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‘Disillusioned’ Arab Americans Favor Obama

Published: 06/11/2012 01:18:11 PM GMT
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WASHINGTON - Disillusioned by unfulfilled promises by Barack Obama, Arab Americans are heading to polling stations on Tuesday, November 6, with a hard choice of picking up a new president who would support their causes.“It (more)

WASHINGTON - Disillusioned by unfulfilled promises by Barack Obama, Arab Americans are heading to polling stations on Tuesday, November 6, with a hard choice of picking up a new president who would support their causes.

“It's more challenging to convince people to vote but the momentum is here,” Rasha Mubarak, of Palestinian origin, who works with EMERGE USA, a civic engagement organization, told Al-Arabiya television.Nearly 30 million Americans are casting ballot on Tuesday to elect a new president from between Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

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Many Arab Americans, however, were torn between sentiments of disillusionment about Obama and Romney.

They argue that Obama has never fulfilled his promises of ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands, or removing the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, whose troops killed more than 30,000 in a deadly crackdown on a popular uprising against his rule.

But community leader try to convince Arab American voters that casting ballot would serve their cause.

“When we are silenced, we should speak louder,” Mubarak wrote in a recent online commentary.

Whether the winner is Obama or Romney, the new US administration is not expected to make much change about Arab causes.

During their campaigns, both candidates have competed to show their relentless support for Israel.

Romney has described Al-Quds (occupied Jerusalem) as the unified capital of Israel.

He also vowed to help Israel maintain its strategic military edge and work to repair Israel's strained relationships with Turkey and Egypt and resist anti-Israel policies in those two countries.

Obama, meanwhile, rejected complaints that his failure to visit Israel during his presidency and tensions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's settlement policies have allowed the US relationship with a longtime leading ally to deteriorate.

He highlighted enhanced security cooperation including joint military drills, missile defense support and coordination on Iran.

On Syria, Romney maintained vague position, repeatedly declaring he wanted to see more “leadership” in the US support for the Syrian opposition.

Lately, he opposed the idea of sending US military to the region.

Though Democrats declared their support for Assad's departure, they have recently opposed a US military role in Syria, warning about the growing influence of Islamist groups within the Syrian opposition.

Better Obama Despite being disappointed by the Democrat leader, many Arab Americans regard Obama as a better choice than his Republican challenger.

“It was very hard to start a peace process,” James Zogby, director of the Arab American Institute, said, referring to the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

“One needs a domestic support base and Obama didn't have that.”

During his election campaign, Romney was caught on video saying that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.”

He also attacked Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009 as part of an unacceptable “apology tour.”

Keeping their home countries in mind, Arab Americans are also concerned about issues directly connected to their livelihoods like education and jobs.

According to a recent poll by the Arab American Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, the Arab American community is by far primarily concerned with the country's economy and jobs.

Over the past years, Arab American activists have been fighting for the guarantee of their civil liberties in the United States.

To achieve their purpose, they have rallied efforts against racial profiling and police surveillance of Arabs and Muslims.

Nevertheless, Zogby opines that Republican and Democrat leaders are paying more attention to the Arab American constituency.

“There is attention but it's not always visible,” Zogby said.“They are taking note of our concerns.”

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