Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab-American Activism

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab-American Activism

Article excerpt


Ohio Arab Americans Successfully Oppose Israeli Bond Investment

A coalition of Ohio Arab Americans, including local chapter members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab American Political Caucus of Ohio (AAPCO), have succeeded in persuading the Ohio state legislature to rewrite State Bill 64 (S.B. 64). As originally written by Ohio Senate President Stanley J. Aronoff (R-Cincinnati) and passed by the state senate, S.B. 64 would have allowed the state treasurer's office to invest public funds in Israeli Development Corporation bonds. The bill, still pending in the Ohio House of Representatives at this writing, no longer contains any specific mention of Israel and limits to only one percent the amount of money from the state's inactive portfolio that may be invested in foreign bonds.

Seventy people attended a May 21 hearing before the Ohio House State Government Committee, with 19 testifying in opposition to the bill. Only two people testified in favor of the bill at a similar hearing on May 12. Commenting on the May 21 hearing, ADC President Albert Mokhiber said "the fact that Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, and Americans of European descent from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Youngs-town and other parts of Ohio took time off from work and school to tell lawmakers in person that they did not want their tax dollars invested overseas should be a glaring signal to those invested with the public trust."

According to a June 3 article in the Columbus Dispatch, Arab Americans "complained that Ohio taxpayers' money ought to be invested in Ohio to help the state economy, that Israeli bonds are risky investments and that by buying them Ohio could be perceived as supporting human rights violations in the Middle East."

The Arab American Institute (AAI) and AAPCO commissioned a public opinion poll showing 71.9 percent of those registered voters polled were opposed to the Israeli bond legislation. In addition, 43.3 percent of those polled said they would be less likely to support the re-election of Governor George Voinovich if he signed the legislation into law.

Los Angeles Arab-American Experience Focus of Cornerstone Theater Production

Cornerstone Theater Company is collaborating with the Los Angeles-based Arab arts organization Al-Funun Al-Arabiya in a four-month residency project with Arab Americans of greater Los Angeles. The residency will culminate with the premiere of "Ghurba," a play which will explore and celebrate the Arab experience in Los Angeles. The production will be presented at UCLA Sept. 9-26 as part of the Los Angeles Festival.

Directed by Los Angeles writer-director Shishir Kurup, "Ghurba" will be performed in English and Arabic, and its text will blend classic and contemporary literature with oral histories drawn from interviews with members of the Arab community. The play will also examine perceptions and stereotypes, the role of women, and sustaining traditions and cultural identity.

"This community is unlike any our company has worked with before," Cornerstone Artistic Director Bill Rauch says. "The half-million Arabs in the L.A. area are highly dispersed yet share profound cultural ties. They're Muslims, Christians and Druze from North Africa to Saudi Arabia, and they occupy every strata of L.A. life."

Auditions, open to all, with or without previous theatrical experience, will be held July 6-11 throughout the Los Angeles area. …

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