National

Arab-Americans Advocate Little Arabia Designation in Anaheim, California: NPR

Kareem Hawalli and his sister Nora Hawalli have been manipulating Kareem’s falafel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arab-American Citizens Council


Hide captions

Switch captions

Arab-American Citizens Council

Kareem Hawalli and his sister Nora Hawalli have been manipulating Kareem’s falafel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arab-American Citizens Council

Kareem Hawalli, 24, was born and raised informally in the district of Anaheim, California. Known as Little Arabia.

There, he and his sister own and run Falafel in Kareem, a small restaurant that he took over full-time in 2014 after his father died. Born just a few months after the opening of Kareem’s in 2012, Hawalli was named after a restaurant where he learned how to cook and grew up.

“You just sit in the kitchen and we all see our parents cooking,” says Hawalli.

According to Haleem, Kareem’s falafel was one of the first Arabian, especially Palestinian, restaurants to open on Brookhurst Street in Anaheim in 1996.

Little Arabia occupies several blocks scattered throughout the city, primarily around Brookhurst Street, making it a community hub for Arab-Americans in Orange County. According to the Arab-American Institute, California has the largest population of Arab-Americans in the country.

Hawari grew up feeling familiar with this area and has witnessed its development. He remembers that it started primarily with Lebanese and Palestinian cuisine and has grown to its present state. It is a close community and a “pot” for cultures in Syria, Yemen and other countries.

“At that time, they had initials on the concrete, so they put the initials on the sidewalk,” says Hawari.

Hawalli initials on the sidewalk informally known as “Little Arabia”.

Kareem Hawari / Kareem Falafel


Hide captions

Switch captions

Kareem Hawari / Kareem Falafel

Hawalli initials on the sidewalk informally known as “Little Arabia”.

Kareem Hawari / Kareem Falafel

Designation can help the company

However, the area, centered on Brookhurst Street, has not been officially designated as Little Arabia by the city. For over a decade, members of the Arab-American community in Anaheim have advocated changing that. But the city council was reluctant, At least publicly to discuss the effort. Only one councilor, José Moreno, was willing to discuss the issue on the floor.

“While not in my district, I support it [Little Arabia] “To be officially recognized, we properly examine the work people have spent creating a positive cultural space,” Moreno said.

The Southern California-based Arab-American Citizens’ Council is now promoting the region and reviving efforts to save local businesses from the economic ruin of a pandemic. Arab-American supporters, business owners, and many community members see this designation as a way to recognize the community’s economic and cultural contributions to the city.

“We built this community around delicious food and hospitality,” says Hawari. “They have known us since we were children, had many customers who were children, and are now adults and bringing children.”

In the early 1990s, two entrepreneurs, Ahmad Alam and Bilal Dalati, took advantage of the low real estate costs of the West Anaheim region to lease space to Arab immigrants for housing and businesses, according to a study by the Journal of Urban History. Over time, the region has transformed from part of an economically stagnant town to a vibrant dining destination for Arabic restaurants, bakeries, halal markets, hookah lounges, and community organizations. It was.

Rashad Al-Dabbagh, founder and secretary-general of the Arab-American Citizens Council, said the designation could be one of the few ways to support businesses.

Rashad al-Daberg, Founder and Secretary-General of the Arab-American Citizens’ Council, next to a lawn sign in support of the Little Arabian designation

Arab-American Citizens Council


Hide captions

Switch captions

Arab-American Citizens Council

Rashad al-Daberg, Founder and Secretary-General of the Arab-American Citizens’ Council, next to a lawn sign in support of the Little Arabian designation

Arab-American Citizens Council

“There are many possibilities here.”

“Many people don’t know that the area is called Little Arabia,” says Aldaba.

He says highway signs can get more attention to the district. “It [the designation] It will uplift business owners, bring more businesses, and create more visibility into the region, “he says.

The Arab-American Citizens Council has visited Arab companies and incorporated their feedback since the latest push, which began in October 2020. They revamped their social media campaign, created a face mask to promote “Designate Little Arabia” and distributed it to several businesses. owner.

To Ehab Elannan, This designation does more than just strengthen his business.

“It helps us as businessmen,” says Elannan, owner of Little Arabian Lebanese cuisine and bakery. But more than that, “people will know us much better as a community, which will break the ice between us,” he says.

He has great expectations for the future of the region, especially because it is close to Disneyland.

“You can make this street better than any other street. It’s not Anaheim. I’m talking about California because there are so many possibilities here.”

Ehab Elannan (left), owner of Little Arabia Lebanese Cuisine and Bakery, believes this designation is very important to the community.

Arab-American Citizens Council


Hide captions

Switch captions

Arab-American Citizens Council

Ehab Elannan (left), owner of Little Arabia Lebanese Cuisine and Bakery, believes this designation is very important to the community.

Arab-American Citizens Council

“More comprehensive” approach

The city council has hesitated to consider officially designating Little Arabia. In a statement, Mayor Harry Sidhu said the city needed to take a “broader and more comprehensive view” of its official designation.

“The headquarters of Little Arabia has a variety of people and backgrounds, and Hispanics make up half of the region’s population,” read the mayor’s statement.

“There are a variety of businesses along Brookhurst Street, some of which are not considered part of Little Arabia.”

However, the results of a recent poll by the Arab-American Citizens Council refute that claim. According to a poll conducted by the organization in collaboration with the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego, about 73% of Anaheim voters who have undergone non-white polls “support” or “support” the official designation of Little Arabia. I strongly support it. ” Fifty-eight percent of all registered voters reported support for the cause, and about one-third of voters said they were neither for nor against the designation.

Moreno, a Latino-American city council member, said he tried to “agenda” items related to Little Arabia’s designated efforts for discussion, but did not receive a second or third from other members. I am. On the floor.

Moreno said there are two possible reasons for the lack of support. Some say that his proposal is often disapproved or may be related to the designation itself.

He also says he has never heard any voice opposition from any member of Anaheim. He says the main opposition seems to be Mayor Sidu and other council members so far.

According to the non-profit news agency Voice of Orange County, council members Jordan Brandon and Stephen Fasel said they would support the official designation of the Little Arabia district in 2016 before the election.

Acting Mayor Facel respected the mayor’s remarks on this matter and said Brandon Mann, who represents a district in Little Arabia, did not respond to the request for an interview.

In the future, Al-Dabbagh says he will meet with the Chamber of Commerce soon and will continue his advocacy efforts.

“Sometimes people get confused about what we really want. This is the destination,” says Al-Dabbagh.

“It brings pride to the community, revitalizes the economy and supports not only this community, but the entire city. We are not trying to create this exclusive area.”

Amar Archanti, a resident and college student in the area, shared that growing up in Little Arabia shaped her living experience as an Arab-American.

“It’s not just a business to me. I’m very connected to it from the bottom of my heart,” says Archanti. With the recent death of her dad, she sees the value of the Little Arabian community more than ever.

She is not surprised that the designation has taken so long. “No matter how big it is, we always anticipate the worst when it comes to Arab-related matters in this country,” says Archanti.

“I think they are not only these random people on the street who happen to come from the same ethnic group, but also deserve to be designated to be on the map and recognized.”

Kareem Hawalli poses with a “designated Little Arabian” face mask.

Arab-American Citizens Council


Hide captions

Switch captions

Arab-American Citizens Council

Kareem Hawalli poses with a “designated Little Arabian” face mask.

Arab-American Citizens Council

Pandemic has weakened Little Arabia

Due to the pandemic, SMEs in Little Arabia, like many companies across the country, are heading for an uncertain future. Pandemics add a sense of urgency to the problem.

Haleem is grateful that Kareem’s falafel survived during the pandemic, but he hopes the designation can regain some of the “bright” elements of the region.

“You feel sad about everything because it was really fun to go around the restaurants, but it’s a bit creepy because all the other restaurants were closed,” he says.

The potential for success with Little Arabia and designation makes him proud to be a Palestinian American.

Regarding Rashad Al-Dabbagh of the Arab-American Citizens’ Council, the Little Arabian designation also sends a message.

“Designating this region as Little Arabia is part of that process and shows that we exist,” he says.

“We are here, here to stay, here to contribute, and, like all other Americans and everyone else in America, value in dignity. To do.”



Arab-Americans Advocate Little Arabia Designation in Anaheim, California: NPR

Source link Arab-Americans Advocate Little Arabia Designation in Anaheim, California: NPR

Related Articles

Back to top button