The Weekly Current - January 27, 2017

➜ Women's March

Last Saturday, we saw well over 3 million people worldwide come together for the Women’s March on Washington, to stand up for the fundamental rights of women and other minority groups. For many, this peaceful act of solidarity brought a renewed sense of energy and hope, building momentum for further engagement and activism. Rather than giving into fear and complacency, we encourage individuals to stay informed and exercise their democratic rights.

If you are ready to get involved, we have a few resources to share with you:

  • Our partners at the United Religions Initiative, a global grassroots network of over 800 organizations that are working to cultivate peace, have put together an interfaith toolkit in response to the proposed ban on refugee resettlement.

  • The Know Your Neighbor – Multifaith Encounters campaign is a program of the Islamic Networks Group whose mission is to increase religious literacy and build relations among Americans of all backgrounds. Sign the pledge to “get to know my fellow Americans and... speak out against hatred” and learn how you can join the effort.

  • The Arab American Institute has outlined three steps at the local and national level to stand against Anti-Muslim bigotry.

  • Join or start a Euphrates Chapter in your community. Our Chapters offer a safe space to engage in deep listening and dialogue as we turn the “Other” into a brother.

➜ The new U.S. administration

In President Trump’s first week in office, he set into motion plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Officials are also expecting Trump to sign an executive order that will temporarily ban refugees and immigrants from Syria and six other predominantly Muslim countries. According to the President, these measures will be taken to protect Americans from crimes committed by migrants and to reduce the threat of terrorism from abroad.

It is worth noting that of the 750,000 individuals that have resettled in the U.S. since 9/11, only three have been arrested for suspected terrorist activities. The U.S. already boasts an extraordinarily thorough vetting process for prospective immigrants, which takes several years to complete, if they are even accepted. Refugees from Syria and its neighboring countries are fleeing the violence inflicted by ISIS and other terrorist groups, not collaborating with them. And by closing the door to these asylum-seekers, the U.S. is playing its role in the narrative of extremists.

Experts contend that trade, military alliances, and economic development are negatively impacted by protectionist measures and a retreat from the world stage. Ryan Crocker, a former US Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, argues that “With these kinds of actions that cut ties and alienate whole areas of the world, you actually increase the threats against national security, you don’t lessen them.”

In many ways, President Trump’s orders to shut down U.S. borders run counter to longheld American values of pluralism and openness. Traditionally, America has prided itself on being a nation of immigrants, a rich “melting pot” of cultures and backgrounds, strengthened by its diversity. Of course, the process has often been messy, as evidenced through the ongoing struggle for racial equality and justice. Yet the hallmark of universal freedom remains a powerful ideal, not only for Americans but also for those in international community who look to the U.S. as a world leader.

➜ Israeli Settlements

A few weeks ago, leaders from 70 countries met in Paris and agreed that the expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories jeopardizes the possibility for a two-state solution. On Tuesday, the Israeli government showed disregard for international criticism of its settlements and approved the construction of 2,500 new houses in the occupied West Bank. Reporters cite the change in U.S. administration for emboldening Israel to take this step.

This development is well-timed for the upcoming national conference in Washington D.C. hosted by J Street, a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization. The conference will bring together speakers and advocates, including Madeleine Albright, Bernie Sanders, and members of the Knesset, or Israeli parliament. Euphrates is an official “participating organization” and will have representation there. We welcome any of our community members to join us in D.C. next month for this incredible event!

➜ Chapters Update

In other news, we are thrilled to welcome our newest Chapter in Islamabad, Pakistan to the Euphrates community! One of their goals is to “promote unity through interfaith and intercultural dialogues.”