An American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) insider has confirmed to Ikhras that Ray Hanania, until recently a member of the organization’s National Board of Directors, was ousted from his leadership position on the board by ADC Chair Safa Rifka following an uproar by members and supporters of the ADC at the organization’s 2011 national convention held June 10-12. The following is an exclusive look at the behind the scenes story which includes a time line of events that eventually lead to the ouster of Hanania, and what it all means for an organization struggling to maintain its relevance and regain some credibility within the Arab-American community.
An American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) insider has confirmed to Ikhras that Ray Hanania, until recently a member of the organization’s National Board of Directors, was ousted from his leadership position on the board by ADC Chair Safa Rifka following an uproar by members and supporters of the ADC at the organization’s 2011 national convention held June 10-12. According to our well placed source, Fadi (we will use his first name only), who is a member of the ADC and attended the convention, the biggest controversy during the group’s annual gathering in Washington was the continued presence of Hanania on the national board.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS LEADING TO HANANIA’S OUSTER
Fadi, who was present at the member meeting told Ikhras that “During the ADC convention, focus at the membership meeting shifted from outrage regarding Malik Jandali to outrage regarding Ray Hanania. In that room, one person after another stood up and lambasted Safa Rifka for appointing this character to the Board of the ADC and demanding his removal.”
We were also informed that shortly after the convention Rifka admitted to Fadi “it was a mistake to appoint Ray Hanania to the Board” and furthermore he would be removed.”
On June 24, 2011 Fadi, who had previously submitted numerous complaints with the ADC regarding Hanania, and wanting to expedite his removal from the national board, sent an email to the ADC requesting that Hanania be removed from the board for cause pursuant to the organization’s bylaws. Below is the email sent by Fadi to the ADC reproduced in its entirety.
Thank you for issuing the statement regarding Syria (pasted at the end of htis email). However, it appears that only select individuals were actually the recipients of this email (in fact, I am only aware of myself and Will Youmans as recipients of this email). Furthermore, after being made aware of this fact approximately one week ago, why were corrective actions not taken?
Furthermore, as Ray Hanania is still listed as a Board Member of the ADC, I am submitting a formal action under Section 4.08(C) of the Bylaws to remove this Director. I made a similar request to the Board via an email sent on July 2, 2010, but no action was taken. Therefore, if my request is again ignored in violation of the Bylaws, I will seek legal action vis-a-vis a derivative action against the organization. As a Member of the ADC, the Board of Directors has a duty to me, much like the Board of a corporation has duties to stock holders. Therefore, if this duty is, again, breached by not complying with the Bylaws (specifically Section 4.08(C)), I will pursue legal action.
To be clear, under Section 4.08(C) of the Bylaws, I am initiating disciplinary action against Ray Hanania, to remove Ray Hanania from the Board of Directors. As of today, Ray Hanania is a Board Member according to the website and the most current information available to the membership. I am submitting this action, as is my right as a member per the bylaws, for disciplinary action that consists of no less than removal of Ray Hanania from the Board, for good cause. The good cause relates to a consistent pattern of harrasment of members of the organization, as well as members of the Arab-American community at large. The good cause relates specifically to the following article published by Ray Hanania on the eve of ADC’s signature event, i.e., the annual convention: http://rayhanania.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/the-extremist-arabs-always-attack-first-and-ask-questions-later-june-9-2011/ . In said article, Ray Hanania makes the following statements that constitute good cause for removal:
A. “I’m a national board member of ADC and I know what it’s like to be attacked by the APG. My wife and son are Jewish and because of that fact groups like KabobFest and Ikhras have been viciously attacking me with all kinds of lies and insults.”
B. “Frankly, if it were up to me, I’d probably drop about 10 of the other speakers for fomenting divisions in the American Arab community and replace them with a few more voices who represent the mainstream moderate American Arab community, who are the majority, rather than the loud-mouthed voices of extremism, who are the minority.”
C. “I don’t know who these [Syrian] protestors really are. Most American Arabs feel the way I do about Syria. They are conflicted. Why fan the flames of one side over the other, just to make Israel and the rightwing U.S. Congress happy?”
With respect to (A), this statement is blatantly false and extremely inflammatory. If Ray Hanania is to defend this statement, he must provide some plausible evidence. However, Ray Hanania has a history of invoking sectarian themes (as in the remainder of this article) in his assaults on others, and this statement falls in line with this history.
With respect to (B), this statement is extremely inappropriate from a Board Member of the ADC on the eve of its convention, and is offensive to every speaker at the convention, let alone the 10 to which Ray Hanania is referring.
With respect to (C), Ray Hanania is speaking explicitly as “a national board member of ADC” when he posits such a statement that he mistakenly and without any dilligence purports to be the sentiments of “[m]ost American Arabs.” Aside from the offensiveness of the sentiment expressed regarding the protestors, the statement made as a Board Member of the ADC constitutes an inexcusable and irresponsible misrepresentation of the community.
Moreover, this is not an exhaustive list of cause for Ray Hanania’s removal. For example, further grounds may be found in his various public statements, including his frequent personal assaults on other members of the community via twitter and his websites. The Board’s attention is respectfully directed to Ray Hanania’s website,http://kabobfestcharred.blogspot.com/, which in its immaturity and crudeness reflects very poorly on the organization. For example, Hanania’s statement regarding Will Youmans, a popular member of the community and a speaker at the last convention: ”His audiences consist mainly of pro-Hezbollah towel heads who like that beat their backs with bloodied chains and who march down alleys chanting Takrear-end, Alahu Akbar.”
Per the Bylaws, the Board is required to send a Notice of Intent to Discipline or Remove to Ray Hanania. ”Said Notice shall state the ground(s) for such action, including… the alleged misconduct constituting good cause. Said Notice shall advice also such Director of the right to respond and be heard before the Board. The Director in question shall have thirty (30) days from the date of the Notice ot file a Response with the Secretary of the Board.”
As stated above, if it is the case that Ray Hanania is currently a Board Member at the sending of this email, the above-mentioned actions must be carried out by the Board. To the extent that the Board does not carry out the above-mentioned actions, the Board is in violation of the Bylaws, and in breach of its duty to membership. Please further note that it appears evident that in not sending such Notice to Ray Hanania in July 2010 when the first formal submission requesting disciplinary action was submitted, the Board was in breach of its duty.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
According to Fadi, immediately after he sent the above email “a staff member of the ADC informed him that Ray has already been removed from the Board.” Not satisfied with the ADC’s response Fadi insisted “that he will not back down until Hanania is removed from the ADC’s website altogether.”
Fadi’s persistence finally paid off when on June 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM he re-sent his formal request that Hanania be removed from the national board for cause. This is the June 27 email Fadi sent to the ADC. It included the full text of the June 24 email seen above.
Please forward this to the Officers of the Board, as it is the Board’s responsibility to act on this measure, and not subject to the discretion of the staff. As of today, Ray Hanania remains on the Board, and I have received no confirmation that my request under the Bylaws was forwarded to the Board. If you refuse to forward this to the Board, please inform me as to how a member is able to exercise rights thereof, particularly the right to request removal of a Board Member as stipulated under Section 4.08(C) of the Bylaws.
[Quoted text hidden]
Within minutes a staff member of the ADC called Fadi and told him that Hanania had already been removed from the board. At the same time, another staff member in contact with Fadi informed him he is currently removing Hanania from the website. By 4:46 PM, less than five minutes after Fadi’s formal request was submitted, Hanania was no longer listed as a board member on the website.
HANANIA DENIES OUSTER, MAKES INCONSISTENT & CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS
Hanania, by his own admission, was not consulted regarding any decisions at the ADC convention, and was reportedly shunned by ADC members and convention attendees. A review of his articles and twitter feed showed he made more friends, found many more people willing to engage him, and had a much better time with the racist, Zionist crowd at the JStreet convention last February. Following his post-convention termination from the ADC board Hanania repeatedly denied he was ousted. Instead, he claimed he left the board because his pre-determined, one-year appointment came to an end.
During the July 1st, 2011 episode of his Radio Baladi program, just four days after Fadi was informed by the ADC that Hanania had been removed from the board and his name was taken down from the ADC website, Hanania stated (12:00 mark) the following: “A few weeks ago I finished my term on the National ADC board. I was appointed for one year, and my goal was…they asked me build up Chicago’s ADC chapter. That’s what we did last year. We built it up.”
Four days later on July 5th in his weekly column in the Jerusalem Post (JP), the right-wing, Zionist rag that publishes his weekly blathering, Ray repeated the denial he was ousted and suggested he could have continued his tenure had he been interested in doing so. Expanding on his previous comments, Hanania wrote: “Last year, I was appointed to the national board of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) – the Anti-Defamation League of the American Arab community…I chose not to seek reappointment to ADC National. It’s not because of the extremists, but because I believe American Arab organizations should not be like the dictators who dominate the 22 Arab countries: We should reject the concept of “presidents for life.” With the exception of only a few, including ADC, most Arab groups are run by presidents for life.” Hanania was a board member, not the president, but to be fair, we can extrapolate from his analogy that he meant the ADC needed new people in leadership positions and he’s vacating his membership on the board in the interest of the organization.
The very next day, July 6th, this time with a blog entry on one of his numerous personal websites, Hanania again denied being ousted from the national board of the ADC, but this time instead of merely suggesting he could have continued, he went a step further claiming he was asked to extend his service on the national board for another year, but declined. According to this new rendition of events “Ray Hanania remains a member of ADC and is the vice president of the Chicago Chapter, one of ADC’s largest chapters. He declined reappointment to another one year term on the ADC National so he could focus on his writings to skewer the extremist hate groups like Ikhras…”
Hanania has now given several inconsistent and contradictory version regarding his departure from the ADC national board. On July 1st he stated he left the board after completing a pre-determined, one-year term. That was followed up in the July 5th JP article with the suggestion he was presented with an opportunity to “seek reappointment”, and then finally, in the July 6th blog post, he made the assertion that he “declined reappointment” which he can only do if he was offered a reappointment. He has also given various reasons for not seeking or declining to continue his service on the board including: to focus on his “writings”, to “run for a national seat on the Society of Professional Journalism (SPJ)”, and in the interest of the organization and democracy.
ADC & RIFKA REFUSE COMMENT
The ADC itself did not offer any public statement regarding Hanania’s departure from the board. If Hanania’s term on the ADC board simply expired after a pre-determined, one-year appointment, and he was not sacked in response to repeated angry demands by members and supporters of the ADC, why was he dismissed so quietly? It’s not as if the ADC doesn’t regularly issue press releases thanking people for their service. In fact, at the same time Hanania’s stint on the board was coming to an end the ADC issued this press release thanking outgoing President Sarah Najjar-Wilson for her “service as President of ADC, as well as her kind generosity and dedication to our community.” Hanania has been a member of the ADC since it was established in 1980. If the ADC leadership didn’t want to present him with one of those many plaques the establishment Arabs in Washington enjoy awarding each other, why didn’t they issue a simple press release recognizing his over 30-years of dedication to the organization and thanking him for serving on the national board? Doesn’t this pillar of the Arab-American community deserve any recognition or gratitude for his decades of service to the ADC?
In order to provide our readers and the Arab-American community with the most complete and accurate picture surrounding the circumstances of Hanania’s departure from the ADC national board Ikhras reached out to ADC Chair Rifka who was responsible for both Hanania’s appointment and ouster. Through email we directly asked him why Hanania was removed from the board, and what role he played in that decision. We also presented Rifka with the quotes attributed to him offering him an opportunity to confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on them. As of the time of this writing he has not responded to our inquiry.
HANANIA OUSTER INSUFFICIENT, CONTINUES A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN ADC
Rifka’s appointment of Hanania to the board last year was controversial from the very start and caused an immediate backlash from supporters of the organization. During Hanania’s year-long stint on the national board he continued his familiar pattern of crude public behavior. His offensive, inflammatory rhetoric and cheap sectarian agitation continued unabated and was routinely consistent. The “Hanania Emails” scandal also revealed a private ugly side of Hanania and showed an angry, disturbed individual which couldn’t have sat well with those concerned about the organization’s mission and public image. Throughout this entire period there were continuous calls for his removal by ADC insiders and the Arab -American community. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Hanania’s presence on the board remained a source of outrage among the members and supporters of the ADC during his entire tenure, and apparently reached its climax at this year’s convention.
As we all know the ADC provides no clear guidelines or transparency when it comes to appointments and removals from leadership positions, but we do know Hanania’s inconsistent and contradictory versions don’t make any sense given the controversy that began with his appointment and continued to surround him during his entire tumultuous year on the national board. Those that have been following this story are aware Hanania was ousted from the ADC board by Rifka who was forced to make that decision under pressure from members and supporters of the organization, many of whom were also calling for his own resignation. This far more realistic version of events has now been confirmed by an informed, reliable and credible source from within the ADC.
Hanania never possessed the character or qualifications to serve in a national leadership position, and the decision to get rid of him is apparently part of an effort by Rifka and others at the ADC to regain some credibility for the organization. In this regard, Hanania’s removal from the ADC National Board is insufficient as long as he continues to maintain his leadership role within the organization both as a board member and Vice-President of the ADC Chicago chapter. Since his ouster Hanania has continued his disgraceful and offensive rhetoric, most recently with an attack on solidarity activists risking their lives to provide some minor relief to the besieged people of Gaza and remind the world of their plight, an effort the ADC itself supported. If the ADC hopes to rebuild its credibility and earn the support of the Arab-American community it must publicly repudiate Hanania, remove him from all leadership positions, and end his association with the organization.
- Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania Denies Being Removed From ADC Board
- Ray Hanania Again Denies Being Sacked By ADC, Continues To Explain His Departure
- Ray Hanania Attacks Activists Risking Lives For Gaza
- Hanania Maintains ADC Leadership Role, Continues Offensive Rhetoric