How desperate are the three guys at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) for Palestinian-American support? Well, they’re desperate enough to invoke the endorsement of Palestinian-American Zionist and failed comedian, Ray Hanania. The outfit, which functions as a Washington public relations firm for the collaborationist Palestinian (illusory) Authority (PA) in occupied Ramallah posted Hanania’s latest article in defense of the ATFP on its official website.
That the ATFP has been reduced to highlighting the support of Hanania for the group says all we need to know about this organization’s relationship with the community it claims to represent. The ATFP has been on the defensive about its anti-Palestinian agenda and its alienation from the Palestinian-American community for some time, most recently in this extended press release issued by the group and allegedly written by its empty-tuxedo President, Ziad Asali, but more likely the work of Hussein Ibish.
The ATFP is truly unique in the history of what passes for Arab-American “activism.” It’s the only Arab-American organization ever formed solely for the purpose of undermining Palestinian rights in the US. It’s also the only component of the mythical Arab lobby that openly bashes grassroots Palestinian-American activists while expressing pride in its exclusively Washington-centered “advocacy.”
While the ATFP has won praise from US officials and the pro-Israel lobby, it has been shunned by the Palestinian-American community. It’s not only the “fanatic” and “extremist” elements, (two adjectives devoid of any meaning which the folks at the ATFP, like their allies and partners in the pro-Israel lobby, hurl at anyone that supports full Palestinian rights and refuses to compromise with the Zionist colonial regime), within the Palestinian-American community that reject the strategy and policy positions of the ATFP. The group recently also lost one of its own like-minded board members. In his September 14 letter of resignation from the ATFP board Daoud Kuttab, who by no stretch of the imagination can be described as an “extremist” or “fanatic”, wrote the following:
“The paternalistic attitude that Americans including American Palestinians know what is best for Palestinians and their leadership is an arrogant attitude that I can’t agree to be part of. Whenever a lobbying organization reaches the position that it has to worry about its own existence and how the local powers consider it, that is the day that such an organization has lost its mission statement.”
Kuttab went on to list the reasons for his resignation which included:
1. The clear failure of the organization to take a position independent of the US government.
4. The fact that the organization – as stated by its president- appears to care more about the survival of the organization over everything else including the future of Palestine
If Kuttab, a “pragmatic”, accommodating peace processer before it was in vogue thinks you’re too lenient and compromising, you’ve gone too far. The ATFP is now more closely aligned with the pro-Israel lobby than any segment of the Palestinian-American community. Last week Foreign Policy described the ATFP this way:
The group is led by president and founder Dr. Ziad J. Asali, Ghaith Al-Omari, a former foreign policy advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish. The trio has managed to attract high-level administration favor (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton keynoted their gala last year) and praise from the pro-Israel community. The downside of their strategy, however, has been a notable absence of grassroots Palestinian support and a recent backlash from parts of the Palestinian establishment”
Shunned by the Palestinian-American community, approved by US officials, praised by the pro-Israel lobby, and too “moderate” for the “moderates”, the ATFP is now so desperate for any Palestinian-American support they’re turning to the clown of Cicero. According to Hanania:
“when it comes to getting something done, ATFP, headed by Ziad Asali, is about the only real Palestinian voice in America with any significance or common sense. Not to mention that among its talents is the deeply knowledgeable Hussein Ibish, whom I have praised on my radio show as having the most brilliant mind in the Palestinian and pan- Arab community… The ATFP is the only organization that has the courage to give a platform to Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister.”
Hanania is a laughing stock among Arab-Americans. After the “Hanania Emails” scandal earlier this year he was later ousted from the ADC national board following an uproar by supporters of the organization. Hanania has also continued his cheap sectarian agitation and offensive rhetoric. By highlighting the approval the organization has received from such a disreputable character like Hanania the ATFP betrayed its desperation for any Palestinian-American support to justify the comical use of Palestine in its name. That this support could only be found among a failed comedian is an irony the ATFP should take a moment to digest.