Publisher of leading Arab American newspaper ‘shows Biden’s campaign manager the door’

Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News. (Video grab)
Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News. (Video grab)
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Updated 27 January 2024
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Publisher of leading Arab American newspaper ‘shows Biden’s campaign manager the door’

Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News. (Video grab)
  • Osama Siblani rebuffs efforts to win back support for president from Arab and Muslim voters in Michigan, says Biden will not be forgiven for failure to halt killing of civilians in Gaza
  • Accuses Secretary of State Antony Blinken of being ‘extreme in his support and defense of Israel’ but ‘muted in his response’ to carnage in Gaza

CHICAGO: The national manager of US President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign was “shown the door” on Friday following a meeting in Michigan that lasted an hour and 45 minutes with the publisher of one of the most influential Arab newspapers in America.

Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News, said Julie Chavez Rodriguez and other members of the Biden campaign team were seeking to “repair the damage” caused by the president’s one-sided support of Israel’s indiscriminate campaign of bombing and carnage in Gaza.

After attacks by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 Israelis, the Israeli government launched a military operation that has so far killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, women and children, according to figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry, and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

“Yes, they came in today, led by Biden’s national campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez,” said Siblani, whose newspaper holds tremendous sway over the large Arab, Muslim and progressive Democratic voting base in Michigan.

“She wanted to talk about how to restore Arab and Muslim support for Biden and I showed them the door.

“She said she wanted to listen. It was her first visit to Michigan. I told them we feel betrayed. He (Biden) took our votes and betrayed us and gave us the finger. And that is not going to happen again in 2024. We will not vote for him.”

Rodriguez was accompanied during the meeting at Siblani’s office in the city of Dearborn by Rep. Debbie Dingell and Ed Duggan, the son of Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit and Biden’s campaign manager in Detroit.

Siblani said he was “polite but forceful” in conveying the “utter anger and disappointment and betrayal” felt by Arab and Muslim voters about Biden’s policies, not only in Michigan but across America.

“This is how Arabs and Muslims feel across the country,” he said. “This is a generation that is determined to make a difference in the election. We are not alone. We have Americans from all aspects of life who are with us, even Jewish Americans.

“This is bigger than the Arab community. This is formidable. We are not going to let it go. We are going to punish him and we are going defeat him in the election. This is national. I said everything is not fine and dandy. Everything is not fine and good. He has to be better than Jesus and he can’t be.”

The Arab community does not believe Biden is leading American foreign policy, Siblani said, as he highlighted the fallout from flawed policies on Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

He laid the blame at the feet of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, accusing him of being “extreme in his support and defense of Israel” but “muted in his response” to the escalating Israeli violence and carnage in Gaza.

“Blinken is running the show,” said Siblani. “He’s the one who is driving this policy and carnage of Gaza. He has not stopped it. He has stood with Israel, defended Israel and not held them accountable.”

Siblani said opinions among Arab and Muslim communities across the country are consistent and determined, and they “don’t care” who might benefit if Biden loses the presidential election in November.

“The Arab and Muslim community is not going to change about this,” he added. “They feel bad, very bad. We have a generation of American Muslims and Arab Americans who feel they need to punish Joe Biden and that is what we are going to do at the election.

“It doesn’t matter who benefits from this or which candidate might win. Who else is not our problem. We voted for (Biden) in 2020. We got him elected. We’re not going to do that again.”

Arab and Muslim leaders across America has rallied behind an “Abandon Biden” campaign amid anger over his perceived failure to stand up for justice and accountability in the Israeli war on Gaza.

Siblani predicted the effects of this national campaign, and the simmering anger among Arabs and Muslims about what they view as Biden’s failures and Blinken’s policies, will be felt by Democrats “up and down the election ballot.”

He added: “We are not going to vote for anyone that Biden supports.”

Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 electoral college votes compared with the 232 that went to Donald Trump. A certain number of electoral college votes are assigned to each state based on its population, and they normally go to the candidate that wins the popular public vote. If Biden was to loses 37 or more of the electoral college votes he received four years ago, he would lose the election.

Michigan, where Biden won the popular vote in 2020 by a relatively narrow margin of 154,188 votes, has 16 electoral college votes up for grabs.

If he was to lose Michigan in November, and either two or three, depending on the number of electoral college votes, of the other swing states he won in 2020, he would lose the 2024 election, said Siblani, adding that the Arab and Muslim votes in these states are strong.

Biden won four swing states by small margins: Arizona (which has 11 electoral college votes) by 10,457 votes; Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes) by 20,682 votes; Georgia (16 electoral college votes) by 11,779 votes; and Nevada (six electoral college votes) by 33,596 votes.

In addition, Minnesota, which Biden won by 233,012 votes, and has 10 electoral college votes, has a significantly large Arab and Muslim population.

 

 


Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
Updated 27 May 2024
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Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
  • Magazine faced backlash on social media for appeared attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity

LONDON: Vanity Fair France was forced to issue an apology for digitally removing a Palestinian pin worn by actor Guy Pearce at the Cannes Film Festival.

On May 21, Vanity Fair published an article featuring several photographs of celebrities attending the festival. Among these was a portrait of Pearce wearing a black Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo.

Social media users quickly noticed that a pin of the Palestinian flag seen on his left lapel in other images had been removed.

Journalist Ahmed Hathout was one of the first to highlight the alteration, tweeting: “So Guy Pearce showed solidarity with Palestine at Cannes by wearing a pin and Vanity Fair decided to photoshop it out. Little did they know the bracelet was also of the Palestinian flag colors.”

The French subsidiary of the American magazine faced significant backlash on social media for what appeared to be an attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity.

One user, @DarkSkyLady, tweeted: “Can we finally admit many of these outlets are propaganda-mouthpieces for colonialism and white supremacy?”

Another user, @Joey_Oey89, commented: “Reminder to unfollow and mute Vanity Fair. They smear celebs who take a stand against genocide and have made their stance clear.”

Responding to the criticism, Vanity Fair France posted an apology under Hathout’s tweet: “Good evening. We mistakenly published a modified version of this photo on the website. The original version was published on Instagram on the same day. We have rectified our error and apologize.”

The article on the magazine’s website now displays the unaltered image.

Pearce was among many celebrities at the prestigious festival who expressed solidarity with Palestine amid Israel’s brutal assault and seige on Gaza.

Other notable figures included actors Cate Blanchett and Pascale Kann, supermodel Bella Hadid, Indian actress Kani Kusrut, French actress Leila Bekhti, and Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir.
 


Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
Updated 27 May 2024
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Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
  • The Atlantic’s writer Graeme Wood suggested that in certain scenarios killing of children can be legally justifiable
  • Campaign group condemned the piece, calling the The Atlantic’s stance on the issue ‘egregious’

LONDON: The Atlantic has ignited a wave of online criticism after publishing an article arguing that “it is possible to kill children legally” in Gaza.

Titled “The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense,” the opinion piece by staff writer Graeme Wood questioned the accuracy of the UN’s civilian death toll numbers from the Israeli war on Gaza.

Wood suggested that the UN’s statistics were unreliable, claiming they are sourced from Hamas.

“The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond ‘a lot.’ It gets its statistics from Hamas,” the piece read.

Wood, known for his skeptical stance toward Hamas and Palestine since the conflict erupted last October, controversially suggested that in certain scenarios, the killing of children can be legally justifiable.

Despite acknowledging that “even when conducted legally, war is ugly,” Wood argued, “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one,” he wrote.

The article sparked a significant online backlash, with the campaign group Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) condemning The Atlantic for the article.

“Eight months into the genocide and western media is still manufacturing consent for Zionism,” the group wrote in a post on X on Sunday.

“Defending child murder is egregious; but @TheAtlantic has historically defended imperial bloodshed,” WAWOG added.

Users took to social media to express their frustration over the article, with some questioning the legality of Wood’s claim and calling his choice of words “disgusting.”

“‘A legally killed child’ is a phrase I never imagined I would read in my lifetime,” wrote Lebanese political activist and musician Peter Daou on X.

Others have also called for canceling their subscriptions to The Atlantic.

The backlash comes as Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday, hitting tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with reports that people were “burning alive.”

These attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, described by the UNRWA as “horrifying.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, the death toll in Gaza has neared 36,000 people, with the vast majority being children and women.


Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
Updated 27 May 2024
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Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
  • Youth ‘can craft a better future for us all,’ says Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
  • Praises Gulf leaders ‘who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election’

DUBAI: Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs, delivered a sharply defined message to Arab youth and their custodians.

In a speech at the Arab Media Summit, Al-Khalifa echoed the words of former US President John F. Kennedy, saying: “For a better world and a prosperous country, one must ask themselves what I can do for my country rather than what can my country do for me.

“The youth, which make up over 60 percent of our citizens today, is very different than previous generations. They have become the driving force behind certain industries and have taken to adopting certain causes that will craft a better future for us all.

“They are engaged in political and civil societies more than ever before throughout history. They have even managed to become successful in sectors such as journalism, social media in forms of content, podcasts and also showing sharp wit in investments and trade.”

Al-Khalifa, who served in a military academy, said he carries the academy’s message of “in order to serve, you must lead” throughout his life and policies.

 “While challenges can occur, as it did during the COVID pandemic, which affected not only economies but personal lives as well, it was a lesson to be learned. We came out of it, and we are at a better place now.

“Challenges are opportunities. Some folk lost a lot during the pandemic, while others progressed, and the difference between the two is that one seized the opportunity to create and further themselves. while others remained still.”

On the subject of open borders and one being a “global citizen,” Al-Khalifa urged the youth and their elders to continue to strive, travel, experience and learn, but to maintain a “moral direction that connects and centers you to who you are: an Arab.”

He added: “We are an Arab ummah, and what does that mean? It is a legacy, it is victories, accomplishments, values that we have carried and learned from our forefathers that we continue to build on today. To take on Western concepts such as ‘global citizen,’ one can be lost. Our identity is Arab first and foremost.

“Our religion, Islam, urged us to read, learn and engage. And that is what we do with other countries as we both compete and cooperate with them.

“Know who you are and where your roots lie. Some societies have become fragmented due to their abandonment of their values. Nowadays, we have Westerners who are enrolling their children in our schools to keep them centered and away from social and moral confusion.

“While it is valid and important to ride the new wave in terms of technology and progress of open borders to make our countries better, I urge fathers and mothers to continue to stress on an upbringing that focuses identity and positive moral values.

“We want to invest in our youth. It is important that they feel seen, valued, trusted and supported and wanted. If we do that, then their stock will never plummet. They are half of our present and all of our future.”

He concluded his speech by saying how blessed the Gulf is to have leaders “who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election,” and offered a prayer to the lives lost in Gaza.


Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth
Updated 27 May 2024
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Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

DUBAI: The annual Arab Media Forum launched in Dubai on Monday for a three-day summit involving media leaders and executives from across the region.

This year’s forum is geared toward youth, focusing on arming the next generation of journalists and media professionals with the tools and know-how to thrive in the ever-growing industry in the Arab world.

For the past two decades, the forum has brought together regional and international speakers to discuss the industry’s challenges and impact on Arab societies.

More than 1,000 creative and media students are expected to attend, along with prominent Arab personalities, content creators and global media industry leaders taking part in a range of panel discussions and master classes.

Notable speakers include Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the king’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs in Bahrain; and Dr. Sultan Al-Neyadi, the UAE’s minister of state for youth affairs.

Monday’s schedule includes master classes on Meta, tools for storytelling, interactive media, as well as building personal brands.

Panels and discussions on the opening day cover sports media, the art of directing and redefining storytelling.

Tuesday and Wednesday will feature discussions on key political, economic and technological developments by media personalities, editors in chief, writers and experts from the region and around the world.

The forum will close with an awards ceremony recognizing content creators and journalists in a range of categories.


Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
Updated 27 May 2024
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Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
  • One in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video
  • Grim trend on the rise with US worst offender, University of Edinburgh’s researchers says

LONDON: More than 300 million children a year are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse, according to the first global estimate of the scale of the problem published on Monday.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that one in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video in the past 12 months.
That amounts to about 302 million young people, said the university’s Childlight Global Child Safety Institute, which carried out the study.
There have been a similar number of cases of solicitation, such as unwanted sexting and requests for sexual acts by adults and other youths, according to the report.
Offences range from so-called sextortion, where predators demand money from victims to keep images private, to the abuse of AI technology to create deepfake videos and pictures.
The problem is worldwide but the research suggests the United States is a particularly high-risk area, with one in nine men there admitting to online offending against children at some point.
“Child abuse material is so prevalent that files are on average reported to watchdog and policing organizations once every second,” said Childlight chief executive Paul Stanfield.
“This is a global health pandemic that has remained hidden for far too long. It occurs in every country, it’s growing exponentially, and it requires a global response,” he added.
The report comes after UK police warned last month about criminal gangs in West Africa and Southeast Asia targeting British teenagers in sextortion scams online.
Cases — particularly against teenage boys — are soaring worldwide, according to non-governmental organizations and police.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) issued an alert to hundreds of thousands of teachers telling them to be aware of the threat their pupils might face.
The scammers often pose as another young person, making contact on social media before moving to encrypted messaging apps and encouraging the victim to share intimate images.
They often make their blackmail demands within an hour of making contact and are motivated by extorting as much money as possible rather than sexual gratification, the NCA said.