Ikhras is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for May, 2012 is Ziad Asali. The president of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) earned the prestigious ikhras shoe award by attending an Israel “Independence Day” celebration hosted by the Israeli embassy. As the Palestinian people were commemorating the onset of the nakba Asali decided to celebrate the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by European invaders and the creation of the usurping Zionist entity. Two photos (below) from the event emerged showing an undignified but smiling Asali with Michael Oren, the professional propagandist and war criminal (Oren served in the Israeli terrorist army during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 in which over 20, 000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed) from upstate New York that was handpicked by Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as Israel’s Ambassador to Washington.
Such outrageous conduct is not new for the folks at the ATPF, the unofficial Washington public relations firm of the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, American-supervised collaborationist (illusory) Palestinian Authority in occupied Palestine. The activities of the ATFP consist of an annual flagship gala at which only war criminals are invited as keynote speakers while the rest of the year is spent hobnobbing with the most anti-Palestinian American Zionists, Israeli officials, and members of the American pro-Israel lobby. Hussein Ibish, the Senior Fellow at the ATFP who was hired to write speeches and press releases for Asali because they couldn’t find a single competent Palestinian in the United States willing to work for this outfit, has also dined with the Israeli Ambassador and another member of this clique also made the political pilgrimage to the Israeli embassy for an “Iftar dinner.”
The ATFP has never enjoyed any support among the Palestinian-American community which has largely shunned and dismissed the ATFP as an unrepresentative, empty shell organization, but the obscenity of a Palestinian-American, even one as thoroughly discredited as Asali, celebrating Israel’s “independence day triggered harsh condemnations from the community the ATFP claims to represent:
“Palestinians are incredulous, angry, and hurt, particularly at a time when the current Israeli government—which Michael Oren represents—has pushed legislation to make public commemorations of the Nakba a punishable offense… It is Asali’s prerogative to meet with Israeli officials when and how he pleases, but to do so in our name, without sensitivity to the time, place, and event, reflects an abysmal disconnect with Palestinian-Americans. Asali is free to be the single Palestinian smiling at a celebration of the month when Zionist militias massacred us, drove us off our land, stole everything from us, and trapped our history beneath their bulldozers and subversion; but he will not do so in our name.”
Asali and Ibish have adopted the same condescending, arrogant approach toward the Palestinians that prevails among American officials and the anti-Arab racists posing as experts on the Middle East at various “think tanks.” Asali has described Palestinians as “a ragtag people, many who barely speak English. And whatever they say is often offensive and then used against them”, and expressed pride in the ATFP’s exclusively “Washington-centered” advocacy.
The two men have decided that they know what’s best for the Palestinians, and with no grassroots base to hold the ATFP accountable, they have ignored the Palestinian-American community and ingratiated themselves with the most extreme elements within the US government and the pro-Israel lobby. The ATFP regularly defends its relationship with various racist, Zionist organizations by stating it has:
“long advocated the formation of a national coalition for a two-state solution…”, and has therefore, “built ties to and engaged in dialogue with numerous Arab-American, Jewish-American…institutions and organizations, keeping its doors open to all and refusing to foreclose any potential area for cooperation towards peace.”
Although the ATFP claims to have ties with “numerous Arab-American institutions and organizations”, its list of partners and collaborators is exclusively made up of US officials and Zionist organizations. That anyone would describe a relationship with such rabid racists and Israeli propagandists as those at the Israel Project or AIPAC as “cooperation towards peace” says all we need to know about the activities of the ATFP.
Following the condemnations of Asali not a single Palestinian-American was willing to step forward and defend him. That task had to be assigned to the ATFP’s Senior Fellow. The always unreasonably reasonable, disingenuous and unconscionable Ibish came roaring to the defense of his boss:
“Asali is a trailblazer and a visionary. His approach has been controversial, but driven by the watchwords of seriousness, credibility and integrity… Asali has proven that Palestinian-Americans can work within the system as first-class American citizens. Washington has paid attention.”
It’s not unusual for establishment Arabs to confuse access with empowerment and influence, and to embrace Washington officialdom’s seal of approval as a testament to their civility and humanity. With his characteristic impudence Ibish does not hesitate to argue Palestinians were always second-class citizens until Asali came along. However, what the activities of Asali, Ibish, and the ATFP seem to be aimed at is turning Palestinians into second-class human beings unworthy of their full national and human rights. It is this lack of respect for Palestinians (and Arabs in general), their suffering, and their rights that allowed Asali and Ibish to invite war criminals as keynote speakers at their galas, collaborate with Israeli officials, and now sink to a new low by celebrating the creation of Zionist entity on the wholesale destruction of Palestinian society.
The ATFP is unique in the history of what passes for Arab-American “activism.” It’s the only Arab-American organization established 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. Ibish divides his time between attacking any activist that supports Palestinian liberation and promoting Salam Fayyad. Asali’s “activism” amounts to wearing a black-tie tuxedo and parading around hotel ballrooms bowing in front of American officials and Arab royalty.
The ATFP and Asali have been a disgrace since the outfit was established. Ikhras, of course, does not support any peace settlement with Israel and calls for the dismantlement of the Zionist entity, the return of the refugees to their homes, land and property, and the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. However, even those crackpot realists and defeatists that describe this self-evident moral imperative as an “unreasonable” or “extremist” position and advocate finding a “solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict have rejected the undignified behavior and tactics of the ATFP. Ibish, the only person to come to Asali’s defense is no longer taken seriously by anyone other than pro-Israel fanatics. The Senior Fellow at the ATFP has been reduced to a caricature of himself and recently felt compelled to write an article explaining why he’s not really a Zionist.
Sixty-four years after the creation of Israel only one Palestinian-American was willing to celebrate Israel’s “independence” day. What should be even more worrisome for Zionists is that the only person willing to defend him is a thoroughly discredited, hired political attack dog. Asali is entitled to celebrate Israel’s “Independence” at the Israeli embassy, and Ibish is free to come to his defense, but neither one of them has a right to do so in the name of the Palestinian-American community. So on behalf of all those that have been sickened by the despicable behavior of Asali and the ATFP ikhras is pleased to present the May 2012 Ikhras Shoe of the Month to Ziad Asali.
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.