Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Arab Talk" Brings Up-to-Date News on the Middle East to Bay Area Radio Listeners

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Arab Talk" Brings Up-to-Date News on the Middle East to Bay Area Radio Listeners

Article excerpt

TWO YEARS after the debut broadcast of "Arab Talk with Jess and Jamal," the program has garnered an increasing number of loyal San Francisco listeners. Airing Thursdays at 2 p.m. on 89.5 FM KPOO public radio station, the one-hour program features up-to-date Middle East news, interviews with reporters on the ground as well as in the station's Divisadaro Street studio, and offers a call-in line for listeners' questions or comments.

Featured guest on the June 21 broadcast was Washington Report staff photographer-and this reporter's husband-Phil Pasquini, who discussed his recent trip to the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem (see story p. 14).

Since Pasquini's visit unexpectedly coincided with a period of intense fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza, co-host Jess Ghannam asked him to describe the mood of the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area at that time. "Generally, I found people just wanted to live their lives-to get along from day to day," he said. "Unfortunately, on the West Bank, the people are on a subsistence level of existence. They're worried about money to buy food for their children. Because of the wall and checkpoints, they're virtual prisoners-they can't leave."

Regarding the January 2006 elections, Pasquini noted, "Almost everyone I spoke to said they had voted for Hamas [to bring about] change. They were fed up with Fatah and wanted something different."

Co-host Jamal Dajani, a producer at San Francisco's Link TV, asked about the economic conditions in Bethlehem. "Dr. Victor Batarseh, Bethlehem's mayor, told me unemployment had now reached almost 70 percent," Pasquini said.

Ghannam, chief of medical psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, commented that economically suppressed people become disenfranchised for many years and decades.

The hosts concluded their broadcast with a discussion on President George W. Bush's failed foreign policy. "A policy of knee-jerk reactions," Dajani opined. "It's about maintaining perpetual chaos in the Middle East."

Community Groups Honor CAIR-SV Director Basim Elkarra

Unlike Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who reneged on her support for Basim Elkarra (see April 2007 Washington Report, p. 50), Sacramento-based civic organizations have no misgivings about their continued backing of the executive director of CAIR-Sacramento Valley (CAIR-SV).

At the May 5 Annual Dragon Boat Festival Banquet of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Sacramento Chapter, Elkarra received special recognition for his courage and outstanding leadership in bridging the gaps among Sacramento's diverse communities.

California State Controller John Chiang also awarded the Muslim-American activist a Certificate of Special Recognition "for invaluable contributions toward outstanding leadership and service to the Sacramento community."

In addition, the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus presented Elkarra with Members Resolution No. 52604, recognizing him for his outstanding leadership and service to the Sacramento community and the State of California.

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Northern California Western Nevada Pacific (NCWNP) District honored the CAIR leader for his "exemplary contributions to civil and human rights after 9/11."

In recognition of his civil rights work and advocacy for worker and immigrant rights in California, Elkarra was given the Un-Sung Hero Award from the Harry Truman Club. …

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