Republicans, Democrats ignore Arab rights

Republicans, Democrats ignore Arab rights
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Neither Democrat Hillary Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump have spoken out in favor of the rights of Arabs and Palestinians, although Clinton claims to embrace “Muslims,” while Trump has called for restrictions to weed out Islamic terrorists from among Muslim immigrants who come to America. The issue of “Arab rights” has been clouded by the issue of “Muslim rights.” The Republican Party is more anti-Arab than the Democratic Party, but both are critical and Clinton has had more influence on the DNC crafted platform than Trump had over the RNC crafted platform.

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania covering Chicago City Hall (1976-1992)

Ray Hanania
covering Chicago
City Hall

Although much has been made of Donald Trumps rhetoric on cracking on the immigration of Muslims into America who may be engaged in or supportive of anti-American violence and terrorism, the truth is Trump’s comments have been used to distract from the real issues facing the Middle East and the Arab World.

Trump has said he would halt Muslim immigration until a system is implemented to more effectively identify applicants from Muslim countries who embrace radicalism and violence against America.

Many of the most violent acts against Americans during the past 16 years since September 11, 2001 have been committed by individuals who embrace a distorted image of Islam.

Trump’s rhetoric, however, would fail to prevent extremists from entering the country and fails to address extremists of other religions and faiths who also have engaged in violence against Americans.

But while Trump’s views should rightly concern Muslims, they are distracting the true issues that face Arabs in this country and feed into the false distortion that all people from the Middle East are Muslim. They are not.Most of the estimated 7 million Muslims in America are non-Arab, about 78 percent. Of the 4.5 million Arabs in America, the majority are Christian, or about 65 percent.

English: Bernie Sanders speaks at Bobfest '09

Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who offered hope for justice in Palestine and fairness to Arabs. He was co-opted by his own Democratic Party. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This confusion has been stoked intentionally by both the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates.

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The only candidate who recognized Arab rights was Bernie Sanders, who was denied fairness in the Democratic Party primary elections. The DNC (Democratic National Committee) used its influence to undermine Sanders and favor Clinton, resulting in Sanders receiving fewer votes and granting the majority of the insider establishment “Super Delegates” to Clinton. The weight of the bias against Sanders undermined his supporters and gave Clinton an unfair edge.

Had the DNC acted fairly, I think Sanders would have won the Democratic Party nomination and he would have changed the dynamics of the anti-Arab political atmosphere that has been veiled by the divisive political strategies of both the Democrats and the Republicans that has favored non-Arab Muslims while undermining the real concerns facing Muslims from the Arab World who suffer the greatest injustices and more discrimination in America.

It also has allowed Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, to walk a fine line which cleverly distinguishes between “Muslims” and “Arabs.” Clinton has been close to the Muslim community, but like many American Democrats, she has been intentionally distant from Muslims who are Arab and from the secular and Christian Arab community.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although Clinton claims she supports Palestinian rights — so too did Donald Trump — Clinton worked behind the scenes to undermine Jim Zogby, the only Arab member of the DNC Platform committee. And, Clinton and her activists waged a powerful war to prevent any language not approved by Israel’s rightwing government and rightwing lobby, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)

Jim Zogby was one of only a small handful of American Arabs who fought for Arab and Palestinian rights and he deserves the community’s praise. The attacks against his efforts by mainstream politicians, Arab extremists and Muslim extremists was so unfair and wrong.

In both the Republican National Convention Platform and the Democratic National C0mmittee Platform, the parties both strongly condemn legitimate BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement which seeks to end Israel’s racist discrimination against Palestinian Arabs both under occupation in the territories occupied in 1967 but also Palestinians living in the lands occupied in 1948 and that make up the state of Israel.

Neither Party references “Palestine” in their Party Platforms. While the Democratic Platform included some voices supportive of Palestinian rights, the Republican Platform was crafted by Republicans without much input from Trump, who was not supported by the RNC until he won the needed delegates to receive the GOP nomination for president.

The Democratic Platform has a small section on the Middle East that reads:

Middle East In the Middle East, Democrats will push for more inclusive governance in Iraq and Syria that respects the equal rights of all citizens; provide support and security for Lebanon and Jordan, two countries that are hosting a disproportionate number of refugees; maintain our robust security cooperation with Gulf countries; and stand by the people of the region as they seek greater economic opportunity and freedom. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism. That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic 50 Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity. While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.

The Democratic Platform mentions Israel 9 times and includes language supportive of the agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama with Iran on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Republican Platform has reference to Israel 19 times and sub-references throughout declaring unequivocal support for Israel, but focused more on opposition to the agreement negotiated by  Obama on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Republican Platform mentions Palestinians one time, and embraces its longstanding position to deny funding to any organization including the UN that supports Palestinian rights.

We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with the 1994 Foreign Relations Authorization Act. That law prohibits Washington from giving any money to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations” which grants Palestinians membership as a state. There is no ambiguity in that language. It would be illegal for the President to follow through on his intention to provide millions in funding for the UNFCCC and hundreds of millions for its Green Climate Fund.

It also condemns the BDS movement in harsh terms.

We condemn the campus-based BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign against Israel. It is antiSemitism and should be denounced by advocates of academic freedom.

In truth, neither really supports the rights of Palestinians or Arabs in General. American politicians have tried to turn away from an “Arab Spring” and have exploited the unspoken issue of a “Muslim Spring” mainly because most Muslims are not Arab, and many non-Arab Muslims are actively engaged in both the Democratic and Republican Parties.

One example, of course, is the powerful influence of Huma Abedin in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Abedin is Muslim but her parents are Indian and Pakistani, not Arab.

Israel’s lobby has allowed American politicians to embrace Islamic and Muslim rights involving non-Arabs, but has forcefully lobbied against the rights of Arab Muslims because the latter speaks aggressively about the rights of Palestine and Israel’s civil rights abuses against Palestinians while most non-Arab Muslim groups ignore Palestinian rights when engaged in American politics.

This dichotomy in American politics has been blurred in part because Muslim Arab activists have blindly taken up the fight against Trump’s Muslim rhetoric while failing to hold Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party accountable for their weak stand on Palestine.

A good example of how weak the Democratic Platform has become was the removal of any reference to the word “occupation” and the designation that the territories taken by Israel using military force in 1967 should be the basis for negotiations.

While Republicans generally are more anti-Arab, Trump has been softer supporting Palestinian rights and maintaining close ties to Arab and Palestinian Muslims, while Clinton’s ties have only been with non-Arab Muslims. The Democratic Party has taken the offensive position of asserting that the status of Jerusalem, the majority occupied first in 1948 and completely occupied in 1967, be decided through negotiations. But then the Democrats “recognize” that Jerusalem must remain in Israeli hands undivided, denying a fundamental Palestinian and Arab right to the Holy City.

Muslims seek to cast Trump as being the most anti-Arab of the two candidates but the truth is that Clinton represents a more aggressive anti-Arab posture and she has shown no tendency to be fair to Palestinians or to Arabs.

She does oppose a ban on Muslims, but she supports closer scrutiny of anti-Arab activists by the DNC’s attacks against the BDS movement.


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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and for, and

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at:

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
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