In California, the unfailing support of American elected officials for Israel tenses the Arabic-speaking community

In Little Arabia, a neighborhood in the Californian city of Anaheim where a large Arab-American community lives, the unfailing support of American elected officials for Israel is disturbing. Katie Porter, the elected Democratic representative of the district, notably refuses to call for a ceasefire, at the risk of losing part of her electorate in the next elections.

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It is an Arabic-speaking enclave in the United States. In Little Arabia, a neighborhood in the Californian city of Anaheim where a large Arab-American community lives, the conflict between Israel and Hamas is on everyone’s minds.

Here, support for the Palestinians is displayed in many cafes. “Me, my wife and my children who were born here, we go to bed watching the news, and when we wake up, we watch the news,” says Asem Abu Asir, manager of Knafeh Cafe. “When I have a cousin who doesn’t answer the phone or a message, we worry, we imagine the worst, we wonder what happened to them.”

Refusal to call for a ceasefire

For many here, the United States’ unwavering support for Israel is difficult to live with. One year before the next presidential election, demonstrators have been gathering every week since the start of the conflict to put pressure on local elected officials. “If you look at the last elections, a lot of Arab-Americans voted for the Democrats and we feel betrayed,” explains Rashad Al-Dabbagh, director of the Arab American Civic Council. “We are ready to vote in the next elections, and our choices will be made based on the choices these politicians make.”

Katie Porter, the district’s Democratic representative who is running for senator, refuses to call for a ceasefire. However, it was in part thanks to the votes of the local Arab-American community that she wrested her seat in Congress from the Republicans.

While two thirds of Americans are in favor of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, only around twenty elected officials in Congress officially support this position.

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