Washington , DC
December 24, 2005
AAI President Undermines Out-of-Country Voting
(ZNDA: Washington ) James Zogby, a pollster and president of the Arab American Institute , this week said he is troubled by the U.S. balloting as a whole, referring to the out-of-country voting for the first full-term Iraqi parliament which took place between December 12 and 15 in the U.S. and several other countries around the world. Allowing U.S. citizens to vote in another country's elections, he said, sends the message that Iraqi-Americans are not full participants in U.S. democracy. We send a very conflicted message about the value of U.S. citizenship," Zogby said. "It undervalues our American citizenship."
James Zogby, previously criticized by this publication for his Arab-centric views, has for years supported the different Arab regimes, and has not called for reform, freedom and respect for human liberties, despite the obvious abuses committed by these regimes. For example, Dr. Zogby ignored the plight of the Lebanese people under Syrian occupation, and did not raise the issue. He strongly opposes President Bush's policies in the Middle East and actively worked against him during the 2004 campaign
Dr. Zogby holds the opinion that a majority of the immigrants from the Middle East in the United States are of the Arab descent. As was noted in his organization's website, a point of contention opposed by Zinda Magazine - especially in reference to the Chaldeans in Detroit as Arab Christians.
This issue was especially brought to the attention of this publication earlier this year when Dr. Zogby demanded an explanation for the comments of the Honorable Walid Maalouf, Director of Public Diplomacy for the Middle East at USAID in Washington , made in an interview with the An-Nahar newspaper in Beirut . Mr. Maalouf says: "The activists in this community [ U.S. ] did not want to be called "Arab American" and they established organizations such as the American Lebanese League...Several Arab Ambassadors, after September 11, told me that you alienate people when you call them Arab Americans or Muslim Americans. This is why I believe "Middle Eastern Americans" is the best name for our community."
Dr. Zogby, in a letter dated March 18th, 2005 to U.S. Agency For International Development, writes: "It is not up to Maalouf or unnamed 'Arab Ambassadors" to define us; we have done that for ourselves." In recognition for substantial and direct contribution to USAID's public outreach to the diplomatic community, Middle Eastern and Arab American communities, as well as other key organizations with a substantive interest in the Agency's foreign assistance activities, the Honorable Walid Maalouf was a recipient of the USAID 2005 Meritorious Honor Award which he received Thursday, November 17th.
The leader of a U.S.-based Middle Eastern organization, in talking to Zinda Magazine, comments: "The Arab American Institute has become, with or without the awareness of Dr. Zogby, a subversive and divisive tool for the propagation of old Arab ideologies that are abandoned today by most of the Arab world. Yes, there is a reluctance from most Arab immigrants to be associated with an Arab Nation of Osama Bin laden and his likes! The fellows from the AAI should be open minded to accept these new realities."
According to a poll released earlier this month by Zogby International the attitude toward the United States has particularly hardened in Egypt and Saudi Arabia , where 84 percent and 82 percent, respectively, said their opinion of the superpower had worsened in the past year. In fact, nearly all Zogby International polls demonstrate a pro-Democratic, anti-Republican, anti-U.S. policy in the Middle East attitude - the position held by Dr. Zogby and the Arab American Institute.
In a letter dated April 11, 2005, Mr. J Edward Fox, the USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs defended Mr. Maalouf's position and wrote to Dr. Zogby stating the position of the USAID and the U.S. State Department: "The Department of State and the USAID have responded with a variety of outreach activities to various Middle Eastern American communities...All outreach activities of USAID's Office of Public Liaison are fully coordinated with the Department of State, including meetings, interviews, speeches and potential participants."
Zinda Magazine has in the past categorically rejected the labeling of the Assyrians and Chaldeans as "Arabs" - a position encouraged by Dr. Zogby and his Arab American Institute.