The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-of-the-Month Award for October, 2014 goes to the Arab-American National Museum (AANM). The AANM in Dearborn, Michigan describes itself as “the first and only museum in the United States devoted to Arab American history and culture.” Ikhras recently visited the AANM and confirmed the following. At the head of the museum’s main staircase is an interactive map of the Arab World. Across that map where one should see Palestine instead has the outline of “Israel” represented within the “Green Line”, the demarcation lines established by the 1949 armistice agreements between the newly established Zionist entity and the surrounding Arab states. That in and of itself would be enough to earn the AANM the prestigious ikhras “Shoe-Of-The-Month” Award, as the usurping Zionist squatter state has no moral or legal right to exist. However, AANM one-upped itself in a statement from its official Twitter account when ikhras editors called out this glaring offense:
@ikhras The map reflects the political reality that Palestinians live in. One that causes many to immigrate to the United States.
— Arab American Museum (@arabamericanmus) October 27, 2014
Supposing the AANM did want to truly represent the current political reality of the region on their map, how did they settle arbitrarily on the 1967 Zionist borders, leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip to represent Palestine? The irony of the statement is that it neither represents the “political reality that Palestinians live in,” nor depicts the hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinian Arabs slaughtered or forced out of their land since 1948. Furthermore, the “separation barrier” built by the Zionist State cuts through Bethlehem and stole many more square acres of land throughout the West Bank, not even following the “Green Line” demarcated by the 1967 borders. The map also fails to indicate illegal, Jewish-only colonies, Jewish-only roads woven throughout the little remaining areas of Palestinian autonomy and numerous Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks, and therefore does not accurately portray the Bantustans to which Palestinians are currently restricted.
We don’t know who decided to include the Zionist entity on the map, but the reason for its inclusion is not difficult to decipher.
The fictional Zionist narrative must be accepted by all Arab-Americans as the point of reference for the Arab-Israeli conflict before being extended the coveted invitation into the US mainstream. The narrative which we’re all familiar with presents Israel as a small, democratic, civilized state made up of people rooted in that land and seeks only to live in peace in a “tough neighborhood.” Unfortunately for Israel, it’s surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs determined to “push the Jews into the sea.” Beginning with this narrative as a starting point, establishment Arab-Americans are often prompted, sometimes required, to express their views on the existence of the settler-colonial entity in Palestine. The Arabs’ position on the Zionist entity is then evaluated to determine if the Arab is a “fanatical, extremist, anti-Semitic terrorist-sympathizer”, thus placing him/her beyond the pale, or, on the other hand, a reasonable, peaceful, and moral person, one of “the good ones” among a suspect group, who’s worthy of entry into the American mainstream.
The emphasis on mainstream acceptance in the US becomes clear after perusing the AANM’s website under the heading of “National Advisory Board” which reads like a guest list to one of James Zogby’s “Gibran galas.” It includes members of the capitalist arm of the Arab-American community, former US officials, the entire Congressional Phalangist Caucus, Arab royalty (including Lisa Halaby, we decline to refer to her as “Her Majesty” Queen Noor al Hussein”), and a variety of other House Arabs.
Zionism remains a racist, illegitimate, colonial project which after only 66 years is clearly and quickly approaching its inevitable collapse. Just in case that’s not clear enough, Israel has no right to exist, at least not in Palestine. It remains an alien, artificial entity that has no place anywhere on a map of the Arab World. We understand that many 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Arab-Americans are not rooted in the collective conscious and memory of the Arab world. Like many other Americans of all backgrounds they are also ill-informed about world history, politics, and geography. However, others within the community are well aware of the bloody history of Zionism, the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people, and the illegitimacy, not to mention injustice and absurdity, of implanting the Zionist colonial entity in the heart of the Arab world on the ruins of the indigenous population of Palestine.
It is one thing to sell out the civil rights and aspirations of the Arab-American community for an invitation to a “White House Iftar” or a photo-op with a US official, behavior Arab-Americans have come to expect and largely ignore. It is something entirely different to peddle in the suffering and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and offer unauthorized concessions on their behalf in exchange for acceptance within mainstream America. Obviously, AANM is in no position to arbitrarily accept borders to which the Palestinians have never agreed.
Whoever at the AANM made the decision to include the Zionist entity on their Arab World Map does not speak for Arab-Americans. More importantly, the legitimacy that Israel so desperately wants the indigenous population of Palestine to bestow upon the Zionist project does not derive from anyone in the United States, and the acceptance it seeks from the Arab world can’t be provided by any segment within the Arab-American community. Although the AANM undoubtedly included “Israel” on its map to garner acceptance in the US mainstream–something with which Palestinians, Arabs and anti-Zionists throughout the world are not concerned in the slightest–this recognition of a genocidal occupier has also earned the AANM the October 2014 ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month.”
Ikhras friend and guest writer Tammy Obeidallah contributed reporting. For more from Obeidallah visit ikhras.
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 include the “James Zogby Rule” which prohibits any one individual or organization from winning the award more than 3 times a year.