MORE DAMAGING ANTI-PALESTINIAN INITIATIVES SURFACE IN CONGRESS
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) held a press briefing to announce new legislation he was introducing to cut all U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until Arafat "halts the destruction of the Temple Mount." In a press release and accompanying position paper distributed at the event, Cantor touted his bizarre campaign "to stop Palestinian Talibanism in Jerusalem" and also pledged to fight "all efforts to create a Palestinian state" and "strong-arm Israel into sacrificing its land." Cantor, a first term representative from the Richmond area, has had an abysmal record on the Middle East to date. Cantor was also joined by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who added that the U.S. should "shuffle off" with its honest broker status and stand firmly behind Israel. Meanwhile, the full U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on the FY 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which contains additional anti-Palestinian language.
NEW TRUTHS EMERGE ON CAMP DAVID AND BEYOND
With recent passage of the one-year anniversary of the failed Camp David summit, there has been renewed speculation on what went wrong in U.S. peacemaking efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. To this point, pro-Israel sources had been largely successful in conveying the idea that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was solely to blame for the collapse of the Camp David talks and ensuing outbreak of violence. However, several noteworthy articles have appeared in the national press recently that dispel these myths. Robert Malley, President Clinton's special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs, has written two op-eds that dispute the widespread view, for example, that Israel's offer last year met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations. Furthermore, the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department has put out a series of "questions and answers" about the inadequacies of Israeli proposals at Camp David and a group of Israeli peace activists have also illustrated the fallacies of Barak's so called "generous offer". AAI has posted all of these articles, documents and maps on its Web site under the section "Worth Reading". Check it out at www.aaiusa.org/newsandviews/worthreading/index.html.
FLURRY OF FACES FILL IN PRIME POLITICAL POSTS
Perhaps in partial response to the mounting pressure for the Bush Administration and Congress to round out key political slots, a number of new appointees were named and confirmed recently. On the ambassadorial level, Daniel Kurtzer was confirmed to be U.S. ambassador to Israel and Robert Jordan was nominated for the top post in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, James Larocco has assumed temporary control of the Middle East portfolio at the State Department, replacing Richard Roth. Unfortunately, Doug Feith, a nominee for a high level position at the Pentagon, was also confirmed last week by the Senate. AAI had raised serious questions about his past associations and virulent anti-Arab views. For an updated table of political appointments in the Bush Administration and their positions on issues of concern to Arab Americans, log onto www.aaiusa.org/capitalwatch/appointees.html.
ARAB AMERICANS MEET IN NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY AND VIRGINIA
AAI hosted a series of community meetings this week in states with key upcoming elections to discuss community voter registration and mobilization efforts. New York city mayoral candidate Peter Vallone and New Jersey gubernatorial hopeful Bret Schundler have agreed to meet with members of the local communities. However, the controversy involving campaign contributions from a local American Muslim organization has apparently been resurrected by a group of Jewish backers of candidate Jim McGreevey after meeting with him earlier this week. McGreevey reportedly said after the meeting that he felt the American Muslim Alliance supported "inappropriate violence" and he would not attend any event the group sponsors. For more information on how to become more involved contact Abdallah al-Zuabi at email@example.com.
by Andrew Barwig, Policy Director
Arab American Institute
1600 K Street, NW Suite 601
Washington, DC 20006
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