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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Impact of the 2016 Election on Arab Americans and American Muslims

Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President, Arab American Institute, and Maya Berry, Executive Director, Arab American Institute
Philadelphia, PA
July 26, 2016

Date: 07/26/2016 Location: Philadelphia, PA Description: Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute, briefs journalists on the 2016 election's impact on America's Arab and Muslim communities. - State Dept Image

10:30 A.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. Welcome to our 10:30 briefing. We’re getting a little bit of a late start here, but we’re not in a rush, so that’s good news. If you haven’t already done so, I’d just remind you to please turn off your electronic devices or put them on silent. As with all of our briefings at the conventions, the views expressed are of the speakers and not of the United States Government.

It gives me great pleasure this morning to welcome some colleagues from the Arab American Institute. Dr. James Zogby cofounded the Arab American Institute in 1985 and he continues to serve as its president. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission on Internal (sic) Religious Freedom in 2013. Maya Berry is the executive director of the Arab American Institute.

With that, I’m going to hand it over to Dr. Zogby and to Maya, and at the end of their remarks we will open up the floor to questions. When you ask a question, just as a reminder, please state your name and your media outlet. Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Thank you very much. And I – a couple little corrections. It’s the International Religious Freedom. We don’t deal with internal religious issues here in the U.S. And Maya was a member of this year’s platform committee of the Democratic Party. I was on the Drafting Committee, and Maya was on the committee that actually voted on and made final amendments to the platform.

I’m talking about the impact that this election has had on the Arab American and American Muslim voters. And before I do that, or as a way of beginning to do that, it would be useful to, in a sense, deconstruct or disaggregate the two communities.

The first is that they’re not the same community at all. The majority of American Muslims are not Arab, and the majority of Arab Americans are not Muslim. The second observation I’d make is to look within the two communities to see the differences that exist in their component groups.

With regard to the American Muslim community – let me start there – probably the single largest component group of American Muslims are African American. Another large group, the second largest group, would be those from South Asia, Arabs coming next and Africans, and then finally, American converts.

The numbers are in doubt, confused in part because we don’t have a census figure for Muslims. What we do know, though, is that the ranges that are given usually have a kind of a political interest in coming up with the number. There are some organizations in the Jewish community who say that there’s 1.3 or 1.5 million Muslims. That’s way too low, given the number of African Americans, the number of South Asian immigrants, et cetera. And then there are some in the Muslim community who go 7 or 8 million, and that’s way too high. The methodologies just aren’t there.

The real number – I think Pew has been good and others have. We’re looking at maybe 4 million or so, 3.5, 4, maybe 4.5 million, in that range. But because we don’t have accurate census numbers, because the census doesn’t ask religion, we just don’t know.

Now, within those ethnic groups voting patterns differ. I remember in the 2000 election the storyline that was projected was that Muslims overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush. They actually didn’t, because African American Muslims, who are about 40 or so percent, overwhelmingly voted for Al Gore. I knew other groups – the Albanians and the Turks, for example – I was working in that campaign – were also – they endorsed Al Gore and worked for Al Gore. My brother did polling that year and found that the two groups who actually did vote largely for the Republican were the Arab American Muslims and the Pakistani and South Asian Muslims. But overall, when you added the numbers together in my brother’s poll that year, it was actually lean Democrat. George Bush did not win the Muslim vote overall.

On the Arab American side it’s a bit of a different story. And there are two fault lines. One is religion and one is time in the country. Historically, when we’ve gone in our polling back into the – the first polls we did were actually in 1990, and we did every two years since then. All the way up to the 2000 election, including the 2000 election, the numbers were lean Democrat. One year it would be 38-34. Another year it’d be 39-37. There was also a 2, 3, 4, 5 point margin, in that range, of Democrats preferred over Republican. And it stayed constant that way, largely because, as I have done polling in other communities – my brother and I polled with other immigrant communities – Italian and Irish and Polish. I did a book in 2000 called Ethnic Americans: How They Really Think and How they Vote and What Their Values Are.

When we looked at it, the patterns were the same because the history of those communities, the Syrian Lebanese who were the largest component group of the Arab Americans at that point, had had a very similar pattern to the Irish and the Italian and the Polish. They came; they lived in big cities. They were union members, small business people. They were embraced by the Democratic Party and embraced the Democratic Party, and then gradually some elements in the community would drift over to the conservative or Republican side. But the lean was still very Democratic.

That changed after the 2000 election. And what we saw from 2002 to the present time is that the gap between the Republican and Democratic identification numbers has gone this way, with the Republican numbers dropping slightly and the numbers for Democrats increasing rather significantly, to the point right now where the identification of Arab Americans is – in terms of the political parties is not unlike that of Hispanics. Almost in some – well over 2 to 1 Democrat. And the identification for – I’m sorry, for the voting of Arab Americans is 3 to 1 Democrat. So in the last three elections, 65 to 70 percent voted Democrat while 20 or so said that they voted Republican. And the numbers on the identification were 47, something like that, average 45, 47 identified Democrat, and low 20s Republican.

What happened? What happened was that while the born-here component of the community, those in the second and third generation, they stayed pretty constant. They continued – if they were Republicans, they were Republicans; they stayed Republican. It’s a cultural issue. You feel a part of a community of people who think like you and your neighbors or members of your club or your business partners. That’s who you are. It’s a self-identification issue. That’s true for Democrats; it’s true for Republicans.

The change came with the recent immigrant part of the community, both Christian and Muslim. They were the ones who, like most new immigrants, end up feeling like the Democratic Party takes care of them, and so they would gravitate toward the Democratic Party. And on the Muslim side, that part of the new immigrant community that was Muslim, they went overwhelmingly towards the Democrats after the Bush election, precisely because the Republican policies were so discouraging, frustrating. I look for a really good, solid negative word to use – that they simply had no – they felt that there was no place for them in the party.

And that certainly after the election of Barack Obama, which opened the margin even greater and the way Republicans reacted to it, with the victory mosque in 2010 and the loyalty oaths for Muslims in 2012 and onto where we are today with a ban on Muslims, et cetera, that’s what you’re seeing is that gap opening up. And interestingly enough, it opens up, as I said, for the Christian and Muslim side. The Christian side, because they simply feel that the Democratic Party speaks to their concerns; it takes care of immigrants; it takes care of new communities; it wants to provide the services that are necessary to help get a jump start in the economy, and because they are equally put off by the Islamophobic rhetoric. You don’t have to be a Muslim immigrant from Egypt to be turned off by Donald Trump’s rhetoric. You can be a recent immigrant, a Christian from Lebanon, or from any other country in the Arab world, and you find that kind of rhetoric off-putting. It just simply makes you feel uncomfortable.

And so Republicans haven’t done anything to increase their numbers. And Democrats, meanwhile, are just sitting steady with their numbers going up and staying at a fairly high level. This election, the impact that it’s had, is that it holds in place those patterns that we’ve seen. I see nothing to alter that pattern. We saw a tremendous turnout for Bernie Sanders among all elements. It was interesting, because our community reacted not unlike the way America in general reacted. Young people, whether first, second, third generation or recent immigrant, they felt the Bern. Older people also in the community – this was not just a youth-driven movement. There were a lot of grey-hairs who felt very comfortable with Bernie Sanders because they felt he spoke the truth. And a lot of folks felt put off by Donald Trump.

And so you really had a tremendous turnout there, like with the rest of the – on the Democratic side. The question is will that convey to Secretary Clinton. I think the party made a great effort last night. We’ll see how that catches and whether or not it takes hold. I think that they – I couldn’t have imagined, in terms of party unity, a better night last night.

Now, on the Republican side, there are groups that are being cherry-picked by the Republicans for support. There are some elements in the Muslim community who have formed a Muslims for Trump, and I don’t think the numbers are large. We haven’t seen a great turnout or – but people feel that there are those who are sort of using that as their kind of stepping stone into credibility in the ranks of the Republican Party. I don’t think it’s going to be a big movement.

On the other side, there are some groups who have also been sort of targeted by – not unlike the way George W. Bush did it, using the Islamophobic message with some of the more recent immigrant communities, some of the Syrian Christian, for example, or Iraqi Christian or others to say – or Coptic Christian to say, “These are the people who are targeting you over there, and now they’re here.” And so it’s a dangerous thing that we – in terms of my community – need to focus on, because we don’t want to create the disruption of the Middle East and bring it here to America. It’s a sensitive issue, but some folks are trying to exploit it, and we see that playing out.

The issues are – here’s something else. I’ve talked about the turnout and the impact it’s had on the community. But the issues are something quite else. Donald Trump has framed his message around a more isolationist approach. And that has had some credibility with some elements of the community that, for example, don’t want to see the victory of the opposition in Syria, who are nervous about being swept up in a tide of extremism in Egypt. And so some of those issues, the isolationist image – look, after the record of the Bush Administration, there are some in my community who feel isolationism is a very healthy response: Just leave it the hell alone; you can’t get it right; just don’t screw it up anymore. And so I think that that’s an issue of concern.

There was an initial flurry of interest when Donald Trump said he was going to be neutral and try to keep the balance between the Israelis and Palestinians so that he could negotiate, but he was soon chastened by folks on that and came back with a AIPAC speech that was bewildering and a platform that is, as they proudly claim, the most pro-Israel ever in the Republican Party. And so that is not encouraging to a lot of folks.

On the Democratic side, Maya and I were involved in the platform. There was a lot of good language for Lebanon and good language for Jordan. There was good language for the relationship with allies in the broader region and working together with them. The militarist side of the platform was muted. And so, in part I think because there was compromise efforts between the Sanders and the Clinton people, you actually had a very temperate statement that there should be no U.S. ground troops in the Middle East, and that was encouraging. There was also a very strong part of the platform against Islamophobia, against the Muslim ban. There was a very strong part of the platform as well on profiling and adding ethnicity and religion to the profile ban, the ban on profiling.

The Republican side, on the other hand, was very strong on targeting people who are Arab and Muslim. And so I think that whether or not – and this is the issue that affects this campaign in general. The question will be the degree to which trust can be built between the Democratic Party candidate and both communities. But on balance, my projection is we’ll be doing polling on this in September. This – we usually do our polling around that time because then the conventions have had a time to settle down and you don’t have to deal with the bounce and the – sort of the fluctuations. But my best guess is that this election will not be quite very different from earlier elections, and we will see the gap probably stay where it is. I don’t think it’ll grow any further. I don’t think that Secretary Clinton helps it grow. And I think there are some parts, especially of the young, more left elements of our communities, that will go for Jill Stein as some did for Ralph Nader in 2000. But I dare say that the Democratic ticket will do very well, the Republican ticket will not do very well, despite their cherry-picking efforts, and we’ll come out of this election pretty much the way we’ve come out of previous elections – with this newfound identification with the Democratic Party and alienation from the Republican Party pretty much in place.

And I’ll turn it over now to Maya.

MS BERRY: Thanks. So I think two points to highlight from what Dr. Zogby provided, starting with the fact that we’re 3.7 million Arab Americans in this country, and the issue of the conflation is a significant one to think about in terms of the framing of our community. There’s been much made legitimately during this particular Trump presidency – Trump campaign in terms of the targeting of our community, and why I think that’s absolutely accurate, and it’s been different in terms of how profoundly direct it has been. I would also take us back to 2008 with the candidacy of Barack Obama as well. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was a coming together of sorts in our community to say – in our nation to say that we ought not to target others and scapegoat an entire community, and President George Bush’s visit to a mosque shortly after the terrorist attack were significant and important, and honestly helped prevent hate crimes from taking place.

In the election of the campaign of President Obama, at the time we saw the targeting of our community in an unusual way, and in – a lot of understanding from our perspective was that there were things that were said about Arab Americans and American Muslims at that time that you could not say about someone African American running for president today. So we were a vehicle to attack him – the questions about his religion, the questions about his – where he was born, all of this was a bit of code that really was targeting sort of our political participation in some ways, and we became a vehicle for that. You’ve seen the progression now with the Trump candidacy to say we don’t really need to be subtle about it anymore, and it – for that reason I think has created a different political climate that this community is facing.

The second piece of it is, I would say, that on issues – Dr. Zogby touched a bit on what mobilizes this constituency. So keeping in mind that it is two distinctly separate constituencies, I would address the Arab American piece of that, and that is that we are engaged on a range of issues representing a diverse community. When we do polling on our folks, we ask the questions: What are your top priorities? And not surprisingly, the economy, health care, education are regularly among the top three to four issues. Now, in addition to that, because of a strong connection to our countries of origin, because of a deep understanding of the improved role the United States should be playing in the region, foreign policy always plays significantly higher among our constituency. And understanding that piece of it is important, though I’ve always been troubled by some media coverage of that. Because when we mention that foreign policy is a priority, it just reinforces for some this idea that we’re a single-issue constituency, which we are not.

So we are in this particular election cycle, because of the debate around Palestine-Israel, because of the conversations that we’ve had around the platform, it’s been I think a very empowering way in which this community took an election cycle that was targeting their particular participation and turned it into something very, very positive. And positive because it allowed us to organize on those issues, but it also brought in much broader coalition partners, and I think that’s been a very significant change from years past.

So I would point out that when we work on immigration reform and call for immigration – comprehensive immigration reform, we do it with other partners. When we work on trying to strike a better balance between our civil rights and civil liberties and national security priorities, we’re doing it with broader partners. And now when we’re working on issues of trying to kind of realign our politics on Palestine-Israel to better represent U.S. policy interest and to better represent where, frankly, justice and reality are, we are also doing it with a much broader coalition. You saw a bit of that on the convention floor last night when the platform was passed. The process is such that it is introduced and then it is passed, and – but on the convention floor last night there were several hundred delegates from across the country, many of whom were Arab Americans or American Muslims, who were wearing “Palestine Lives” T-shirts, who had signs that said “Palestine Lives” and addressed the occupation. It was a vehicle for people to express a priority issue for them, and I would say the same way that they talked about minimum wage and the same way that some were carrying TPP – “No TPP” signs. And the same way some of the Hillary Clinton supporters are very pleased with where they’ve come down on other issues, it is a fully engaged political constituency.

So I think one of the most important conversations we ever have with colleagues from the foreign press is to understand we’re not a monolith. It’s a diverse community, and we’re very, very engaged on this process. That would be sort of all I would add, and would open it up for questions from others.

MR ZOGBY: (Inaudible.) Any questions? Yeah.

MODERATOR: Do you have any questions for the group? If not, they might be willing to stay after to do some one-on-ones as well, okay?

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Daniel Bischof from the Austrian newspaper Wiener Zeitung. Trump always says that he is going to fight like the – that he wants to fight the radical part of Muslims. How do you – how big do you think is the part of radical Muslims within the community? Or is there even a big part?

MR ZOGBY: Look, the – we’ve had an ongoing struggle with the Administration and with press over this very issue. The – all of the metrics make clear that the biggest threat to America from extremism is from anti-government and white supremacist extremists. Now, the problem is that – and if you catalogue them all in a list, you will find that there are certainly some acts that have been committed by Muslims; many more acts committed by other kinds of extremists. But the high-visibility ones, the ones that actually get focused on in the press, are the Muslim ones. And I think all the time that for – if the – when one will occur, and I’ll say to myself if that had been done by a Muslim, it would be a very different story the way it’d be being played out.

But if you look at it, I mean, the most recent one, the shooting of the police officers, both of them were folks who were radicalized here, radicalized in a nationalist politics that was – and they did it online. I mean, it followed the same – we believe that there is a violent extremism problem in America, and we think that sometimes the coloration will take a Muslim tone, sometimes it’ll take an anti-government, a White Citizens League kind of form, sometimes it is taking now a black nationalist form. There are many variations, but they’re all one phenomenon, but I don’t think we end up looking at that. We end up seeing the Muslim one as something that has to be isolated and targeted, and actually, it is a very small problem.

And one of the reasons that it is a very small problem within the Muslim community is that America is different than Europe. Immigrants in America, despite the rhetoric of a Donald Trump or a Pat Buchanan a generation ago, they find this a welcoming society. Even in periods when there’s a backlash – there’ll be instances of hate against Arabs or Muslims over – completely overwhelmed by the acts of kindness and protection and support from the – from our neighbors, from our friends. This is not a hostile environment, nor is it an environment where immigrants come, and like in Europe, three generations later they’re still living in the slums outside of Paris. Our ethnic communities from whatever background almost immediately begin an upward trajectory toward empowerment. And that’s a good thing. There’s also a negative reason for it, and that is that they come to a country – in Europe, these immigrants come from – they’re like the chickens come home to roost. They’re coming from former colonies where they were oppressed in the colonies; they come to the colonial – the country that once dominated their homelands, and they find themselves still excluded and they become the underclass. And they become underclass for generations.

In America, people come here and the tragedy of America is that we have a preexisting underclass that is a result of slavery, that is the result of the oppression of Mexican Americans, that is the result of our ethnic cleansing of Native Americans on reservations. And so, like I said, tragically, an immigrant will come and find themselves one or two steps up the ladder of social mobility and not locked into permanent underclass status. So America is a very different situation. And I think that we do not have the same problem as Europe. And the difficulty is, is that when politicians talk about it the same way, they create the very alienation, the very sense of not belonging that feeds extremism and the currents of “I don’t belong here” that is the danger that it ends up exacerbating a problem that currently is very small. The welcoming America is the America that is the cure to any kind of alienation and extremism, and that’s what, I think, what we need to do more. That’s what George Bush tried to do. That’s what Barack Obama tried to do. But given the way he was treated, it became very difficult. I mean, he – when he would try to be welcoming, the reaction from the very haters and the very ones who wanted to exclude Muslims were to say, “He’s a Muslim. That’s why he doing it.” And so it’s a problem.

Do you want to add to that anything?

MS BERRY: Sure, sure. So I wouldn’t frame it in the term of radicalization, because I think that’s convoluted and doesn’t express accurately what we’re talking about. There is a problem of violence in America. I think that’s absolutely clear. And you see it manifest itself in cases that I think you’re talking about as well, as well as the others that Dr. Zogby cited. I would point out, though, that Muslims are capable of – regrettably, like other members of their communities – of workplace violence. Muslims are also capable, as we saw in Orlando, of hate crimes. If that perpetrator happens to be Muslim, there’s a pivot, though, to viewing it in the larger context of a counterterrorism program and radicalization and extremism. And I think that’s something we have to sort of stop, process, and understand that in doing so, you’re attributing perhaps broader aspirations. And also, I’m – I get uncomfortable with the idea that we’re allowing anyone to claim these acts when we’re dealing with people who’ve decided to be isolated and decided to commit an act of violence and do it.

The second point I would make is the reference to the small percentage of mosques. That’s a talking point that’s been used for some time. When Congressman Peter King assembled his hearings earlier in the 2000s talking about the Muslim community – by far they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends, everyone is great, but there’s a small percentage that we have to worry about – and it’s a guise for being – for, frankly, talking about a community that’s been here for generations in a way that’s completely missing the frame. As we said, if the plurality of American Muslims are African Americans, they’re – the far majority of them are not immigrants. So the faith, as it presents itself in America, is not even that of a majority of immigrants, but the continued desire to sort of view it through the immigrant lens and securitize it this way is part of our problem.

QUESTION: Zaid Benjamin from Radio Sawa. You spoke about the platform and said it was – it has good language. How you’re going to turn this platform to action – actions during the coming months? And what should the Arabs and the Muslim communities expect from Hillary administration, for example, if she wins?

MR ZOGBY: I think that Secretary Clinton is not a mystery to the American people. I think you know where her policies will be, but you also know where the broader coalition that is supporting her will be, and that is pushing her and pushing politics in a more progressive direction. I think that’s what happened with the Sanders campaign. And having been a part of the platform process, I can tell you that it was a really engaged process. I’ve been doing platform – this is my ninth convention. I’ve been doing this for way too many years now. The only other time I remember a process like this was in the ’88 Jackson campaign, where I was representing Jackson, and some of the very same people that I was up against in the Clinton side were on the Dukakis team. It was not the same degree of engagement. We started as two distinct camps, but they made a real effort to reconcile themselves to the progressive push of Bernie. Even on the language that we had on minimum wage and on health care and on free education, et cetera, they really made an effort to move because they knew where the constituency was.

The question, as Bernie has I think correctly framed it, is that this process has only begun, and it now needs to continue even after the election and throughout the entire term of a Hillary Clinton president, should she win, to keep the heat on – to move the country in this progressive direction. Remember, President Obama was elected on a very progressive agenda, but the minute he got into the White House, what happened was it all went back to Congress. I mean, health care reform was done by Max Baucus, who is a guy who I wouldn’t give the keys to a well-lit room with doors on every side and tell him to find his way out, because the way that the Senate works – I mean, these guys end up compromising with themselves before they even begin compromising with their colleagues and with their – the folks on the other side. By the time you ended up with a health care bill, it was so convoluted and so distorted that it was nothing like what President Obama wanted.

Bernie Sanders is telling people you fought for progressive change, you’ve got to continue to fight for progressive change even after the election – to hold the feet of Congress to the fire, to keep them moving in that direction. So I saw Hillary Clinton move in this campaign, and I can see Hillary Clinton continuing to move after she’s in the White House because a progressive movement will continue to apply pressure not just on her but on members of Congress and on those who are going to be the deciders and the shapers of the policy options that she puts forward.

So the platform is simply a declaration of intent. What makes that declaration of intent into policy is the continue push of a social movement and a political movement to make that change real.

QUESTION: Thomas Gorguissian with Tahrir, Egypt. The question is about the composition of the community and its voting. You mentioned three to one are voting for Democrats. I mean, what is the turnout of in generally how many registered voters are Arab Americans, and how many of them – the percentage of the people who are voting for – in this process?

And then there is a question maybe to Maya and to explain to me exactly when she mentioned the born American – those who are born here and those who are the first generation – what is the percentage of these people now to – regarding the community?

And if there is a third question, regarding the platform – I mean, there was a lot of talk in the Arab media and Israeli media about the occupation and settlements and BDS and so and so. I mean, can you explain to the foreign media or in your own word what exactly was there and it’s not there now, and how it is reflecting or not reflecting at all what’s going on in the party apparatus?

MR ZOGBY: With regard to the voter registration numbers, and I think the composition numbers – let me tell you, the – since 9/11, since the turn of the century, the numbers of Arab American – of Arab immigrants to America have skyrocketed. In the 1980s, there was 160,000; in the ’90s, it was 300,000; in the first decade of the 20th – 21st century, it was almost 500,000. And the numbers have continued to grow. So the composition of the community has changed. It’s changed rather significantly, become way more diverse. It was a largely Syrian/Lebanese community, and I use the two together because many of them came when it was all one country, and my father was Lebanese but had a Syrian passport. And that’s changed.

Now, it’s still disproportionately Syrian/Lebanese, because their children continue to have children and because we continue to get immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. But we now have Yemeni immigrants, we have Iraqi immigrants, we have Jordanian – not just Palestinian refugees from Jordan but actual Jordanian immigrants. And we have as a result of the lottery system Moroccans and Tunisians and Algerians, and we have Sudanese and the --


MR ZOGBY: And Somali. And the Egyptian numbers have grown, and after the trouble in Egypt, the – sort of the unrest in Egypt, the numbers grew even more, with a huge number of Coptic Christians coming. And so I went to an event in northern Virginia after the Tahrir Square. There were 800 folks there in just northern Virginia, and it was not the entire community. It was a huge turnout. And I’m seeing those numbers continue of – among all of the various component groups of the community.

And so while voter registration numbers in the ’90s were in the 80 percent range, I’m sure that they’re different today because we have a whole lot of new immigrants, many of whom are not registered. So the effort to register them is a challenge. It’s something that we have to do. I learned in politics voter registration is a task that never ends. You’re getting new people who turn 18 and you’re also getting new people coming in the country who need to get their citizenship papers filed and then register to vote.

So I can’t tell you that. I think we’re sort of – and because the new immigrant numbers – we know there’s a really large Chaldean community and a really large Syrian Christian community, a really large Coptic community – but I don’t know what the breakout Muslim, Christian in the community is. I do know that the born here, born there numbers have shifted, but I don’t know the composition numbers because we just don’t have a census figure that we can work with.

On the platform, the draft stayed as it was. There was no change in the Israeli-Palestinian draft. We tried to get some of the BDS language out; we didn’t. We tried to change some of the language on Jerusalem, because I think it was actually quite bizarre. I mean, on the one hand they say it’s a subject for negotiations, and then right after that it says, “And it will be the undivided capital of Israel.” It’s either one or the other. But it was a political statement, not a policy statement.

What was interesting to me was when they were arguing their case against us, they said, well, let’s just tell you that on – with regard to BDS, we’re not opposed to it; we just think that if it de-legitimizes Israel, we’re opposed to it, but we’re not against it in general.

So, I mean, their effort to reconcile with the Sanders people was very significant. And what’s true is that the language on Palestinians is far more progressive than any Democratic or Republican platform ever. They used the word “dignity” twice for Palestinians in a overall paragraph that only had about a hundred words in it. They talk about Palestinian independence. I mean, if you look at the 2012, 2008, 2004 platforms, this is miles better than anything they’ve ever done before, and it was because they were trying to accommodate us. They wouldn’t agree to words we knew had to be in there and I find fault with them on that.

But let me turn it over to Maya and let her finish, then.

MS BERRY: I mean, it was a bit silly at the end to be having a battle about using the term “occupation” that the entire world knows exists, including Israelis. Certainly, the same can be said about the issue of settlements. But that is where, in some ways, the debate ended up because of, I think, the point that Dr. Zogby is making, and that is that there was other language in there that accurately reflected the shift in public opinion on Palestine-Israel.

I think that might be all the time we have. I wanted to close just on – to your point of voters. While some of the demographic information is a little loose given the new data we don’t have yet, what is important is that we are concentrating in key electoral states. We happen to be in about – the 3.7 million of us happen to be in about 12 key states that end up being swing – important swing states during presidential election cycles – including Michigan, including Ohio, including Pennsylvania, including Virginia.

We’re roughly 5 percent of voters in the state of Michigan. So if someone wants to win Michigan – and Michigan is considerably in play now given the Trump candidacy and the free trade positions that he’s taken – there is a lot of attention that will be paid, as it was in the primary, to Arab American voters in Michigan. Same can be said of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and others, where we’re roughly 2 percent of the vote in those areas. So in an election that’s close, we’re definitely within the margin of victory on that.

MR ZOGBY: Thank you.

MS BERRY: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much. This concludes our briefing. And if you have a few minutes, if somebody wants to do a one-on-one, let us know. Otherwise, thank you very much.

MR ZOGBY: Thank you.

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