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Out & About in Cleveland

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Fundraiser for Lake County Commissioner Kevin Malecek; Cleveland American Middle East Organization Features Ambassador Edward Gabriel

On Monday, October 17th, we went to a fundraiser for our friend, Lake County Commissioner Kevin Malecek who will face the voters on November 8th but most of us are feeling quite good about his chances of waking up on November 9th looking forward to four more years of service.

img_5389 The fundraiser was held at Bistro 70 North St. Clair in Painesville. We could only stay for a half hour but we enjoyed talking to people like Ms. Ann B. Radcliffe, Lake County Recorder, and Mr. Tom Jubeck, Pipefitters Local 120, who were also at the Lake County NAACP banquet on October 14th.

We also visited with Mr. Shawn Douglas, Human Resource Administrator with Lake County Job and Family Services. Through his job, Mr. Douglas has been involved with Lake County government for over 20 years and has seen various commissioners come and go. He really feels good about having Commissioner Malecek in the position that he now holds because he considers Commissioner Malecek, who has only been in office for less than two years, to be a "quick study" who reaches out to all parties and takes what they have to say into consideration.

We could only stay at Kevin's for a little while because we had to get to the La Villa Conference Center on Brookpark Road in Cleveland by 7pm because the Cleveland American Middle East Organization (CAMEO) had put together a program there featuring Ambassador Edward Gabriel, the Hillary Clinton campaign advisor to Arab American Outreach efforts. The literature promoting this event contained a brief biography of Amb. Gabriel that read as follows:

"Ambassador Edward Gabriel has an extensive background in international affairs, having convened multilateral policy forums involving national security, environmental, and trade and energy issues. He has been involved in matters of Russian and European nuclear non-proliferation and safety, and he has been active in advising the US Government on Mideast policy matters. From November, 1997-March 2001, he was the US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco during which time a new US-Morocco strategic relationship was launched on political, military and economic levels.

Ambassador Gabriel is currently President and CEO of the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), Co-Chairman of the American School of Tangier, and member of the boards of AMIDEAST, the Arab American National Museum (AANM), and The Keystone Center. He also serves as the Chairman of the Moroccan American Center, which works to strengthen U.S.-Moroccan political, business, cultural, and security relationships."

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About 75 people turned out for the event including Judge Diane Karpinski (8th District Court of Appeals now retired) and Judge Kathryn Michael of the Akron Municipal District Court. We spoke to Judge Michael for a moment and she said to be sure to say hello to Ms. Margaret W. Wong who has supported her. A lot of our friends from CAMEO were in attendance also as well as Mr. George Koussa from Margaret W. Wong and Associates and Ms. Sara Elaqad who once worked for us. Covering the event for the Al Arabiya New Channel was Ms. Muna Shikaki, correspondent.

Amb. Gabriel was introduced by CAMEO President Pierre Bejjani who read CAMEO's statement of purpose which is to "apprise candidates running for public office that will offer political support to those who are best prepared to respond to our concerns." He emphasized, though, that while CAMEO does not, by policy, endorse candidates for the office of the President of the United States, all viewpoints are welcomed and it was a privilege to have a person of such high-caliber as Amb. Gabriel come to talk to us.

During the course of his remarks, Amb. Gabriel identified himself as a Lebanese American who was born and raised in New York.  He inferred (and we agree) that he was very well suited to speak on behalf of former Secretary of State Clinton because they have been friends for 20 years and have traveled to the Middle East together for meetings with heads of States and for peace conferences. Amb. Gabriel has thus seen Sec. Clinton in action and can attest to her experience, her high level of competence and her character. Later in the evening, he said that she is "the best listener and really wants to hear what you have to say."

As for Mr. Donald Trump, Amb. Gabriel recalled a meeting that he had with him back in 1999 when Mr. Trump was considering building a casino in Morocco. He didn't like Mr. Trump's intimidating style and the meeting did not go img_5401pleasantly for either of them. Amb. Gabriel was particularly put off when Mr. Trump asked him about the "chicks" (a disparaging word for women that he used) in Morocco.

He said that due to his ethnicity, he was often called offensive names when he was growing up but there was a big difference between kids jeering at each other and the insults that Mr. Trump has out at various ethnic groups. Amb. Gabriel told us that he had spoken to people from different countries who were very worried about their international standing should Mr. Trump be elected.

Thankfully Sec. Clinton and Mr. Trump could not be more different in their viewpoints about inclusivity; Amb. Gabriel assured us that Sec. Clinton is committed to appointing people to serve in all areas of government that will reflect the diversity of the United States. Amb. Gabriel made it clear that he, personally, was not expecting to serve in her administration but (and he said this with a smile) one job that he wouldn't mind having would be the Director of Personnel for (hopefully) President Hillary Clinton.

The message that Amb. Gabriel wanted to convey was how important it was that everyone there who supports Sec. Clinton's bid to be our next U.S. President to get out and vote for her and encourage our family and friends to do so also. He said that the only things that could beat Sec. Clinton now are the last debate in the next couple of days (although he felt quite good about it and expect Sec. Clinton to do well) and a low voter turnout. In terms of the Arab-American community, he said that Sec. Clinton "has opened the doors" for them to be a part of her administration so they must help her in terms of ensuring a high turnout that could make the difference in carrying several states.img_5404

Amb. Gabriel only spoke for a few minutes because he wanted to take questions. Naturally, we asked him about immigration. He replied that immigrants built this country and people who immigrate here from other countries have an appreciation for the United States that those of us born here often do not have. In terms of being  an asset to our economy, he mentioned that 27% of Muslim Americans own their own businesses and 23% of these have five or more employees. He then let us know that Sec. Clinton has policies that she wants to promote that will help foreign-born businesspersons.

A student from CSU pointed out that several people have said that if Sec. Clinton is elected, she will be one of the most qualified U.S. Presidents ever. In fact, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton have both said that she is more qualified to be President than they were at the time they were elected. She asked about outreach to the Muslim community and Amb. Gabriel recited some interesting statistics about how Muslims voted in the primaries concerning Sec. Clinton, U.S. Senator Sanders, and Mr. Trump. He concluded by saying that he believed that Sec. Clinton will win the Muslim vote by a 2 to 1 margin.

There were also questions dealing directly with foreign policy matters (including a good one from Mr. Koussa regarding our policy towards Syria) which Amb. Gabriel said that he was not authorized to answer on behalf of Sec. Clinton and her campaign. He did say, however, that he could present his own opinion and he did so very articulately. Amb. Gabriel believed that if the United States doesn't lead the world in international matters the consequences are often dire for both the U.S. and the other countries involved. Along these lines, he said that he believed that if she is elected President of the United States, Hillary Clinton's foreign policy will be "muscular" and she "will lead with diplomacy' instead of military might.

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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