Friday, August 26, 2016

Lebanese American comedian featured on Comedy Central to Headline NAAP-LA's December show

NEMR was featured on Comedy Central’s ‘The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore’
IRVINE, Calif. -- The Network of Arab American Professionals, Los Angeles (NAAP-LA) announced earlier this week that it’s co-hosting a comedy show headlined by Nemr Abou Nassar - a San Diego-born Lebanese-American Stand-Up Comedian who is credited with establishing and pioneering the stand-up comedy scene throughout the Middle East where he performs in English. The show will take place at the Irvine Improv Comedy Club on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. As an accomplished comic with seven full feature specials, it’s no wonder Nemr’s latest tour was met with unprecedented success, selling out prestigious venues such as Caroline’s in New York, the Wilbur Theatre in Boston and the Novo (formerly Club Nokia) in Los Angeles making his international tour the first global comedy event to successfully stretch from the US to the Middle East, with continued sellouts in Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington DC, Michigan, Cleveland, Oman, Qatar, Dubai, Jordan, and Lebanon where he set a new crowd record with 5,000 people in one night. Nemr has numerous television credits from major networks in the Middle East, has been seen on CNN and recently appeared on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” (Click to watch). He has also released two feature specials as cinematic experiences and his own prime time TV show.  In May of 2014 he was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine (Middle East) solidifying Nemr’s legacy as the biggest name in stand up in the Middle East.
WHO: Nemr Abou Nassar & NAAP-LA! WHAT: NEMR Live in Irvine - Stand up comedy by Lebanese American Comedian Nemr! Tickets of the Irvine show are available here:
WHEN: Wednesday, December. 14, at 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM

WHERE: Irvine Improv Comedy Club

Thursday, August 18, 2016

TAKE ACTION: Anti-BDS Bill Headed to California Senate Floor #StopAB2844

AB 2844, the anti-free speech anti-BDS bill, passed the California Senate Appropriations Committee on August 11 and is set to head to the Senate floor for a vote in the next few days. Six members of the committee voted in support of the bill while Sen. Jim Beall of Campbell was absent for the vote. 

The US Campaign to End the Occupation sent out an action alert to urge State Senators to vote against the bill. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

California's Anti-BDS Bill in 'Suspense File'

Gov. Jerry Brown marching with Cesar Chavez in support of farm workers
Today, the California Senate Appropriations Committee voted to send the anti-free speech, anti-BDS bill AB 2844 to suspense.  On August 11, bills in the suspense file will either be passed out for a floor vote or remain in and expire.

The Suspense file is a holding place for bills which carry appropriations over a specific dollar amount. Bills are generally held on the suspense file before the adoption of the Budget Bill and just before the summer recess.

In its analysis of the bill, the Department of Finance opposed it because "it would result in additional costs without providing additional protections against discrimination beyond existing state law. This bill merely requires self certification of compliance with existing law, yet incurs costs to the General Fund, which is inconsistent with the current budget."  Here's the DOF's summary of the bill:
This bill requires a person who submits a bid or proposal to a state agency, or who otherwise proposes to enter into or renew a contract with a state agency, to certify that they have complied with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights (Unruh) Act. 
The Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates costs of approximately $1 million and four additional permanent staff positions to receive and investigate complaints, and to litigate as necessary. Costs would depend on the number of noncompliance claims initiated. The Department of General Services (DGS) indicates this bill would result in unknown, potentially significant costs to the extent that there are contractors who would be unable to make the required certification. In general, exclusion of bidders from contracts can result in higher contract prices, and thus higher costs to the state and local governments.
AB2844, which was opposed by dozens of civil rights groups across the state, was first introduced in January and has been amended several times. Read my op-ed in the Voice of OC about the bill here. The Los Angeles Times published this editorial opposing the bill.

This bill, along with similar ones in more than 20 states, are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.

Contact the Senate Appropriations Committee members to voice your opposition to the bill, and encourage them to keep it in Suspense (and let it die), and contact your State Senator to encourage her/him to vote no if it comes out of Suspense.

Monday, July 11, 2016

US media didn't care when Muslims danced after haters tried to intimidate them!

As a founding member of the Eid Festival Committee, a group that plans the annual Eid Festival in Anaheim that was launched in 2013, it was extremely difficult to garner the media's interest to produce or write stories about a Muslim festival... until a controversy happened.

Muslims and Arabs usually receive media coverage when there's a terrorist attack, war, or some kind of crisis, leaving people wondering why Muslims are always angry and at war. The Eid Festival was one of many examples of Arabs and Muslims gathering in a celebratory atmosphere that could show them more positively. But despite my efforts to reach out to local media outlets including radio, TV, and print, there was little to no interest.

Then a group of bigots showed up at the festival to intimidate the community and disrupt the event as they shouted the most outrageous things to a bunch of happy Arabs and Muslims. That's when I pulled out my phone and streamed the incident live on Facebook, which went viral (only then some media showed interest).

People responded to hate with love and kindness by blasting loud music to drown out the hate, and hundreds reacted by dancing (one dance move was bizarre though Buzzfeed called it 'awesome'), to the sound of Imagine Dragons, Selena Gomez' Kill them with Kindness, and some debkeh, too!

The video was viewed more than half a million times, and received a little media attention from Buzzfeed, the Orange County Register, and Fusion, however, not a single American TV station has been interested so far.. except Alhurra TV - the Arabic-language propaganda TV that streams in the Middle East!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The #RightToBoycott is an integral part of American history

My opinion piece about the California's anti-BDS bill AB 2844 was published in the Voice of OC today. The bill introduced by Asm. Richard Bloom of Santa Monica has been watered down after hearings in the Committee on Accountability, Judiciary Committee, and Appropriations Committee and references to Israel has been removed from the final amended version that passed.

Click here to read the Voice of OC article.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

AAI's Jim Zogby to receive Nagi Daifullah Social Justice Award

Orange County Dems Honor James Zogby, Arab American Institute President, with Nagi Daifallah Social Justice Award, June 11

On Saturday, June 11, the California Democratic Party of Orange County’s 72nd Assembly Democratic Alliance will honor Arab American Institute (AAI) President Dr. James Zogby for his work to advance civil liberties and empower Arab Americans at the 16th Annual Orange County Flag Day celebration. The award is named after Nagi Daifallah, a 24 year-old immigrant from Yemen and Arab American who was killed during the UFW grape strike of 1973.

WHAT:          Orange County Democrats honor James Zogby with Nagi Daifallah Social Justice Award

WHEN:         Saturday, June 11 201612 -3PM

WHERE:      Teamsters 952 Hall, 140 S. Marks, City of Orange, CA

Dr. James Zogby
For more than 30 years, Zogby has been at the forefront of the struggle for civil liberties and Arab American political activism. Playing a key role in the bedrock organizations of the Arab American community, Zogby co-founded and chaired the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the late 1970s, and later co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 1982, he co-founded Save Lebanon, Inc., a private non-profit, humanitarian and non-sectarian relief organization which funded health care for Palestinian and Lebanese victims of war, and other social welfare projects in Lebanon. In 1985, Zogby founded AAI, a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community. Zogby and AAI have led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the U.S. through voter registration, education and mobilization.

In 2010, Zogby published the highly-acclaimed book, Arab Voices. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2013. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. Dr. Zogby was reappointed to a second term in 2015.

Nagi Daiffulah:
Twenty-four-year-old United Farm Workers activist Nagi Daifallah was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the grape strike of 1973. Nagi came to the U.S. from his native Yemen looking for a better life and was seen as a leader among farm workers, including fellow Arab Americans, for his activism.

Of Nagi, Cesar Chavez said, “Like so many thousands of Farm Workers, [Nagi] came to this country seeking opportunity and fell into the trap of poverty and powerlessness that has enslaved so many migrant Farm Workers in our country. He joined the United Farm Workers Union and gave himself fully to the grape strike and the struggle for justice…. We are faced with discrimination, exploitation, and even slaughter…. In the struggle to change these evils, Nagi gave his life.”