A Call to Action
Enough time has passed and the results of the 2016 Presidential Election have set in for most people. As a Muslim American, many non-Muslims in my community have looked at me with a sense of sympathy or fear for what may happen to me and other Muslims over the next four years.
Admittedly, the morning after the election, I looked at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth and thought, “Ok, our home in Palestine is ready and if things get to that point I can take Mom and go”. Reassuring myself that I have a contingency plan to protect my mother was my number one concern at that moment. Then, I realized that almost one year ago, I posted the following on Facebook:
In 1948, my family was forced to leave our home in Palestine because of who we are. Will my family be forced to flee once more because of who we are?
It scares me that my family and friends do not feel safe in America because we are Muslim, stories of being cornered in the Target bathroom, making the decisions not to leave the house for fear of their safety.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”
But then something gave me pause. While it was comforting to know that I did have a failsafe in place, I quickly dismissed the idea and used this pivot in American history as momentum to continue my work through my own non-profit. Meet the Middle East, which aims to foster relationships between the US and the Middle East through education and immersion travel, is more important now than ever before.
My late father, Mohamad Jodeh, a refugee himself and a man that worked tersely for 30 years to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims, would demand that we remain steadfast and participate in this great republic. Following in his footsteps, I have taken a vow to do the same by making a conscious decision to combat what plagues this world by educating those willing to learn. This is my choice. Not to mourn, but rather to rally and move forward. This is how I plan to contribute to making a positive change in my community. So, I ask you, what path will you choose?
My call to action to you: I challenge you, my fellow Americans, regardless of your politics or who you voted for on Tuesday, to put your vote into action. I personally invite you to use Meet the Middle East as a platform to do you civic duty and become a well-informed citizen so that you can participate in the important civil discourse ahead.
According to a study by the College of William and Mary, the Middle East has been ranked 1st in strategic importance to the world and U.S. today. I challenge you to venture out of your comfot zone. Ask question. Visit a mosque. meet a Muslim or Arab. You might even e so bold as to jouney with us to the Middle East where you can gain first-hand knowledge and understanding of the region allowing you to engage in the important conversations that will go beyond this upcoming presidency.
A new era is emerging in the Middle East, and with it, a new chance for peace and interaction between the people of the Middle East and the West. In an age of high technology that includes social media, a new kind of citizen has also emerged in the region, one that is informed, connected, and ready for change.
The Middle East is an astoundingly rich and beautiful region of the world filled with a tapestry of diverse peoples, resources and opportunities. The region also has considerable challenges and ignited passions that sometimes frighten or confuse many in the West. There is a need and demand for education and greatly increased interaction with the Middle East, and it is the goal of Meet the Middle East to help Americans prepare for and participate in this new era in positive and constructive ways.
The reality is that the votes are in and we must move forward as a country. We must show the world that we are in fact deserving of the title “Leader of the Free World.”
The opportunity to learn and travel is knocking. Will you answer?
Iman Jodeh is Executive Director of Meet the Middle East. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy with expertise in international nonprofit organizations. She is a first-generation Palestinian-American, fluent in Arabic.