For Many Arab-Americans, President Giuliani Is A “Doomsday Scenario”
Randa Fahmy Hudome is a self-proclaimed lifelong Arab-American Republican. Prior to heading up Fahmy Hudome International — a government relations firm — she served as the associate deputy secretary of energy in the Bush Administration. Like other Republicans, Hudome is currently torn over whom to support among the GOP presidential field.
And yet, like other Arab-Americans, there is one candidate whom she will definitely not be giving her vote: Rudy Giuliani.
“The Arab-American community is conservative, specifically on social and economic issues and I don’t think that’s where Rudy is on the domestic front,” Hudome told the Huffington Post. “And on the foreign policy issues I think there is a great deal of concern, and not just because of his rhetoric. I think there is a lack of foresight on his part.”
Hudome’s sentiments are not uncommon. If Giuliani is regarded skeptically by Arab-American Republicans, he is downright feared among the community’s Democrats. Indeed, whether it is the perception that he readily sacrificed civil liberties as mayor, or his campaign trail rhetoric that strikes some as disdainful of Muslims, few politicians elicit as much dread among America’s 3.5 million Arabs than the former New York City mayor.
“I have had more than a few people tell me that they are worried about that prospect [of Giuliani in the White House] and who identify Giuliani as a person who has little to no regard for the civil liberties and human rights of Muslims,” Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN, Congress’ sole Muslim member, told the Huffington Post. “He is pandering to the fears of 9/11 and needs a boogeyman to do it.”
Dr. James Zogby, a prominent Democrat and founder of the Arab American Institute, sounded a similar alarm: “[A Giuliani administration] is the scariest thing I could imagine at this point. He’s Bush on steroids or Cheney without nuance. He is like the kid who group up in the tough neighborhood who wasn’t tough and now has the chance to sound tough. And I find it frightening because he preys on the worst instinct of people… You would be correct to call his administration a doomsday scenario.”
Dismay for Giuliani among Arab-Americans stems largely from his time in New York. As mayor, Giuliani tried to kick then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat out of Lincoln Center during a concert and rejected a $10 million check for 9/11 families from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The moves were well received by New Yorkers and in the press but were regarded as humiliating by many Arabs.
Moreover, Giuliani’s apologetics for the NYPD officers who shot unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo 41 times and brutalized Haitian immigrant Abner Louima with a toilet plunger reinforced for some the idea that, under Giuliani’s purview, non-whites were simply non-welcomed.
That perception has only hardened since Giuliani launched his presidential campaign. Among the cadre of controversial advisers employed by the former mayor are Peter Berkowitz who, in a 2004 Weekly Standard article, posited that Arab birth rates were a “threat” to Israel; Daniel Pipes, who wrote that civil war in Iraq would not be a “strategic” tragedy for America and that 15 percent of Muslims are “potential killers”; and Rep. Peter King, R-NY, who has bemoaned that there are “too many mosques” in America.
“These advisers reflect directly on Giuliani. They affect his judgment and what his policies will be if he were to become president,” Kareem Shora, national executive director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the Huffington Post. “King has a notorious history of calling for racial profiling. I can see him getting a cabinet level position under a Giuliani administration. God forbid he becomes Secretary of Homeland Security and starts legitimizing racial profiling.”
The recent endorsement of Giuliani by Televangelist Pat Robertson did little to assuage Arab or Muslim American concerns. The Giuliani presidential campaign did not return repeated attempts for comment.
Ironically, for Guiliani, there are votes to be had. The Arab-American community is not politically monolithic. According to a June 2007 survey by Zogby’s Arab American Institute, 39 percent of Arab-Americans identify themselves as Democrats, 26 percent as Republicans and 28 percent as Independents. And the community’s electoral clout is growing. After then-Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen’s infamous “Macaca” comment in the 2006 election, more than 40,000 Arab voters helped push Democrat Jim Webb to his 9,000 vote-margin victory.
Moreover, according to Zogby, Giuliani does have support among the “core group of Arab Republican for who the issues involving the community are of secondary importance.” In the June poll, in fact, Arab Republicans put him ahead of his primary opponents. But the numbers, Zogby said, have since changed. And even several Arab-American Republicans believe that as Election Day approaches this support will have diminished.
“When people hear Giuliani’s name they think he is a winner and they want to be supporting a winner,” said Hudome. But “as far as each particular candidate goes, with respect to Giuliani, I don’t think Arab-American Republicans will support him.”