Ikhras is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for September, 2012 is Dr. James Zogby. The omnipresent, self-appointed representative of Arab-Americans earned this prestigious honor for his disgraceful behavior at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Although rarely is there a month in which Zogby is not the front runner for this award, the quintessential careerist and cheap propagandist for the State Department and Arab oil-Sheikhs beat out all other nominees for the September, 2012 ikhras shoe award before the convention even started.
In the days leading up to the convention Zogby was proudly announcing his one-man outfit will be co-hosting an event with a racist, anti-Arab organization committed to the destruction of Palestine:
“our Arab American Institute will co-host with J-Street, a Jewish peace group, a forum on the need for American leadership to push for a just solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
It’s no surprise the highlight of Zogby’s activities at the DNC was co-sponsoring an event with the so called “pro-peace” component of the pro-Israel lobby. This isn’t the first time Zogby has promoted or worked with the “moderate Zionists” of J-Street, it’s merely the latest example of a pattern of behavior among establishment Arab-Americans whereby they prove they’re not “radicals”, “fanatics”, and “anti-Semites” by openly collaborating with supporters of Israel. Arabs desperate to prove their humanity by pandering to Israel’s supporters adopt the fictional Zionist narrative as the point of reference for any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The narrative which we’re all familiar with by now presents Israel as a small, democratic state that seeks only to live in peace and security in a “tough neighborhood.” Unfortunately for Israel, it’s surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs and Muslims driven by a violent religion and culture, and determined to “push the Jews into the sea” and finish the job Hitler started back in WWII. America, as a powerful beacon of virtue and morality in this world, will not allow this to happen, of course, but through its altruistic foreign policy will try its best to bring about peace and justice in a troubled region.
Beginning with this anthology of lies as a starting point, establishment Arab-Americans then move on to prove they’re civil, rational, and reasonable by participating in dialogues and discussions with representatives of Zionist groups such as the one co-hosted by Zogby’s Arab American Institute. Hussein Ibish and the American Task Force on Palestine also come immediately to mind. In this American-based framework the Arab is evaluated according to his/her position on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the illegitimate, Zionist entity in Palestine. This evaluation becomes the sole determining factor in deciding whether the Arab is one of the “crazy ones” and beyond the pale, or, on the other hand, a reasonable, rational, and moral person worthy of acceptance among the “civilized” members of humanity which is precisely the message Zogby wants to send through his much touted collaboration with J Street.
The 2012 DNC convention was also an opportunity for Zogby to continue making his often-ridiculed and always outlandish claims about Arab-American political empowerment under his guidance and leadership.
“This week I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina where I will be participating in my eighth Democratic Convention. I will be joining some 55 other Arab American delegates and committee members from 21 states… In conventions before 1988, Arab Americans had only managed to send a handful of delegates to the national meetings, and so the ’88 total represented a real breakthrough for our community. In the years that followed, despite real challenges to our involvement in the party, there were consistently around 40 to 45 Arab American delegates. And so, this year’s total is quite remarkable—a tribute to the hard work of many activists and the acceptance of Arab Americans by all levels of the Democratic Party’s leadership… This convention will be different. For Arab Americans, with our record breaking numbers, it will represent a “coming of age.” Our hard work and perseverance has brought us from exclusion to being respected and recognized as part of the mainstream of the Democratic Party.”
Zogby repeats the same clichés and pep talk about American electoral politics and Arab-American political empowerment prior to each DNC. Read his take on Arab-Americans at the 2004 DNC. And then read this article, written in preparation for the 2008 DNC in which Zogby reviews his own role as a leader of Arab-American Democrats, and notice the striking similarity in the language used to describe Arab-American participation at each and every DNC since 1984.
Zogby’s cynical and deliberately misleading characterization of the token Arab-American presence at the DNC did not fool anyone. Even the disgraced Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania, not known for his astute political awareness, was able to see through Zogby’s self-serving promotion of his handful of lackeys at the DNC.
“Some of the self-appointed leaders of the American Arab community are stamping their flat feet loudly — well, as loud as they are able — declaring that this year’s record number of American Arab delegates is something American Arabs should be proud of. You have to be kidding. This year, there were nearly 6,000 total delegates, pledged and unpledged. In 2008, there were only 4,419 total delegates. That means the number of delegates participating in the Democratic Convention increased by nearly 50 percent. Yet, that cannot be said about many of the American Arab leaders who participated in the convention. In 2008, there were 43 American Arab delegates who “participated” in the Democratic National Convention. This year, it went up to 52. That’s an increase of about 19 percent. We couldn’t even keep up with the growth of the delegates as a whole. In other words, in real numbers, the “clout” of the American Arabs — if they even had any clout, weakened. It went down. Although there were nine more American Arabs at the convention, their voice in the overall mix of delegates went down significantly.”
While Zogby was busy leading his victorious contingent of Arab-American political adolescents “coming of age” into the “mainstream of the Democratic Party”, and shaking the very foundation of American electoral politics, convention party leaders forced through a platform change to reinstate a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. The reference that was reinstated was included in the 2008 platform, but was left out when delegates approved the 2012 platform. It was accompanied by another amendment to reinstate a reference to God. Zogby, who’s been a member of the Democratic Party platform committee since he was appointed by Bill Clinton, responded to the Democrats’ pandering to Israel’s supporters in the US (including his own colleagues in the pro-Israel lobby) with his typical, uncontroversial bland centrism and political cowardice. To begin, he again attempted to mislead everyone about the Arab-American delegates’ ability to influence other Democratic Party delegates claiming that the response to the vote proves they are in the mainstream.
Leaving aside his flawed methodology of measuring success based on “boos”, this is a blatantly disingenuous claim because the vote was on both the God amendment and the Jerusalem amendment. As someone immersed in American mainstream politics for decades Zogby certainly knows no amount of pro-Israel pandering would ever be “booed” at a convention of either of the two American political parties.
More significantly, Zogby’s main objection to the Jerusalem amendment was on procedural grounds.
This could have been an opportunity for Zogby to challenge the prevailing Zionist lies and religious narratives regarding the historical background of Jerusalem and Palestine, a land which has been inhabited continuously by the people we refer to today as Palestinian Arabs, the only indigenous population of Palestine, since the beginning of time. And just in case Zogby’s failure to address the substance of the Jerusalem issue was not enough to reinforce Zogby’s image as a respectable mainstream Arab-American, he engaged in his own pro-Israel pandering. Speaking on Democracy Now he said the following:
“Frankly, the platform was just fine, and it should have made the Israeli side very happy…AIPAC and everyone saw the draft. The draft had language that was very supportive of Israel on the security and defense front, supportive of Israel on the—Israel is the—you know, our ally, etc., etc. And then it eliminated some of these predetermining of negotiated issues, like borders in Jerusalem, etc…We’re not talking about whether Jerusalem ought to be the capital of Israel. We’re talking about how the party behaved. That was dumb…ultimately, what the language says is that a united city—Palestinians want a united city. The capital of Israel? It’s going to be the capital of Israel. But it also is going to be the capital of Palestine. And sovereignty has to be shared between both parties. The platform doesn’t speak to any, it doesn’t rule out any of those things. It says it needs to be negotiated. I can live with the language. But the way it was done, I can’t live with that.”
So for Zogby it’s taken for granted that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. Emphasizing his only objection was to procedure, he also made it clear he supports the pro-Israel platform. According to Zogby the amendment was unnecessary because the pre-amendment platform was “was just fine”, and so sufficiently pro-Israel it should have warranted the support of the Zionist fanatics at AIPAC.
Zogby also goes on to parrot the general State Department line about a framework for a peaceful “settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians as if Zogby or any other American citizen is entitled to an opinion about which Palestinian rights should be upheld and which ones should be discarded based on Washington’s political sensibilities. Regardless of the variety of opinions among Palestinians under occupation and in the diaspora as to the ideal path towards their liberation, the fact remains that neither Zogby nor any other Arab-Americans in the US have been authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people or demand less than their full rights.
Zogby went to the DNC convention repeating the same grandiose claims he often makes about his ability to influence public policy and Democratic Party politics:
“We are better positioned today than we were a generation ago. For decades we have fought to form and protect our community, and we won. We fought against exclusion and for inclusion, and we won.”
Arab-Americans should have enjoyed the spectacle surrounding the vote on the Jerusalem amendment. No political platform by any American political party has any relevance to the rights of Palestinians in their own homeland, but its passing was a well-deserved humiliation for a shameless self-promoter. It shows that despite spending decades blathering about “engaging the American political system” and “change from within the electoral process”, the only thing Zogby has achieved is a comfortable, air-conditioned career for himself on the margins of Washington and a busy personal social calendar.
It’s highly unlikely we’ve seen the end of Zogby who seems to really enjoy what he’s doing and doesn’t appear ready to retire. Undoubtedly four years from now he will back at another convention repeating the same skit he’s been performing for decades, but his performance at this year’s DNC is an opportunity for Arab-Americans to recognize and honor the poster boy of the mythical Arab lobby. So for his most recent collaboration with racist, Zionist groups, his self-serving antics disguised as the political empowerment of Arab-Americans, his failure to challenge the falsification of Palestine’s history, and his general failure to stand up for Palestinian rights, ikhras is pleased to present Dr. James Zogby with the September, 2012 ikhras shoe of the month award.
To learn more about Dr. James Zogby visit ikhras: http://ikhras.com/tag/james-zogby/
Every month Ikhras awards the Muntadhar Zaidi “Shoe of the month” to the House Arab or Muslim individual or organization whose behavior that month best exemplifies the behavior of what Malcolm X described, in the language of his own time, as the “house negro” (see video). The award is named in honor of the brave Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Zaidi who threw his shoes at the war criminal George W. Bush at a time House Arabs and Muslims were dining with him at the White House and inviting him to their mosques. Arab dictators and puppets of the empire are also qualified to enter the shoe of the month competition based on their own subservience to U.S.-led global imperialism. Contest guidelines prohibit any one individual or organization from winning the award more than 3 times a year.