Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CA Dem Party's Arab Caucus elects its first ever LGBTQ Vice Chair

During California Democratic Party's 2017 convention, the Arab American Caucus of the Party elected its first ever openly gay executive committee member. Ahmad Zahra, a delegate from the 65th Assembly District, was elected Southern California Vice Chair.

Zahra is a Syrian-American Fullerton-based filmmaker who was elected delegated this past January.

The election of the Arab American Caucus took place during its meeting on Saturday evening at the Sacramento Convention Center. The newly-elected executive committee members are:

Iyad Afalqa, Chair
Hosam Haggag, Northern California Vice Chair
Ahmad Zahra, Southern California Vice Chair
Sara Abed, Treasurer
Amira Abed, Secretary

California Democratic Party decries U.S. support for Israeli occupation

Delegates to the annual convention of the country’s largest state Democratic Party Sunday approved a resolution (see page 4) decrying the failure of U.S administrations to back-up measured criticism of Israel’s occupation “with actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process.”

It calls on Washington to work through the United Nations and other international bodies to promote “a just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, human rights and international law.”

Quoting Sen. Bernie Sanders, the resolution says that peace “means achieving self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.”

This resolution is evidence that increasing numbers of Americans, including American Jews, support equality and human rights rights for Palestinians and Israelis, and believe that accountability is an important step toward peace.

David L. Mandel, an elected convention delegate, said that diligent organizing by supporters in the weeks before the convention led to endorsement by more than 200 delegates, making it likely the resolution would have come to the floor by petition even if the Resolutions Committee had not prioritized it, which it did, unexpectedly Mandel was a primary author of the resolution, along with Karen Bernal, chair of the state party’s large Progressive Caucus, and Murad Sarama, outgoing chair of the state party’s Arab American Caucus.

In the end, the resolution was approved as part of the package of measures on the convention floor, without debate. “We think those who might have opposed it realized that our resolution would pass,” Mandel said. “So they met us more than halfway on language and preferred not to call more attention to the resolution.”

Moreover, added Estee Chandler, a delegate proxy who supported the resolution, “opinions are changing among American Jews and others who until recently recoiled at any serious criticism of Israeli policy. More and more Democrats of all stripes are alarmed by the extremist, anti-democratic and violent policies of the Netanyahu government and the Trump administration. The need to achieve Palestinian freedom and equality is pressing to prevent even greater catastrophe.”

A final paragraph in the resolution puts the party on record as rejecting “any effort to restrict or discourage full and open public discourse” on Israel-Palestine; “disavows conflation of criticism of a country’s policies with hatred of its people”; “opposes anti-Semitic or Islamophobic language brought into the debate and any attempt to restrict or penalize those who exercise their right to express their views through nonviolent action to effect change.” This clause, Mandel explained, was directed at widespread campus persecution of Palestinian rights advocacy and at the many resolutions and bills introduced recently in Congress and state legislatures, including California’s, that aim to stigmatize, suppress and penalize – even criminally in some cases – those who seek to use boycotts or divestment campaigns to pressure Israel.

“All these measures are unconstitutional violations of First Amendment protected speech,” Mandel said, adding that he hopes dissemination of the resolution will now help to dissuade legislators from supporting them and contribute to the “robust, constructive conversations we need to bring about real change.”

[via Jewish Voice for Peace]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why I am not voting for Bauman for CDP Chair

I received messages from Eric Bauman's campaign for the California Democratic Party chair race asking whether I'd support him this weekend. While Eric's positions on most issues are commendable, his stance on BDS is troubling.

Eric attended the Arab American Caucus meeting in Long Beach last year when one of the issues addressed was the anti-free speech anti-BDS bill in the California Assembly. The bill was designed to crackdown on activist who engage in a nonviolent form of resistance - boycotting companies that benefit from a violent military occupation and an apartheid system.

Read about the anti-BDS bill here.

When Eric was given the opportunity to speak, although he spoke against discrimination against Arabs and Muslims, he told a room full of Arab Americans that he stands against BDS, the nonviolent movement against the longest colonial-settler military occupation in recent history.

That's like going to the African American Caucus and saying #BlackLivesMatter is an illegitimate movement, or to the LGBT Caucus and saying you're against marriage equality and expecting support, or attending the Native American Caucus and expressing your support for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or the telling the Latino Caucus members that we must build a wall!!

Thanks, but no thanks, I will not vote for Eric.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Senator Newman’s Resolution to Honor Arab American Heritage Month in California Passes Senate

Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 42 passed the California State Senate today with unanimous support. SCR 42 commemorates the month of April as “Arab American Heritage Month” in California, and recognizes the important contributions of Arab Americans to our state.

“SCR 42 is part of a broader effort toward creating awareness and paying respect to the approximately 800,000 Arab American Californians, while celebrating their achievements and highlighting their commitment and contributions to a peaceful and diverse society, by recognizing the month of April as Arab American Heritage Month,” said the resolution’s author, Senator Josh Newman.
For well over a century, Arab Americans have been making valuable contributions to virtually every aspect of American society, to include leadership and groundbreaking contributions in medicine, law, business, technology, government, and culture.
Senate District 29, which Newman represents, has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the state, in a region called “Little Arabia”. The State of California boasts the largest population of Arab Americans in the Country, with a population of approximately 800,000.
Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which includes cities across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Once again, Anaheim proclaims April Arab American Heritage Month

For the second consecutive year, the city of Anaheim presented a proclamation to recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month. See last year's proclamation here.

Here's my address to the council thanking them and encouraging the community to 3 things in April in celebration of Arab American Heritage Month:

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Democratic Party of Orange County passes resolution to oppose immigration ban

The Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committee passed a resolution on Monday, February 27, 2017.


RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO TRUMP IMMIGRATION BAN 

WHEREAS, On Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump issued an Executive Order that would suspend refugee programs and bar refugees from seven (7) Muslim majority countries from entering the United States, directly threatening the lives of thousands of people who desperately need sanctuary in this country, and

WHEREAS, After a long and shameful US history of barring immigrants based on where they came from, starting in the late 19th century with laws excluding all Chinese, almost all Japanese and eventually all Asians in the so-called “Asiatic Barred Zone” as well as the 1924 implementation of a comprehensive “national-origins system,” skewing immigration quotas to benefit Western Europeans and excluding most Eastern Europeans, almost all Asians and Africans, Congress banned and President Johnson signed legislation stating plainly that no person could be “discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence, and

WHEREAS, This illegal travel ban runs counter to the best traditions of the United States of accepting and absorbing immigrants as well as international human rights law which was adopted in response to the Holocaust.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That the DPOC does hereby strongly condemn the Trump Immigration Ban, and herby calls on all national, state and local Democratic officeholders and the political entities they represent to publicly oppose and work to overturn this measure, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the DPOC does hereby call for an immediate end to the racist policies of the Trump Administration that have given rise to recent ICE raids and deportations and which threaten humanitarian policies such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and hereby urges Congress to immediately pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform which will protect and respect the rights of all marginalized immigrant communities.

Respectfully submitted: Author: Jeff LeTourneau DPOC Northern Vice-Chair Resolutions Committee Vice-Chair

Special thanks and acknowledgement to The New York Times and American Jewish World Service for contributing content.



Monday, February 27, 2017

Rep. Gutierrez guest for Trump speech American-born daughter of Palestinian refugees

Washington, DC – Rep. Luis V. GutiĆ©rrez (D-IL) announced today that his guest for the President’s address to a joint session of Congress on February 28 will be Ms. Fidaa Rashid, a Chicago immigration attorney who works with a mostly Middle Eastern clientele – those most directly targeted by Trump’s Muslim Ban. Ms. Rashid was born in the U.S. to parents who were refugees from Gaza in the Palestinian Territories.

“If he looks up during the speech,” Rep. Gutierrez said, “I want Trump to see the face of a woman, the face of a Muslim, and the face of someone whose family has enriched and contributed to this country despite starting out as refugees. Trump needs to know that real people are hurt by his policies and Ms. Rashid can make that point in so many ways. I am looking forward to it.”

Rep. GutiƩrrez is beginning his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 17, 2017

ACCESS welcomes Ahmad Abuznaid as new Director of National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)

ACCESS, the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S., is pleased to announce the addition of Ahmad Nabil Abuznaid, Esq. to its leadership staff. Abuznaid joins ACCESS as the new Director of the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)—one of three national institutions belonging to the 46-year-old organization.

As a licensed attorney, Abuznaid co-founded and served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Florida-based nonprofit Dream Defenders, an organization comprised of communities in struggle that was formed in the aftermath of the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Through his work with Dream Defenders, Abuznaid—who also served as the organization’s organizer and Legal and Policy Director prior to climbing the ranks to COO—helped lead the fight to end mass incarceration, police brutality and zero tolerance policies in Florida schools.

In 2014, Abuznaid advocated before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Ahmad has been a speaker on college campuses and at social justice conferences across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

In 2015, Abuznaid began to lead delegations of activists from the Movement for Black Lives to Palestine, in an effort to deepen relationships and build coalitions that are engaged in similar work beyond borders.

Abuznaid is a graduate of Florida State University and the Florida Coastal School of Law, receiving pro-bono honors.

"I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to lead NNAAC,” states Abuznaid. “This is a deeply challenging time for the Arab American community—and for the American community as a whole. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines; we cannot afford to work in silos; we cannot afford to lose. Our time is now. I am excited to work with ACCESS to meet the challenges facing our community head on.”

Abuznaid replaces outgoing NNAAC Director Nadia El-Zein Tonova, who was recently appointed Director of National Partnerships for ACCESS. As an ACCESS national institution, NNAAC serves a consortium of 27 independent Arab American community-based organizations throughout 12 states. NNAAC is dedicated to building the capacity of Arab American nonprofit organizations that focus on the needs and issues impacting local communities, while working to collectively address specific issues nationally. NNAAC—which champions the movement to TAKE ON HATE—is comprised of three main programs that include capacity building, advocacy and civic engagement, and youth and community service.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ahmad to our leadership team,” states ACCESS Executive Director and CEO Hassan Jaber. “He embodies the characteristics that are at the very core of our organization. He is a champion of grassroots civil rights activism who understands the significance of coalition work to effectively combat bigotry and impact change in our communities. As the communities we serve become even greater targets of biased policies and hateful rhetoric, we welcome Ahmad’s experienced leadership at this very critical juncture.”