[Ikhras Note: As we continue to advance the ikhras mission and critique "ikhras responds" will be a recurring feature in which we respond to House Arabs & Muslims commentary and views, if they can be called that, on current events and issues of importance to the community. This feature in our ongoing coverage of the establishment Arabs and Muslims will serve to highlight their subservience and ignorance, counter-defeatist tendencies, and promote discussion that goes beyond the strictly defined parameters of mainstream US political discourse. We are launching this feature with a response to an article titled "Time For Honesty About Dialogue With Israel" by anti-Arab activist and Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, Hussein Ibish.]
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“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” George Orwell
“The destruction of culture is the only clear outcome of the phenomenon of the petrol “patronage” of culture.” Mahmoud Darwish (1982)
The Ikhras editors are pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-of-the-Month Award for October, 2013 goes to UAE-based tweeter Sultan Alqassemi. In an audacious article that generated heated debate on social networking sites, Alqassemi presented the ludicrous suggestion that Arab culture has moved from its traditional capitals, Beirut, Cairo and Baghdad, to the Gulf region, specifically Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai and Doha. Alqassemi offers the laughable idea that “in almost every other sense [Gulf cities have] far outstripped their sister cities in North Africa and the Levant.” While some political commentators, like the Angry Arab, have addressed the absurdity of this premise on a domestic level, it is noteworthy to highlight Alqassemi’s glaring omission of the Gulf countries’ monstrous foreign policies towards life, art and culture in the Levant and North Africa.
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After cancelling its annual gala last year without any explanation, the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) 2013 gala appears headed for failure. Unlike previous years, the two-man organization’s flagship event hasn’t generated much buzz this time around, and with only one month to go the keynote speaker remains a mystery. Previous ATFP galas in the heyday of the peace-processing industry became, along with James Zogby’s “Gibran Gala”, among the premier yearly events of the Arab-American establishment complete with US officials as “honored guests” and high-profile, war criminals as keynote speakers. This year the mood surrounding the preparations for the gala is subdued and the vapid ATFP President Ziad Asali along with his more articulate side-kick Hussein Ibish haven’t had much to say about next month’s event.
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[Ikhras Note: Maysoon Zayid’s simultaneous refusal to support BDS or any Palestine solidarity activism considered "controversial" by American mainstream standards while continuing to use the Palestinian cause as a punch line in pursuit of a mediocre career on the margins of American pop culture has led to a community backlash. Her ongoing support for the American Task Force on Palestine and her latest role as Liberal Zionists’ token Palestinian at Open Zion has reinforced the belief that for Zayid Palestine is nothing more than a personal vanity vehicle. In response to her increasing isolation from the Palestinian-American community and its supporters Zayid has resorted to fabricating a busy schedule of “comedy” shows, gigs, and tours from Ramallah to Hollywood that almost always never take place or end up being something very different than what she initially claimed. In this special guest submission ikhras friend and Southern California-based activist Tammy Obeidallah reports on Zayid’s recent visit to tinseltown.]
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Zayid At An ATFP Gala With Ziad Asali: Zayid boasts she has “never missed an ATFP gala.”
[Ikhras Note: Maysoon Zayid's refusal to support the BDS campaign against Israel or any Palestine solidarity activism considered "controversial" by American mainstream standards along with her support for the American Task Force On Palestine (ATFP) has led to a community backlash. In this special guest submission an ikhras reader and community activist highlights her support for the ATFP and the questions swirling around the US-backed "comedian."]
On twitter Maysoon Zayid explained why she cannot publicly comment on BDS due to the fact that the Israeli government would ban her entry to Palestine in order to work with the kids of her namesake charity, “Maysoon Kids”. For those who are not familiar with Palestine, entry to historic Palestine or West Bank is via Israel. If your destination is Gaza the entry points are Israel or Egypt—the latter is complicit with Israel so it is the same as applying for entry into Gaza from Israel.
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Their names do not appear on the American President’s “kill list”, the list of individual’s from exclusively Muslim or Muslim-majority countries singled out for extra-judicial assassination, and whose murder requires pre-approval by Barak Obama personally. Nor will their names be found on the US Government’s “no-fly” list or the FBI’s most wanted. These carefully selected Muslim names appeared on the invitation list for the White House Iftar Dinner on July 25, 2013. They included those you would normally expect such as American politicians and government officials and the ambassadors or representatives of Muslim-majority countries with regimes approved by the empire. But the guest list also included a handful of American Muslims described as “grassroots leaders” within the American Muslim community. They were invited to Obama’s iftar as ostensible representatives of an American Muslim community that doesn’t know them and has never heard of them. Although the ikhras awards committee was unable to determine the identities of these individuals, we are pleased to announce they are the collective winners of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for July, 2013.
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Maysoon Zayid is currently in occupied Palestine and she’s trying very hard to let everyone know it. She highlights these trips in an attempt to bolster her claims to pseudo-native authenticity and expertise which the government-backed “comedian” thinks she can use as a gimmick to promote her career on the margins of American pop culture upon her return back home to New Jersey. On this trip she’s claiming to be booked for several “comedy” shows in various “West Bank” venues (She will not be performing in Gaza because supposedly she’s banned from there, doesn’t tell us by who) but nobody has seen any brochure, advertisement, or announcement in any form from anyone in Palestine sponsoring or organizing these alleged shows. In the past her “comedy” shows in the Arab world were sponsored and organized by the US State Department. Nobody in Palestine outside her immediate family would’ve heard of Um-Zohan, and since the State Department isn’t sponsoring any shows this year her alleged performances, if true, will likely be nothing more but a brief appearance in front of a few bewildered school children she invited herself to visit. More importantly, Um-Zohan will not be telling the few Palestinians she may speak with about her activities back home in the United States.
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The Ikhras editors are pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for May, 2013 is the Al Jazeera English website. The website earned this month’s shoe after deciding to remove an article, The Last Of The Semites, by Palestinian-American academic & Columbia University Professor Dr. Joseph Massad. The article’s criticism of Zionism as inherently anti-Semitic and its focus on the historical relationship between the Zionist movement and anti-Semitic European leaders and governments (including Nazi Germany) and their shared vision and objectives was more than the present day Zionists would tolerate. The article was first published on May 15. After an uproar by Zionist fanatics and pro-Israel lobbyists including Jeffrey Goldberg and Hussein Ibish, Aljazeera bowed to the pressure and the article was removed on May 19. After a backlash from Aljazeera insiders and free speech advocates the website restored the article two days later on May 21, but not before dealing a severe blow to the credibility of the English-language sister channel and website of the already thoroughly discredited Arabic-language network.
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Two Arab-American women, Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib and Rana Abbas, a former member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) in Michigan, have accused Imad Hammad, the ADC regional Director and Senior National Advisor for Public Affairs of sexually harassing them and several other women. The allegations stretch back to 1999, and apparently a formal complaint submitted to the ADC National Office in 2007 went ignored.
Sexual harassment is the most pervasive form of workplace harassment and takes several forms. According to Tlaib & Abbas, Hamad engaged in aggressive verbal and physical sexual harassment over an extended period of time. Such behavior should never be tolerated, and the failure of the ADC to investigate these allegations immediately after they were brought to the attention of its leadership is as alarming and troubling as the sexual harassment itself.
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The Ikhras editors are pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for April, 2013 is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR earned this prestigious honor for its reaction to Boston marathon bombings that killed three and injured more than 200 on April 15. The competition was stiff this month as the predictable buffoonery, expressions of moral outrage, and calls for the always ridiculous “interfaith meetings” commenced immediately after the bombing and continue as of the time of this writing. One community clown who recently discovered his Islamic heritage after the age of 40 as part of a new career path actually began a CNN segment with “I’m a Muslim and I despise terrorism.” April was a month in which we regret we have but one shoe to throw and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) were among the finalists. After an initially strong showing the ADC fell behind when it was reported that the suspects were Muslims, but not Arabs. The ADC is only responsible for the potential transgressions of 350 Million Arabs. Like CAIR, MPAC also assumed responsibility for about 1.5 billion Muslims and earned the dubbing Muslim Public Apology Center. However, after careful consideration the ikhras awards committee determined that the response of CAIR’s far more extensive network to the Boston bombings was the best illustration of the house behavior this award was established to recognize.
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The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month for March, 2013 is Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr. Nasr is receiving this coveted award for an article she wrote titled “What the city of Haifa taught me.” The article first appeared in Arabic in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar, and the English version appeared the next day on the website of the Saudi family news channel Al-Arabiya.
Nasr begins her article reminiscing about the “countless stories about Haifa’s golden days pre-1948.” The reader can almost detect a mocking undertone, as if life in pre-Nakba Haifa was not quite as “Golden” as relayed by the Palestinian refugees she encountered growing up in Lebanon, or was at least only part of the story of Haifa. Sure enough Nasr then goes on to share her awakening:
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Obama posters crossed out in occupied Ramallah.
As part of an effort to construct and promulgate a public relations narrative in preparation for Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, the White House summoned a group of Arab-American “leaders” to a meeting. Overcome by the lure of being invited to the White House and being part of the mainstream these groups and individuals sacrifice intellectual honesty and personal integrity while adopting all the false pretenses of the American imperial project.
Barack Obama met with several so called leaders and organizations that allegedly represent Arab and Muslim Americans ahead of his visit to occupied Palestine. The “Arab-American” groups that attended the meeting were the same unrepresentative, Washington-based cliques that are usually called upon when American politicians need submissive token Arabs to perpetuate the fiction the US government is taking all views into consideration. The groups included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the two-man American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP), and James Zogby’s one-man shop, the Arab American Institute (AAI).
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Ikhras fully supports Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine and all SJP chapters across the United States. SJP branches nationwide have been one of the leading organizations in the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the US. Columbia SJP’s misguided and divisive decision to sponsor an event featuring Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi as a guest speaker at what was dubbed a “Syria Solidarity Event” served as a distraction and did not help advance the mission of SJP. Our criticism of this controversial decision stems from our deep appreciation for this organization and the critically important role it plays on US campuses. SJP represents one of the most successful organizations working in the most hostile environment for any Palestine solidarity activism anywhere in the world. We trust Columbia SJP will learn from this mistake and remain focused on its mission as it continues its invaluable work in the future. As it does so we will continue to support Columbia SJP and all SJP chapters on their respective campuses across the country.
Long Live Palestine Arab and Free From the River to the Sea!
p.s. No Zionist should take any comfort in whatever disagreements that may exist within the Arab world or among Palestine solidarity activists. When it comes to justice in Palestine we are all unified and will continue our unrelenting struggle for the liberation of Palestine and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
Nihad Awad With George Bush Jr (2000)
After posting a photo of Nihad Awad from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with George Bush Jr on our twitter feed with a comment (السفاح الذي قتل اكثر من مليون عراقي هو الذي تقف الى جانبه لتآخذ صورة تذكارية) about his willingness to attend a White House photo-op with the butcher of over one million Iraqis Mr. Awad sent us the following message:
لا مانع ان يكون لك رأي مخالف لكن لا تدعي ما لا تعلم. هذه الصورة أخذت في عام 2000 م. فأرجو ان تتحلى بألجرأة وتصحح خطأك.لم التقي ببوش بعد 2001
There is no problem with you having a different opinion, however, do not make assertions about what you don’t know. This picture was taken in the year 2000 so I hope you would have the courage to correct your mistake. I did not meet with Bush after 2001. [Translation by ikhras]
Yes Mr. Awad, we have no problem correcting any “mistake” you can plausibly claim we may have made. We did not indicate the date of the photo, but since we were clearly criticizing your willingness to attend a Bush White House photo-op, we’re willing to point out this photo was taken prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. But this then presents a question for you which we also hope you have the courage to answer honestly. Are you implying that you would have declined an invitation to a Bush White House event after 2003 in protest of the criminal invasion of Iraq? Your own political “activism” and CAIR’s almost 2o-year record of continuous and uninterrupted working relationships with successive US administrations would suggest otherwise.
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