Arab Democrats host pre-election GOTV rally
Arab Americans encouraged to be fully engaged in the November 3, 2020 General Election and to make their voices heard by the candidates, local government officials, and the news media. The 3 hour online Zoom Annual Rally for Candidates hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club and the American Arab Chamber of Commerce featured presentations from an array of candidates and elected officials and community newspaper journalists on Sunday Oct. 25, 2020
The Arab American Democratic Club of Illinois (AADC) and the American Arab Chamber Commerce (AACC) hosted an online Zoom rally on Sunday Oct. 25, 2020 that featured leaders of the American Arab community, candidates for public office, elected officials, judges and local activists to energize community voter turnout.
The rally featured keynote speakers Arab American Institute (AAI) President Jim Zogby and Arab Americans for Biden spokesperson Jennifer Atala, and memorialized three activists including Miriam Zayed, Mansour Tadros and Jim Zogby’s wife, Eileen.
The online conference was held as an alternative to the AADC’s popular and well-attended annual Candidates Forum and Breakfast because of coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions.
Click here to view the video of the online rally online or use the widget below
A special panel discussion featuring three community-based newspaper reporters and columnists including Ted Slowik of the Southtown, Lorraine Swanson of the Patch and Steve Metsch of the Southwest News Newspaper Group ended the event and included a discussion of why Arab community groups and activists must strengthen their local news media ties to empower their voices.
Speaker after speaker urged Arab Americans to focus on the election and to empower their voices by voting and by engaging with local officials and governments.
“Ultimately we care about the same things that other Americans care about,” said Atala. “We care about jobs and the economy. We care about healthcare and making sure our pre-existing conditions are covered. … We care about having a president who is not going to pander with misinformation when American lives are on the line.”
Atala said she is concerned that “some 258,000 Americans are not voting this election and that’s because they died from COVID-19.”
Zogby said Trump has encouraged the far right which has engaged in violence against everyday Americans including Arab Americans and Muslims and he called it “a permanent danger” that President Trump has failed to address. He urged American Arabs must be engaged.
“We are going to win Illinois. We have to worry about Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those are three states where we make a big difference,” Zogby said of the Arab American community.
“We have got to turn out the vote in those three states and we make a big difference. In those three states and Wisconsin, it was just a matter of tens of thousands of the votes total that made the difference in the last election. When this is all over, I want people to say Arab Americans are the reason why we won.”
Zogby praised Biden’s outreach to the Arab community, including a visit by Jill Biden, who visited Shatila Bakery in Dearborn, and met with Arab American voters..
“How many times have we waited for presidential candidates to come to us?” Zogby asked.
As a Democratic organization, AADC supports all of the Democratic candidates for public office. Elected officials and candidates who addressed the AADC forum included: candidate for Congress in the 3rd District Marie Newman, 7th District State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, Judges Aurelia Pucinski, John Michael Allegretti and Anna Demacopoulos, First District Cook County Board of Appeals candidate Tammy Wendt, Water Reclamation District Board member Mariyana Spyyropoulos, Worth Township Democratic Committeeman Patricia Joan Murphy, and Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett.
Messages of support were received from Lyons Village President Chris Getty and Bridgeview Mayor and State Senator Steven Landek, as well as from Judge Michael P. Toomin.
“We are grateful to all of our supporters, guests and volunteers. Through the years, our community has experienced difficult hardships and trials,” said Samir Khalil, president of the AADC.
“But those challenges have never stopped us from continuing our work and pushing forward.”
Chamber President Hassan Nijem said that the Arab American community must do more to ensure that it receives all of the benefits that government can provide to ethnic communities.
“Our concern is to help the more than 500 American Arab businesses in the Chicagoland area to protect them and ensure they receive the benefits they deserve,” Nijem said.
Nijem explained how Chamber members helped to change a law that would have forced the shutdown of at least 20 Arab American owned Hookah lounges and that would have put some 250 employees out of work.
“By being in touch with out elected officials, it not only gave our community a voice, but it also gave our elected officials accurate information so they can protect our citizens in the right way.”
Nijem said elected officials should not just look at the Arab community as a community only focused on issues of the Middle East politics but “to also see us as Americans who have the same concerns and same needs” of all other Americans.
Lena Hussein, the daughter of Miriam Zayed who passed away in 2018, presented the 2020 “Miriam Zayed Community Service Award” to Samir Khalil and to columnist and media consultant Ray Hanania who served as the event emcee.
Fadi Tadros spoke on behalf of his father, Mansour Tadros the publisher of the popular Future News Newspaper who died on March 28. The AADC offered a special remembrance to Eileen Zogby who passed away on March 11, 2020.
A panel of journalists encouraged Arab Americans not only to engage in politics and government but to also reach out to the community news media to share their events, activities and their news.
The program was streamed live on the AADC Facebook page where at: www.AARDIL.com/ArabAmericanDemocraticClub.
For More information on AADC or to view the program book or upcoming events, click here.
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