The key for Arab Americans is to become politically active and engaged
Morocco TIMES | 4/6/2006 | Nidal Ibrahim

Posted on 04/20/2006 2:24:36 PM PDT

Nidal Ibrahim 'Only through political engagement Arab Americans could shape debates on US domestic and foreign policies'

The key for Arab Americans is to communicate the fact that once you become politically active and engaged, you can voice your opinion and help shape debates on a number of issues, both foreign and domestic, said the new executive director of the Arab American Institute in Washington (AAI).

After the things that they have accomplished in the EU in just the last 60 days the Mullah’s and Imam’s around the world are ready to embrace democracy in order to further Islam and make way for the antichrist. By shifting the Muslim population around in the EU or in any country they can throw elections their way. As conservatives and Christians are not willing to move to vote we will soon see the power of this.  I foresee that if they would move sufficient numbers into a few key states these Muslims will vote back into power the liberal democrats who for the sake of a few elections would be willing to grant these Muslims the rights of super citizens along with the illegal Mexicans.

The only safeguard we would have left would be the electoral collage that was originally put in place for such and event.

I try to be free here of politics but with what took place in Denmark and the Netherlands in the last two months. It should be a clear signal to what will be on our doorstep shortly.   

Nidal Ibrahim, the new executive director of the
Arab American Institute in Washington (AAI). 

The new AAI director discusses in the following interview the challenges facing the organization, the Arab American community and US foreign policy, and the organization's strategy to get Arab Americans get more involved in politics. The interview was conducted by AAI.

What do you see as your first challenge at the Arab American Institute?

I think the biggest challenge initially will be to convert the vision of the AAI's Strategic Plan into a working structure that allows the Institute to leverage its success over the past 20 years and take the Arab American community forward.

Having said that, I'm also aware that one of the most difficult things I'll be tackling is the need to take the sizeable number of disaffected folks in the Arab American community and mobilize them to act on that dissatisfaction.

As a community we have much to contribute, especially during these difficult times when so much of our nation's policies reflect a disturbing ignorance of the culture and politics of the region. We've spent 20 years building a base for political activism, and our knowledge of the Middle East region's culture and politics is underutilized, so now it's time we helped shape the debate at the local and national levels in ways we never have.

In your opinion, what US foreign policy issue will mobilize the Arab American community most, and what can be done to bring the community into the policy discussion?

I think different issues will mobilize different aspects of the community, depending on their country of origin. The key for us will be to communicate the fact that once you become politically active and engaged as Americans, you can voice your opinion and help shape debates on a number of issues, both foreign and domestic.

Palestine is absolutely important, but so are Lebanon and Iraq, and healthcare and education. That's the point we will need to drive home. Once you get off the couch, a whole world of possibilities opens up.

What is the Institute doing to encourage Arab Americans to get involved in politics?

We encourage Arab Americans – and friends who share our domestic and international concerns – to work with party officials to elect delegates and help define the issues. AAI offers a variety of resources to our constituents including voter guides, congressional scorecards, and voter mobilization materials. Being good Americans defines us, and our participation in politics sends the message that we are part of this country and proud of what we contribute

AAI has committed to a strategic plan as a way of institutionalizing its work over the last 20 years and preparing the community for the next 20 years. What element of the strategic plan, do you think is most vital to enhancing AAI's stature?

The single most important element of the strategic plan will be developing an effective, consistent, long-term communications strategy that allows us to constantly engage Arab Americans across the country.

It's vital that they understand the issues AAI is grappling with in Washington, D.C. and it's equally vital that there be an effective mechanism that allows them to voice their concerns and opinions to us at the national level.

One of the AAI's strengths is its ability to provide timely information and analysis on issues, both in and outside of Washington, DC, that Arab Americans are concerned about.

We'll continue to do that and build on it by developing new products and packaging the information in new ways that will make it more accessible to our members.

I can't stress enough the importance of communication and how information will help to educate and mobilize the national base.

We can't get people to act if we don't adequately explain the issues and the potential consequences in inaction. It's our job to convince Arab Americans that our work is relevant and that it is in their interest to get involved.

Looking ahead, what do you think the Institute needs to do that it isn't already, to get more Arab Americans involved in the US political process?

With our emphasis on improving communications, building on our relationships with the press will be key. The Arab world and Arab Americans have consistently demonstrated a voracious appetite for news about Arab American political activity.

We'll have to work closely with them to identify issues they are following closely and how we can help shape the debate.

Getting Arab Americans involved in the political process has and will continue to be the enduring challenge because this is part of our mission. We've developed some effective mechanisms over the past 20 years to do this, and we'll spend time identifying new ways to engage them and activate them.

One item that comes to mind is our effort to retool the AAI website,, packing it with dynamic, exciting information on how to get involved.

How much time do you plan to devote to outreach in states like Michigan, Florida, and California, where there are large populations of Arab Americans?

AAI has strong relationships with key communities in places like Michigan and Florida. California is a vitally important state for us, and we'll build upon the initial efforts made there last year.

As a former resident of southern California, I'm well aware of the potential strength of that community, and the potential it has to make a real difference.

As we approach the midterm elections in November, AAI will be very active in these key states, and others, to mobilize Arab Americans to participate in the political process. It will be a busy year for us.

What is your professional background?

I came to the US at a young age from Palestine and have lived most of my life here. Professionally, I've worked as a journalist, communications manager and entrepreneur, so I bring a diverse background to my new position.

For the past five years, I've been editor and publisher of Arab American Business Magazine, a publication that I launched in 2000. In that capacity, I gained unique perspectives into the Arab American community, including its relative strengths and weaknesses.

I look forward in my new role to leveraging those strengths to empower the community Arab Americans and I hope my work at AAI enables more Arab Americans to take increasingly visible and active roles in shaping policies and politics.

Morocco Times got the permission of the AAI to publish the following interview.