Richard Shadyac thought that this was the year his people, the Arab-Americans, had come of political age. By Shadyac's calculation, 2 million Arab-Americans will be voting this fall. His figure is probably high, since by most estimates the total Arab-American poulation does not exceed 3 million. Still, their number is growing, along with their political consciousness, and Shadyac figured that in 1980 the Arab-Americans would at last make their impact felt.
In his law office at a stylish dontown address, Shadyac happily informed me last spring that chairman Robert Strauss and manager Tim Kraft of the president's reelection campaign had asked him to head a committee of Arab-Americans for Carter. With a flourish, he told me of his plans to organize a registration drive down to the precinct level to get Arab-Americans to the polls.
Though obviously pleased to display the tokens of worldly success -- expensive car, fine clothes with accesories of gold, carefully coiffed hair, thick carpet on his office floor -- Shadyac acknowledged that he had thus far failed in his lifelong ambition to organize Arab-Americans as a political force. Precisely because it seemed like a qualitative leap forward, the invitation from the White House was very important to him.
I did not know at the time that among Shadyac's clients was the government of Libya, and the White House apparently did not either, although the information was on the public record. Like many in his profession, Shadyac draws no sharp line between his business and private life, and he has used his Arab connections openly to advance his career. Many of his clients are from the Arab world. Yet I know of no one who questions the genuineness of his dedication to the Arab-American community.
The 50-year-old son of a Lebanese father and Irish mother, Hadyac readily acknowledged to me that his goal was to challenge the power of the rival American Jewish community, which is about 6 million strong and also much richer and more tightly organized.
"Let's face it," Shadyac told me, "I want to emulate the Jews. If we hadn't seen a need to compete with the Jews, the Arab-Americans would still have no political organizations.
"The Jews have known for a long time how to use their money to exercise power and now, with the power of oil in the Arab countries, we should be able to match them. We have the voters, and now we have the wealth of the Gulf to go with them. The Jews are good Americans. I admire and respect them, because they take advantage of the political process. I thought we ought to do exactly what they have done."
Shadyac has been promoting the cause of Arab-Americans in politics since the 1950, long beore there were Arab-American political organizations. It is probable that most Americans, faithful to the "melting pot" mythology, still hold the notion of ethnic power in suspicion. But Americans also invented the "balanced ticket," to assure representation to diverse ethnic groups, and Shadyac, like so many others in American political history, says it is time for his people to "get theirs."
Shadyac had long been known among Arab-Americans for his charity work. Now the community looks to him as a political organizer, along with Jim Zogby of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Hisham Shirabi and Edward Said of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Abdeen Jabara of the Arab Center in Detroit, former senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, now of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimation League. At the least, these men have established an Arab-American beachhsead in American politics.
But only Shadyac -- known for much of his adult life as Mr. Arab-American -- goes back in history to George Kasem of California, who in 1958 became the first Arab-American ever elected to Congress, lasting one term. Shadyac himself dates the political breakthrough to Abourezk, who won a House seat in 1970 and two years later became the first Arab-American elected to the Senate. Shadyac reminisces easily about touring the country with Abourezk, a new political star, trying to overcome the Arab-American community's deep seated indifference to electoral politics.
A trace of paternalism slips into his voice as he talks of a new generation of Arab-Americans running for public office, and he makes clear that, though he is a Democrat, he supports them all, whatever their party. He reels off the names of the members of Congress: Democrats Toby Moffett of Connecticut, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Mary Rose Oakar of Ohio, Republican James Abdnor of South Dakota. Then he reaches down to talk of the Arab-American candidates for state offices.
"Twenty years ago you could hardly find an Arab-American on the ballot," he told me with pride, "and now there are dozens of them."
About 10 years ago, Shadyac called together a group of prominent Arab-Americans over dinner in the Kuwaiti Embassy to discuss the political future. By then, Arab-Americans were beginning to build institutions, he said, but native-born, assimilate Arab-Ameraicans like himself were still not organized for politics.
Shadyac said he dismissed proposals to form another tax-exempt charitable or cultural association, already famiiar to the community. He also insisted that the organization have an American character, he said, free of the influence of Arab political exiles. What was needed, he argued, was an organization that was openly political, which could legally promote candidates and lobby on issues, whether foreign or domestic.
Out of that meeting emerged the National Association of Arab-Americans (NAAA), the closest thing the Arabs have to the celebrated Jewish lobby, but with only a shadow of its power. Throughout its history, Shadyac said, the NAAA has been torn between a Palestine orientation and a Lebanon orientation. It has been weak at the grass-roots level and perennially short of funds. Still, it is active and alive and, because the American government can no longer afford to ignore the petroleum wealth of the Arab world, it now reaches an attentive audience.
So, when he was invited to establjish the committee for Carter, Shadyac was feeling buoyant about the political prospects for Arab-Americans. Then, in mid-July, the Billy Carter scandal exploded, and the White House began running as fast as it could from anything that might connect it with Libya. Shadyac had never had business dealings with Billy Carter, and his lobbying for Libya was public and legal. But when it was brought ot the attention of Bob Straus and Tim Kraft, they announced that the whole thing with Shadyac had been a terrible misunderstanding, and that there never was a committee of Arab-Americans for Carter.
Although Shadyac cited no evidence of Jewish involvement in the episode, he interpreted his abrupt fall as further proof of the Jewish community's influence in American politics. "The Jewish community can't stand to have an Arab-American near the White House," he said. Crest-fallen, Shadyac had to admit that this would not be the year. when the Arab-Americans come of political age, and that he would have to defer his dream to another time.
When I talked with Jim Zogby, I thought that his background was, at least on the surface, much like my own. Zogby is a slim, dark man of 35, who exudes a restless energy and a quick intelligence. Director of the Palestine Human Right Campaign, he keeps an untidy office with books and papers scattered about on the second floor of an old brownstone near Depont Circle. I was reminded by the diverse people passing through it, Arab and non-Arab, of a crossroad in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Zogby's father, a refugee from the oppression of the Turks, came from a little village on the Lebanese-Syrian border and settled in an industrial city in Upstate New York. My grandfather (I'm nearly a generation older than Zogby), a refugee from the oppression of the czar, came from a town on the Russian-Polish frontier and settled in a factory city in New Jersey.
Neither man made it big in America, but each held a job, owned a home, raised a family.
Both also worked hard to assimilate, but remained throughout their lives most comfortable with those whose background was much like their own. Politically, the difference between them derived from their cultures: one was an Arab, the other a Jew. Each cast a single vote, but because my grandfather came from a more closely knit community, his vote was the more to be reckoned with.
I think back to the seedy old club that was the center of my grandfather's life in the working class part of the town. It was where he and his cronies played cards and reminisced. It was also where they organized for Jewish charities, for the purchase of insurance and burial plots, for activities in politics and Zionism and trade unionism.
In a sense, they had brought the club with them from East Europe where the Jews of the ghetto had, for as long as anyone could remember, formed associations to preserve their religion, their culture and themselves. Though they had been forced into new ways in American, which was far from easy for them, they found adaption made easier by their experience at organization. A transplant from the Old World, the club helped keep alive a Jewish sense among the immigrants, and contributed to the high degree of institutionalizaion of American-Jewish life.
Jim Zogby said his father also belonged to a club where the men congregated and together preserved some of their old ways. But unlike my grandfather's club it never performed major social functions and had no political orientation.
The explanations are many. In the old country the Turks ruled everything; there was no local self-government from which to build political experience. Valuing family much more than community, the Arabs created no tradition of organized charity or of social service associations. Though often workers in the factories of New England and the Middle West, Arab immigrants brought with them none of the Jews' aptitude for collective action. Arab men wanted to be grocers and peddlers on their own, not members of companies and trade unions.
Until recently, they did not even think of themselves as Arabs. They of course distinguished themselves from the Persians to the East and the Turks to the North who were also shaped by Islam, but they were Lebanese or Syrians or Yemenis or Iraqis rather than Arabs. They were also divided into minority Christians and Moslems, and within the two religions into a variety of tribes and sects. Richard Shadyac told me that the term "Arab-American" came into common use only a few years ago. Indeed, even today the sense of community among the Arabs lags far behind the ethnic consciousness of most other groups within the American mix.
Politically, Arabs in America before World War ii opposed European colonialism. Since that time, in the Middle East struggle they have sided instinctively with the Arabs against Israel. But they have not succeeded in organizing politically or even in speaking with a single voice, either on domestic matters of Arab-American concern or on events important to Arabs in the Middle East.
Jim Zogby told me he had never thought much about being an Arab until the Six-Day War in 1967. His parents spoke Arabic in the house, he said, but they identified more with fellow immigrants -- like the Rosenbergs, whom they considered the victims of discrimination against immigrants -- than with Arab causes. Many of his friends, immigrant kids like himself, were Jewish. Enrolled in a Jesuit college in Upstate New York, he joined Youth for Goldwater, then turned against the Vietnam was and participated in the anti-war movement and in Students for a Democratic Society. Through he was growing politically in those years, he said, being Arab had almost no influence on his political judgement.
"The war of 1967 changed all that," Zogby said. "It was a shock to all Arabs. Unlike the Jews, we never saw it as a defensive war by Isreal but as agression by a force unwilling to settle outstanding claims. It was an insult to us to hear Arthur Goldberg, the UN delegate, vilify Arabs on the floor of the United Nations. He seemed to be talking about me. The exultant reaction of America Jews, of my own friends and of people I worked with in the anti-war movement troubled me. The response all seemed so excessive, so one-sided.
"That fall, I entered Temple in Philadelphia to start work on my Ph.D in philosophy and found a job teaching comparative religion at a synagogue. The first thing I remember about the campus was seeing a sign in front of a fraternity house that said, 'Go Isreal, Beat Arabs.' Soon afterward I was fired by the synagogue. The head of the school told me with some embarrassment about parents who complained that I was an Arab.
"By now, emotions were so high that it became difficult on both sides to maintain my old friendships with Jews. For the first time I became seriously conscious of being an Arab. The next year, I think, the Jewish Defense League formed a group on campus. I was roughed up and called 'Arab dog.' I was really angry, and began to think what I could do."
Co-founder and director since 1975, Zogby said the Palestine Human Rights Campaign was organized so that Arab-Americans could deal with Arab problems in a distinctively American way. "We've focused on human rights and the legal issues of the Israeli occupation," he said, "and we've leaned heavily on the statute which says American aid cannot go to countries that violate human rights." In five years, Zogby said, the organization has brought several successful lawsuits, held many conferences and circulated stacks of literature on human rights violations in the occupied territories. Speaking in terms that Americans understand, he said, the Palestine Human Rights Campaign has not gone unnoticed.
Hisham Shirabi, 50, a professor of political science at Georgetown, and Edward Said, 44, a professor of literature at Columbia, are considered luminaries among Arab-Americans, having written important studies on the Mideast struggle. But they are different from Shadyac and Zogby, who are American-born. Though American citizens, and married to Americans, Shirabi and Said are Palestinian born and think of themselves as exiles. Though they will probably never go "home," their feeling for the Arab stake in the Middle East is personal and direct.
Lean and taut, friendly enough but rigidly formal, Shirabi talked with me in a student restaurant near the Georgetown campus. He smiled rarely and with melancholy. "When we lost the country in 1948," he said softly, "I was studying at the University of Chicago, and I could not go home. The tragedy has shaped my life ever since. Until 1967 we had confidence that Nasser would liberate the land. When the war came, we went into deep cultural shock. It drove some of us to reconsider the entire Arab past and future. We had to ask, 'How come?'"
Said is dark and handsome with an athletic look and an easy but nervous laugh. I met with him in his dingy office on the Columbia campus. "My friends and I had all been admirers of Nasser," he said, "and we couldn't understand what had happened. The war gave us a sense of Israel's dynamism and of its scientific, military, technical and intellectual prowess. At the same time, we saw the inability of the Arabs to work together. We did a lot of soul-searching in the months after the war."
It was in those postwar months that Shirabi and Said met in Chicago with other Arab-American intellectuals, most of them exiles like themselves, to found the Association of Arab-American University Graduates. Currently its membership is about a thousand, most of whom are campus-based intellectuals. It publishes a newsletter, information papers, monographs, books and a scholarly periodical called Arab Quarterly.
The AAUG's positions, Shirabi said, are militantly pro-Palestinian, pan-Arab and radical. Furthermore, the AAUG, he said, identifies openly with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he described as a "consensus group" supported by all Arab-Americans except some from the Lebanese Christian right. Shirabi himself maintains close ties with the PLO, and Said is actually a member of the Palestine National Council, the PLO's parent body.
Shirabi said that withing the past few years the AAUG has followed the PLO in abandoning insistnece upon "liberation," and now favors a "two-state solution" to the Palestine question. But, like the PLO, the AAUG refuses to support the Camp David agrement, and its subsequent criticism of President Sadat has caused its Egyptian members to drop out.
Though the AAUG addresses its literature to both Arab and Arab-American questions, much of its organizational work is directed at politicizing the Arab-American community. Shirabi told me the AAUG would be willingly accept funds from the PLO and the oil-producing countries to expand its activities, but he noted regretfully that they have never offered any. He acknowledged that the AAUG had probably had little impact on American policy. But he said it had been useful in establishing an Arab intellectual presence in America and had helped arouse Arab-Americans from their traditional indifference to world politics.
Abdeen Jabara, a Detroit-born Arab-American, had opened a law office in his home town in 1965 to serve the city's 200,000-member Arab-American community. A year later he went to Lebanon, where his parents were from, to learn some Arabic. He was in Beirut when the Six-Day War broke out. "It was like standing before a dam that burst" was how he described his reaction to me.
Jabara was among those who met with Shirabi and Said in Chicago to found the Association of Arab-American University Graduates in the fall of 1967. A few months later the AAUG's charter was actually written in his office. Jabara, now 39, was named the AAUG's first executive secretary and later served as its president. In the mid-1970s, seeing a need to focus attention on the Palestinians, he joined with Jim Zogby to open the office of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in Washington.
But Jabara has acquired his reputation as the most dynamic and, perhaps, the most influential of Arab-American leaders by serving as organizer and lawyer in Detroit. Drawn by the automobile factories, Arabs started coming to the Detroit area before World War II, and there are more of them now, form virtually every country in the Arab world, than inhabit Jerusalem. In spite of their numbers, they are not politically powerful, and Jabara argues that they will remain weak until they are organized.
I went to the heart of the Arab-American community Dearborn, in the shadow of Ford's Rouge plant, where pungent Arab spices from the groceries and restaurants share the breezes with the pollution from the factory. Here I spied veiled women sitting on second-story porches, but mostly I saw dark-complexioned, mustached Arab men from the army of the auto industry's unemployed, chatting noisily on street corners or in coffeehouses.
Jabara's work to organize Detroit's Arabs focuses largely on the Arab Community Center on Salina Street. Modestly supported, the austere brick building bears little resemblance to the luxurious centers with theaters and gyms in many Jewish communities. On Salina Street, the Arabs have no gym but they can find health and welfare services and activities designed to keep their culture alive.
Jabara told me he had not succeeded in bloc-voting the Arabs to maximize their political power, but he noted with satisfaction that he had recently organized a series of successful demonstrations. His chief issues involve the daily problems of the working class. He has met repeatedly with police officials on behalf of fair treatment for Arabs, has challenged fedearal authorities over the distribution of CETA funds to the Arab jobless. He led a battle in Dearborn to stop an urban renewal project designed to sweep away the Arab quarter and negotiated bilingual education programs for the public schools.
In insisting upon equal rights for Arab members, Jabara has helped establish a significant Arab-American power base within the United Automobile Workers. In a rare test of strength with pro-Israeli forces, he said, he challenged the UAW's practice of investing funds in Israel bonds. His slogan, "From bonds to bombs to bondage," drew attention to the Arab viewpoint, he said. Since then, the UAW has bought no more Israel bonds.
Jabara also spent much of the last decade fighting the FBI. Documents confirm illegal harassment and surveillance, of which Jabara himself was an object, and which kept Arab-Americans in a state of high anxiety. Finally, he collected enough evidence to sue, he said, and last year a federal court found the FBI guilty of violating his constitutional rights. An appeal is pending.
"Our community has come a long way since those dark days," Jabara said. "We were regarded then as militants, radicals, malcontents and revolutionaries, and all kinds of rumors were spread about us. But now we are a respectable force in Detroit, and our political impact will grow."
Indeed, in Detroit, Arab-Americans have already become a measurable force. Mayor Coleman Oung, to the dismay of his Jewish constituents, has signaled as much by openly proclaiming himself a supporter of Arab causes, both domestic and international. Though Jabara admits it is still difficult to persuade Arabs to give money for politics, he says he is optimistic about the prospect of building "Third World coalitions" with blacks and other minorities.
John Richardson is quite a different cup of tea from Abdeen Jabara. Decidedly WASP, Richardson, 12, is the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Arab-Americans. Reared in Washington, D.C., he attended college in New England, taught high school English for a few years and returned here to do graduate work in Middle Eastern affairs at George Washington University. At GW, Richardson said, he "got hooked" on the Palestinian problem.
Richardson said Israel's "dispropportionate influence" on American policy in the Middle East brought him to the NAAA. He assured me he understood Jewish concerns about Israel, which he attributed to the repeated tragedies of Jewish history, most notably the Holocaust. But he argued that the United States should "demythologize" Israel, and treat it like other countries. Ultimately, he said, such treatment would be in Israel's interest, as well as America's.
Sitting in his well-scrubbed office on Connecticut Avenue. Richardson pointed out that the Arab lobby was "hopelessly outgunned" by the Jewish lobby, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the NAAA's organizational counterpart.
"I welcome a fair fight in the marketplace of ideas," he said. "But on the Mideast people in Congress by and large do not vote their conscience. They are under tremendous pressure from APIPAC. I think most legislators overestimate its power to punish, but then I don't have to get re-elected, and they do. Nonetheless, the advantage is shifting in that people in government now accept the legitimacy of Arab-americans speaking out on Middle East questions. A decade ago, that wasn't true.
Richardson conceded that the NAAA's authority will remain limited, however, as long as it fails to get strong community support. His porfessional staff of five is respected. His $250,000 budget, much of which comes from the oil industry, is considered ample. But lacking are dues-paying NAAA members, which now number no more than 3,000.
Richard Shadyac, the organization's most effective money-raiser, has occasionally talked of suspending lobbying operations in order to concentrate on building a field staff to recruit members at the grass roots. At its current membership level, Richardson admits, the NAAA has great difficulty making a persuasive argument that it speaks for 2 million Arab-Americans.
Richardson also noted with some regreat that Arab-American members of Congress are much less responsive to the NAAA than are Jewish members to AIPAC. In part he attributes this to the bloc of Jewish voters living in the districs of some Arab-Americans. Connecticut's Toby Moffett, for example, returned a $1,000 contribution from Shadyac after the story broke of Shadyac's Libyan connection. But Richardson also points to the reluctance of the NAAA to fight the battle over Mideast policy along ethnic lines, where the odds would not be in its favor. Nonetheless, he said, Arab-American members on their own are identifying more often with Arab positions on the Middle East.
Richardson also insisted that the NAAA does not turn to the Arab embassies for help. Unlike Hisham Shirabi, who admits he would accept Arab money to support the Aaug, Richardson said the NAAA, determined to keep its agenda in American hands, would not risk losing its independence to Arab diplomatic goals. But Richardson was quick to add that the Arabs are equally indifferent to the Arab-American community and pay little attention to the NAAA. Unlike Israel, he said, the Arab countries have no understanding of how local pressure groups can influence foreign policy.
I met Naseer Aruri near midnight in the Providence airport, en route from North Dartmouth, Mass., where he teaches history at Southeast Massachusetts University. Born in Jerusalem, Aruri found, like Shirabi and Said, that he could not go back home after Israel became a state in 1948. Though one of the founders of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, he became dissatisfied with the AAUG's lack of vigor and excessive intellectualism in representing the Palestinian cause. Reasoning that Palestinian-Americans, estimated at 100,000 in number, should have their own voice, he founded the palestine Congress of North America.
The organizational principle of the Palestine Congress is simple, Aruri explained. He and his co-founders raised a political "umbrella" over existing charitable and cultural groups. The largest and oldest is the Ramallah Federation, an association -- which Aruri called "tribalistic"-- of some 25,000 men and women who have ties to Ramallah, an Arab city north of Jerusalem. Smaller "tribalistic" units, some just neighborhood clubs, are on the membership roster, along with the larger carities like the Holy Land Fund, the Palestine-American Fund and the Red Crescent. Aruri said the "umbrella" method of organization assures a strong popular base, which gives the Palestine Congress authority when it speaks.
Though a soft-spoken man, Aruri takes on a strident tone when officailly representing the Congress. "The Palestine Community in North America," he wrote to President Sadat after the Camp David agreement, "unanimously rejects your malicious consipiracy against the Palestine people . . ." Nor was he more gracious to President Carter when, in commenting on American policy in the Middle East, he said, "The United States has displayed a contemptible timidity in confronting Zionist pressures . . ."
Though the Palestine Congress does not act as a PLO spokesman, Aruri said, its positions and those of the PLO were "uniformly compatible." Like Shirabi, he preceives the PLO not as a terrorist but a political organization representing Palestinians. "A significant segment of Palestinian-Americans sees the PLO as a government-in-exile," Aruri said, and if the Plo issued membership cards, it is probable that most Palestinian-Americans, including himself, would apply for them.
Jim abourezk, the former senator from South Dakota, is working to sew still another patch onto the Arab-American organizational quilt. He recently incorporated the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League, patterned after the B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League. It is principally designed, Abourezk said, "to challenge the sterotype of Arab-Americans in the media."
Feisty and gregarious, sone of a peddler who settled on an Indian reservation, Abourezk is now a prosperous Washington lawyer. Like Shadyac, he has important clients from the Middle East but, like so many Arab-Americans, he had only the faintest awareness of his heritage until the Six-Day War. When he first arrived in Washington in 1970, Abourezk told me, he thought of himself as no different from the other Middle Westerners in the House.
It took him little time, he said, to be stripped of his naivete. He quickly became the prize in a tug-of-war between the Jewish lobby, which saw him as a promising young liberal, and assorted Arab-Americans who viewed him as the herald of a new age. The Arab in him triumphed, he said, in part during trips to the Middle East, where he was appalled by the sight of the Palestinian refugee camps and impressed by his talks with Arab leaders who persuaded him that, whatever the Israelis might contend, they genuinely wanted peace.
But political transformation was hastened, Abourezk said, by the denunciations directed at him by the Jewish lobby, whenever he made statements sympathetic to Arabs. "They said I was being bought off," he remembered, "as if support of Isreal is the natural product of conscience and sympathy for Palestinians is being bought off." By the mid-1970s, Abourezk was helping Richard Shadyac find recruits for the NAAA and had become anathema to the Jewish lobbyists in town.
Over a carry-out lunch including Jim Zogby in the luxury suite occupied by Abourezk's law firm on 20th Street, the former senator told me he selected Zogby to work with him at putting the Anti-Discrimination League on a firm footing. Zogby had made an excellent reputation with the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, which he and Abdeen Jabara founded in 1975 and for which Abourezk, on a volunteer basis, did much of the legal work. Abourezk, on a volunteer basis, did much of the legal work. Abourezk said he planned to spend a year speaking throughout the country in behalf of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League, while Zogby ran the office in Washington.
"Abourezk is right," Zogby said, "in saying that the media defame Arabs constantly. Some of it is unconscious, by people who never thought of Arabs as human beings. They're the same people who for a long time created stereotypes about Jews and blacks and other minorities and never thought of them as human beings either."
A few years ago, Commissioner Paul Rand Dixon of the Federal Trade Commission publicly called Ralph Nader, who is of Lebanese descent, a "dirty Arab." Not only did the NAAA protest, so did the American Jewish Congress, which noted a similarity to the common anti-Semitic epithet "dirty Jew." Dixon was forced to apologize, but Zogby noted with some indignation that this kind of Jewish support was rare.
According to Abourezk, the last straw was the FBI's recent Abscam operation, during which Arabs were repeatedly depicted by the media as dark, sinister and shifty. The racial libel transmitted by Abscam, he added, made up his mind to establish the new Anti-Discrimination League.
"The Jews have shown us how much can be accomplished in fighting ethnic defamation," said Abourezk. "I'm encouraged by their model. But we won't have to copy toe Jews. After all, back on the reservation in South Dakota where I was brought up, I knew how to organize before I knew there were Jews."
Once again, Abourezk said, he will go the grass roots of the Arab-American community, as he as been going for a decade. He acknowedges that, orgainzationally, the results of the decade have been disappointing. But this time, he said, because the issue of discrimination affects so many Arab-Americans personally, he thinks he may have an organizational winner.
Abourezk insisted it was inevitable that, before long, the Arab-American community will be recognized as a significant force in American politics. It has a basis of power in numbers and wealth, he said, and it has acquired momentum. Though 1980 may not be its year to come of political age, he asserted, the year is surely not very distant.