James Joseph Zogby (1945), born in Utica, New York, of Lebanese parents, founded the Arab American Institute (AAI) in 1985, and is a senior analyst for Zogby International, a polling and marketing firm. He is the current president of AAI, based in Washington D.C., which both works for empowerment of Arab-Americans within the U.S. political system, and for Arab-American concerns abroad. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, he is distinctly involved in the U.S. political process, not just external matters,
He has weekly television show and newspaper column, works in voter registration, and is Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
He was co-convener of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee, formed in 1995. After being reelected twice, he became part of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and co-chair of the DNC Resolutions Committee.
He accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of waging "proxy war" on President Barack Obama, by criticizing his awarding the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Conference. At the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, a number of attendees attacked Israel. Even though Israelis including Shimon Peres praised her for moderating the language, the Jerusalem Post charged her with "the destruction of the universality and moral foundation of human rights".  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had responded "I think the president is recognizing her for her leadership on women's rights and equal rights. And as I've said before, he doesn't agree with each of her statements, but she's certainly somebody who should be honored,"Zogby said that he became suspicious that this was targeted at Washington politics due to
ADL's and AIPAC's silence about the fact that South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu had also been tapped by the President to receive a Medal of Freedom. Unlike Robinson, who has only expressed general concern about Palestinian rights and temperate criticism of Israeli policy, Tutu has been a harsh critic, comparing Israeli practices in the occupied lands to apartheid. How to explain this uproar over Robinson, and not a peep about Tutu? It is known that some groups, like the ADL, have targeted Robinson for years, objecting, for example, each time she received an honorary doctorate. But for AIPAC, and its coterie of Congressional acolytes, to have gotten into the fray, established that this was a political "inside the Beltway" fight.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Zogby became visible in 1979, as art of the National Emergency Committee to Defend Ziad Abu Eain. Israel eventually extradited on accusations of participating of an al-Fatah bombing in Tiberias, which killed two Israelis and wounded 36. He spent four years in prison and then was part of a prisoner exchange.
In 1980, Zogby co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign with former Senator James Abourezk, but broke away from it in 1985 to form AAI, which was less concerned with anti-Israel activities and more with "politically empowering Arab Americans and on establishing forums for the expression of Palestinian and Lebanese viewpoints." Some Arab groups criticize him for being too assimilationist, but, according to Yehudit Barsky, he manages to operate in both the Arab and American political contexts, understanding the duality.
Zogby has a 1975 doctorate in Islamic studies from Temple University, and then had a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in 1976, and on several occasions was awarded grants for research and writing by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Defense Education Act and the Mellon Foundation; he started work on the faculty of Shippensburg College.
His undergraduate degree is from Le Moyne College. In 1995, Le Moyne awarded Zogby an honorary doctoral of laws degree and in 1997, named him the college’s outstanding alumnus. In 2007, Temple University also recognized him as an outstanding alumnus.