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Yalla Change
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2011 was a year of progress and hope in the Arab World, while the United States pursued policies that were increasingly threatening to the Arab American community. Tunisians and Egyptians are exercising newfound voting rights, and we, as Americans, must practice our own voting rights in the 2012 elections. People in the Arab world and here in the United States have made their voices matter by demanding their rights, and no longer can leaders ignore those voices. Now, as we head into an election year, we must be more determined than ever to respond to the global climate for change with real change here at home. Yalla Change can be a vehicle for that transformation.

Failure to Change

For the better part of the past decade, our country's leadership did grave damage across the Middle East, negatively impacting not only the peoples of that region but relations between the Arab world and the United States. In particular, we note America's role in two highly destructive wars, our government’s continued willingness to use torture and execution, and the tacit approval of Israeli practices that have prolonged the suffering of the Palestinian people. Even at home, we see legislation aimed at profiling Arab and Muslim Americans, gutting basic constitutional protections, and heightening the climate of fear and hostility that has amplified the current wave of Islamophobia.

 Instead of capitalizing on this opportunity for change, Washington has continued to pursue the failed policies of the past. Our withdrawal from UNESCO demonstrated an unwillingness to protect American interests in the face of entrenched political alliances. Racial, ethnic and religious profiling is still utilized by law enforcement, when in fact it is a dangerous waste of resources. Leading presidential candidates are calling for greater U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, while continuing the campaign of incitement against Islam and America's Muslim community.

Moving Forward

Yalla Change is a national campaign to energize and empower Arab Americans and their allies during the year leading up to the 2012 elections. Efforts to challenge the political culture of Washington and the media have been repeatedly rebuffed by those who do not want change and who benefit from the continuation of an unacceptable and dangerous status quo. We must challenge our candidates and Congress to restore America’s commitment to civil liberties and transform our relationship with the Middle East. We must mobilize the Arab American vote, encourage Arab American political leadership and educate our communities on the issues that are important to us. For the future of our community and the future of our country, we must make our voices heard, an effort that begins with Yalla Change.

Our Goals

We believe the change we must work for begins at home. We are committed to playing our part through the implementation of our five action tracks. You can help be a part of the Yalla Change movement:

- America must better understand the Arab World and its people. Our polling shows that most Americans still cannot find Iraq on a map, do not know basic facts about Arab history and culture, and hold disturbingly negative views about the Islamic faith. We are committed to closing this knowledge gap. We will work with student organizations and community groups to hold teach-ins across the US on college campuses and before civic groups to provide a basic understanding of Arab history, culture, and the needs and aspirations of the Arab people.

- America must end the civil rights abuses of Arab Americans and American Muslims, because once the Constitution’s enumerated rights are weakened for one group, all Americans are threatened. Therefore, we are dedicated to holding town hall meetings and hearings to expose the abuses and injustices of the Patriot Act, the Department of Justice Guidelines that opened the door for profiling, and secret surveillance and infiltration of legitimate political and religious groups and their activities. We are committed to strengthening our partnerships with civil rights groups, religious organizations, and other ethnic communities in the continuing effort to reaffirm America’s promise to protect and preserve the “rights of all.”

 - America will be stronger, smarter and better if Arab American voices are heard and our community is empowered to contribute to the policy debates taking place today. Therefore, we are committed to creating a national campaign that will challenge candidates for public office and hold them accountable for positions they have taken that have weakened our country’s standing in the world and have damaged fundamental American principles. We will ensure that the attachments and identities of a new generation of Arab Americans will be utilized for their unique access and influence. We will register thousands of Arab American voters and mobilize tens of thousands more into an action campaign for change.

 - We know that the best help America can bring to the Arab people is to improve the quality of their lives. As a result, we will mobilize support for efforts to increase programs that provide assistance to Arab countries, create employment, and offer educational opportunities.

 - We understand that the Palestine issue is central not only to Arab concerns but to America's national security interests in the region. Therefore, we will organize to elevate the issues of Palestinian human rights and freedom where it belongs: in the center of our national debate.

For more information or to get involved, please contact Emily Manna at emanna@aaiusa.org

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