3:41 pm Sep. 22, 2011
When Barack Obama was campaigning in 2008, Arab-American Democrats in New York adopted the campaign's mantra of "hope" and "change," and some considered him their best shot at entering the Democratic establishment.
A New York Times story by photographer James Estrin from October 2008 captures some of the local feeling at the time.
Today, the mood is different, according to one local Democratic activist.
"We have already dismissed him," said Linda Sarsour, a steering committee member of the Arab-American Democratic Club of New York, based in Bay Ridge.
The president, who is currently trying to head off a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood, gave a speech at the General Assembly yesterday that was sufficiently pro-Israel to have garnered effusive praise from Israel's ultra-nationalist foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Sarsour, when reached by cell phone, rattled off the areas in which she said Obama has let down Arab and Muslim Americans.
"He has been terrible on civil- rights issues, the PATRIOT Act, immigration enforcement," and, she said, he has stood for multiple instances of "illegal surveillance of muslims communities, both by the F.B.I. and N.Y.P.D."
Sarsour also expressed frustration that Obama has not set foot inside a mosque, something his predecessor, George W. Bush, did.
"We don't think 2012 will be the most constructive," she said.
Although she'll still be participating in Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts, she's focusing less on getting voters to the polls to help Obama, and more on "getting our community into the habit of voting."
"It's not about 2012, it's about the decade to come," she said.