All posts by Shirin Zarqa-Lederman

Shirin Zarqa-Lederman was raised in NJ by her Palestinian Muslim parents and later married her Russian Jewish husband. Together they have five interethnic children who experience the traditional customs of both cultures with their extended interethnic relatives. Shirin is also Licensed Professional Counselor, focusing on Child & Adolescent Psychology, and has written her own children’s picture book series, "The Trotters of Tweeville," which is focused on demonstrating kindness to children. The series is available wherever books are sold.

I’m a Semite too

I’d really like to know why people seem to think that the Boycott Divest and Sanction Movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic. I’d also like to know why anti-Semitism is exclusive to Jews. Christians and Muslims live in the “Semitic” region. If its anti-Semitic, then by the very nature of the word, it is also anti-Arab. If you google “Semites,” the first thing that pops up is the definition, which reads:
“a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs.” Not that Google is omniscient, but it certainly is omnipresent.

And as some of our new Congressional leaders have learned, supporting free-speech and the right to boycott governments that participate in apartheid policies (which has been confirmed by the United Nations), is well…anti-Semitic.

But I am a Semite too, and I don’t find BDS anti-Semitic. Quite the contrary, I find that calling for “Death to Arabs” is anti-Semitic. I find segregated streets–so obvious that Richard Gere describes it as “America before the Civil Rights Act of 1964”– anti-Semitic.

I didn’t hear condemnation of anti-Semitism after the IDF massacre of nonviolent protestors during the ongoing #GreatMarchofReturn, or the slaughter of over 500 children in Operation Protective Edge. No one claimed “anti-Semitism.” Is the killing of Palestinian civilians by the IDF not “defamatory” to the great state of Israel? Does AIPAC or the ADL really not recognize the blatant bias? Isn’t bias policy the foundation of apartheid? Isn’t the inability to see it racism?

But when Congresswoman Ilhan Omar calls out the unrelenting money marketing machine that disguises themselves as AIPAC, the ADL, and every Congressional supporter that has been funded by them on both sides of the aisle stepped in to demand a public apology after they decided her comments were deemed–you guessed it– “anti-Semitic.” But of course, we’re not really talking about Semites are we. We are talking about criticism of colonial Israelites.

We’re talking about critique of those that perpetuate the Zionism policies of 1897 that declared it “aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.” There is nothing legal about directly or indirectly aiding and abetting the displacement of one population for another. Anything that could potentially diminish the power and privilege that settlers have over Palestinians is considered by the great state of Israel as “anti-Semitic, and that is the real tragedy.

Not only do they silence the “others,” AIPAC has sat back and allowed Israeli policy to silence any Jews, Christians, and Muslims that disagree with their policies. From Jewish Voice for Peace, to IfNotNowWhen, and even Breaking the Silence, which are all Jewish, Christian, and Muslim activist organizations that are dedicated to the promotion of coexistence and upholding human rights laws for everyone on the planet-not just the Semites, whoever we may be.

But of course, its not just the Congressional leaders and the AIPACs and ADLs of the world, it’s the mainstream media too. The mainstream media too that continues to silence the voices of the oppressed by perpetuating the anti-Semitism narrative. Don’t believe me? What if Congresswoman Omar was a white, male? Ask Bernie Sanders if he’s an anti-Semite. He’s one of few that has been critical of all countries that violate civil liberties, including Israel.

Of all the organizations and professions in the world, particularly when journalists like Jamal Kashoggi are maimed to death for holding his country accountable, it is the mainstream media’s duty to diligently defend the voices of those that are quashed by the majority. And for the record, that was not a Bernie Sanders plug, but a plug for anyone willing to stand up to lobbyists, special interest groups, and corporate entities that continue to violate human rights laws and common decency for their bottom line.

And lastly, the next time this president decides to call for someone resignation, he needs to be the example and answer calls for his.

One-State, Two-State, Red State, Blue State

Courtesy of Tony Eggert—Three Lyons Creative

Though midterm elections night focused heavily on the polarizing politics of a two-party system, the winners of the night–whether republican or democrat–were those of us who know that the United States is a land built by, and for, immigrants. When the newly elected 116th U.S. Congress convenes in January 2019, it will finally look like all of us–not just old white men.

Anna Eskamani has become the first American-Iranian woman who will serve in Florida’s House of Representatives. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali refugee, has become Minnestota’s newest congresswoman, and she opened her acceptance speech with “As-Salam Alaikum,” a traditional Islamic greeting. How often does that happen?

And there’s more. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Muslim and former Michigan state lawmaker, was elected to Congress.

As a Palestinian-American woman, I’m not sure I can explain how monumental this is. And not just for me, but for women everywhere. Congresswoman Tlaib’s policy on Palestine is what I find most inspiring. Unlike the traditional proposal for a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis, she supports a one-state solution, which endorses equality and freedom for both groups.

Let that soak in. Thirty years ago, that would have been blasphemous. But times are changing, and history shows that it could work. Prior to the divide and conquer method of foreign policy, Palestinians and Jews lived together, sharing languages and currencies. Ironically, the discourse has returned to the one policy that worked in the past to provide stability in the region.

The United States’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital showed which side it leads toward. It was directly from the Zionist playbook, much like everything else this administration has done. If President Trump really wanted to do something different, something that no other administration had the “kutzpah” to do, he would endorse a one-state solution.

Some fear that the one-state solution means the end of Israel. But it also means the end of Palestine. As with all endings, though, there are new beginnings, and the creation of a wholly inclusive land for all the people, as it once was, would be a great start.

Now, the question stands: can the newly elected congresswoman bring the voice of thousands of Palestinian-Americans to the mainstream and make a difference? Although the task seems unpromising, Tlaib seems eager to fight and break the stigma surrounding Palestine and being Palestinian.

So, here’s to no borders and no segregation. It worked for Vietnam, Germany, and South Africa. This failing administration could benefit from a “tear-down-the-wall” moment (hint, hint). Not only is this helpful for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also for tearing down the walls in the mainstream consciousness.

Nikki Haley: Not confused? Possibly Delusional

Every time I hear Nikki Haley’s voice, something happens. Even as a psych student, I am not sure that I can explain it. It kind of feels like a Minotaur lives inside me and awakens in screams at the sound of her voice. I’m pretty sure it’s not normal, but then neither is Nikki Haley. Her revolting assessment of the situation in the Middle East, and her comments about Palestinians (or shall I say, lack of comments) does nothing but affirm the bias this administration has against Palestine and its people. Time and again, she has shown a complete lack of regard for Palestinian life. Continue reading Nikki Haley: Not confused? Possibly Delusional

Taking Hummus Back

In case you haven’t noticed, the Israeli PR machine has this rabid reaction when the rhetoric surrounding Palestine has the slightest twinge of favorability to Palestinian statehood.  They’ve been a bit sensitive since 128 countries voted against making their land grab of Jerusalem official. So when James Zogby of the Arab American Institute called Rachel Ray’s Israeli appropriation of Palestinian Arab cuisine a “cultural genocide,” it lit a fire under JPost editors, who turned one comment into a “Twitter War,” (always picking fights, those Israelis are).  Call it my inherent Palestinian optimism, but for the sake of argument, I decided to look into this “cultural genocide.”  There’s enough of a laundry list of dirty human rights violations to call Israel an apartheid state for two lifetimes, so if they are not hijacking the culture along with the land, there’s no need to add insult to injury.

So “yalla, fudalu”, time to talk eats!

Hummus? Well, let’s begin with the fact that “hummus” literally translates in Arabic to “chickpea.”  Contrary to popular belief, hummus (the chickpea) is used in a variety of traditional Arabic entrees like Fattah Hummus and Maftoul, and of course the ultimate fan favorite – Falafel.  I should also probably add that “hummus,” dates back to a 13th century Arabic Cookbook,  Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada (Arabic for ‘The Description of Familiar Food’).

Tabouli? Ironically it’s not a word that was found in the English language until around the 1950s (there’s a head scratcher-NOT).  Perhaps that’s because it’s an Arabic word that stems from the word ‘tabil’ which again literally translates to “seasoning,” like Mutabil, which translates to “seasoned eggplant.” a.k.a. Baba Ganoush.  He was a victim of Rach’s culinary genocide on Palestinian food. She reduced Baba (Arabic for “father”) Ganoush (Arabic for “flattery”) to “eggplant dip.” Poor Baba.

I could continue this rant about the Israeli appropriation of Palestinian food, but the truth is, it’s another nail in the cultural coffin of Palestine. Historian Ilan Pappe wrote a book about it, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. He coined the term “memoracide” to describe the systemic theft of the Palestinian indigenous culture and their cultural narrative.

I know what you’re thinking:
“Oh come on, its hummus, it’s not genocide or memoracide. It’s only hummus.”
But it’s not.

It’s street signs changed from Arabic to Hebrew. It’s village names changed from Arabic to Hebrew. It’s Jerusalem, Palestine to Jerusalem, Israel. The Rachel Ray tweet was more of the same “whitewashing” policy that Israel has implemented with anything remotely Palestinian. Israel literally occupies Palestine in any way it can get away with. From street names, to homes, to olive trees, to school buildings, to villages and food.

Truthfully, everyone of Arab origin should be nauseated. The Zionist Map of “the promised land” consists of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. Those nations should be concerned and grateful for Palestinian resistance and resilience, or Israel would have come for them a lot sooner.

So let’s think about that before we dismiss the importance of the origins of hummus.

As for Rachel Ray? I have a peace offering: Invite Laila Haddad, writer of The Gaza Kitchen on your show to demonstrate Palestinian cooking. Otherwise, keep your appropriations OUT of our kitchens!

Settlements are far from settling

Each time I hear a commentator say that Israeli “settlements do not impede peace,” I throw up in my mouth a little…for a couple of reasons. First, the land wasn’t “unsettled” like 19th-century western America (which was still kinda “settled”, though, yes, it sounds eerily familiar). These Israeli settlements are developments and neighborhoods, and the word “settlements” is only meant to invoke images of Laura in the “Little House on the Prairie.” These are places protected by $38 billion in US tax dollars spent building up the Israeli military.

Not only do settlements impede peace, they provoke violence. Let me break this down so even our leaders get it.

Settlements equate to displaced Palestinians. Palestinians with no homes means more refugees. More refugees make great “Uncle Sam”, a “Great Uncle Sam.” (He’s a Great, Great, Great, “Uncle Sam” to be historically accurate.) Today’s settlers are not orphans abandoned in the streets of Palestine. They are retired (fill in the blank) that decide instead of Costa Rica, they’re going to Israel. But “The Greater Israel” that they speak of does not exist under international law. As a matter of fact, it is illegal under UN Resolution 252, which it continues to be in violation of.

UN Security Council Resolution 252 (May 21, 1968) – “Deplores the failure of Israel to comply with” General Assembly resolutions 2253 and 2254, considers Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem “invalid”, and calls upon Israel “to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem”.

“Big Daddy” (a.k.a. UN) was so pissed that three months later another resolution passed.

UN Security Council Resolution 256 (Aug. 16, 1968) – Recalls Israel’s “flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter” condemned in Resolution 248 (condemning Israeli attack on Jordan), observes that further Israeli air attacks on Jordan “were of a large scale and carefully planned nature in violation of resolution 248”, “Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property”, and condemns Israel’s attacks.

My “cousins” on the other side will have you believe that those resolutions are just proof of anti-Semitism, how far in the past it goes, how mean, and how unfair Big Daddy and all his “friends” are. Yes, Big Daddy is a douchebag who is powerless without Uncle Sam, and ignores Palestinian suffrage, while engaging in anti-Semitism by killing, maiming, displacing, ethnically cleansing its indigenous people, Philistines, native to the land-in the West Bank… “the Semites.”

That wasn’t even the first of them. Just a year before that, the UN passed other stuff:

UN Security Council Resolution 237 (Jun. 14, 1967) – Calls on Israel “to ensure the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants where military operations have taken place” during the war launched by Israel on June 5, 1967 “and to facilitate the return of those inhabitants who have fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities”.

And the year before that was so bad that Big Daddy censured the Golden Child it created:

UN Security Council Resolution 228 (Nov. 25, 1966) – “Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property resulting from the action” by Israel in the southern Hebron area on November 13, 1966, and “Censures Israel for this large-scale military action in violation of the United Nations Charter” and the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan.”

That was 50 years ago, and that’s not the first violation either. Most recently, in December 2016 there was another tongue-lashing by “Big Daddy” you know, the one that preceded the Golden Child’s temper tantrum, because “Uncle Sam” didn’t come to its rescue like we always have.

“14 Delegations in Favour of Resolution 2334 (2016) as United States Abstains. The Security Council reaffirmed this afternoon that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.”

Its time for “Uncle Sam” and the $38 billion of taxpayer money that cannot seem to cover the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to cut the cord. But since Dr. Frankenstein (a.k.a. Big Daddy, a.k.a. the UN) created the monster, “Uncle Sam”  tried to tame the beast and failed. There is only one solution left: Frankenstein’s monster needs to marry his bride and move out of “Uncle Sam’s” basement. It’s time for Israel to get honest and get integrated. If you cannot find a solution, then you must at least agree on the problem. The settlements are a problem.

The truth is out there, you just have to read it… and no it’s not on FOX, Mr. President.

Palestein in my house

So our favorite “smart and funny” Arab, Amer Zahr, gave you a utopian society in which Palestinians and Israelis get rich together, share the same food, and cultivate those olive branches with peace  in a land known as “Palestein.” Impossible, right? Well, not in my family.

My father told me stories of Palestine before 1948. In that Palestine, my great-uncles, Muslim Palestinians, co-owned a butcher shop with Palestinian Jews. It was a Kosher-Halal marriage. During the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, my father, thirteen at the time, would sit under the tent day after day with his Jewish Palestinian friends until the rain came to feed the earth. When it was Easter, his Christian friends would invite their peers (Jewish and Muslim alike) to decorate eggs with onion peels, spinach leaves and red currants. During Ramadan, my great-uncles would fast, and their Jewish partners would starve in solidarity. On Yom Kippur, the whole village shut down in observance. During World War II, Muslim Palestinians opened their homes to Jewish families fleeing persecution in Poland and elsewhere. My father remembers how smitten he and his friends were with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed European girls.

Not everyone is as fond of my father’s stories. Some refuse to believe them, and others remark that today the region “is not your father’s Palestine!” Maybe not, but my home is, and has been for nearly 18 years. Yup! Although my father’s stories sound like far-gone nostalgia, fast forward about 50 years, and to me, it sounds like a place me, my husband, and our five children call home.

Somewhere in a corner of this crazy world of separation walls lays a house with a white picket fence (literally, it’s nauseatingly American-dream-esque) is our own version of “Palestein.” There, my husband (raised Jewish) knows more about Islam than I do, and he jokes “You’re a better Jew than me.” (I make a mean latke!) My front door has a mezuzah on one side and ayn il hasud mas’baha on the other. My children know better than to use the toaster to heat Arabic pita bread. Only an open flame on the stove will do. My husband’s blond-haired, blue-eyed niece (without a lick of Arab in her) comes to my house to eat labneh with zayt-zaytoon (“and mint please, Aunt Shirin!”). My children would not be caught dead eating “Sabra Hummus,” no matter what DJ Khaled says. And when we go shopping they whip out the “buycott” app on their smartphones reminding me what is and isn’t on the BDS list (Oh, Gap and Old Navy how I’ve missed you!).

I guess you could say that my great-uncles and their partners brought Muslim and Jewish meat together. And so have me and my husband.

During Passover, we eat our hummus with matzah and when we light the candles for Channukah, I attempt to convince my children that it had to be olive oil because there is nothing that shit can’t fix. During Easter, we still color eggs and try to answer the same awkward question that our children ask, “What do eggs have to do with the Easter Bunny?” The kids remain on their best behavior during December (because they believe in Santa) and we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, (Peace be upon him), who happens to be praised in the Quran more than the Bible. We all celebrate the Feast of Ramadan, and honor Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), who declared in “The Charter of Medina”:

Non-Muslim minorities (Jews) have the same right of life protection (like Muslims).

THAT was the 7th century. Back then, everyone was a Jew, even Muslims, because Islam, like Christianity, came from Judaism, and Muhammad, like Jesus, was fully aware of his roots.

Do we argue? Of course! We still cannot agree on who has cornered the market on falafel and who makes better Shawarma (my father, hands down). But ask my children what they celebrate and they will say, “Respect.” Ask them what their religion is and they will break out in Ziggy Marley’s, “Love is my religion.” Our parents (Teta and Jiddo, and Momo and Poppy, as they are known to us and each other) couldn’t be prouder (hippies!).

So, is the extended family in awe of the “Palestein” we created? Some are, and some aren’t. And some pretend to be ok with it until they become a “born-again Muslim,” where their distorted version of Islam doesn’t allow it. Of course, Muslims aren’t the only ones who have difficulty understanding our “arrangement.” If Zionists and/or “#Trumpenyahu” supporters run the numbers, the demographics would have settlers with pitch forks chanting “Death to Arabia!” Generally, my interethnic clan is not something I talk about for that reason. I am well aware that we are Bibi’s worst nightmare.

Sorry Bibi, I know the thought of Palestein has caused you many a restless night. But those of us who have been to my father’s Palestine? Well, we sleep just fine.

Secretary Kerry, there could have never been a two-state solution

Though many rejoiced listening to Secretary Kerry’s speech at the end of December, I’ve been walking around rather disenchanted. There’s no denying that his 72-minute diatribe in response to Netanyahu’s discontent with the United Nations Resolution 2334 is a refreshing twist to the traditional Israel-has-a-right-to-defend-itself US policy. For the first time, the United States admitted that the Israeli agenda does not include living side-by-side with Palestinians. Though Kerry waited until the end (when most stopped listening), he reaffirmed the Zionist agenda for Israel that was established in the late 1800s, an agenda that has no interest in the existence of Palestinian independence.

One-hundred-and-twenty years ago, the first Zionist congress was convened in Basel by a group of Jewish visionaries.

And they declared their purpose:

Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.

Those “Jewish visionaries,” founders of the Zionist movement, clearly solidified their mission: to create an “assured home in Palestine.” Not next to Palestine, not as a neighbor to Palestine but “in Palestine.” That was perhaps the last honest statement to come out of the Zionist movement… and the Obama Administration. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict started well before the state of Israel’s creation in 1948. Then, Kerry made the understatement of the century:

I don’t think most people in Israel and certainly in the world, have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become…

It’s rather remarkable how “broad and systematic.” Prior to Israel’s founding, Zionist founders would visit Palestine and study their soon-to-be adversaries. In 1891, 6 years before Theodore Herzl called for the Zionist Congress, Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (a.k.a. Ahad Ha’am), wrote about his visit to Palestine:

The Arab, like all the Semites, is sharp minded and shrewd. All the townships of Syria [which are now Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon] and Eretz Yisrael are full of Arab merchants who know how to exploit the masses and keep track of everyone with whom they deal – the same as in Europe… For now, they do not consider our actions as presenting a future danger to them… But, if the time comes that our people’s life in Eretz Yisrael will develop to a point where we are taking their place, either slightly or significantly, the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.

The bogus notion that the state of Israel is a response to Russian persecution or the Holocaust was simply an attempt to disguise and excuse the “broad and systemic” campaign to eliminate Palestine and its people. It was intentionally orchestrated well before any of those historic atrocities and well before the creation of Israel.

Zionism was a land-grabbing agenda from its birth and was solidified in 1901 with the creation of the “Jewish National Fund,” an organization whose sole purpose was to purchase land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The era of settlements began more than 47 years before the creation of the state of Israel. And just as Ginsberg warned, the natives were [are] not going to just step aside so easily.”

If the Zionists were to claim Palestine as their own they would need to use significant force to do so. And so it began. A barrage of policies, from the Balfour Declaration to the Oslo Accords, have attempted to assuage the Palestinian people with the false promise of a two-state solution while the “broad and systematic” ethnic cleansing of Palestinians continued.

Kerry used a direct quote from Ariel Sharon himself to bolster the argument for a two state solution:

The original mandate gave the Palestinians 48 percent. Now it’s down to 22 percent. I think 78 percent is enough for us.

Sharon was likely pacifying Kerry at the time of his statement. I wouldn’t trust Sharon with my pet rat, let alone a two-state solution. Let us not forget Sharon led the Israeli army in 1948, the year of the Nakba, when many Israeli-led massacres of Palestinians occurred, including at Deir Yassin. Sharon was also at the forefront of the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, the Yom-Kippur War of 1973 and the 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatila. It was also Sharon who rattled the cage ending several peaceful years in 2000, and began “cementing an irreversible one state reality that most people do not actually want.

The only thing that Kerry proved with his speech was that so long as Zionists ran Israel, the two-state solution was a mockery of foreign policy. Zionists want a state known as “the greater state of Israel,” and will sacrifice Palestinian lives and the lives of their own Israeli soldiers and citizens to do so.

Kerry did, however, make one poignant statement:

In a place where the narratives from the past powerfully inform and mold the present, it’s important to understand the history.

Indeed, Secretary Kerry. Indeed.

The facade of freedom

On election night, I fell asleep early. I was certain my candidate was not going to win. I knew that the world was not ready to address real national security threats like climate change and perpetual warfare. Yup, I voted for Jill Stein, because other than the Green Party, no one was offering any real change. Not sexy enough for the mainstream media (MSM). Instead, MSM became the narrator of a domestic war between white males and everyone else. This country has a history of declaring war over concepts such as drugs, terrorism, crime, poverty and communism. For clarification, wars occur between nations, it’s not meant to be a rhetorical metaphor.

Waking up in the middle of night with the television still on, I was less amazed that the Green Party lost, but in awe that the MSM was rapidly losing the war it created. Hilary Clinton was miles away from becoming the next president of the United States.

Donald Trump would soon become the 45th president of the United States. Though I vomited in my mouth a little when I heard, my disgust quickly dissipated. My inherent Palestinian optimism kicked in (it’s the only way I can wrap my head around the tenacity and perseverance of the Palestinian spirit).

I started flipping through the channels to watch the reaction of the MSM getting smacked in the face for distorting the truth-America did not drink the Kool-Aid. Then it came; we are “a nation of bigots,” and “a nation of xenophobes”, and “a nation of homophobes.” “What would the rest of the world say?”

The rest of the world is saying that the US is an ethnocentric arrogant nation, just like they have for decades. We’ve always been a nation of bigots and homophobes. We have homophobic bigots, we have black xenophobes, and Muslim bigots, and black misogynists, and Christian anti-Semites, (you name it we’ve got it!). From the MSM reaction, you would think that we all treated each other equally before all this.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK?!

Lets not pretend that we are some progressive nation that sprinkles democratic pixy dust on other nations for the sake of human rights, equality, and justice for all. Progression does not equate to wars in the name of peace, democracy in the name of force, and death in the name of life. Progression does not equate to FIVE simultaneous wars, drones destroying foreign cities indiscriminately, and it certainly does not equate to racial profiling and excessive force in our own towns and cities.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Trump is not the only person in the world, and we are not the only nation in the world, to call for the elimination of Islam. He just said it loud enough for everyone to hear. Conservative Americans were not the only people that stood by and agreed with him. Muslims have been persecuted all over the world for decades! He did not create sexism. We still argue over Roe v. Wade, which was settled by the Supreme Court over 40 years ago! There is still a pay disparity between men and women. Our prisons have been disproportionately filled with Black and Latino men for decades! Illegal migration is a crime! He’s not wrong when he calls illegal migrants criminals! Do you honestly believe that legalizing gay marriage has ended the brutality and discrimination against homosexuals? That’s just delusional.

It’s delusional to think that a country built on stealing the land of peaceful natives in order to colonize and enslave in the name of industrialization, without any adequate compensation or repercussion, can be anything more than a façade of freedom… and no I’m not talking about Israel… though it does sound eerily familiar.

 

Childhood in the Holy Land

The path to school is one of those things that almost everyone can agree needs to be safe. Everyone except for Israel, that is. Palestinian children are terrorized and humiliated on their daily walk to school and home.

A study done by the Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove found at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, settlers committed violence against children on 14 occasions either to or from school. Children missed over 25 hours of classroom instruction due to “settler-violence” (so commonplace there’s even a name for it). This is not simply taunting or harassment on the way to school. Walking to school in Palestine can be fatal. Children are petrified of getting hit by the car of a random radical Zionist settler, known as “vehicle violence”. In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler’s using their vehicles as weapons to maim and murder Palestinians.

But it’s not just the settlers these children have to contend with each day. There’s the skunk truck, courtesy of the IDF. The truck sprays fumes much “worse than raw sewage” and more “like a mixture of excrement, noxious gas and a decomposing donkey.” A reporter from Reuters described the liquid originally meant for crowd control during protest as the following:

“Imagine taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face. Your gag reflex goes off the charts and you can’t escape, because the nauseating stench persists for days.” 

Children are stopped at checkpoints on their way to school and their bodies searched. Human rights organizations have documented cases illustrating the treatment of Palestinian men and boys held at checkpoints for hours. They areften forced to strip to their underwear in metal cages, with no privacy, let alone protection, food, or water. Teachers are also physically searched, often in full view of their students.

From the moment children walk out of their homes they are at risk of being “detained” by the IDF. Children cannot even play on their front yard without fear of the customary practice of detention (kidnapping) of children as young as 6 years old for no clear reason. As of July, the West-Bank based Addameeer Prisoner Support Network reported that over 400 children are currently spending parts of their childhood in Israeli prisons.

If these children manage to make it back from school unscathed, they often come home to find their home bulldozed by the IDF. Often, before all inhabitants have left. Imagine that for a moment.

You’re an elementary school student who walks to and from school each day, walking through the fear of death and imprisonment. Much like each morning, each afternoon you brace yourself, and somehow you manage to muster up the necessary resilience to walk back home. Just as you approach the safe-haven of your home, you notice piles of concrete. Within the rubble you notice your bed, toys, books, all in pieces. The IDF has demolished your home and everything you consider sacred. They have demolished your childhood.

Childhood is risky in Palestine. According to B’tselem-The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 2,134 Palestinian children and 134 Israeli children have been killed since September 29, 2000. Can’t we all at least agree that children, no matter their faith, tribe, or nation, should be able to walk to school without fear of death and imprisonment?

I’m a Dem, but Hillary is no champion to me

The Democratic convention is over, and my grieving process has began. I became an “unaffiliated” voter. It sort of brought a tear to my eye, as I thought about the Democratic nominee. Not tears of joy or elation for a “female nominee of a major political party,” but those of sadness and grief for all the little girls that are left out of this narrative. Of all the erroneous elements in this year’s election, what I keep coming back to are all the little girls that have been excluded once again-the black girls, the brown girls, the yellow girls, the red girls-pick your color. The only thing that “won” was a wealthy white girl, who met her yuppie husband at an Ivy League School, married him, rode him to the White House holding on for dear life no matter the humiliation, all to be crowned the first female U.S. President. (Sounds like a Disney princess movie.)

This is simply a celebration of white privilege. This story is not about a girl from a trashy meth infested neighborhood who broke the cycle of generational poverty, worked her ass off at the local market bagging groceries in hopes of attending college to become lawyer and triumphantly beat the odds by tirelessly working her way to the presidency, all while maintaining integrity and humanity. This story is about a woman who addressed a crowd of struggling constituents about income inequality, while wearing a $12,000 Armani jacket. If that doesn’t tell you how “out-of-touch” she is, you’re out-of touch too.
Hilary Clinton didn’t break a glass ceiling. She threw everyone and anyone she needed to under the bus that crashed into that glass ceiling and broke it. She showed all those little girls from that trashy neighborhood, that urban ghetto, and even that brown-girl from the lily-white neighborhood that her color doesn’t fit into, that the ends justify the means and that integrity is irrelevant.

This is the same woman that swears we need tougher gun laws but approved the sale of several gun manufacturers like Remington, who manufactured the Bushmaster AR-XM15-the one that killed 26 children and 6 women in Sandy Hook. That’s the woman we are celebrating?

This is the same woman who robbed hundreds of thousands of little girls from an education all over the Middle East overhauling regimes to increase her wealth and rob Mother Nature of her gifts. Little girls, brown, black, red, yellow, and their futures have been slaughtered for her agenda. This is the same woman that could not admit that Israeli military action in Gaza was “disproportionate?” The same woman who didn’t utter a sentence when over 500 children in Gaza were ripped to shreds, robbed from their parents by the illegal use of flechettes. I cannot even give you an exact number because their little bodies were so annihilated, they could not be identified!

The only sliver of hope is a recent Gallup poll showing that 52% of Democrats and 42% of Independents support an independent Palestinian state. That’s right. Senator Sanders exposed the humanity of the bulk of the base. That’s YUGE! For the first time in this millennium Palestinians were spoken of like we were human. And yes, it was the Brooklyn Jew who spent his time in a Kibbutz who spoke of us that way, just as he has since 1988. And we returned the olive branch to Senator Sanders by casting our votes for him (most of which were probably purged or sent to Mars or something). Jewish Americans and Muslim Americans got to show the world that we don’t hate on each other. No one wants to “throw Jews in the sea,” like Ben Gurion said (he came up with that line in the 1940s). We want the peace and tranquility that generations before us had and that meant Jews and Muslims living together side by side, celebrating the moments of their lives together, just like we do in my home. Do we honestly believe that Hilary Clinton wants peace and tranquility; that it’s important to her that Jewish and Muslim children live together peacefully?

This is the same woman that said nothing as thousands of children drowning on their journey from Syria to Greece in the Mediterranean, or the human rights violations in Turkey against those same refugees fleeing their lives. And all this happened on that woman’s watch! She made decisions to make all of this happen! When she sends our children to war to kill other children and all of those children die, which is not an “unintended consequence,” that is callous and calculated murder.

Alright, maybe its just us sand-niggers that she wants to eliminate, but what about Black kids, Latino kids, Asian kids? Those kids are Muslim. Surely, she’s not treated those children like that, right? Well… only if you add the 200 missing girls from Nigeria who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, a terrorist group that Miss Hillary refused to acknowledge as such, who has killed more people than ISIS. Of course, if she did that would hamper business in Nigeria (oil rich Nigeria). I’m sure their families understand.

Surely, she has to love the Latino kids right? She holds the Latino base right? Well in Latin America, According to the Huffington Post, under her “Plan Columbia” that she and her husband so proudly tout, U.S. soldiers themselves have been implicated in numerous human rights abuses while deployed during Plan Colombia operations – including allegedly raping dozens of Colombian women and girls between 2003 and 2007.” According to The Nation, “in Honduras, she worked to legitimize the overthrow of a government that was trying to make the morning-after pill available and advance the rights of members of the LGBT community. In so doing, Clinton helped install a regime that has been killing women and men at an impressive clip.”

She has effectively destroyed the lives and futures of millions of children with her actions, and she has not spared a soul. HOW is this a woman my daughters are supposed to look up to? How does she get away with such destruction?

It’s simple. She’s white and wealthy. She’s privileged, just like the rest of her white, wealthy “1%’er” friends that have no college debt. And family members, like Barbara Boxer of Nevada and friends like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to help them fradulently make a living.

Henry Kissinger is her hero. Henry Kissinger! He’s known for saying, “Control oil and you control nations. Control food and you control the people,” and “If you don’t hear the drumbeats of war, then you must be deaf.” If that doesn’t tell you how out of touch she is, nothing will.

Hillary and Donald, BFFs forever and ever

According to the Center of American Women in Politics, in 2012, 64% of women and 60% of men voted. Racial demographics according to the Pew Research Center estimate that by November 2016, the voting public will consist of 70% whites, 12% Hispanic, 12% Blacks and 6% Asian. For a racist (a.k.a. Trump), it seems like it would be in the bag. But when you break down that 70% of white people down into their ethnicities, it paints a different picture. “White” consists of a lot more than “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.” As a matter of fact, since 1978, the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation categorizes “white people” as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” So those “white” people include Muslims, Arabs, Jews, and Orthodox Christians from areas such as Syria, Iraq, Greece, Bosnia, Turkey, and the rest of the countries we’ve screwed by creating perpetual warfare. It would seem to me that isolating the populations that have the largest voting majorities would be political suicide. The entrepreneurial Trump must know that much.

But what if that was the plan all along? The Clinton and the Trumps have had a long cozy relationship together.

Beginning in 1998, Trump publicly supported former President Clinton during the Lewinsky Scandal. In 1999, Trump told a NY Times reporter that if not for the scandal, Bill Clinton would have gone down “as a great president.” In 2000 in an interview with Jessie Ventura, he went on a rant about whistleblower, Linda Tripp, calling her the “personification of evil.”

In 2005, at Donald and Melania Trump’s wedding, Hillary Clinton was granted a front-row seat at the ceremony. The former president joined her at the reception at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. A picture of the Clintons and the newly wed Trumps has been exposed so many times it has been called “the event that explains the 2016 election.”

Back in 2007, Trump praised Hillary Clinton among the presidential candidates then as someone who could make a good deal with Iran. “Hillary’s always surrounded herself with very good people,” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2007. “I think Hillary would do a good job.”

In October of 2008, in an interview on CNN, Trump slammed George W. Bush for getting into the Iraq war “with lies,” and suggested that his actions warranted impeachment much more than President Clinton, stating “and they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.” The same year, the two were photographed in July at the Trump National Golf Club in NY.

In 2012, Trump told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that Clinton had done a great job as secretary of state. “Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman,” he said. “I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard. And I think, again, she’s given an agenda, it is not all of her, but I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her.”

Even Bill Clinton himself spoke highly of Donald Trump. In an interview in May of 2012, the former president said, “I like him. And I love playing golf with him.” At the same time, Trump was playing the predominant role in the “birther” movement, where Trump vehemently questioned the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate.

On Larry King in October of 2013, Trump was asked how he felt about Hillary Clinton running for president. With flattery he responded, “Yeah, and I know her very well. They’re members of my club, and I like both of them very much, and he was with you one time and he said he likes me,” Trump said, adding, “and I do like him.”

In May of 2015 right after Hillary announced her entrance into the race for president, Bill Clinton spoke to The Donald, and reportedly encouraged him to take a front and center role in the 2016 presidential election. A month later, Trump became a contender.

And of course! Let us not forget that Ivanka and Chelsea, like their parents, are BFFs too!

I have often said that growing up Arab means you were taught to be a skeptic. I was taught to distrust the government and the media (which was probably working for the government). Our parents weren’t just paranoid. There was truth to it. In the Middle East, governments and media were traditionally linked and it was essentially common practice for the media to simply relay the message of the government rather than the reality of the people. Of course, here in the United States, we grew up thinking that “freedom of the press” was the people’s reality. Unfortunately, it seems our hypersensitive parents were right. The media has simply become a mouthpiece for the candidate who has paid the most money to the most connections to get the most airtime. In 2016, that means we are stuck with Trump and Clinton.

 

This election is a reality show, and Bernie isn’t a contestant

Hillary Clinton supporters seem to miss a fundamental difference between her and Bernie Sanders. It’s called integrity. Integrity is a value that is fundamental to the development of trust, and thus, when one is seeking a relationship with a people, trust becomes a rather imperative value. In order to build trust, one must implicitly and explicitly display the truth at all cost.  In other words, one must “walk the walk and talk the talk.” Secretary Clinton has been a disgrace to integrity, and her followers appear to be as blinded as Nazi followers in 1930s. Not a fair comparison? I’m not so sure. The problem with this country is not hate, racism, immigration, the economy, foreign policy, transgender bathrooms, or any other one of the issues that the mainstream media regurgitates on a daily basis. The problem is this country’s indifference.

Hillary Clinton has been involved in more scandals than the Kardashians. She has almost 150 FBI agents investigating her. We should be indicting her, not voting for her. Hilary Clinton sees her rival as Donald Trump, and the two of them have turned the American democratic process into a season of Survivor. It has been a season of not-so friendly competition for Clinton and Trump, and as their competition continues, the American people remain the Biggest Losers. Our primary election process has become the greatest American Crime Story, full of lies, deceit, and down right dirty politics. To the rest of the world, its an episode of Ridiculousness. There is NO uniting the Democratic Party, because in order to have a Democratic Party you have to have a DEMOCRACY. As for the Republicans, there is no Republic either. Red, Blue, pick your favorite color. That’s all your voting for.

Like a battered wife on Dr. Phil, the masses appear to accept that our WORLD is disintegrating. Florida is literally losing land as a result of climate change. In the past few weeks alone, Ecuador and Japan have suffered earthquakes and subsequent tremors so intense, they would rip California off the map. Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton encourages other countries to frack away all while using their fracking money to fund her competition against Trump. Texas is literally under water and yet Hilary Clinton has no problem taking money from big oil to fund her attack ads on her good old friend Trump, who donated to her previous campaign and was blessed with her presence at his last wedding.

And while she’s Dancing with the Stars, with the same stars who preach about about autism, which is at its highest rates ever, Hilary Clinton thinks nothing of taking money from Monsanto, while they poison our food and then clone it.  Hilary Clinton thinks nothing of taking money from drug companies  who preserve vaccines with heavy metals like mercury (a.k.a. Thimerasol), which has been known to destroy the human body from the inside out. The WORLD is losing water yet she supports giving tax breaks to big companies like Nestle to suck up the water, smack a label on it, and sell it to the families of Flint, Michigan, who are now walking around with more lead than we ever thought humanly possible.

That is who the Democratic party wants to represent them? The Democratic Party is losing credibility like American Idol lost ratings. Hilary Clinton may have won New York but the Democratic Party lost 126,000 supporters and that’s in addition to the 146,000 voters denied the right to vote in Arizona. Why all the references to reality television? Because that’s all the American public pay attention to! As for me, I have integrity, which means I’m no Democrat or Republican. I’m a Sandernista. Nominee or not, my vote will be heard, and I will write Bernie in.

 

 

Hillary strikes out in New York

New York, its time to talk baseball. It’s the World Series. It’s the bottom of the ninth inning and the bases loaded. Who do you put in the batter box? Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) or Derek Jeter (The Captain)?

If you chose A-rod, then vote for Madam Secretary, because as great as A-rod’s record is, with his gazillion dollars, the only World Series he’s won was in 2009, and it was no thanks to him. When it matters, A-Rod’s .365 batting average drops to a measly .161.

Baseball is the only job in the world where so long as you do what you were hired to do a third of the time, your considered a Hall of Famer. Unless you’re Hillary Clinton of course. Somehow she’s touted as a Hall of Famer and her record isn’t even as good as A-Rod’s. Unless, of course, we are talking about her “flip-flopping.” (Quite ironic that Secretary Kerry – the original “flip-flopper” – is her successor.) Let’s check out Secretary Clinton’s batting record (a.k.a. her voting record) in New York.

In 2001, she supported the Patriot Act, leading to New York City’s mapping of Arab American and Muslim American communities, one of the largest in the country. Though in direct violation of the 4th amendment, she continues to support the Patriot Act. Supporting the profiling of the Arab American community… STRIKE!

In 2001, she voted in favor of “No Child Left Behind,” and thought tying standardized testing to funding was a fabulous idea, until 2015 when she decided to run for president. Did President Michael Mulgrew of the NY Teacher’s Union forget she threw teachers under the school bus, or was he driving it? STRIKE! And a FOUL for Mr. Mulgrew!

In 2002, she supported the war in Iraq and now she states it was a “mistake.” Her mistake cost the lives of approximately 240,000 individuals, including 191 New Yorkers who served in the US military. Quite a hefty price for a “mistake,” don’t ya’ think? STRIKE!

In 2002, she made it public to her New York constituents that she believed marriage was between a man and a woman. As first lady, in 1996 she supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Now she’s all for marriage equality. In 2007, she announced her about-face on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. STRIKE!

In 2003, she was strongly opposed to closing Guantanamo. Further, she has done NOTHING about the practices that violate the civil liberties of terror suspects held in New York’s Federal Prisons. In 2013, she began advocating for the closure of Guantanamo. 2013 was also the year she began sniffing out her prospects for the next presidential election. STRIKE!

Between 2010 and 2013, as Secretary of State, she advocated for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over 40 times. The TPP would expand NAFTA, which she has supported since 1994 and is responsible for the loss of over 500,000 New York jobs and shrinking paychecks for those who still work. She came out against it after Senator Sanders called her on it in an early Democratic debate. STRIKE!

As recently as 2014, even after New Yorkers Against Fracking wrote a letter in 2013 directly to Secretary Clinton urging a ban against fracking, she supported the practice. As Secretary of State, she promoted fracking all over the world, practically campaigning for it in Bulgaria and Europe. Only after she was challenged in a debate with Senator Sanders on the issue, did the “mother fracker” change her mind. Again! STRIKE!

In that same year, New Yorkers Against Fracking also urged Secretary Clinton not to support the Constitution Pipeline being built in Albany, New York. I wouldn’t hold my breath. In 2010, she said she was “inclined” to vote for the Keystone Pipeline because as she puts it, “”we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf, or dirty oil from Canada.” Great attitude! In September of 2015, she decided to reverse her previous position on the Keystone Pipeline. STRIKE!

In 2014, The New York Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. Guess who voted consistently in favor of the death penalty? You guessed it! Secretary Clinton has been a staunch proponent of the death penalty. STRIKE!

So, much like A-Rod, Madame Secretary is “A-dud.” If the above nine policies were a baseball game, she struck out in ALL nine innings. There is nothing “New York” about the former secretary. She knows it, and if she doubted it, Saturday Night Live solidified her desperation in their latest Clinton skit.

Hillary, “You’re out!”

So, to my Arab American friends (and everyone else too) in New York, this is your friendly reminder to vote for the native New Yorker, not the wannabe who lived in Chappaqua for a hot minute and desperately wants to prove to you that she’s one of you.  Remind her that though Derek Jeter was often left in A-Rod’s shadow, his consistency, his dedication to his fans, and his ability to be a team player is what made him a great leader. It’s what made him “The Captain.” #FeelTheBern

They don’t hate our freedom

I’m not sure I will ever understand the double standard. I’m not sure that I will ever understand what makes one life more valuable than the other.  Each time something happens in the world – an attack, an earthquake, a plane crash, something that unexpectedly takes human life – we react as though we’ve witnessed the robbing of human life. Yet, somehow the same indignation doesn’t apply to all of humanity.  The devastation in Brussels or Paris has people changing their Facebook profiles and drumming up crowdfunding campaigns. It’s heartwarming to see how the masses help their fellow humankind.

But while my heart is warming, I sit here scratching my head trying to figure out why there is no indignation for all those living in tragedy day after day. Why is there no call for condemnation for the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been taken over the past 15 years in the Gulf region or the Middle East. The day of the Brussels attack, 37 Iraqi civilians died. The day after the attack, an additional 13 Iraqi civilians were killed.  I saw no one changing their Facebook profiles, I didn’t notice any politicians demanding that those responsible be held accountable for the robbing of those lives. Are those lives somehow less important? Do they not deserve the same freedom to live their lives as those in Brussels?

It seems to me we’re all the same, and the proof of that is the overreaction after each one of these attacks. After the attack in Brussels, politicians start calling for Muslim bans, surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods, the return of torture interrogation techniques. That sounds terrifying for Muslims.  That’s terrifying for anyone who values constitutional rights!  There was no attack on American soil, yet every American Arab or Muslim (or any brown person for that matter) is collectively punished. Brussels is thousands of miles away, yet this is the US reaction!

It’s not that I don’t understand the anger, the sadness, or the despair. I just don’t understand why desperation is only justified when something like this occurs in the White, White, West. Yet, when it occurs in Lebanon, as it did on November 12, 2015-a day before the Paris attacks-no one in the West bats an eye.

I found it quite  offensive that a “commentator” stated that  Brussels was a “beautiful and safe city” 20 years ago.   Twenty years ago, before the US and friends invaded the Middle East and made it a military camp hotspot, it was beautiful too. For 20 years, citizens of the Middle East have watched the western militaries destroy their everyday lives.  Yet somehow, the west acts like innocent victims in the war on terror.

How is it that western society doesn’t seem to understand how it is possible for people to become so infuriated while experiencing, day after day, for 20 years, the terror that Brussels encountered in one day? This is a no-brainer, people! Scores of studies show that when one witnesses recurring violence, he has a higher propensity to become violent.  A child born 20 years ago in Iraq has seen nothing other than violence. If that’s not terrorism, I’m not sure what is. Hiring a PR firm to dress something up by calling it a “war on terrorism” doesn’t make it any less traumatic.  And yet we say, “They hate us for our freedom.” They don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us because we stole theirs.

 

My Arab American vote? Trump before Clinton

Why would anyone vote for Trump over Clinton?  Why would a minority vote for Trump?  Truthfully? Revenge! Madam Secretary stood by while 500 Palestinian children were ripped apart by flechettes (which are illegal according to international lawwhich is meaningless because no one is held accountable anyway). Not only is Hillary Clinton supported by every pro-Israel, pro-Zionist organization under the sun, she is also backed by Israel’s biggest agricultural industry, led by none other than Monsanto.

Monsanto is not only an Israeli company with affiliates all over the world disguised as subsidiaries, it also happens to be what gave Mitt Romney votes in the last election, which was won by Obama, who was supported by all those pro-Israeli organizations.  The intent of those organization is to decimate the Palestinian population, much like Hitler’s goal was to decimate the German Jewish population in the 1940’s.  The election was in the bag either way.  Monsanto won either way.

So what does this have to do with Trump? He’s actually the only candidate that has any history of opposing Monsanto, and he’s managed to keep his mouth shut about them (except for a tweet that a poor intern was fired for retweeting). Trump despises Monsanto’s claim to fame, the genetically modified organisms (GMO), or “fake food” as its been called.  Trevor Noah is right, our political system is beginning to resemble a nation from Africa or the Middle East.  So what, pray-tell, does the Israeli regime have to do with this?  They have land.

Actually, they don’t have land, the Palestinians do, which is why Palestinian lives are a cheap price to pay for that land. What’s a few lives when bulldozing homes for billionaires? Israel needs the Palestinians to leave in order to continue their incestuous relationship with Monsanto.  More land = more GMOs.  More GMOs = more billions for the billionaire class.  So why vote for Trump, who is part of the billionaire class?

If Trump is president, I’m leaving.  Muslims are no longer welcome in TrumpLand.  Neither are Arabs, Blacks, Mexicans, Women, etc. I’ve got my exit strategy.  If this country wants a dictator, I’d rather go to an island and watch the chaos that ensues from afar. It’s warmer there, and I’ll get to pick fresh fruit without concern for GMOs or Monsanto’s poison.  You know, like Monsanto’s white phosphorus that was used to torch Palestinians to the bone in the 2014 attacks in Gaza.

The hope is that after karma comes around (the disaster of a Trump presidency), Americans will realize the sanctity of human life and the indignity of oppression. Perhaps then, America will learn what Palestinians have always known: that we are part of a human race, and that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are freedoms that every human deserves.

Growing up Arab American, my parents constantly reminded us that those freedoms are why they chose to travel 11,000 miles to a country, where they did not know a soul, they could barely speak the language, and barely had two cents to rub together.  They knew that when they got here, they would have a fair shake, as would their children.  They never imagined that after proudly raising generations of Arab Americans, they would be second guessing their choices and that we would be entertaining an exit strategy in fear of facing the same oppression they left behind.

An Arab American in the voting booth

Growing up Arab in America colors the lens of my worldview. Regardless of where your “Arab in America” journey began – the ghetto, the burbs, or farm country – we all seem to share a common, possibly even intrinsic, obligation to protect our ancestry and share our culture. Doing so validates our experiences, corrects that too easily accessible misinformation, and celebrates our contribution to American history and the American identity. That is the shadow that walks into the voting booth with me ensuring that my vote is relevant not only to my America but my Arab. So what is relevant to the Arab in America?

The Arab American Institute (AAI) put together a report addressing that particular question. The report, titled “Arab American Voters 2014: Their Identity and Political Concerns,” reveals “jobs and the economy… the most important issue to a majority of Arab Americans.” According to Gallup Polls, the economy is also of major concern to 39% of all Americans. It’s turns out we’re not as different as we think.

In addition to the economy, AAI also revealed that in this post-911 era discrimination is a main concern to Arabs in America as well. The report emphasized the growing discriminatory practices noting that:

43% of Arab Americans have experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity or country of origin and 41% are concerned about it happening in the future.

Those numbers really knock the wind out of the Arab American dream.

Of course, there is then foreign policy. The Arab American Voters report also indicated that international policies, specifically the ongoing Apartheid in Palestine, were also a factor influencing Arabs in America at the voting booth.

Those are the relevant issues that concern us Arab Americans. Unfortunately, it seems we have little faith in our political party system and its ability to create equality in wealth, opportunity, and a shift on Middle East policy. After reflecting on the Republican and Democratic primary campaigns, their candidates and the debates this weekend, it’s not hard to understand the sentiment.

Not all hope is lost, though. My silver lining comes in the form of another Gallup Poll, which confirmed Democrats are more favorable of Palestinian statehood:

“The two political parties have substantively different views, with 58% of Democrats supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state, compared with 26% of Republicans.”

That narrowed my pool of potential candidates, reducing it to Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

The beauty of growing up American today is that we have an abundance of tools to gather information and sort through it all.  That might sound daunting. Not to worry! There’s an app for that!

Okay, its not actually an app (though If one did exist that would not surprise me), it’s a website. Rather than sit here and reiterate everything that you’ve probably already heard about the candidates from their campaigns, allow me to introduce you to bernievshillary.org

The website asks you several policy questions based on what issues you indicate are most important to you.  So, after choosing “economic policy, income inequality, civil liberties and discrimination, and foreign policy,” I was given a set of ten queries.  After I answered each question, the site generated the candidates’ current positions, as well as any previous positions.  By the end, I was shown a percentage of how the candidates aligned with my position on the issues. I was able to determine what is important to my America and my Arab. So, what happened? Let’s just say I #FeelTheBern 100%!