Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Bookmark and Share

August 31, 2010

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

Oval Office Address on Iraq

Washington, D.C.

August 31, 2010

As Prepared for Delivery—

Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home.

I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans. We have now been through nearly a decade of war. We have endured a long and painful recession. And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we are trying to build for our nation – a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity may seem beyond our reach.

But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment.  It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq. Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency. Terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart. Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested.

These are the rough waters encountered during the course of one of America’s longest wars. Yet there has been one constant amidst those shifting tides. At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.

The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people; trained Iraqi Security Forces; and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians –and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people – Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.

So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.

This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq.  We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.

This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq’s cities last summer, and Iraqi forces have moved into the lead with considerable skill and commitment to their fellow citizens. Even as Iraq continues to suffer terrorist attacks, security incidents have been near the lowest on record since the war began. And Iraqi forces have taken the fight to al Qaeda, removing much of its leadership in Iraqi-led operations.

This year also saw Iraq hold credible elections that drew a strong turnout. A caretaker administration is in place as Iraqis form a government based on the results of that election. Tonight, I encourage Iraq’s leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative, and accountable to the Iraqi people. And when that government is in place, there should be no doubt: the Iraqi people will have a strong partner in the United States. Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.

Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces; supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. As our military draws down, our dedicated civilians –diplomats, aid workers, and advisors –are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world. And that is a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi people through his visit there today.

This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq–one based upon mutual interests, and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.

Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest– it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people –a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.

As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, and to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead. And no challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al Qaeda.

Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders –and hundreds of Al Qaeda's extremist allies–have been killed or captured around the world.

Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who–under the command of General David Petraeus –are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future. But, as was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: this transition will begin – because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.

Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power –including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America’s example –to secure our interests and stand by our allies. And we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes –a vision that recognizes the real dangers that exist around the world, but also the limitless possibility of our time.

Today, old adversaries are at peace, and emerging democracies are potential partners. New markets for our goods stretch from Asia to the Americas. A new push for peace in the Middle East will begin here tomorrow. Billions of young people want to move beyond the shackles of poverty and conflict. As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction –we will also lead among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people.

That effort must begin within our own borders. Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation’s strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.

And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it is our turn. Now, it is our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for –the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.

Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.

Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That is why we have already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We are treating the signature wounds of today’s wars post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we are funding a post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II- including my grandfather- become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it.

Two weeks ago, America’s final combat brigade in Iraq –the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade –journeyed home in the pre-dawn darkness. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad, the last of them passing into Kuwait in the early morning hours. Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.

Of course, the soldiers left much behind. Some were teenagers when the war began. Many have served multiple tours of duty, far from their families who bore a heroic burden of their own, enduring the absence of a husband’s embrace or a mother’s kiss. Most painfully, since the war began fifty-five members of the Fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice –part of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq. As one staff sergeant said, “I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.”

Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries. Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew. They stared into the darkest of human creations –war –and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.

In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation. Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to Gettysburg; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from Khe Sanh to Kandahar – Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own. Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America, and all who serve her.


Statement by the Press Secretary on Today’s Attack in the Southern West Bank

Bookmark and Share

Office of the Press Secretary

August 31, 2010

Statement by the Press Secretary on Today’s Attack in the Southern West Bank

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack today perpetrated by Hamas in which four Israelis were killed in the southern West Bank. We express our condolences to the victims’ families and call for the terrorists behind this horrific act to be brought to justice.  We note that the Palestinian Authority has condemned this attack.  On the eve of the re-launch of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, this brutal attack underscores how far the enemies of peace will go to try to block progress.  It is crucial that the parties persevere, keep moving forward even through difficult times, and continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region that provides security for all peoples.


Monday, August 30, 2010

ADC National Action Alert: Call and Thank the Voices of Tolerance and Unity Now!

Bookmark and Share

ADC Action Alert:  Call and Thank the Voices of Tolerance and Unity Now!
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | August 30, 2010 - In light of the recent attacks on the Arab and Muslim American communities, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to call and thank those who have stood up for tolerance and understanding, and against bigotry.  The below-listed individuals have recently stood for and reinforced American values by supporting the development of the Park51 Community Center in New York City. 
Click on the name(s) below to view their statement on this issue: 
Phone Number
(202) 224-2152
(202) 224-3753
(202) 224-5323
(202) 224-4242
(202) 224-5641
(202) 225-4755
(202) 225-5965
(202) 225-5635
(202) 225-7944
(202) 225-2831     
(202) 225-4011
(202) 225-5406
(850) 488-7146
(212) 639-9675
ADC recognizes, and thanks, the many other persons who have also stood for equality and justice, and rightfully have spoken against hatred, intolerance, fear-mongering and anti-Muslim sentiment occurring across our Nation.
ADC will continue to monitor the incidents of hate crimes and asks community members to continue to exercise extra caution and report any such incidents to appropriate authorities. Please see ADC’s special advisory by clicking here
Suggested Language:
I want to thank you for your comments on religious freedom and the Park51 Community Center.  At a time when many politicians are engaging in fear-mongering and scare tactics, your words reinforce that we are all entitled to the same American values, regardless of faith or ethnicity.  As the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) recently indicated, the rise of hate crimes and discrimination against Arab, Muslim and Southeast Asian Americans are on the rise, which is alarming.  It is through tolerance and understanding that we will unite and move past the hate crimes and violence.  This can be achieved through leadership such as yours. 

ARABS GONE WILD TRIPLE DOOR – SEATTLE, WA Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On sale August 6th, 10:00 am

Seattle, WA – Live Nation welcomes Arabs Gone Wild to the Triple Door on Saturday, September 18th 2010 at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm. 

Arabs Gone Wild features three of the country’s top Arab-American comedians: Dean Obeidallah and Aron Kader – both known from being part of the successful “Axis of Evil” Comedy Tour and Maysoon Zayid – the country’s top female Arab-American comedian.

“With Bush gone and President Obama reaching out to the Arab and Muslim world, the Arab community feels we can finally have some fun!” declares Obeidallah who has been seen on Comedy Central, ABC’s “The View” and is the executive producer of the Amman Stand Up comedy Festival – the first and only stand up comedy festival in the Middle East history. “Not that everything is great for us, but we feel with Bush out we can finally feel free to make fun of ourselves in a way we never did before,” Obeidallah added.

“We do miss Bush for the material, but we are all much happier to have a President who knows how to read,” jokes Aron Kader who has also been seen on Comedy Central, “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen,” and FX’s “The Shield.”

The comics tackle everything from politics to pop culture to crazy Arab mother-in-laws, all from their unique point of view.  “The comedy is written for everyone to get– but if you are of Middle Eastern heritage, you not only will laugh, you will also relate to it,” adds Obeidallah.

About Live Nation Entertainment:
Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE-LYV) is the largest live entertainment company in the world, consisting of five businesses: concert promotion and venue operations, sponsorship, ticketing solutions, e-commerce and artist management.  Live Nation seeks to innovate and enhance the live entertainment experience for artists and fans: before, during and after the show.  In 2009, Live Nation sold 140 million tickets, promoted 21,000 concerts, partnered with 850 sponsors and averaged 25 million unique monthly users of its e-commerce sites.  For additional information, visit www.livenation.com/investors.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ray Hanania released the following statement regarding Ikhras, the racist hate site

Bookmark and Share

Ray Hanania released the following statement regarding Ikhras, the racist hate site:

Ikhras has been attacking me by publishing false quotes, taking sentences out of context and accusing me of being "anti-Muslim" even though I have spent my life defending Muslims because most Americans believe I am Muslim. They have made up false claims, few are creative or imaginative but driven by racist hatred and, I believe, because I am a Christian Palestinian who supports compromise and peace based on non-violence and the exchange of land. They would never write the same trash about a Muslim activist, which is an example of their vicious anti-Christian attitude that many Christian leaders and activists have shared with me.

They have launched this hate campaign because they can't handle the issues I address, so instead of addressing the issues, they attack me. It is typical of racist hate sites that can't deal with issues so they have to attack the individual.

Most people who have emailed me say that Ikhras is a ridiculous, typically extremist site that waste a lot of energy attacking other Palestinians, like KabobFest, because they have nothing positive to contribute to the fate of the Palestinian People or the cause of the Arab World. They are ignorant and uneducated, and most of all, like KabobFest, poor writers.

They distort facts because they can and because their small following of extremists celebrate racism and hatred. They use the suffering of the Palestinian People as a political football in order to achieve their agendas, and they don't care about helping the Palestinian Refugees at all.

I want the refugees to have better lives, Ikhras wants them to wallow in the hardship of the camps endlessly because it suits the political agenda of Ikhras.

I want to thank all of the people who have emailed me. Ikhras has served one purpose and that is to showcase the ignorance that exists in the Arab community, an ignorance that has been used before to stifle public debate, that is intolerant of thought engagement, and that has helped to both oppress the future of the Palestinian people while also enabling extremism and fanaticism that provides cover for Israel's oppression of our people.

I understand, though, because Ikhras represents the tragedy of a segment of the Palestinian people. Depressed, defeated, uneducated and incompetent, Ikhras focuses its energies on the only thing it can do, bash other Palestinians, the typical ailment of the victimization mentality of some small segments of the Palestinian people.

You can't understand or recognize hope until you see the ugly face of racism, hatred and defeatism which is what Ikhras represents. They are anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and even anti-Muslim. Pathetic.

-- The Maklooba Man

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hanania wins the 2010 National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Column writing defending a Chicago suburban Arab Muslim grocer

Bookmark and Share

Click to view larger image

Ray Hanania wins the 2010 National Sigma Delta Chi Award for his series detailing and defending the rights of a Muslim Arab American grocer who alleged that he was being victimized by racist policies in his suburban Chicago location. Naim Massad was arrested and handcuffed, and his wife and son were arrested and handcuffed after a year of battling the local health and village building inspectors.

Hanania researched the charges and discovered documentation and 911 Police audio files that confirmed that Massad was being targeted because of his Arab and Muslim heritage.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ADC National seeks interns and Fellows

Bookmark and Share

ADC National seeks interns and Fellows

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is seeking interns and fellows for the upcoming fall semester. The internship will be held in Washington, DC, at the ADC headquarters located in the historic district of Georgetown. Click here for an overview of qualifications and requirements.To apply for an internship, or for any inquiries, please send an e-mail to intern@adc.org. Internships are available in the following departments:Organizing Department- ADC’s Organizing Department is looking for one or two interns. The internship provides valuable and substantive experience in grassroots community organizing, political action, and general office procedures. Media- ADC is looking for interns to work in its Media and Publications departments. These internships provide valuable and substantive experience in journalism, public relations, and publishing. Government Affairs- The ADC Government Affairs Department coordinates the contacts with the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. government on all matters relevant to ADC's domestic and foreign policy agendaLegal- Interns are responsible for their own cases under the direct supervision of the ADC attorneys. Cases involve employment discrimination, immigration, airline discrimination, hate crimes, educational discrimination, public accommodation, housing, freedom of speech. Interns also represent the organization at various meetings and conferences with civil rights, human rights, as well as federal agencies and departments.Fall internships at ADC are unpaid. ADC encourages interns to take the internship for class credit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ADC Membership alert, join today

Bookmark and Share

We know what the problem is.
The problem?
We need to be a more powerful voice on issues affecting our community.
The question is -- what are we going to do about it?
Be more organized and more proactive!!!
Organize in every State, every City, and every Congressional District
Organize for Power!
Starting today, ADC will again step up to the plate.
There is no other option but to be a powerful voice to:
• Challenge the injustices visited upon the Palestinians
• Defend civil and human rights
• Promote the rich Arab cultural heritage
We all know what needs to be done and we need to do it NOW – Organize for Power!
It has always been about organizing.
To launch this organizing campaign, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
So, please become a member and DONATE now whatever you can.
And if you donate $100 or more NOW, we will send you a copy of a remarkable book:
“My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century” by Adina Hoffman.

This is a “MUST READ” book about the Palestinian experience rooted in land and memory
It is a biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali.
But, it is more than a biography – it is a history of the transformation of Palestine.
It is an Eye Opener.
Please contribute $100 or more now, so that we may send you a copy of this remarkable book.
Please HELP launch this historic ADC organizing drive.
THANK YOU for your generous contribution.

Sara Najjar-Wilson

P.S.: If you act now and donate $100 or more, Adina Hoffman (the author of the book) has agreed to autograph the book for you. So, donate $100 or more now, and we will send you an autographed copy of “My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century” signed by the author. This offer ends midnight, August 27, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zakat Foundation & its Partners Provide Daily Dinner for Hundreds

Bookmark and Share

(Bridgeview, IL 8/16/2010) The Zakat Foundation (ZF), an international charity organization based in Chicago, Illinois, with support from Bridgeview's Mosque Foundation and volunteers from the Chicagoland area are providing daily iftar-dinners for approximately 250 to 300 people per day at six Chicago-land mosques during the entire month of Ramadan. This is the fifth Ramadan during which Zakat Foundation and its partners have provided daily iftars-dinners at local mosques.

"It is a good opportunity for Muslims to share the blessings of Ramadan while strengthening the bond between neighbors," says Social Service Director, Sheryl B. In Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad is to have said that the one who goes to bed while his neighbor is hungry is not a true Muslim.

Zakat Foundation will also sponsor iftar-dinners in New York, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, California, Michigan and Minnesota during the holy month of Ramadan.

Apart from these local efforts, Zakat Foundation and its partners also provide hot meals and food packages to people across the world. Due to emergency conditions, flood victims in Pakistan are given additional meals this year. Donors were able to provide for families from Bangladesh and Chechnya to Indonesia and the United States.

The Zakat Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the internal Revenue Code. All donations to Zakat Foundation are tax exempt and our Tax ID is 36-44 76244.
The Zakat Foundation, in operation since November 2001, runs both domestic and international projects, and fosters charitable giving to offer relief, education, and development to those in need. For more information, visit www.zakat.org or call 1-888-ZAKAT-US.