The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Point to Point Podcast Interview with Michael Lloyd editor of ALO Hayati Magazine

Now available on Point to Point Podcasting
June 30, 2008: Interview with Michael Lloyd editor in chief of ALO Hayati Magazine on Arab American and Middle East publishing, magazines, news media, journalism. Background on ALO Hayati, www.ALOMagazine.comits goals, successes, challenges and what the publication looks for in terms of submissions. Listen to the PodCast online now?

Point to Point offers several genres of interviews: Arab American issues and journalism; mainstream American politics.

Ray Hanania

Saturday, June 28, 2008

what is real bigotry and racism

This week, Bonnie Bernstein , a well known sports reporter, made a casual reference comparing NBA hopefuls to Palestinians who push their children to be suicide bombers. She was on a popular ESPN talk show broadcast I Chicago called "Mike and Mike."

NAAJA protested after receiving many complaints, demanding an apology.

Bernstein, ESPN, and the producers of Mike and Mike apologized.

NAAJA accepted the apologies, yet still, many people continued to criticize Bernstein, Some demanding Bernstein did not properly apologize.

Some argued Bernstein should have apologized for the stereotype, insisting that she ackowledge it is not true.

Here are the facts:

BB did not argue that Palestinians raise their children to be suicide bombers. She DID reference the stereotype in an unrelated discussion, citing something she said she read in the New York Times -- clearly a disreputable source when it comes to Middle East issues.

There are two kinds of racism: the first is when people assert, argoe and claim a stereotype is true. This happens all the time; the second is when someone innocently constructs a racist comment, uiing a stereotype naively.

I do not believe BB intentionally made the commentt as an attack against Palestinians. I think she did cross the line, though. Stereotypes are never appropriate, whether you are a bigot or a caring person who slips.

BB has no history of racist comments -- like Sean Hannity or Anne Coulter or Glenn Beck ...

Bernstein apologized for referencing the stereotype. It was carefully constructed so she clearly knew she was walking a fine line. She did apologize but never went the extra mile to acknowledge how much hurt the stereotype inflicted. It would have mitigated the problem to acknowledge the stupidity of the stereotype. You don,t paint an entire people because of the actions of a few.

Bernstein is also controversial and the debate is embroiled in other sports issues beyond the Palestinian comments.

When you confront stereotypes, you must be fair yourself. I'm satisfied she did the minimal thing needed. Couald she have said more. But that is not NAAJA's responsibility to make reporters more caring or human. We asked only that she address and apologize for using the stereotype.

Ray Hanania

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update on ESPN and Bonnie Bernstein

UPDATE: The National Arab American Journalists Association ( has accepted Bonnie Bernstein's apology, and the apology of the producers of the Mike & Mike show and ESPN, who all acknowledged that the reference to the Palestinian suicide bombers was out of context and inappropriate. In fairness to Ms. Bernstein, while she referenced the stereotype, we are satisfied she was not advocating it. Her error was to use the stereotype to make another, unrelated point. We recognize that as an example of "innocent construction" and believe that Ms. Bernstein did not intend to defame all Palestinians. She did not hesitate to acknowledge the inappropriateness of the comparison.

# # #

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ESPN Guest apologizes for inappropriate comments


ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein acknowledged that a comment made referencing Palestinian suicide bombers (below) was inappropriate and they took immediate action to correct it by apologizing. I think the Arab American community has a right to protest such remarks, but we also have an obligation to acknowledge when someone in the media does the right thing and clearly both ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein have done the right thing in this instance and they deserve our respect.

Ray Hanania
NAAJA Coordinator

Email to ESPN Producer/Bernstein

Hi Scott

The National Arab American Journalists Association believes your apologya nd Dr. Bernstein's apology are genuine and sincere and we have immediately removed you from the Watch List and because of your prompt attention to incidents like this, we have placed both on our Honor List which reflects journalists or media who make an extra effort to clarify remarks and display sensitivity.

Thank you for your attention.

I know you recognize how painful these things can be but also how important it is to listen to your audience and respond to their concerns. I think your response and Dr. Bernstein's response were very responsive and respectful and complete.

Ray Hanania
on behalf of NAAJA


From: ESPN Morning Show [] Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:31 PM

The comments made this morning by Bonnie Bernstein were inappropriate. We expressed that to Bonnie who has since apologized for her remarks. Please feel free to click on the link below to access Ms. Bernstein's apology.


Producer, "Mike & Mike in the Morning" ESPN Radio & ESPN 2 ESPN Plaza Bristol, CT 06010 860-884-5355 612-816-3057 (cell)


NAAJA has acted on a complaint involving an ESPN radio show syndicated through Chicago called "Mike and Mike" in which a guest slammed Palestinians as raising their children to be suicide bombers. I guess every Palestinian is in the same boat in the eyes of the guest, which is what racism and stereotyping is all about, generallizing in a derogatory manner against another people, especially if someone has an interest in such racism.

NAAJA issued a letter asking that the host acknowledge the racism. Below is the information including one of many protest emails from NAAJA members in Chicago, information about the show and hosts and guest and also the letter NAAJA sent by email several hours after the incident.

Ray Hanania

Mike & Mike in the Morning
Host(s): Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg
Weekdays 5:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.E-mail:

One of several email complaints received
This morning at 8:15 a.m. Chicago time, I was shocked to hear an analogy by Dr. Bonnie Bernstein on how NBA hopefuls are programmed to "just make it to the NBA." Her analogy pointed to how Palestinian children are programmed to be suicide bombers was disgusting!!!! She claims she read it so I guess she expects that your listening audience will buy it. Dr. Bernstein seems to suggest that because people enjoy sports they are ignorant to the happenings in the world they live in.

Her assumption does not give her the right to assume sports fans can be "programmed" to think that a people, namely in this case Palestinians, is synonymous with suicide bombing and terrorism. She is out of line. Does she even understand the situation in the Middle East? Mike and Mike's silence when she said it spoke volumes too. People listen and enjoy sports as an escape. That woman is a hatemongerer with a personal agenda. Had she have been talking about any other ethnicity, it would be equally shameful and ESPN should never have her on again and should make a public statement on the radio saying that her comment was inappropriate and apologize if it offended anyone!!!

I am personally offended as an American of Palestinian heritage that works with Jewish Americans and Israeli's to help foster peace and reconciliation between the two people, I am sickened. Mike and Mike should offer a comment immediately. I am not hopeful that Dr. Bernstein will retract her statement but it would be nice. SSChicago

=================== ===========

ESPN Radio Network
545 Middle St
Bristol, CT 06010

Roberts, Jim Affiliate Relations Executive Director (972) 776-4613 (860) 766-2213
Walsh, John Executive Vice President (860) 766-2323 (860) 766-2213
Goralski, Keith Operations Director (860) 766-2000 (860) 766-2213
Generic email:

Background on the GUEST
Bonnie Bernstein
ABC Sports
c/o Bonnie Bernstein
47 W. 66th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10023

With 15 years in broadcasting, Bonnie Bernstein is one of the most recognizable and highly respected journalists in her field. As a reporter and host for ABC Sports and ESPN, she has a wide range of responsibilities. During the college football season, she serves as the sideline reporter for the Brad Nessler/Bob Griese/Paul McGuire announce team on ABC and hosts "Countdown to the Heisman". She is also part of the hosting rotation for "NFL Live" and "Jim Rome is Burning" and has covered Major League Baseball for the Network. Additionally, Bernstein covers the NFL for CBS/Westwood One Radio.

NAAJA Letter sent Wednesday 10:32 AM by email
Hi Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg:

This morning, Dr. Bonnie Bernstein, a veteran sports reporter and radio reporter, made a very racist comparison between NBA players and Palestinians who raise their children to become suicide bombers. I am writing on behalf of the National Arab American Journalists Association asking that you address the issue.

I think it was very inappropriate for Bonnie to use that racial stereotype of Palestinians as an example to back up her comments that NBA hopefuls "are programmed" to make it in the NBA the way Palestinian children are "programmed" to become suicide bombers ...

I don't need to explain that suicide bombers are not a race or ethnicity, or that there are 7 million Palestinians and have been only 50 suicide bombers over the past 15 years, or that suicide bombers come from all walks of life (in the film Pearl Harbor, the character of Jimmy Doolitle said that if his plane ran out of gas while bombing Tokyo and couldn't make it back to the states during World War II, he would simply crash his plane into a Japanese building -- making him, a typical American, a suicide bomber, too) ...

It is not about being politically correct. If you wanted to have a discussion about suicide bombers in the Middle East and Iraq and their ethnicity and the act of terrorism, you could probably fill five hours easily on radio. But that wasn't the point of Bonnie's comments, but rather a gratuitous slam against Palestinians.

I know you guys are pros when it comes to sports and I would hope you might make mention that the comparison was inappropriate and in fact is racist. In this day and age of understanding how easily minorities and ethnic groups are defamed by casual racist comments and especially how easily it happens on radio -- Don Imus is a good example -- we should try our best to be respectful.

I think Bonnie should address the issue also.

Thanks and best regards
Ray Hanania
PO Box 2127
Orland Park, IL., 60462

cc: Jim Roberts, ESPN, Affiliates Relations Exec. Dir
John Walsh, ESPN Exec. VP
Keith Goralski, ESPN, Operations Manager

Ray Hanania
Ray's Political Cartoons

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scinece journalism head sees need for better relations between Arab and American journalists

Newswise — Dr. Nadia El-Awady, president of the Arab Science Journalists Association, sees an opportunity to build valuable relationships between science journalists in the Middle East and those in developed nations. Her remarks appear in the latest edition of Conversations ( – an online discussion focused on the transforming impact of science. Conversations is a project of the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF).

In her interview, which can be found online at, Dr. El-Awady states that there is a need for Arab science journalists to gain skills from established journalists in the West. In exchange, she says, science journalists in the Middle East can offer valuable insight into covering science in the developing world.

“When Napoleon Bonaparte was here in Egypt, he started one of the first journals in the world that covered science in Egypt. Since then, the change in coverage hasn’t been very large,” says Dr. el-Awady. “Science journalism in the United States is much more advanced than it is in the Arab world, so we are hoping that through this kind of partnership we’ll learn some of the skills of being good science journalists.”

The major challenges that Dr. El-Awady sees in Arab science journalism are access to information and the lack of a focus on local research.

She hopes that through partnership programs, Western journalists can help to address these issues and develop a sense of what it takes to cover science in a developing world context.

Conversations is a monthly exploration of the top issues of our time through the lens of science.

Conversations features diverse panels including authors, policymakers, scientists, journalists and those who work on the front lines of major challenges. Dr. el-Awady’s interview appears in the latest edition focusing on the role of science in U.S.-Middle East relations.

About CRDFCRDF is a nonprofit organization authorized by the U.S. Congress and established in 1995 by the National Science Foundation. This unique public-private partnership promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, and training.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The State of Arab American Journalism, presentation to the Community Media Workshop, Chicago June 12, 2008

Community Media Workshop
Co-sponsored by the National Arab American Journalists Association
Thursday June 11, 2008
Ray Hanania …. The Ethnic News Media

I was asked to give you some details about myself first:

I got into journalism in the 1970s wielding a sledge-hammer, determined to break the door down on the mainstream news media’s hypocrisies involving the inadequate and lacking coverage of Arabs in America. We were news when we were bad. We were off the radar screen when we were good.

That’s why people keep asking me, "Why don’t you people denounce Osama Bin Laden?" My people? I’m from Chicago’s "Sout Side," if you didn’t recognize the accent. To many Americans, Arab Americans are just not American enough and there isn’t anything we can do to ever satisfy the growing racism and bigotry that exists in this country.

I covered City Hall 17 years from Daley (75) to Daley (92). And because journalism isn’t controversial enough, I created my own news … moved on a bit to the other side …the dark side … of public relations and media strategy … and learned what it was like to be in the "glass fishbowl." I think every journalist, especially political reporters and columnist, really should experience that. It really does give you a fuller perspective on the "Good Stawwy" as my friend and colleague the late Harry Golden Jr., used to bark in his Brooklyn Accent.

I got into Ethnic Media, up to my nose. I realized that the Arab American community – my community whether some of my editors liked it or not – usually not – was not engaged in the media very successfully.

I got back into journalism after a whirlwind sabbatical in media relations and community activism, right after Sept. 11, 2001, and I’ve since written three books ("I’m Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America" – a humor book; "Arabs of Chicagoland," now a mandatory FBI manual; and "The Catastrophe: How extremists have hijacked the Palestinian Cause").

I have one book online called "Midnight Flight: Chicago’s Racial Heritage and White Flight" that is available off my web page

I manage several news and column web sites: The Arab, and The Orland And, I publish the National Arab American Times Newspaper, 64,000 newspapers in 48 states (

I write about politics, and fun, for the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper ( and for newspapers around the country and the world.

I host a weekly radio show on WCEV "Chicago’s Ethnic Voice," which is on sabatical too, pending a new major advertising sponsor. I’ll talk about later. And, I host a weekly TV show on Comcast Cable Channel 19, where I push what some viewers call "my Arab agenda" but also delve into other regional and national stories.

And, as if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I perform standup comedy with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour

I’ve also won my share of Journalism Awards, including three SPJ Lisagor Awards, and was named "Best Ethnic American Journalist" in Nov. 2006 by the New American Media. Doesn’t get me any work, though. Just a lot of abuse.

You can go to my web site at to link to any and all of my journalism, comedy and writing endeavors.

Being an ethnic journalist

The first thing you should know about being an "ethnic" is that it is a very undefined phenomena.

Being ethnic is about how you view yourself and how others view you. I didn’t realize how ethnic I really was until I started to look for a job.

Over the years, ethnicity is kind of imposed on you. You think it is fine, some people don’t. You also discover that the label "ethnic" brings along a lot of baggage, too. A lot of people just don’t like you.

Now, most of my freelance work involves the ethnic media, a long way from covering Chicago’s City Hall for 17 years from Daley to Daley, where my ethnicity was acknowledged, often in the pejorative.

Overview of the Arab American Community

We Americans mix up ethnicity and race a lot. And when you are Arab American, add to that mix religion. It’s amazing how few people, including in journalism, distinguish between Arab and Muslim.

There are 7 million Muslims in the United States – we think because the government really doesn’t want to count us – by the way, the census is both a means of empowerment and a means of oppression. If they count you, you can become more powerful. If they refuse to count you or come up with special categories to count you, they can suppress your community’s voice. It’s what I like to cite as the subtle oppression of American Democracy, the unfree part we pretend doesn’t exist.

Of those 7 million Muslims, only 22 percent are Arab. The majority of Muslims are Black Muslims, about 36 percent.

There are 4.5 million Arabs in the United States, the majority are actually Christian, not Muslim at all. But you wouldn’t know that from the American public. A woman came up to me after Sept. 11, 2001 and said, "I can’t believe you abandoned your Christian faith to become an Arab."

Chicago has about 250,000 Arab Americans, the majority from Palestine. Much of which you will recognize is Israel today.

They are divided into two major groups: Those in jail and those not. Actually, there are two large settlements, the largest on the Southwest Side and Suburbs from the 13th Ward all the way southwest to Orland Park, where I live. Everyone thinks we’re Muslim, as I said, but the majority of those Arabs are Christian Palestinian and Lebanese Christians, and a easily identifiable Muslim warren in Bridgeview.

Again, ethnicity isn’t about what you are, but what people think you are. They see someone wearing a Hijab, a head covering that we used to call a Babushka in the 60s, and an entire community is defined.

Most of Arab Americans are wealthy. Most were professionals who could afford to leave their countries to come to this country. Some came as a result of conflict and oppression as refugees.

They’re doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business people. There are only about 250 Arab Americans in journalism. Sounds like a lot but it isn’t. Half are in the mainstream media – Hoda Kotbe, Jim Avila -- and the other half are in the ethnic media.

More about the Arab American ethnic news media.

Arab American media is at the forefront of social justice It is a fact that an ethnic community’s "health" and empowerment is reflected by the health and professionalism of its ethnic media. In that measure, the Arab American community is ailing. The Ethnic American media is at the forefront of the fight for justice, Democracy and free speech in this country. We are the front-line fighting for social change and fairness, and improving the livelihood of all Americans. But we have many challenges.

We have about 83 Arab newspapers and magazines, 12 radio shows including some mainstream like my own that are ethnic by default, and about a dozen cable TV programs. You can go to the web page of the National Arab American Journalists Association ( to get more information on those newspapers and their geographical location around the country.

About 125 people working for the 83 publications and a handful of radio and TV means we don’t have big staffs. In fact, only a few are really media in a professional sense, run by "journalists" as opposed to business people or activists.

Most of our Arab ethnic media reporting focuses on Middle East politics. There is a reason for that. The mainstream news media doesn’t cover the Middle East fairly or objectively. They’re biased and some columnists and reporters will openly boast that they are biased – it improves their careers.

Other mainstream journalists and talk show hosts will show their biased based on the absence of Arab guests on their shows when they address Middle East topics.

Only a few of the Arab American media focus on non-Middle Eastern political issues, like the growing social challenges Arab Americans face like all other Americans.

We have many great ethnic newspapers, besides my own, the National Arab American Times, of course, and the two newspapers in Chicago, The Arab Horizon and the Future News. They include The Arab News in Detroit, the Independent Monitor and the Beirut Times in California, and Aramica News in New Jersey/New York, and al-Nashra in Washington D.C. These are only a few. Some of the leading magazines include Islamica Magazine, Azizah Magazine, the Arab American Business Magazine, and the News Circle Magazine

But, we are American. And still, we are constantly under siege.

Most of the publications are in Arabic but there is a trend to publish more and more in English. We had 7 newspapers in Chicago before Sept. 11. After, only two survived, and one, that I published, closed months later. The survivor was thrown out by her printer who said he didn’t like her English articles about the Middle East, so she found a new printer and published only in Arabic for a while.

Today, we have two major Arab American newspapers in Chicago, the Future News and the Arab Horizon that do both Arabic and English and fill the void intentionally missed by the mainstream news media.

Unlike other Ethnic media in America, we have difficulty in distributing our publications. Many mainstream, non-Arab stores and business refuse to distribute our newspapers, although you will find Hispanic, Asian and African American media, for example, in many retail stores that are of other ethnic origins or are owned by Caucasian business owners.

We have a divide in our media. Many of our newspapers are published and run by political activists with an agenda that is not journalism. Many others are run by business owners in insurance, real estate and law who are seeking to promote their business endeavors or are championing causes. Journalism is a sidelight, rather than a main profession -- although they are dedicated to the cause of journalism.

So, as a result, about 75 percent of the news published in our newspapers is focused on the Middle East conflict. Only 20 percent of the publications, according to a recent survey of newspapers, include features or news that is unrelated to the Middle East conflict. Some newspapers are all driven by opinion columns.

Although Arab Americans are the target of aggressive anti-Arab campaigns by the Bush-Cheney administration, about 35 percent of our advertising – major advertising, comes from government agencies such as the U.S. Military, the FBI and the CIA. About 65 percent of the remaining ads are local businesses. Nearly 25 percent of the purchased advertising goes uncollected, and remains outstanding. The remainder come from service industries targeting Arab and Muslim consumers, such as money wire transfers and cellular and long distance telephone companies.

Only a few Arab American publications actually make a profit.

While other ethnic media can really on a steady stream of community support, most Arab American ethnic publications do not get direct support beyond some advertising. For example, few of the Arab American organizations, with the exception of a handful based in Washington D.C., produce and distribute press releases. Without press releases, the burden on the Arab American ethnic journalists is tripled as a steady flow of press releases is a necessity, indicating a community that engages and recognizes the importance of the Arab American ethnic media.

The absence of a public relations industry in the Arab American community reflects the lack of respect Arab Americans have for their own community press.

WCEV – the show is temporarily off the air because we found that many mainstream advertisers won’t advertise on a radio station that is filled with ethnic voices … it was amazing how many advertisers complained because the shows on the station were ethnic … Polish, Irish, Italian … it isn’t just about being Arab American … many Americans hate the "hyphen" but they are the ones who hyphenate us …

Challenges just being an Arab let alone an ethnic publisher

When people come up to me and call me a terrorist lover, I like to point out I served during the Vietnam War, my brother was a Marine and my dad and uncle served more than four years each in World War II. I ask if they served. They usually say no. And I wonder, what’s stopping them? I offer to walk them to the recruiter so they can channel their hatred in the right direction, against usually innocent prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights held at Guantanamo. You can beat, torture and even kill them, and no one will care.

But we feel we are constantly under attack in this country, including way before Sept. 11, 2001. And it’s justified. When I was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1975, the FBI immediately opened an investigation into my life. Two years. Because I was "Arab."

Yet the Arab American community is both an asset and a resource for this country, and they are a market.

You know, if the mainstream media had done its job in covering our community, they would have been all over the Tony Rezko story long before it broke. They would have had actual video footage of Rezko and Gov. Blagojevich hugging and shaking hands at community award ceremonies. Instead of stealing the picture of Rezko from my book Arabs of Chicagoland and using that without attribution until Rezko finally appeared in court.

Most of the 83 publications are regional papers, which means they are published in one city, saturate that city but try their best to extend beyond their borders. Working with a national food distributor, though, I’ve managed to break that barrier publishing 65,000 copies of my newspaper (80 percent English and 20 percent Arabic language – the National Arab American Times) to Middle Eastern grocery stores in all 48 states. It took me a long time to find an Arab store in Wyoming.

Given the state of the world today and the real threat we face from terrorists and extremists in the Middle East, and the Muslim World, Americans owe it to themselves to learn more about Arab Americans and Muslims. And, to understand there is a difference.

My biggest critics not only are mainstream Americans, but also from extremist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has attacked me because of my criticism of Islamic extremism, which is a real and genuine threat in this country and in this city that mainstream Muslim groups do not fully denounce – they denounce the vague threat of terrorism and the extremists and the clearly identified leaders of the foreign terrorist organizations, but they fail to denounce the extremists among them that makes that foreign terrorism possible.

But Americans wouldn’t know any of this because Americans can’t tell the difference between Arabs and Muslims. It’s so much easier to cover us as a "stereotype" than as an ethnic community.

And I might conclude by reiterating that we Arab American journalists face real challenges not just from the lack of education in the American public but also the lack of education and professional practices by the mainstream media.

The very people who should be supporting us either ignore us or are so busy fighting their own battles, they can’t see or hear us as "comrades in struggle."

The non-Arab and non-Muslim ethnic media doesn’t support us enough. One community that does support us is the Asian American community because of the large number of Muslims (non-Arab Muslims) in their countries.

Instead of supporting us, they are shutting us out, or ignoring us, or not responding to our obvious needs.

Next month, UNITY: Journalists of Color will be hold their quadrennial Convention right here in Chicago. For the past three years, we’ve been asking, as Arab Americans, to participate, and they have refused us … thanks to the Asian American Journalists Association, we will have one panel on Arab American issues, that includes many non-Arabs on it … but it is a shame when the very ethnic and minority media of Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are so insecure about themselves, they are afraid to open the door to Arab American journalists who are also of color.

Part of the problem is the Arab American professional journalism community itself. Although viewed and stereotyped by outsiders as a monolithic, negative presence in America, the Arab American community sees itself as a coalition of division. We don’t work together. We don’t support each other. We permit the politics of the Middle East interfere in our organizational needs. We don’t come together because Lebanese and Palestinians don’t get along, or Syrians and Egyptians don’t get along, and more often than not, Muslims and Christian Arabs do not work together. In fact, while the Christian Arab community is larger than the Muslim Arab community, the Muslim Arab community empowerment is driven by non-Arab Muslims who have a huge influence in America but that also have priorities that do not match the priorities of the Arab community.

We want to protest UNITY, rather than support it, but when minorities are discriminated against by other minorities, not even a protest can make a difference.

One day UNITY will open its doors and recognize that the path now being taken by Arab Americans is one they took years before in their own fights for equality. You can’t be equal if you find excuses to treat other unequally.

To borrow a malapropism from the great late Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, and adapt it into our own challenges, "We Arab American journalists are not here to cause dis-UNITY at UNITY this summer … we’re here to preserve dis-UNITY."

That’s my sout-side ethnicity coming out …


Ray Hanania

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Zogby: Arab Americans must engage election system

A message from AAI President James Zogby
There is no doubt that this is the most exciting election in recent history. And it's a time when the Arab American community cannot afford to be silent.
Like all Americans, we're concerned about the economy and education, about health care and home prices. But there are a host of other issues that are impacting our community more deeply and more personally than any others: issues like civil liberties, immigration, and our country's foreign policies.
We're concerned about having become targets because of our surname. We're concerned about what the U.S. is doing --or not doing-- to help our families in the Arab world. And we're concerned that our home -- the United States -- has lost standing, credibility, and respect not just in the Middle East but throughout the world.
That's why AAI launched Our Voice. Our Future. Yalla Vote '08. It's our biggest election year program ever. It's using new technologies, new resources, and new coalitions to get the Arab American agenda at the forefront of the national debate in this election year.
We're putting staff on the ground in key states to mobilize the Arab American vote.We're tracking what the campaigns are saying and doing in local, state, and federal races. We're making sure that our community's agenda is part of the candidates' agendas.
We're getting our agenda into the debates and getting into the media. More than 50 Arab American organizations from around the country have signed on to Yalla Vote '08, and our Yalla Vote Coalition includes hundreds more individuals who are lending their voice to ensure our future.
Now it's up to you. We need every Arab American to join us in this effort. There are many ways to help:
Make a contribution to Yalla Vote '08 (your donation will include membership in AAI)
Sign our National Petition Contact your elected officials about our agenda
Attend a Yalla Vote training workshop in your community
Urge your friends and family to do the same!
Thank you for making a difference!
This email was sent to: rayhanania@comcast.netTo unsubscribe, go to:
Arab American Institute1600 K Street, NW Suite 601Washington, DC

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Don't rule Hillary Clinton out so fast

Rejects from my column submission

I want change as much as anyone else, but despite Barack Obama's lead in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, he's still only in the stretch with a slightly better lead than Hillary Clinton.

Neither candidate has secured the locked delegates to win the nomination, and the popular vote has been frighteningly split almost equally in half. I think the enthusiasm to end this contest contradicts the primary season itself which has dragged on more than six months since Jan. 3 in Iowa.

The Democratic convention is not until August, more than two months away. That's where we will know or not know the real intent of the so-called "Super" delegates. The term "super" delegates is a phrase coined to described the gaggle of insiders who have been given "unpledged" delegate positions. They can change their minds and support any candidate they want, crossing back and forth from one candidate to another as often as they want.

What that means is that Obama does lead in pledged delegates and allegedly in unpledged delegates, but the reality of those unpledged delegates does not become final until the convention.

So why rush it? Why circumvent the very Democratic process we embrace and try to use numbers, and statistics that can be twisted in many ways to come up with many answers? Why not celebrate the power of the Democratic Party having two powerful and charismatic leaders, Obama and Clinton, and allow that leadership now to move towards the convention where the pledged delegates MUST cast their vote for the candidate they have been assigned to by the will of the American voters, and unpledged delegates can still weigh the real challenge: who is the best candidate to win the nomination and defeat Republican John McCain.

McCain is not a real choice for most Democrats who voted in the heated Obama-Clinton fracass. But, Hillary Clinton remains a real choice for nearly 50 percent of the Democrats who voted. Are we that sure that Obama can blow the doors off McCain in November that we can afford to tell those Americans who supported Clinton that their intentions are basically dimpled chads that can discarded, too?

I say slow down. I say take pause. I say build the Democratic Party and don't allow it to be torn down as we move towards the Democratic Convention. This race is still close and if Hillary Clinton does not drop out -- a right she has and has earned through a phenomenal performance that so closely matches Obama's own campaign showing -- we should work with both.

The Dream Ticket of Obama and Clinton is one that would be powerful. In fact, that is what Democratic voters have said very clearly as we turn the corner to the final stretch into the Democratic Convention. Let's not turn Denver into Chicago by ignoring the feelings of so many.