[Ikhras Note: As we were writing this blog post Hisham Melhem appeared on CNN to once again repeat the comments that are addressed in it and added what appeared to be a justification for Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar.]
After news of the extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar in a Damascus suburb by Israel broke we could not help but remember a recent series of tweets by Hisham Melhem about the Arab resistance icon. After Syrian officials confirmed the death of Kuntar the Israeli hasbara machine immediately began repeating the stale propaganda narrative about “operation Nasser” that Kuntar led into occupied Northern Palestine in 1979 during which he was captured. Kuntar spent 30 years in prison before Israel was forced to release him in a prisoner swap with the Hezbollah resistance organization seven years ago. Melhem’s comments deserve to be highlighted as illustrative of a certain type of Arab, but first some background.
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The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for November, 2015 goes to Pope Tawadros II. Pope Tawadros earned this honor after embarking upon a normalizing visit to Jerusalem. The visit to the occupied Palestinian capital marks the first time the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church has visited the city since it fell under Israeli occupation in 1967.
After the signing of the Camp David “peace accords” between” the Anwar Sadat regime and the usurping Zionist entity in 1978, the late Egyptian Pope Shenouda III issued a papal ban preventing members of the Egyptian Coptic Church from visiting the Arab city while under Israeli occupation. Israeli tourism to Egypt had boomed following the treaty, but it had little to no reciprocal effect on the part of Egyptians. The treaty, from the outset, as it remains today, was highly unpopular among all Egyptians making it unlikely that any significant number of Egyptians would visit occupied Palestine. Nevertheless, Pope Shenouda was a highly principled and politically astute leader and understood that any visits, even by a handful of Egyptians, including any Egyptian Coptic Christians, would be a propaganda victory for Israeli hasbarists. Pope Shenouda was the head of the church for over 40 years and remained opposed to any normalization with Israel until he died.
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Dalia Mogahed is an establishment Muslim we have written about previously and one of those we refer to as “professional Muslims” This is a group which includes self-described experts on everything and everybody from Morocco to Indonesia, political and civil rights activists, “interfaith” and community leaders, and even a few comedians. What they all have in common is that they managed to turn the Muslim religion into a profession. By simply being a Muslim (we know of one case in which the person was never a Muslim until he was offered an opportunity to participate in US State Department propaganda campaigns if he claimed to be one) a variety of opportunities that were not otherwise available are suddenly a quick and easy path to a career, business opportunity, or mainstream media attention.
This week Mogahed was invited to appear on MSNBC’s Meet The Press to discuss Islam, “Muslim opinion” and terrorism in the wake of the Paris Attacks and a rise of overt, anti-Muslim bigotry in the US, particularly among Republican Party candidates and their supporters. The invitation was intended to make the silly Chuck Todd appear as that rare cable news host who would invite an actual Muslim to speak. To that extent, the interview served its purpose. Mogahed immediately began the interview by praising George Bush Jr. The first question was about US public reaction today as compared to after 9-11 to which Mogahed answered as follows:
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The site of twin suicide bombings in the Burj Al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut
In the past few years we have noticed and documented on social media a distinct and disturbing pattern of behavior from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) regarding its response to terrorist attacks across the globe. The latest terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Paris, coming just one day after a similar attack in Beirut, stood out as a clear reminder of CAIR’s consistent hypocrisy and selective moral outrage.
After the same terror group targeted a market and mosque in Beirut killing over 40 people, there was no reaction from CAIR, no statement condemning the slaughter, no press conference, and none of those meaningless “interfaith vigils.” One day later as news of the attacks in Paris broke, and before the extent of the carnage became known, CAIR quickly issued a press release condemning the attack and immediately commenced a well-advertised, public campaign of moral outrage.
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U.S. Muslims, including the few that support some of the advocacy work of the Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR), have begun to speak out against CAIR’s support for U.S. wars abroad. Not only has CAIR supported every U.S. war since its establishment including the wars on Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, it is currently lobbying for a U.S. war on Syria. We received the following letter from a U.S. Muslim which she first sent to CAIR. We do not endorse the assertions or opinion expressed in this letter. It is entirely the viewpoint of the author. We are, however, publishing it in its entirety. It serves as a reminder that although our community may have differing opinions on a variety of issues, all but a handful of self-serving ideologues and careerists would support U.S. wars on Muslim-majority countries. CAIR does not speak for the U.S. Muslim community which stands united with all Americans opposed to U.S. militarism and imperialism and in solidarity with all victims of U.S. wars.
The letter is from Suzy Abu-Nie. Abu-Nie wanted to make it clear she does support the work of CAIR. In her own words she explained “I do like some of their work (civil rights) for helping Muslims in the US but I never like their stance on US foreign policy…Again I do respect CAIR’s work domestically but when it comes to politics abroad, their stance is wrong.”
The following is the full text of the letter she sent to CAIR after receiving an email urging Muslims to support a “No-Fly Zone” over Syria (a euphemism for war) to which she received no response. We are publishing this letter with the permission of the author. Other concerned members of our Muslim community are welcome to send us their thoughts and opinions which we will share with ikhras readers.
This is my email response to the CAIR email that was sent on the list-serve. Man did they piss me off with their email…
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After meeting with White House officials to once again urge the Obama administration to launch a war on Syria, American Islamists led by the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award-winning Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held yet another of their Syria-related press conferences. This latest one was staged in front of the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. to condemn Russian military assistance to Syria. Last week Russia began an air campaign directed at Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations. The joint Russian-Syrian operation was undertaken after an official request from the legitimate Syrian government and months of planning by the Russian and Syrian military leaderships. Nevertheless, CAIR and the usual cast of U.S. Islamists, which included the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), decided to condemn Russia’s military operation in Syria, as if these impudent charlatans are entitled to offer an unsolicited opinion about, let alone a condemnation of, a bilateral relationship between two independent sovereign states. Clearly, they have adopted the same paternalistic, condescending and colonial mentality of the U.S political class in front of which they made a career out of groveling.
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The Arab-American Institute (AAI) is set to honor NYU President and fanatic Zionist John Sexton at its upcoming annual gala on April 29, 2015. AAI President Jim Zogby, winner of the ikhras shoe-of-the-month award, will be presenting Sexton with an “Award for Individual Achievement.” Sexton has come out in strong opposition to the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) against the Israeli settler colony, specifically the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Sexton is also known for leading the effort to silence Palestine solidarity activism on the NYU campus. It was also under Sexton’s leadership that the loud voices condemning BDS under the guise of defending “academic freedom” fell silent when Israel banned a Palestinian from traveling to the US to participate in its own “Paths to Peace” program. Despite his support for Israeli repression, opposition to BDS, and failure to defend academic freedom Zogby describes Sexton as “a man who combines rare qualities of academic leadership with a keen commitment to global education.”
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The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for March, 2015 goes to the euphemistically described Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid. Eid earned the prestigious award for his participation in the StandWithUs Anti-BDS Conference 2015. Eid, who played the role of that rare “good Palestinian”, was touted as one of the two most notable speakers along with Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile, “liberal” pro-Israel Harvard Law Professor that has advocated torture, the demolition of Palestinian homes and eradication of entire towns. Eid has made a name for himself among a select few by traveling around the world as a pro-Israel advocate. His travels, itineraries, and speaking engagements have been organized by Zionist lobbying groups that apparently have assigned him the task of undermining pro-Palestine solidarity activism with a special focus on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
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Read the following two statements from Hussein Ibish, the Senior Fellow at the now defunct Arab-wing of the pro-Israel lobby, the American Task Force On Palestine (ATFP). Both of these statements can’t be true. Fortunately, those of us who couldn’t care less about election results in the illegitimate, Zionist colonial entity in occupied Palestine don’t need to spend a moment trying to figure out whether Hussein got it right before or after the election.
Hussein Ibish before the election:
“The status quo will live on, whichever way Israel votes…the unfolding Israeli election campaign has produced a series of unexpected developments. But these new forces and factors aren’t likely to produce any major transformations, at least in the short run…probably not sufficient to produce anything truly transformative in Israeli politics or policies, at least for the moment…the essential elements of Israeli policy are unlikely to change.”
Hussein Ibish after the election:
“Devastating blow to hopes for peace…anyone who isn’t shocked at the results and their implications almost certainly doesn’t understand what is at stake and what a significant blow has been dealt to hopes for a better future.”
Four years after the launch of an imperialist proxy war on Syria a tiny group within the Syrian-American community calling itself the Syrian-American Council (SAC) organized a fourth anniversary celebration for what it calls the Syrian revolution. SAC is a front group for a minute fraction of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters within the Syrian-American community founded by a handful of wealthy Syrian-American businessmen that either chose to leave or were forced to leave Syria in the early 1980s as one of the previous MB campaigns of wide scale violence was quelled by the Syrian Army. SAC describes itself “as the largest and oldest grassroots organization of Syrian-Americans… devoted to community organizing, awareness-raising, youth empowerment, media outreach, advocacy, and support for Syrians seeking to build a free, democratic, and pluralistic Syria”, a description anyone remotely familiar with the history of the MB in Syria would find laughable. SAC was established not uncoincidentally back in 2005, two years after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and as the US regime was escalating its anti-Syrian rhetoric and bellicosity in the wake of the assassination of the late Lebanese premier and billionaire Rafiq al-Hariri. With a lack of understanding of the inner workings of the US political system and its foreign policy and with an unrealistic belief in their ability to make themselves relevant to both, the opportunistic and ideologically-driven clique behind SAC hoped to leverage US military might against a government they viewed, perhaps justifiably from their perspective, with an irrational hatred.
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Dean Obeidallah, in his own words, has gone through a dramatic evolution in the past decade. As if being “white” before the September 11, 2001 attacks and waking up Arab the very next day wasn’t traumatic enough, there was the issue of religion to negotiate. Religion is evidently a bit confusing for Obeidallah, who became the butt of long-running family joke by proclaiming he was a “Catholic-Muslim.” Several years ago he began professing Islam as his sole religion, eking out a fairly lucrative career by being the token Muslim serving as a US government mouthpiece on overseas “comedy” tours. Obeidallah had lived and identified as an Italian-American and Roman Catholic for the first 40 years of his life. It was only after 9/11, when the US State Department began looking for Arab-Americans and US Muslims willing to participate in propaganda campaigns to help “improve the US image abroad”, that Obeidallah discovered his Arab and Islamic heritage. Since then it has always been embarrassingly obvious that for Obeidallah “Muslim” is merely a convenient label for a government-sponsored “comedian” pursuing a career on the margins of American pop culture in post-9/11 America. The Muslim label has also been useful in securing invitations to participate as a prop at theatrical events where the American regime presents itself as tolerant, welcoming of diversity, and hospitable to Arabs and Muslims while it slaughters Arabs and Muslims abroad. The Muslim label has also been exploited by Obeidallah to claim some sort of native legitimacy as he goes around sharing his expert insight on Islam and Arab world politics. Yet, with the exception of Ray Hanania, another one of the self-described “comedians” (although not backed by the US regime) who once explained the Ramadan fast consists of consuming only bread and water during daylight hours, it’s difficult to find anyone more appallingly ignorant about Islam and the Arab world. Fast forward to February 2015 and Obeidallah finds himself, once again, at the White House, but this time as part of an elite group of 14 “Muslim-American leaders,” invited to address growing concerns about “radicalization” and anti-Muslim sentiment in the West. With his sudden emergence as a “Muslim-American leader” Obeidallah’s evolution appears to now be complete. We’d like to wish Obeidallah much success in his new role and as he assumes the responsibility of a “Muslim leader” hopefully he remembers Muslims actually don’t worship Jesus and Mary.
The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for December, 2014 goes to the former Executive Director of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), Ghaith Al-Omari. After eight years with the ATFP Al-Omari is leaving to join the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). As is well-known WINEP was founded by AIPAC donors and employees as the research arm of the pro-Israel lobby in order to provide ostensibly objective research that supports the AIPAC policy positions while masquerading as an objective “think tank.”
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Special Guest Submission: Graphic design and accompanying text by artist “Saada.” “تصميم غرافيك بيد الفنانة “سَعْدَى
ما بين “ماي لاي” و”أبوغريب”
ومن “ناغاساكي” إلى حرب الزنانات
(ومن “غزة” إلى “وُنْدِدْ نِي” (“الركبة الجريحة”
ومن “مُصَدِق” إلى “أليندي”
وما قبل وما بعد
من “البيت الأبيض”
للقليلين جداً حول العالم
In between “My Lai” and “Abu Ghraib”
and from “Nagasaki” to the drone wars
and from “Gaza” to “Wounded Knee”
and from “Mosaddeq” to “Allende”
and before and after
peace and joy
from “The White House”
to very few in the world
The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for November, 2014 goes to the Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tawakkol Karman. Karman, the most widely known “Arab Spring” celebrity activist promoted by Western regimes and media outlets, earned the award based on a disgraceful speech she delivered at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Orange County, California on November 8.
It is difficult to imagine a more vapid and shallow speech. Delivered mostly in English, one had to be a native speaker of Arabic to decipher the jumbled thoughts and meaningless rambling that went on for over 30 minutes. The speech was written in Arabic with directions and guidance from her hosts at CAIR who apparently asked her to cater the speech to a US audience. It was then poorly translated into English and delivered with all the skill and charisma only a parent of an annoying and nervous child at a school recital would appreciate.
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