Arabs gain clout in U.S. - ADC

Arabs gain clout in U.S.

Arabs gain clout in U.S.

  • July 7, 2003
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ADC Update:
Great Article in Gulf News: “Arabs gain clout in U.S.”
The following outstanding article appeared in the Gulf News newspaper op/ed section on Thursday, Sept. 23. It accurately charts the recent success of ADC and the Arab-American community, and the important alliance with American Muslim groups.
Arabs gain clout in U.S.
By George S. Hishmeh for Gulf News, Washington Arab Americans, about three million strong, have come a long way in their adopted homeland and their impact is now being felt nationwide and internationally.
And one needs only to hear the voice of Dr. Hala Maksoud, scion of the prominent Salam family of Lebanon and wife of Clovis Maksoud, the Arab publicist par excellence and now professor at the American University here, to sense the satisfaction and pride in the achievement of various Arab American groups, led by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), where she serves as president.
These achievements were scored in recent conflicts with corporate America in the relentless battle to correct the Arab image here or to tell the Arab side of developments in the region that stretches across North Africa into the Middle East, home for some 250 million people. Among the other organizations that are locked in this ongoing effort are the National Association of Arab Americans, which has been the forerunner of political action in Washington; the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, which is part of The Jerusalem Fund; the Arab American Institute and the American Committee on Jerusalem.
Serious Arab American activism came in the wake of the 1967 war in which all of Palestine and other Arab lands were occupied by Israel. The devastating results of the so-called Six Day War precipitated the creation of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, which in many ways has been the mother organization and major resource for the groups that mushroomed in later years.
But the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s splintered the community here, particularly among the activists who were recent immigrants to the United States, and the traditional American-born leaders of the predominantly Lebanese community. To some degree, the community still suffers from that unfortunate debacle.
On the other hand, the rise of political Islam has likewise contributed to the birth of new American Muslim organizations in an equally important bid to explain Muslims and Islam, America’s fastest growing religion which now has more than 6 million adherents.
The muscle power of the growing Arab American and American Muslim organizations has been recognized by official Washington.
The clearest and latest attestation in this respect has been the invitation last week by the State Department for various leaders from the two communities to a private meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Martin Indyk.
Although the focus of the nearly three-hour briefing was the Middle East peace process, the discussion branched out to many subjects, especially issues of concern to American Muslims, some of whom obviously are not Arab by descent.
The significance of these groups was further noted when Albright expressed a readiness to host in the future small dinner parties where she said she could discuss issues of mutual concern at length and in depth, a first for the American Establishment.
Never before have Arab Americans been more successful in twisting the arm of corporate America as in recent cases cited by Dr. Maksoud: The suspension of promotion campaigns by Startec and Sprint, two telephone companies which have mistakenly used the Dome of the Rock in advertising international rates to Israel; the agreement of the Days Inn chain not to build a hotel in the occupied Palestinian territory; the refusal of the popular Ben & Jerry ice cream firm to allow its Israeli subsidiary to utilize water from the occupied Golan Heights and the agreement of the Burger King fast-food chain to discontinue its relationship with a franchisee in an Israeli settlement were among the recent glaring success stories.
But conflict with Walt Disney World, sponsor of a controversial Israeli millennium exhibit at its Epcot Center in Florida, has yet to be resolved to the satisfaction of these groups and the Arab world. All along this has been an uphill battle since the Arab American protestations against the exhibit for depicting Jerusalem as capital of Israel came to the fore only weeks before the opening on October 1.
Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to consider the issue once again tomorrow in New York and decide whether to boycott the Walt Disney Co., after earlier attempts to find a face-saving formula that appeared near successful have now apparently collapsed.
Arab diplomats and representatives of the Arab American organizations in Washington who viewed last week a video film of the Israeli portion of the Millennial Village Exhibition noted that there is no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but “the overall thrust of the Israeli exhibit is to stake an exclusive claim on the city, its physical structure, its history, its spirituality and its people.”
The Arab diplomats said in a statement they found “this display objectionable, divisive, and hurtful.” Dr. Maksoud believes that, generally speaking, American firms commit these mistakes out of “ignorance not malice” and most of them correct their mistakes once they are pointed out in time as in the cases of Startec, Sprint and others. She also stressed the efforts at “sensitizing” these firms have yielded positive results as in the case of the Disney movie, The 13th Warrior, and the Warner Bros. film, Three Kings, where these firms have actually approached ADC for input in portraying Arabs or Muslims. These achievements, she agreed, are a sign that the Arab American community has come of age, “much more vocal and organized.” But there is no doubt here among Arab Americans that the positive Arab response to the agitations of the Arab Americans has not seen better times as in the pivotal role of played by United Arab Emirates Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose early involvement yielded international and Arab attention. The more the merrier.
ADC Update:
Great Article in Gulf News: “Arabs gain clout in U.S.”
The following outstanding article appeared in the Gulf News newspaper op/ed section on Thursday, Sept. 23. It accurately charts the recent success of ADC and the Arab-American community, and the important alliance with American Muslim groups.
Arabs gain clout in U.S.
By George S. Hishmeh for Gulf News, Washington Arab Americans, about three million strong, have come a long way in their adopted homeland and their impact is now being felt nationwide and internationally.
And one needs only to hear the voice of Dr. Hala Maksoud, scion of the prominent Salam family of Lebanon and wife of Clovis Maksoud, the Arab publicist par excellence and now professor at the American University here, to sense the satisfaction and pride in the achievement of various Arab American groups, led by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), where she serves as president.
These achievements were scored in recent conflicts with corporate America in the relentless battle to correct the Arab image here or to tell the Arab side of developments in the region that stretches across North Africa into the Middle East, home for some 250 million people. Among the other organizations that are locked in this ongoing effort are the National Association of Arab Americans, which has been the forerunner of political action in Washington; the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, which is part of The Jerusalem Fund; the Arab American Institute and the American Committee on Jerusalem.
Serious Arab American activism came in the wake of the 1967 war in which all of Palestine and other Arab lands were occupied by Israel. The devastating results of the so-called Six Day War precipitated the creation of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, which in many ways has been the mother organization and major resource for the groups that mushroomed in later years.
But the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s splintered the community here, particularly among the activists who were recent immigrants to the United States, and the traditional American-born leaders of the predominantly Lebanese community. To some degree, the community still suffers from that unfortunate debacle.
On the other hand, the rise of political Islam has likewise contributed to the birth of new American Muslim organizations in an equally important bid to explain Muslims and Islam, America’s fastest growing religion which now has more than 6 million adherents.
The muscle power of the growing Arab American and American Muslim organizations has been recognized by official Washington.
The clearest and latest attestation in this respect has been the invitation last week by the State Department for various leaders from the two communities to a private meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Martin Indyk.
Although the focus of the nearly three-hour briefing was the Middle East peace process, the discussion branched out to many subjects, especially issues of concern to American Muslims, some of whom obviously are not Arab by descent.
The significance of these groups was further noted when Albright expressed a readiness to host in the future small dinner parties where she said she could discuss issues of mutual concern at length and in depth, a first for the American Establishment.
Never before have Arab Americans been more successful in twisting the arm of corporate America as in recent cases cited by Dr. Maksoud: The suspension of promotion campaigns by Startec and Sprint, two telephone companies which have mistakenly used the Dome of the Rock in advertising international rates to Israel; the agreement of the Days Inn chain not to build a hotel in the occupied Palestinian territory; the refusal of the popular Ben & Jerry ice cream firm to allow its Israeli subsidiary to utilize water from the occupied Golan Heights and the agreement of the Burger King fast-food chain to discontinue its relationship with a franchisee in an Israeli settlement were among the recent glaring success stories.
But conflict with Walt Disney World, sponsor of a controversial Israeli millennium exhibit at its Epcot Center in Florida, has yet to be resolved to the satisfaction of these groups and the Arab world. All along this has been an uphill battle since the Arab American protestations against the exhibit for depicting Jerusalem as capital of Israel came to the fore only weeks before the opening on October 1.
Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to consider the issue once again tomorrow in New York and decide whether to boycott the Walt Disney Co., after earlier attempts to find a face-saving formula that appeared near successful have now apparently collapsed.
Arab diplomats and representatives of the Arab American organizations in Washington who viewed last week a video film of the Israeli portion of the Millennial Village Exhibition noted that there is no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but “the overall thrust of the Israeli exhibit is to stake an exclusive claim on the city, its physical structure, its history, its spirituality and its people.”
The Arab diplomats said in a statement they found “this display objectionable, divisive, and hurtful.” Dr. Maksoud believes that, generally speaking, American firms commit these mistakes out of “ignorance not malice” and most of them correct their mistakes once they are pointed out in time as in the cases of Startec, Sprint and others. She also stressed the efforts at “sensitizing” these firms have yielded positive results as in the case of the Disney movie, The 13th Warrior, and the Warner Bros. film, Three Kings, where these firms have actually approached ADC for input in portraying Arabs or Muslims. These achievements, she agreed, are a sign that the Arab American community has come of age, “much more vocal and organized.” But there is no doubt here among Arab Americans that the positive Arab response to the agitations of the Arab Americans has not seen better times as in the pivotal role of played by United Arab Emirates Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose early involvement yielded international and Arab attention. The more the merrier.

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