‘I WISH ARABS WOULD RESPECT AMERICA’

Well-known television presenter Dr James Al Zogby tells City Times that the Arab community in the US should also begin repecting them.

By Nihal Kamel (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sun 24 Apr 2005, 11:49 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

You host the popular programme View Point. What does the programme aim to do?

Abu Dhabi TV has given me a golden opportunity to bridge the Arab and the American world. Every week, I bring American policy makers on the show and they hold direct conversation with the listeners who call into the show from the US as well as the Arab region.

How do you see the television industry in Dubai?

Television here is catching up quickly in terms of technology and format providing Arab viewers with a variety of programmes to choose from that are both informative and entertaining. There are critics who are highlighting problems, but then there are problems with American television as well. So it is better if we concentrate on the significant progress that has been made and try and improve the future.

You have written a lot of stories about Shaikh Zayed in the USA.

I wrote about Shaikh Zayed because he was an extraordinary leader, a caring human being and a visionary. I did not know him personally, but I have spoken to many America leaders of repute who knew him and have worked with him and they told me wonderful things about his work. I am also directly enjoying the fruits of his labour.

How do you view the Arab American?

The Arab American community is organised, respected and protected today and is playing an important role in mainstream American politics and policy debates.

Tell us about your personal life.

I am a typical Arab American child of immigrants. My father came to the US in 1920. My brother is a famous American pollster and my sister, is a retired schoolteacher. I have been married for 37 years. We have five children and two grand children. I hold a PhD in Islamic studies and have devoted my life to organising and empowering Arab Americans. And one of my major achievements is that I am a leader in the Democratic Party.

What do you have to say about Arab women?

They are very strong, capable and a very important part of our community. My mother is my role model. It is not a co-incidence that most of AAI's (American Arab Institute) national office staff are women. We win when we empower our women.

What were your dreams when you decided to make the US your home?

I was born in the US. It is my home. And I love my father's home country Lebanon too. I also feel an affinity to people throughout the Arab world. But I approach the Arab world as an American who wants his country to do the right things and I also wish that Arabs would respect America.

What are your hobbies?

I am a very lucky person because I am getting to do what I love. I have played golf for more than 15 years now and I have coached students in basketball and baseball.

What is the real meaning of freedom to you?

For me freedom essentially means opportunity. My father came from Lebanon in 1920 as an illegal immigrant taking advantage of the opportunities in America. He and his brother set up a business, and gave me and my cousin a chance to go to college and pursue our goals.

What does love mean to you?

Love means caring for others as you care for yourself. It means protecting and helping those who are vulnerable because they are us. For love to be real, it has to be all-embracing and should be demonstrated with real acts of caring.

Tell us something that means a lot to you?

The birth of my children and grandchildren. They have given my life so much meaning and joy. I will also never forget the moment I sat at the Oval office with Bill Clinton and told him that just one generation ago, my father was in a stone house in the hills of Lebanon and today I am here.

Who is your favourite actor, reporter and writer?

I loved Kevin Spacey in Usual Suspects. One of my favourite films is Feris Buller's Day Off. My favourite reporter is Anthony Shadid in Washington Post. I found his reports from Baghdad very compelling. It was pretty much like what Richard Ben did in Beirut in 1982; report the human side of the war.



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