Saturday, April 27, 2013

Arab-American Presence Felt at CA Democratic Convention


Arab American Caucus meeting
As I proudly posted pictures taken at California Democratic Party (CDP) State Convention in Sacramento on my Facebook page during my first attendance as an elected delegate, a Facebooker reacted with a comment dismissing the accomplishments of many Arab-Americans by pointing out that CA Senator Barbara Boxer is seeking to codify the right of Israel to discriminate against Americans. That's one reason why more, not less, Arab-Americans should be involved with the Party.

Boxer's immoral stance means more Arab Americans and Americans of conscience should speak louder and take part in the political process to reverse such bigoted actions.  Complaining in our own social circles and within groups that are irrelevant to elected officials is not the answer.

At this year's convention, more than a dozen Arab-American candidates were elected by Democrats as delegates and alternate delegates to the California Democratic Party.

What does it mean to be a delegate? 

Delegates are members of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) - a body of approximately 2,900 people that governs the State Party. They are elected from each the 80 State Assembly Districts.  Not all members of the DSCC are delegates as it includes members of the local County Central Committees, and elected officials, nominees and appointees.  While DSCC members meet once a year during the annual convention, the Executive Board members of the DSCC, which comprises of 320 members, meet two more times.

Elected delegates are able to vote on CDP candidate endorsements, vote on resolutions, help shape the platform of the CDP, approve rules by which it functions, and choose representatives to the Democratic National Party (DNC).

Resolutions adopted by the CDP are reviewed by the resolutions committee. The committee has authority to recommend, reject, or amend all such resolutions prior to referral to the committee or the Executive Board.

One of the resolutions passed during this year's convention called for ending unlawful drone strikes, extrajudicial executions and restricting domestic drone surveillance. . The Progressive Caucus, of which I'm a member of, with the support of many Arab-American delegates introduced the resolution.

In part, the resolution reads: 
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party stands in opposition to the extrajudicial killings and use of drones as described herein, both foreign and domestic, and urges that our policies be structured within the framework of international law, Constitutional checks and balances, due process, judicial review, and transparency; and 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the Congressional delegation and the White House to: 
1) Make public all claimed legal justifications of present policies and practices;2) Conduct a fundamental re-evaluation and overhaul of current practices by reforming the policies authorizing the use of American military force, both foreign and domestic; and3) Re-institute Congressional authority and oversight with regard to war making powers and federal law Enforcement.

The Arab American Caucus

The California Democratic Party has recognized the Arab American Caucus as one of its official statewide caucuses, which are made up of individual members who share similar demographics and/or interests. Caucuses have been formed to foster participation in the policy decisions and the outreach programs of the Party. The Arab American Caucus was established in 1991, to unite and provide representation for Arab Americans within the California Democratic Party structure.

The presence of Arab Americans was strongly felt in the convention halls, not only because of their active participation but also with a strong showing at the Arab American Caucus meeting Saturday evening followed by the SALAM Hospitality suites.

The caucus meeting was well attended by community members as well as delegates and elected officials including my Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of the 65th district.  Unlike previous years, two board positions were contested including the position I ran for: Southern Vice Chair.

The new members of the Arab American Caucus board are: Sarah Moussa as Chair, Basim Elkarra as Northern Vice Chair, Rashad Al-Dabbagh as Southern Vice Chair, Fatima Dadabhoy as Treasurer, and Iyad Afalqa as Secretary.

Also at the convention, a performance by DJ Quik!!



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