, Khalaf explained, “Selling merchandise which mocks Arabs, or any other race or ethnicity, must not be tolerated. These images do nothing but perpetuate racist tropes that have long been used to demonize, otherize and alienate Arab communities throughout history.”

As of this evening the items are still available on Amazon, eBay and the Sears Marketplace. ADC will continue pressuring the retailers to remove the items immediately.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Anaheim City Resolution urges POTUS to allow more Syrian refugees

City Councilman and candidate for the 46th US Congressional District seat (to replace Loretta Sanchez) Jordan Brandman and Councilwoman Kris Murrey submitted a resolution urging President Obama and US Congress to significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed in the US.  

The resolution urges the federal government to collaborate with local refugee serving organizations to strengthen the human services safety net for asylum seekers from the Arab world. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Man Attacks Mock Apartheid Wall at CSUF

A man (pictured) attacked the “Palestinian Mock Apartheid Wall” and yelled racial slurs at CSUF's Students for Justice in Palestine president yesterday.  [via The Daily Titan]. 

Read this Daily Titan report.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

OC Weekly on Alex Odeh.. 30 years after his assassination!

Terror group JDL members at a Cal State Fullerton event
I first learned about Alex Odeh when a group of people with "JDL" signs heckled an event I organized as a student at Cal State Fullerton back in 2005, which featured Norman Finkelstein as the speaker. He was interrupted several times by the widow of JDL terrorist Irv Rubin (read this Daily Titan article on the event).

An FBI spokesman identified the JDL as the possible responsible group for the assassination of Alex Odeh.  30 years later the case remains unsolved with federal authorities unable to make arrests.

Friday, September 04, 2015

CDP's Arab Caucus encourages the US to resettle Syrian refugees

In a statement by the chairman of the California Democratic Party's Arab American Caucus Murad Sarama said regarding Syria's refugee crisis:

"A recent photo of a three-year-old Syrian refugee, washed up to the shores of Turkey, has collectively broken the global communities heart, reminding the world of the plight of the Syrian community.

"As the Chair of the Arab American Caucus, and on behalf of Arab Americans nationwide, I am deeply saddened by the events occurring in Syria and the harsh realities they face, where death has become a part of their daily lives. The toddler; carefully dressed and with his shoes laced up, reminds us of our favorite part of the day: getting our own children ready for school every day. Yet this young refugee faced a much different reality than our own, here in the USA. This reality has reinvigorated myself; the members of our caucus and the Arab American community at large to take action in light of this human rights disaster."


1) Call your congressional representative to help stop the war in Syria now.

2) Encourage the US to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States:

3) Donate to a charity or volunteer with an organization that supports Syrian refugees.
- NuDay Syria:
- Islamic Relief:
- For the Unseen:
- Karam Foundation:

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Hillary Stands for Apartheid, Condemns BDS

In a letter sent to the Haim Saban, a longtime Clinton donor, Hillary condemned the BDS movement, equating between anti-Semitism and criticism/action against racist policies of the State of Israel.

Congratulations to the BDS Movement's successes. Even the front runner in the presidential race felt the need to address BDS!

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