The evening began with singing of the Star Spangled Banner. There was a beautiful art show, with representation from nearly 30 Arab-American artists. The large reception hall resonated with Middle Eastern music, and tables were filled with delicious Middle Eastern food.
Last week I experienced my first racist incident in the eight years I have been living in the U.S. I have seen and heard of racism happening to others, but this time it hit close to home. It was an attack against the core of who I am.
For those of us who've worked with Dearborn Michigan's Arab American community during the past three decades, victories in this past week's municipal elections were more than just big news. They represent confirmation of our belief in the strength and vitality of the Arab American community.
I wonder if it's possible to create a bridge of trust through developing stories together?
Certainly we don't have to do ropes courses or bike rides with heads of state, but maybe there's a place, a program, a reason for those involved in intimate negotiating to stop and forge friendship.
Inspired by the efforts of the "Friends of the Lower West Side" and the Save Washington Street coalition to protect the last traces of Manhattan's Little Syria neighborhood, Turkish director Özge Dogan completed an extraordinary documentary film called The Sacred in 2012.
If people begin to understand through a certain amount of media osmosis that a person of Arab lineage can be one of two personality types on either end of the spectrum, then the hope is that they will also be able to fill in the rest.
Back in the 1970s, there really wasn't much of an Arab American community. Most people of Arabic descent didn't even identify as "Arab American." The Washington I see today is dramatically different from the city I came to 35 years ago.
Leyya Tawil and Mike Khoury are two avant-garde artists featured at DIWAN5 whose solo work is challenging conventions in dance and music, respectively. As kindred spirits in creative inquiry, their collaborations with each other beget a third realm of expression.
New Yorkers can be mocked for making sport of being confrontational and protective about the handful of blocks that make up their little worlds, but the issues involving the 9/11 Memorial and "Little Syria" are too solemn and weighty to be handled in a closed and secretive way.
Every time one of these attacks happen, I hear the insecure pleas of Muslim Americans trying to reassure others that "Not all Muslims are like that." They are continually shut out of the discussion and alienated for trying to say it.
The Washington Post is a highly respected newspaper with a wide readership, and should distance itself from base attempts to smear an entire community using misinformation and sensationalism. It should set an example and hold Jennifer Rubin accountable.
Chuck Hagel is a valued friend. As a result, it was profoundly disturbing to me and members of my community when some of his opponents attempted to make his appearances before Arab Americans an issue in his confirmation process.
We in the west know so little about Arab culture, custom and practices. We know about Ramadan. We know about governments in power. We know about Arab history -- to a point and clearly not enough. We understand that we need to know more.
With increasing interest in the historical connections between the United States and the Arab world as a result of the politics of our time, there seemingly is a new push to expand knowledge about Gibran and possibly ground him in an American setting.
In a city where the term "Arab" is heavily politicized, it's refreshing to attend an event where simple things like music and traditional dances do more to bring people together than a seasoned politician can muster.
In a democratic society based on constitutionally guaranteed rights, the role of law enforcement ought to be to help secure these rights for all citizens. This, for decades, has not been the case for Arab Americans.
One often hears the refrain: How come the Arabs, or Arab Americans, have so little influence in America? A fair point, but what influence do the Arabs want or need to have? The Arabs used to have a cause in the past which is Palestine. People still talk about it incessantly.