ADC Hosts Successful Annual National Convention
Washington, DC | June 26, 2008 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has hosted yet another successful Annual National Convention. Arab Americans around the country came to Washington, DC to attend this year’s gathering, titled “Securing the Principles of Liberty”. Exciting events were held during the weekend (June 13-15), and prominent speakers shared their views with the community.
Friday, June 13, began with a workshop by Dr. Hussein Ibish on Arab-American leadership and advocacy. Ibish is Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership (for more information on Hala Foundation seminars, see www.halafoundation.org). Dr. Ibish examined the basis of effective communication, and outlined the most important information and arguments that make the Arab-American case with maximum impact and the broadest reach. Topics included both foreign policy and domestic issues, and focused on essential techniques and skills.
ADC then hosted a lunch on Capitol Hill for convention attendees. Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, spoke to attendees at the lunch along with several key staffers from various congressional offices. Friday evening’s activities concluded with a Gala Banquet hosted by Dr. Jack Shaheen where he awarded four young students The Jack Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship. Former Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was given the ADC Courage in Congress Award, and also gave a stirring speech. The evening ended with an exclusive ninety minute performance by acclaimed international singer and songwriter Chantal Chamandy and her troupe.
The Convention panels began on Saturday morning, leading up to the Saturday evening Gala Banquet. The first panel, “Getting Involved in US Politics” educated attendees on the best practices to effectively involve themselves in US politics. Other morning panels included “US Foreign Policy in the Middle East”, and “Arab-American Authors and Literature”. Early afternoon panels and events included a screening of the documentary movie “A Dream in Doubt” followed by a questions and answer period with the filmmakers. Other morning panels included “The Iraq War: The Human Tragedy” which discussed the Iraqi refugee crisis and its impact on Iraq and its neighbor countries. On the panel “The Role of Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties”, panelists talked about the recent trend of local and state law enforcement officials enforcing federal immigration law. “Darfur: The Myths and Realities of a Human Tragedy” shed light on the conflict in Darfur and the realities on the ground in that region.
The Annual Civil Rights Awards Luncheon took place in the afternoon, entitled “The Legacy of Martin Luther King & Robert Kennedy: 40 Years Later.” Congressman John Conyers gave the keynote speech concerning his experiences with Dr. King and Robert Kennedy. The ADC Friend in Government Award was given to Shaarik Zafar, Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Eric Treene, Special Council for Religious Discrimination, US Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division was also awarded the ADC Friend in Government Award. Malea Kiblan, Esq. was awarded the ADC Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award for her tireless efforts on behalf of the community. ADC also gave the Lifetime Commitment to Justice Award to Professor David Cole, Esq., Marc Van Der Hout, Esq., and in memoriam to Michael Maggio, Esq., for their successful work on the LA 8 case. Finally, a special commemoration was held to remember Alex Odeh, Director of the ADC Los Angeles office, who was murdered 23 years ago and whose case remains open and unsolved.
Early afternoon panels and events consisted of a screening and discussion of “Arna’s Children” with filmmaker Juliano Mer Khamis and Director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, Mervat Aiash. “Between Pluralism and Sectarianism in the Arab World” discussed tensions and divisions in the Middle East based on sectarian lines. “The Impact of US Policy on Global Civil Rights” covered the experience of Arab and Muslim communities in this era of the “war on terrorism”, including social, economic, and political issues. The “Youth and College Campus Activism” panel facilitated a discussion by young men and women regarding the most recent controversies affecting them, including Anti-Arab sentiment and the event known as “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week.” “Human Development in the Arab World: Setback and Prospects” discussed the disparities of income distribution, education, literacy, economic development, and individual rights in the Arab world. A panel titled “Rights, Refugees, and Return: The Palestinian Diaspora” explored the background and reasons for the continued Israeli occupation, and the legal foundations (including UN resolutions) and their role in advancing a just and lasting peace in the region. The afternoon panels ended with a movies and films discussion with Mariam Said, Juliano Mer Khamis, and Mervat Aiash.
The Saturday evening Gala Banquet featured keynote speaker Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE); presidential candidate Ralph Nader also addressed the audience. President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addressed the audience through personal individual letters. Mariam Said was presented with the Rose Nader Award, and HE Clovis Maksoud presented the Hala Maksoud Award to Lucille Ablan, in memoriam; Albert Mokhiber, Esq., was presented with the Alex Odeh award. HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Amir of the State of Qatar received the ADC Global Leadership Award for his leadership in providing for the impoverished in times of need across the world, and in peace negotiations between opposing parties across the Middle East. HH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned received the ADC Global Humanitarian Award for her efforts to establish centers of excellence and enable opportunities for the people of Qatar, particularly within the areas of family, education, science, community, health and cultural heritage.
Sunday’s events kicked off with the ADC members General Assembly, and a film screening and discussion with Mariam Said of the film “Knowledge is the Beginning.” A “Media Discussion” with award winning journalist David Marash took place, and the panel “From the Victim’s Mouth” showcased firsthand accounts by victims of discrimination.
The Convention ended with a luncheon commemorating “Palestine: 60 Years of Dispossession.” Mariam Said introduced Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative. Dr. Barghouthi outlined the continuing occupation and the illegal seizures of land from the Palestinian people. ADC is preparing to make available a copy of his poignant presentation. The Rachel Corrie Award was presented to The Jenin Freedom Theatre (http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/), and a clip was shown from the movie “Arna’s Children” showcasing the work of the Freedom Theatre.