Most Arab Americans I know resent the United State’s intimate relationship with Israel and the adverse affect it has on Palestinians. Most Arab Americans I know (myself included) are voting for Barack Obama.
It’s not that we have forgotten Obama’s AIPAC blunder or that we disregard Biden’s outspoken support of Israel. It’s that unlike Senator McCain, Obama’s campaign does not thrive off of the fear-mongering and finger-pointing shamelessly practiced by the Republican campaign. As proof, take the latest McCain ad which falsely accuses Obama of lying about his relationship with “terrorist Bill Ayers.”
Yet too many Arab Americans still associate with the GOP. And this association may prove disastrous for our future as citizens and members of society.
Along with American Muslims, Arab Americans suffered the consequences of the politics of fear; with increased terror alerts came a decrease in their civil liberties, a blow to their reputation (both at work or in social groups), and sometimes even threats to their personal safety. The fact that Obama does not rely on the played-out terrorist card should be reason enough for Arab Americans to support him.
Here is another:
Last month, the Clarion Fund, a supposedly non-profit organization funded by a $400,000 dollar grant from a “secret donor”, paid 70 newspapers in 14 of America’s swing states to distribute their DVD, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” This is right-wing propaganda similar to that advocated by the McCain campaign advocates.
Among the experts in the film are necons like Daniel Pipes and Walid Shoebat. Clarion, a registered 501 (c) cannot endorse a candidate, but “Obsession’s” message is clear enough: Arabs and Muslims are terrorists who will destroy Israel and the West. More of this information can also be found at Clarion’s website.
That Clarion refused to disclose who its funded by, as required by the IRS, is indicative of the manipulative nature of the information it disseminates. When probed, Rabbi Raphael Shore, Clarion’s founder and the film’s Canadian-Israeli producer, said 80 percent of the money came from Peter Mier – an alias meant to protect the identity of Obsession’s real producer.
On Friday (Oct. 10), Tikun Olam, a liberal Jewish blog, reported that Clarion’s secret donor is NBC Producer and former Clinton Administration adviser on “homeland security issues,” Erik Werth. Why was this information withheld? And what role is Clarion ultimately trying to play in the election? Considering McCain and Palin’s repeated attempts to paint Obama as a “terrorist,” the dots begin to connect themselves.
According to Clarion’s Website, “Obsession is a film about the threat of Radical Islam to Western Civilization. Using unique footage from Arab television, it reveals an insiders view of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination.”
For most Arab Americans, the aforementioned footage is not unique; access to Arab media and political on goings in the Middle East are part of daily life. It is therefore more difficult to fool us into believing “Obsession” was made with the good intention of informing the public, but rather, that it advocates a right-wing militaristic approach to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
It should therefore be harder to convince us to vote for a candidate who shares that view. Yet come Nov. 4, too many Arab Americans may once again vote with their party affiliation. With only three weeks left, I hope they consider how why groups like Clarion want them to vote for McCain.
Last month, free screenings of “Obsession” were held in Dearborn, Michigan, where Arab Americans, overwhelmingly Republican, account for about 5% of the state’s vote. Will this propaganda work on Arab Americans? We’ll have to wait until the election to find out for certain, but I have a feeling most Arabs will see through the propaganda.
One part of the film attempts to compare radical Islamic movements with the German Nazis, through a series of interviews and cut-and -paste footage. Most Arab Americans I know think Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is eerily similar to the Nazis treatment of the Jews. The question remains, come Nov. 4 will most Arab Americans look past the “McCain the Maverick” rhetoric and see his candidacy for what it really is: continuation of the right-wing, militaristic ideology.
“Obsession” is only one example of what we are to continue to expect out of non-government agencies, empowered by a president that shares their views. The Middle East is not aided by policies which produced the unlawful imprisonments of Arabs in Guantanamo and the catastrophe of Iraq. Any of those are enough to remind voters why it’s necessary to avoid a similar fate in the future.
Arab Americans in particular need to realize that voting alongside party lines or voting for a third party candidate only aids the fight against them. In the American right’s mind, the connection between “Arab” and “Radical Islam” is clear, but that connection must be apparent to those of us still considering to vote McCain.