Illinois Candidates showcase Arab American breakfast event Sunday Feb 18

Illinois Candidates showcase Arab American breakfast event Sunday Feb 18

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Illinois Candidates showcase Arab American breakfast event Sunday Feb 18

More than a dozen Democratic candidates vying for contested races in the March 20 Illinois primary election have confirmed their appearances at the annual Candidate’s Breakfast hosted by the state’s largest Arab American political organization.

The Arab American Democratic Club will host candidates running for a wide range of offices from congress to governor at the breakfast which will be held at Niko’s Banquet Hall at 76th and Harlem Avenue on Sunday February 18 beginning at 10 am.

AADC Executive Director Samir Khalil said that Arab American voters is expected to reach its highest level of involvement in the election, noting that more than 550 people have confirmed their attendance for the breakfast banquet.

Congressman Dan Lipinski (left), Democratic challenger Marie Newman (right)

Congressman Dan Lipinski (left), Democratic challenger Marie Newman (right)

“Arab Americans are an important voting block but in the past they have been taken for granted,” Khalil said.

“That has changed. Over the last few years, more and more Arab Americans have registered to vote and are expressing their preferences in local elections.”

Khalil said that the majority of Arabs in the Chicagoland area are Democratic, noting some do vote Republican.

“The Arab American Democratic Club is the strongest and most active voice of Chicagoland’s Arab American voters. This year, through candidate’s forums we hosted in which all of the candidates were invited to speak to our community, the community has come together to make several key endorsements in the upcoming election,” Khalil said.

“The Arab American Democratic Club has enthusiastically endorsed Christopher Kennedy for Governor. We invited all of the candidates to speak to us but Kennedy’s platform, his expression of concern for the interests of Arab Americans has resonated with our community.”

Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby addresses the Arab American Democratic Club brunch March 19, 2017. Photo courtesy of Steve Neuhaus

Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby addresses the Arab American Democratic Club brunch March 19, 2017. Photo courtesy of Steve Neuhaus

Khalil said the group approached all of the candidates but only J.B. Pritzker declined to appear before the group.

“We wanted to address our concerns, as we did with Kennedy and others but Pritzker refused,” Khalil said.

“We understand. But we believe that Kennedy’s commitment to support for the rights of Arab Americans moving forward is critical. And, his promise to keep his door open to our community to discuss all of our concerns is something that is extremely important to our community.”

There are about 450,000 Arab Americans living in the six county Chicagoland region with an estimated 80,000 Arab Americans who are registered to vote in Cook County, mainly in the Southwest Suburban region.

Among candidates confirmed to attend the AADC Candidate Brunch are: Christopher Kennedy (Illinois Governor), Patrick Quinn (Illinois Attorney General), Jesus Garcia (4th District Congress), Congressman Dan Lipinski (3rd District), Congressman Danny Davis, Marie Newman (3rd District Congress), Debra Shore (Water Reclamation District).

Also attending will be several Judges and candidates for judicial office.

Candidates and speakers will be introduced by AADC Officer Miriam Zayed, who herself ran for the school district board in District 230 in the 1990s and has been active in registering American Arabs to vote in local, state and national elections.

The keynote speaker of the event is Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and a longtime Democratic Party activist, delegate and presidential adviser. Detroit comedian Amer Zahr will entertain. Closing remarks will be present by newspaper political columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter Ray Hanania.


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com