James Abourezk, The First Arab American US Senator Passes Away At 92

According to Arab News, the first Arab American US senator James Abourezk has passed away at 92 on his birthday after entering hospice care earlier this week. He was surrounded by his wife, Sanaa Abourezk and other family members. Abourezk served as a South Dakota Democrat who grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation later acting as the first Arab American US senator.

Abourezk was a critic of US foreign policy in the Middle East especially after touring the region and visiting his parents’ hometown in Lebanon as a senator.

After retiring from the Senate in 1979, Abourezk went on to practice law in Washington and founded the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) which focused on battling discrimination towards Arabs in the US. He was also recognized as a leading advocate for the rights of Native Americans and successfully passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Abourezk also authored two books, “Advise and Dissent” and “Through Different Eyes.” The first book focused on his journey as a son of Lebanese immigrants in South Dakota, from being a farmhand, bartender, bouncer, and cook, to his entrance into American politics and the U.S. Senate. The second book presents arguments from both sides in the Arab-Israeli dispute.

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