Pro-Israel groups ignore US voters’ needs, trying to ‘buy’ Michigan elections, says daughter of Palestinian immigrants

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Updated 21 July 2022

Pro-Israel groups ignore US voters’ needs, trying to ‘buy’ Michigan elections, says daughter of Palestinian immigrants

Pro-Israel groups ignore US voters’ needs, trying to ‘buy’ Michigan elections, says daughter of Palestinian immigrants
  • Democratic Party congressional candidate Huwaida Arraf decries AIPAC’s ‘lies’ and insults, and big-money campaigns
  • Affordable healthcare and lower taxes are critical issues for American workers, argues civil rights attorney

Civil rights attorney Huwaida Arraf told Arab News Wednesday she is determined to address the “real issues” facing voters to overcome personal and false attacks, and big-money campaigns, from pro-Israel political action committees seeking to block her from winning the Democratic Party nomination for congress in Michigan’s 10th District.

Arraf is being targeted by negative ads worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, funded by pro-Tel Aviv PACs coordinated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has this year spent more than $12 million mostly attacking candidates who question or challenge Israel’s policies.

This past Tuesday in Maryland’s Democratic primary election, AIPAC-affiliated groups channeled more than $6 million to defeat former Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards in a wave of negative ads because during her past decade in congress she sought to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

Similarly, Arraf is facing a wave of negative ads funded by AIPAC-affiliated PACs focused on Michigan’s Democratic Primary on Aug. 2. But she believes most voters see past AIPAC’s “vitriol and their lies” and are responding to her message which addresses core issues that mean more to them than the politics of a foreign country.

Arraf said AIPAC is trying to “buy the election” to protect their interests in Israel, a foreign country, rather than address “the real needs” of voters who live in America.

 

 

“I am fighting to make this government and economy work for working people. We have a structure that is largely due to the influence of big money in politics. And AIPAC obviously falls into that. With their millions of dollars they try to buy politicians and that is why we see a lot of members of congress, unfortunately, blindly voting in support of Israel,” Arraf explained during an appearance on The Ray Hanania Radio Show.

“And I am talking to voters about the need to get big money out of politics so that we can make this government and economy work for them. When we are talking about why people don’t have healthcare. Why 40 percent of Americans newly diagnosed with cancer lose their entire life savings within two years because they can’t pay for the treatment that they need. Or you have an illness or an accident and you are worried about bankruptcy. Why we can’t guarantee healthcare. You are talking about big insurance companies and the influence of their money in politics. Why we are so overcharged for prescription drugs and life-saving drugs. That is the pharmaceutical companies.

“Why we are not cleaning up our air and water. You are talking about fossil fuels and the coal companies. People feel very much and are very cynical unfortunately about the elections. Who are these people representing (us) in elections? Are they representing us or are they representing those buying them or who are writing them the big checks?”

Arraf said the influence of big money is “destroying” American democracy and must be stopped.

A Christian Palestinian and mother of two young children whose immigrant father was a UAW worker in Detroit’s motor industry, Arraf is seeking to strengthen support among the large population of Christian Arabs and Chaldean Middle East Christians who constitute a large pocket of voters in the 10th District, which is considered a 50-50 Democratic and Republican district.

She said that when voters can hear her message above the attacks funded by AIPAC, voters are more sympathetic and supportive of her candidacy.

 

 

“I have been trying to motivate more people to support. And as you say, our community has been slow to come on and support for a variety of reasons, unfortunately. So, it has been a struggle getting the resources to be able to do the voter outreach,” Arraf conceded.

“But one of the things that has been very interesting is we ran a poll a couple of months ago. And that poll showed that if the election was today and voters were just going by name, this opponent that I have would win by double digits. He would beat me and everybody else. Because everybody knows his name.

“But then we read to the voter everybody’s biographies and their issues and then I move ahead slightly of this person. And then we read (to) the voters positives and negatives about everyone. For me, I included negatives like all of the horrible things that AIPAC and the like throw at me that I am antisemitic or that I am a terrorist supporter, all of these lies because they probably hear them.

“And at the end of the poll when we repolled everyone, I actually beat this guy, the considered front runner who has the name recognition. I beat him by 11 points. That shows you that my message resonates with people if they hear it, if we can reach them. And the attacks against me for my Palestine work … don’t lose me very much support because of this district.”

The 10th District is officially 78 percent White. But because Arabs are not included in the US Census there is no way to estimate the size of the Arab and Muslim community in the district.

The district, Arraf said, has a sizeable Chaldean voter population.

 

 

“But there is a very strong Arab presence here. Arabic has become now, according to a recent article that I have seen, the second most common language spoken after English in the house. And we have at least in one of the cities here almost a third of the population is Chaldean. So, Chaldean(s) and Arabs make up a sizable portion of this district. Not like Dearborn but it could get there and we are definitely expanding when we are sharing the culture, and we have a lot more Mediterranean places popping up,” Arraf said.

“But one thing that I see and I talk about a lot, is, then why are we not, why isn’t anyone talking about the power of the Arab or Middle Eastern vote? Every election cycle we hear about the power of the African American vote and the Jewish vote and the Latino vote. At least in Michigan, make them give us (Arabs and Middle Eastern people) some consideration by showing that we get out there and we vote. And that has been the struggle, part of the struggle with this race, at least, knowing that there are a lot of Arabs and Chaldeans in this district but they might not get out there and vote. And that is something that we have to work on.”

Lower taxes, better healthcare and wanting human rights are not partisan issues, Arraf argued. “My message is universal and voters who are not blindly pro-Israel can see that,” she said.

Arraf acknowledged that the Arab community is “very generous” when it comes to doing humanitarian work, but they are still far from the political level of the pro-Israel community which funds millions for their own causes.

 

 

“With regard to the Chaldean community and the Arab American community as a whole, I know that we are successful in business and in many different areas of life, but we are not represented in politics. We need more of our voices in order to be more integrated into this society, in order to have people that understand our issues and who can fight for our issues,” Arraf said.

“There is this misconception that Republicans are better for business. I am a supporter of small businesses that many Chaldeans and Arab Americans have here. A big proponent of not only incentivizing small businesses and especially when we are talking about minority communities starting small businesses. But also in leveling the playing field because we have so many mega-corporations here and monopolies that are squeezing out our small businesses and we need to fight that and I will.”

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington D.C. including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.


Students protest campus lockdown as China eases Covid curbs

Students protest campus lockdown as China eases Covid curbs
Updated 06 December 2022

Students protest campus lockdown as China eases Covid curbs

Students protest campus lockdown as China eases Covid curbs

BEJING: Students protested against a lockdown at a university in eastern China, highlighting continued anger as huge numbers of people across the country still face restrictions despite the government easing its zero-Covid policy.
Some Chinese cities have begun tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement following nationwide anti-lockdown demonstrations last week.
But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.
China’s vast security apparatus has moved swiftly to smother the rallies, deploying a heavy police presence while boosting online censorship and surveillance.
Videos published on social media Tuesday and geolocated by AFP show a crowd of students at Nanjing Tech University on Monday night shouting demands to leave the campus.
“Your power is given to you by students, not by yourselves,” one person can be heard shouting in the footage. “Serve the students!“
A third-year student who asked to remain anonymous confirmed the protest took place, a day after the school announced it would seal off the campus for five days because of just one Covid case.
Chinese universities have restricted movement for months, with many requiring students to apply for permission to leave the campus and banning visitors.
The Nanjing Tech student told AFP her peers were unhappy about poor communication from the university and worried they would be blocked from traveling home for the winter holidays.
In the footage, the crowd can be seen arguing with university representatives and shouting for school leaders to step down.
“If you touch us you will become the second Foxconn!” one protester yells in reference to violent demonstrations last month in central China at a factory run by the Taiwanese tech giant that supplies Apple.
Other clips showed a police car arriving on the scene and university officials promising students they would compile their complaints in a file.
The Nanjing protest comes days after people took to the streets in multiple Chinese cities urging an end to the zero-Covid policy, with some even calling for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down.
Hundreds gathered at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua and Peking universities at the end of last month as well as on campuses in the cities of Xi’an, Guangzhou and Wuhan.


Authorities have cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while appearing to answer some demands by easing a number of restrictions.
On Tuesday Beijing said offices and commercial buildings including supermarkets would no longer require visitors to show proof of a negative test.
Major businesses and organizers of large-scale events will be allowed to devise their own testing requirements, authorities said.
Xie Shangguang, a 22-year-old student in Beijing, welcomed the changes as “good news” and told AFP he felt the capital was “coming back to life.”
“I have the impression that it will gradually ease up,” he said. “You can’t let everything go at once, or block everything at once, you have to proceed step by step.”
Another Beijing resident, 28-year-old Wu Siqi, also said the loosening should be incremental.
“You can’t just suddenly tell people they don’t need to do anything,” she said.
A host of other cities including Shanghai have dialled down mass testing mandates in recent days.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, officials began telling people to stay home if they have symptoms — a sharp about-turn from the previous approach of dragging all positive cases to central quarantine facilities.


Rwanda says international community not helping Congo crisis

Rwanda says international community not helping Congo crisis
Updated 06 December 2022

Rwanda says international community not helping Congo crisis

Rwanda says international community not helping Congo crisis
  • Congolese Tutsi group resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, setting off a crisis in eastern DRC

KIGALI: Rwanda’s foreign minister has accused the international community of exacerbating the crisis the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east, after Washington pressed Kigali to end its alleged support for rebels in the restive region.
In a call to Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said foreign support for armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must end, “including Rwanda’s assistance to M23.”
Rwanda has denied repeated US-backed accounts of support for the M23 rebel group, an allegation also made by independent experts for the UN who found that Kigali was aiding and abetting the group.
The mostly Congolese Tutsi group resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, setting off a crisis in eastern DRC.
Rwanda’s foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, said Kagame and Blinken “had good discussions... but differences in understanding of the issue remain.”
“The wrong and misguided approach of the international community continues to exacerbate the problem,” Biruta said in a statement late Monday.
“External interference and dictates” were undermining regional diplomatic efforts to solve the problem, he added.
Rwanda has repeatedly put the blame for DRC’s crisis with its government in Kinshasa, and accuses the international community of turning a blind eye to its support for FDLR, a Congo-based rebel group pitted against Kigali.
Biruta said “the security concerns of Rwanda need to be addressed, and where others may not feel obliged to, Rwanda is and will continue to do so.”
“M23 should not be equated to Rwanda. It is not Rwanda’s problem to solve,” he added.
Talks between DRC and Rwanda in the Angolan capital Luanda unlocked a truce agreement on November 23 but Kinshasa has subsequently accused M23 of massacring civilians despite the cease-fire.
The agreement should have also have been followed by a pullout by the M23 from territory it had seized, but this has not happened.
A separate peace initiative in Nairobi between East African officials and various rebel factions active in eastern Congo — but not the M23 — has been under way for over a week.


Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif
Updated 06 December 2022

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif

Roadside bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif
  • Tuesday’s blast happened near Sayed Abad Square

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan: A roadside bomb killed seven petroleum company employees aboard a bus in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, a provincial police spokesman said.
“The bomb was placed in a cart by the roadside. It was detonated as the bus arrived,” said Asif Waziri, of the Balkh police department in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Although the Taliban claim to have improved security across the nation since storming back to power in August last year, there have been scores of bomb blasts and attacks — many claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh group.
At least 19 people were killed and 24 others wounded earlier this month by a blast at a madrassa in Aybak, southeast of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Waziri told AFP Tuesday’s blast happened around 7:00 am (0230 GMT) near Sayed Abad Square in the city.
He said six people were injured in the blast.
Further details were not immediately available, and there has been no claim of responsibility.


Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings
Updated 06 December 2022

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

Beijing no longer requires COVID test results to enter supermarkets, buildings

BEIJING: China’s capital Beijing no longer requires people that enter supermarkets and commercial buildings to show negative COVID-19 tests on their mobile phones, the city government said in a statement on Tuesday.
However, the city still requires negative test results to enter Internet cafes, schools, bars, KTV lounges, indoor gyms and elderly care institutions.

 


North Korea orders new artillery firings over South’s drills

People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
Updated 06 December 2022

North Korea orders new artillery firings over South’s drills

People watch a report on North Korea's artillery firings, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea 05 December 2022. (EPA)
  • Some of the shells landed in a buffer zone near the sea border
  • South Korea and the United States have also stepped up military drills this year

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea’s military says it has ordered frontline units to conduct artillery firings into the sea for the second consecutive day in a tit-for-tat response to South Korean live-fire drills in an inland border region.
The statement by the North Korean People’s Army’s General Staff came a day after the North fired about 130 artillery rounds into waters near its western and eastern sea boundaries with South Korea in the latest military action raising tensions between the rivals. An unidentified North Korean military spokesperson said the planned artillery firings Tuesday were meant as a warning to the South after the North detected signs of South Korean artillery exercises in the border region.
The South Korean army is conducting live-fire exercises involving multiple rocket launching systems and howitzers in two separate testing grounds in the Cheorwon region, which began on Monday and continues through Wednesday.
North Korea’s military said Monday that it instructed its western and eastern coastal units to fire artillery as a warning after it detected dozens of South Korean projectiles flying southeast from the Cheorwon region.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said those North Korean shells fired fell within the northern side of buffer zones created under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce military tensions and urged the North to abide by the agreement.
It was the first time North Korea has fired weapons into the maritime buffer zones since Nov. 3, when around 80 artillery shells landed within North Korea’s side of the zone off its eastern coast.
North Korea has fired dozens of missiles as it increased its weapons demonstrations to a record pace this year, including multiple tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile system potentially capable of reaching deep into the US mainland, and an intermediate-range missile launched over Japan.
North Korea has also conducted a series of short-range launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets in an angry reaction to an expansion of joint US-South Korea military exercises that North Korea views as rehearsals for a potential invasion.
Experts say North Korea hopes to negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength and force the United States to accept it as a nuclear power. South Korean officials have said North Korea might up the ante soon by conducting its first nuclear test since 2017.