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

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.



Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden
Updated 8 sec ago

Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden
  • Arab News gets exclusive look at #YallaTrump2024 campaign
  • Graphic video targets Biden’s support of Israel’s war on Gaza

Chicago, US: Arab Americans who support Donald Trump’s reelection have set up a new political action committee to strengthen public “understanding” of why he is a better choice than President Joe Biden, and will broadcast a video advertisement claiming the latter has betrayed the community, Arab News has learned exclusively.

The new body, named Arab Americans for a Better America or ABE-PAC, was formed this week following a series of meetings Trump supporters held with community leaders in several cities.

The first meeting was held in Troy, Michigan on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, featuring several speakers including Massad Boulos and his son Michael who is married to Trump’s daughter, Tiffany.

It was co-organized by Bishara Bahbah, the national chairperson of Arab Americans for Trump, an independent organization that is separate from the official Trump campaign. A keynote speaker at the meetings is Trump’s former director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell.

“A new Republican Arab-American political action committee has been formed to support conservative causes and Trump’s reelection,” said Oubai Shahbandar who is coordinating the cross-country meetings between the former president’s supporters and Arab voters.

“It’s called ABE-PAC and we will announce it later this week with a hard-hitting, inaugural video ad that we will be distributing throughout the Arab-American community.”

The new advertisement slams Biden for his “broken promises” and includes an array of images that is meant to depict his support and funding of Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

It features Biden saying: “Who cares about the Arab population.” The two-minute video has graphic images of the carnage in Gaza including the recent bombing of a refugee camp in Rafah that killed many Palestinian women and children.

The advertisement also features references to the growing #AbandonBiden movement which has urged Arab and Muslim voters to reject the US president in key Democratic primary elections and “swing states” where he barely defeated Trump in the 2020 election.

Arab News was given an exclusive look at the campaign video which is built on the slogan #YallaTrump2024 and funded by Republican and conservative Arab Americans from across the US.

Biden and Trump, who won their party election primaries in July and August respectively, will likely face-off in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Voters have expressed skepticism about both candidates, with many Americans saying they are not enthusiastic about their choices.

An IPSOS survey in May revealed that the main issue landscape remains mixed, but any future developments in the war in Gaza are expected to push the needle one way or another.

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
Updated 30 min 47 sec ago

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
  • Cautioned optimism underscores challenges for businesses and policymakers
  • MENA region expected to improve despite regional political tensions

LONDON: The World Economic Forum said on Wednesday that the global economy is poised to improve or remain stable this year, but it also warned of potential dangers stemming from geopolitical and domestic tensions.

“The latest Chief Economists Outlook points to welcome but tentative signs of improvement in the global economic climate,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF.

“This underscores the increasingly complex landscape that leaders are navigating. There is an urgent need for policymaking that not only looks to revive the engines of the global economy but also seeks to put in place the foundations of more inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth.”

The report highlighted that while the proportion of economists who feel optimistic about the economic outlook nearly doubled from the previous survey conducted in January, 97 percent of respondents anticipate that geopolitics will contribute to global economic volatility this year.

Furthermore, 83 percent said domestic politics would be a source of volatility in 2024, a year when nearly half the world’s population will be voting.

Experts predicted a positive outlook for the US and Asian economies, driven by decreasing inflation and robust markets.

The Middle East and North Africa region is also expected to experience moderate growth, with slight improvements since the previous survey, despite unstable political developments due to the ongoing Gaza conflict.

Despite escalating challenges for businesses and policymakers, the report identified technological transformation, artificial intelligence, and the green and energy transitions as key contributors to global growth, also driven by looser or unchanged fiscal and monetary policies.

“Despite some brightening of the near-term growth outlook, the latest results point to growing challenges for businesses and policymakers,” the WEF said in a press release.

“However, the views on the long-term prospects for the global economy are encouraging, with many policy opportunities to boost growth across high and low-income economies.”

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
Updated 29 May 2024

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
  • Advisor to the UAE president says Arab peace initiative underway
  • Israel’s ‘criminal government’ does not reflect ‘values’ of Judaism

DUBAI: Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, says the violence in Gaza has reached “monstrous levels” and called on the international community to find a peaceful solution to the carnage.

Speaking on the final day of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Gargash expressed shock at the scale of the violence in Gaza.

“The targeting of innocents have taken on monstrous levels. We have witnessed wars in Palestine before but never at such a level of monstrosity,” he said. “The region cannot sustain further escalations.”

Gargash reaffirmed that neighboring Arab countries support the Palestinian cause.

“We believe in the cause, our conscience simply will not permit us to abandon our support to Palestine especially in light of the ugliness we see today coming out of Gaza and most recently from Rafah.

“The current right-wing, criminal government in Israel does not equate (to) Jewish values.”

Gargash highlighted the UAE’s continued support for Gaza and said the displacement of Palestinians from “spot to spot” must end.

“Israel is undermining itself with its current policies and actions. We support the establishment of the Palestinian state. We need a clear roadmap to guarantee its independent establishment. If both sides wish to live in peace this is the only way to go.”

He mentioned an ongoing Arab initiative aimed at fostering peace, warning that states must take control of the situation to prevent further chaos.

“While the global conscience has been awakened, we cannot wait for the world,” he noted. “Active steps and initiatives must be taken now or else this will remain a pipe dream.”

Participating in a panel discussion, the Emirati diplomat also accused the international community of double standards.

“Look at the difference of approach between Ukraine and Palestine. Mind you, both are still going through war. The old approaches must go, the current system is not working anymore to solve anything. We need to find new ways and cooperation for a better outcome.”

He urged Arab states to unite and collaborate beyond politics, and added that the UAE was committed to expanding regional ties and mending relations with Iran.

“For the past 12 to 15 years with all the events that happened in the Arab world, we saw it give way to radical ideologies, rise of militias, vacuum powers filled in with outside influences, and ideologies that sprung about opposing healthy nationalism.

“We continue to deal with these problems. We need a better cooperation between Arab states, a willingness to change old, sick module, for the collective betterment of the region.”

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
Updated 29 May 2024

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
  • Slogan stems from WHO director’s comments urging people to pay attention to Rafah following Netanyahu’s evacuation plan
  • Post is believed to be first example of AI-generated viral activist artwork

LONDON: The image “All Eyes on Rafah” has garnered millions of shares in the latest social media solidarity campaign, drawing widespread attention to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The post renewed advocacy efforts following a deadly Israeli airstrike on the city in southern Gaza.

According to Forbes, the slogan appears to have originated from a comment by Rik Peeperkorn, director of the World Health Organization’s Office of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In February, Peeperkorn used the phrase to shift attention toward Rafah after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an evacuation plan for the city ahead of planned attacks targeting what Netanyahu claims are the last remaining strongholds of the militant group Hamas.

By Wednesday morning, the post had surpassed 40 million shares on Instagram, with the hashtag #AllEyesonRafah trending across social media platforms.

The image, believed to be one of the first examples of AI-generated viral activist artwork, depicts tents in a camp arranged to spell out “All Eyes on Rafah.”

The phrase is intended to highlight the plight of Rafah, where local authorities reported the loss of at least 45 civilian lives following an Israeli airstrike on Sunday, which Netanyahu described on Monday as a “tragic mistake.”

Israel has faced international scrutiny for the attack, which is part of a broader offensive by the Israeli army in and around Rafah.

The decision has been widely condemned by world leaders who have urged Israel to halt its invasion in an area where about 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip had sought shelter.

Last Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered an immediate halt to the offensive, a position rejected by Israel.

In an opinion piece in The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, journalist Josh Kaplan described the post as “another vapid, lazy way to say ‘I care,’” arguing that the slogan “is one in the long canon of feel good posts that achieve very little but make the sharer feel, even just for a second, like they’re doing something to help.”

Kaplan wrote: “I understand that there is outrage at the way Israel is conducting its war. The images coming out of Gaza often feel indefensible. But what does sharing an AI image that looks nothing like Gaza actually do?”

He added: “To learn about the conflict and to formulate an opinion that maintains dignity for all sides is something that cannot be accomplished by sharing an Instagram post. All it does is make Israelis, who will have to be involved in any future peace process, feel, yet again, that the world doesn’t care about their suffering.”

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
Updated 29 May 2024

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
  • Bloomberg News reports that US special envoy requested big tech to designate a policy team member to address the issue, publicly report trends
  • Deborah Lipstadt also asked to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews

LONDON: The Biden administration is urging big technology companies to ramp up efforts to curb antisemitic content on their platforms, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.
Representatives from companies including Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok and X met on Thursday with US special envoy Deborah Lipstadt to monitor and combat antisemitism.
Lipstadt requested that each company designate a policy team member to address the issue and conduct training for key personal to identify antisemitism and publicly report trends in anti-Jewish content.
“We welcomed this convening and were pleased to come together to share facts about the ongoing steps TikTok takes on this important issue and to continue to learn from experts in the room,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta and X did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Countries around the world have seen a rise in antisemitism following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and subsequent bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.
The companies have not yet agreed to voluntary moves, but the administration is hopeful they will act soon, Lipstadt told Bloomberg News.
The administration is also requesting staff training in order to help identify more implicit antisemitic messages on online platforms and to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews, Lipstadt added.