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By: Amy Hensler/Arab America Contributing Writer – 2018 has been a pivotal year for Arab Americans. From electing the first Muslim women in Congress to Jamal Khashoggi’s violent and untimely death, 2018 has proved to be a pivotal year. The Arab World proves to be one of the most dynamic regions in the world, thus making each year important and unique. While 2018 provided Arab Americans with a lot of hope, it also proved to be taxing for many. As we enter 2019, Arab Americans are anticipating a year filled with hope, prosperity, and justice for the Arab world. Here is a list of some of the wishes Arabs are taking into the New Year:
1. Justice and Peace in Palestine, Yemen, and Syria
While this wish seems to be a reoccurring item for Arab Americans, it nonetheless is one of the most important. For years, some of the Arab countries have faced injustices at the hands of repressive governments. While Palestine, Yemen, and Syria are not the only cases of this, they are three of the most notable due to the ongoing civil wars in Yemen and Syria, and the constant violation of human rights in Palestine. While hope for these humanitarian disasters seem far from sight, many Arab Americans are taking steps in 2019 to fight for their Arab brothers and sisters in less fortunate positions. With Palestinian American, Rashida Tlaib, being elected into congress, we can hope that 2019 will bring more open criticism towards the United States’ undying support for Israel. And while many lives have been lost in Syria and Yemen, Arab Americans continue to support the people of both countries by advocating for the rights of refugees in the States, and starting grassroots campaigns to raise money for relief.
2. The elimination of anti-Arab bias in the media and pop-culture
With Donald Trump being elected, he has dragged multiple communities through the mud. Hate crimes and acts of racial discrimination are on the rise, and this is in part due to the hateful rhetoric portrayed by prominent politicians and the media. While coverage of American Muslims has been diminishing over the past couple of years, it is generally agreed upon that the coverage that is received keeps getting worse and worse. With so much misinformation surrounding the Muslim and Arab communities, prejudices are fed which limit opportunities for these communities. In 2019, Arab Americans are hoping to eliminate the narrow news coverage that they do receive and replace it with a more inclusive image.
3. Standing up for the BDS movement
Photo: Al Jazeera
It is a well-known fact that the United States’ government is Pro-Israel and anti-BDS. BDS, or Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions, is a movement created by Palestinians to peacefully protest Israeli occupation. Many American companies and people have used BDS to attempt to confront the Israeli economy, and express that they are not happy with the current status of Palestinians. Some government officials have made it clear that they do not support the BDS movement. This past year, several senators tried to pass an anti-boycott of Israeli products into legislation by sneaking it into a budget bill. Many states have already enacted anti-BDS laws, some of which are Alabama, Texas, Minnesota, and Maryland. In 2019, Arab Americans want to protect their first amendment rights and be allowed to peacefully boycott and protest Israel. Senators Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein, and congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are just a few names that are attempting to ensure all Americans have the right to boycott Israel.
4. Remove the Muslim Ban
Photo: National Review
Executive Order 13769, or what is more commonly referred to as the Muslim Ban, was enacted in 2017 and has yet to be lifted in 2018. The ban eliminated travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Through a long battle in 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s order with a 5-4 ruling. In 2019, Arab Americans hope to eliminate the fear surrounding Muslims that this bill intensified, and remove the bill altogether so refugees and asylum seekers have a safe place of refuge.
5. Increase Arab American voices in Congress
2018 proved to be a victory for Arab Americans, with many influential voices elected to Congress. However, representation is always an issue to be improved upon. In order to accomplish many of the goals on this list, Arab Americans need allies in Congress that represent their constituencies accurately and fairly. Hopefully, in 2019, more gains will be made to bring more notoriety to Arab communities.
6. Preserve the culture, language, cuisine, music, traditions of the homeland
Lastly, in 2019 Arab Americans hope to preserve everything about the culture that makes this group unique and beautiful. It is easy to get tied up with political goals, but ultimately, Arab Americans are working to preserve their strengths and assets. The culture, language, cuisine, and traditions are all essential to keep the Arab American community alive and prospering.