Dr. James J. Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, discussed current events in the Middle East at a Cleveland City Club Forum.
Since 1985, Dr. Zogby and AAI have led Arab American efforts to secure political empowerment in the United States. Through voter registration, education and mobilization, AAI has moved Arab Americans into the U.S. political mainstream.
Dr. Zogby's speech was timely especially with the recent activity in the Middle East, with Hezbollah forcing the collapse of the Lebanese Government within the 24 hours before his presentation.
For the past three decades, Dr. Zogby has been involved in a full range of Arab American issues. A co-founder and chairman of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in the late 1970s, he later co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
In 1982, he co-founded Save Lebanon, Inc., a private non-profit, humanitarian and non-sectarian relief organization which funded health care for Palestinian and Lebanese victims of war, and other social welfare projects in Lebanon. In 1985, Zogby founded AAI.
His presentation at the City Club included reflections from his book, Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters
Dr. Zogby pointed out several very interesting facts that those in the US may be surprised at. He told how Arabs are "consumed by what interests them" - Palestine, etc. and are amazed at how the US has so little discussion of it but so much attention on the fate of a single missing girl.
He said the Arab world "thinks we are really smart" so this leads to conspiracy theories. Many believe that every event has been carefully planned and organized by the US. They believe that the "Israelis are equally smart and therefor accountable."
He said that "This administration has been gunshy " re ambassador appointments. The Arab world notices the American, not Arab, names of US Ambassadors.When asked about North and South Sudan, Dr Zogby said that "the heaviest lifting must be done by the Sudanese themselves....They couldn't work out a settlement till they got the divorce."
Mary Rose Oakar and Dr. James J. Zogby
Zogby scolded, "We don't listen so we don't know what's on their mind." Especially in these times, it is crucial for the West to listen to and try to understand what the Arab world is thinking. Dr. Zogby's speeches and books are an important step toward this.
Norman Robbin, Patricia Blochowiak and Judge Diane Karpinski
Mary Rose Oakar, Tony George and Pierre Bejjani
Back to Top
Back to Cleveland Arab-Americans
Back to Cleveland Lebanese