American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee’s ex Media Director and current senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine’s Hussein Ibish wrote the following, encouraging a hierarchical power structure in the Occupy Wall Street over its current decentralized, grassroots format:
The Occupy Wall Street movement, by contrast, shows no signs of being mobilized by a political party or organization to create real change in politics or policy. Any movement so broad-based, leaderless (though there are some organizers who can be identified) and, frankly, unfocused runs the risk of simply fizzling out without leaving any lasting legacy … Arabs should be very familiar with this conundrum. The Egyptian experience in particular has shown the limitations of a leaderless, spontaneous movement. It creates momentum but cannot harness it. That can only be done by organized political groupings.
Ibish’s own previous statements undermine the value of the above unsolicited advice to Occupy Wall Street. His concern is more about tailoring popular discourse to his own taste than preserving the movement’s influence. A case in point: he recently reprimanded Egyptian revolutionary Gigi Ibrahim for her criticisms of some Egyptian activists’ lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Ms. Ibrahim had battled Mubarak’s hoodlums in the streets and endured tear gassings and beatings from the Egyptian military. Nevertheless, she became the object of Hussein Ibish and Arab American Institute’s Omar Baddar’s criticisms for rejecting the idea that meaningful change could come from the same institutions of power that had enabled Mubarak, armed Israel and waged wars, occupations and sanctions on millions of Arabs.
Instead of expressing some humility and affording Gigi’s stature in the movement deference (i.e. shutting up, like we always advise), Ibish doesn’t shy away from engineering solutions for Egyptians from his Washington office:
I did suggest a three-way power-sharing arrangement months ago, recognizing this is a highly optimistic scenario
It is unclear why any Egyptian activist or any Occupy Wall Street activist would have reason to heed an individual who had waited until the bitter end before supporting the anti-Mubarak uprising. Like the US government, Ibish didn’t jump on the Egyptian uprising’s bandwagon until it was clear Mubarak had lost. When the uprising started Ibish had opined:
Situations as unstable as this tend to bring out the very worst in political commentary. Under such volatile circumstances, commentators should be extremely careful, even though what most readers, editors and producers are looking for is exactly what commentary should avoid: what purports to be detailed political analysis of an unclear, unstable political reality, or, worse, vapid and indefensible prognostications…There are times when commentary needs to fall silent for a moment and let events sort themselves out.
One wishes Ibish had displayed this level of caution before dining with Israel’s ambassador Michael Oren.
It comes as no surprise that House Arabs and House Muslims (“housies” collectively) are overwhelmingly on the wrong side of the Occupy Wall Street struggle. That’s not to say they run the objects of OWS’ protests, namely the financial institutions that are charged with robbing the American people. But by withholding from OWS political, moral and legal support, they have by and large adopted a despicable stance of neutrality.
House Arabs and House Muslims should have at least as much interest as the average American in supporting Occupy Wall Street because their brethren live under occupation by this empire. What decent Arab or Muslim-American would not take delight in OWS, a thorn in the side of an empire that drops depleted uranium and white phosphorus on innocent populations as whimsically as gardeners water plants? This silence is endemic to the House Arab and House Muslims’ politic just like Malcolm X said decades ago describing the scenario when trouble arises in the establishment’s coffers:
That house negro loved his master. But that field negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try to put it out, that field negro prayed for a wind. For a breeze.
Since housies usually take their time expressing stances that are somewhat unsavory to the empire, we decided to give them some time to sit down, draft, edit, re-edit and release their statements of support to OWS. About two months after OWS was launched, the housies’ press release pages reveal little to no support for Occupy Wall Street. And why would they support OWS’s agitators? Such support would be inconsistent with their theoretical and practical strategies of subservience. If the housies have been able to offer no useful guidance to challenge the US’s foreign policy towards their sisters and brothers under occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and other countries victimized by the “war on terrorism,” how can we possibly expect them to bring the battle home? Why would they want to upset their masters and rock the boat? They don’t have to – it’s a free country – but then they should ikhras about offering activists on the streets of Cairo and New York demeaning advice.