Tuesday, December 03, 2013

2013 a Historic Year for Arab-American Democrats in California

I was pleasantly surprised when Julio Perez of OC Labor Federation tagged me in a Facebook post that linked to an OC Weekly blog, which listed the 'Best 5 People Running for Assembly Delegate' to the California Democratic Party in Orange County. Although Gustavo Arellano was not happy that, according to the article, I'm "a big fan of Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman" due to the fact that I co-hosted a fundraiser for his campaign, he included me in that 'Best 5 People' list. "We forgive him for being on top of all the shit in the Middle East," Arellano wrote. That was the beginning of a year I consider historic for Arab-American Democrats in the state of California.

Not only did a dozen Arab Americans get elected as delegates to the California Democratic Party including four as Executive Board Members (Sarah Moussa, Basim Elkarra, Iyad Afalqa and Hussam Ayloush), Arab Americans made their presence strongly felt during the 2013 convention in Sacramento by their active participation in committees and caucuses and a packed Arab American Caucus meeting that witnessed a contested election of its executive committee followed by the SALAM hospitality suites.

In Orange County, Arab Americans revved up the community's visibility with their presence at Central Committee meetings, the annual Truman Awards, and a revival of the Arab American Democrats club. Iyad Afalqa, a delegate to the state Party, co-authored a resolution regarding the Syrian crisis and helped passing it during the Central Committee meeting and delivered a speech highlighting the importance of engaging Arab Americans when the Party takes a stand on issues concerning our community locally, nationally, or on an international level. He was then elected to serve on the DPOC's resolutions committee.

Active participation of the community in the Party caught the attention of the Orange County Register. In June, a front page story in the Faith & Values section of the paper highlighted activism of Arab Americans and Muslims in the Democratic Party.

In San Fernando Valley, Matt Dababneh, an Arab-American of Jordanian ancestry and a long time deputy to US Congressman Brad Sherman, was elected to the California State Assembly, 45 District, during a special election in November.

2013 was a year filled with accomplishments and success stories for Arab American activists and leaders within the Democratic Party, which calls for a celebration.

Celebrate with the Arab American Democrats of California on Thursday December 12 in Orange at 'Tis the Season at the Arab American Holiday Dinner. Guest speakers will include City of Bell Councilman and former Mayor Ali Saleh, Fontana Councilman Mike Tahan, and DPOC Chairman Henry Vandermeir.

See details at the Facebook invite HERE and buy your ticket ($10 less if purchased in advance) HERE.

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