[IKHRAS NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure Ikhras maintained a cordial and friendly relationship with Linda Sarsour over a period of three years. We had no alternative but to terminate this relationship for reasons that will become apparent. Moreover, and in the interest of full honesty, it is this relationship along with requests from community members to postpone this blog post in hopes of steering Sarsour in the right direction that delayed its publication. These same community members have now urged exposing this fake activist and we can no longer remain silent. The following report is partly based on a visit by Ikhras to Brooklyn, New York late last year and interviews with local community activists, former friends and colleagues of Sarsour, and Sarsour family members.
The “Revolutionary Activist” Enjoys Being Chauffeured Between Events Around New York
Linda Sarsour is the Executive Director of the local taxpayer-funded Arab-American Association of New York (AAANY) where she began her “activism” over ten years ago. A Sarsour family friend and AAANY founder, Basemah Atweh, invited her to join the organization and assured her if she volunteered she will eventually be offered a paid position. Less than two months after her “volunteer work” helping newly arrived immigrants get settled and adjust to life in the U.S. Sarsour was hired in a paid, full-time capacity. Even in those very early years former colleagues who worked with Sarsour noticed she was driven exclusively by personal interests and eager to insert herself in the forefront, especially if an opportunity to meet with members of the local political establishment and power elite presented itself. After surviving a car crash in which Atweh was killed, Sarsour took over the organization. It was at this time that she reached an arrangement with her husband and family members providing her with the luxury of devoting all her time and attention to transforming herself into a full-time, career activist of the worst kind. Many poor and working class men and women with far more talent and potential to contribute to their communities do not have the luxury of devoting any amount of time to causes they genuinely believe in, let alone a full-time career as a fake activist without even requiring the services of a paid babysitter. With the increased media exposure she has been recently receiving, her entire public persona has now become a masquerade inundated with pretense and exaggeration. While much of it has provided entertainment for Arab-Americans in NY, activists are now concerned the activities of this fraudster have become politically corrosive to the issues and causes of concern to the community.
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The Syrian-American Council (SAC) is a front group for a minute fraction of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters within the Syrian-American community founded by wealthy Syrian-American businessmen that either chose to leave or were forced to leave Syria in the early 1980s as one of the previous MB campaigns of wide scale violence was quelled by the Syrian Army. For the past five years SAC has presented itself as the Syrian-American voice of the “revolution.” Every March this handful of Syrian-Americans leave their comfortable, suburban American homes for a short vacation in Washington, DC to commemorate the anniversary of the Syrian “revolution.” This year’s all-inclusive package included meetings with the most anti-Syrian, pro-Israel fanatics in Congress to urge them to support a US war on Syria, an evening of music and fine dining at a luxury hotel, an opportunity to listen to a leading propagandist of the Saudi-Wahhabi regime (and a former fighters with Usama Bin-Laden in Afghanistan) that sponsors the Syrian “revolution”, and a couple of hours of waving the French mandate flag in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
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There is a reason Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania is known as the dumbest Arab in North America, and lest anyone attempt to unseat him from that position, he regularly adds to his stupidity. In his latest effort to maintain a safe distance between himself and any potential challengers Ray is calling on Palestinians under occupation in Palestine 48 to form a peaceful Civil Rights movement to confront ethnic cleansing, colonialism and occupation:
“THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF PALESTINIANS LIVING IN ISRAEL AND UNDER OCCUPATION. BUT WHAT PALESTINIANS NEED IS A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT THAT IS TRULY DRIVEN BY PEACEFUL PROTEST AND THAT CAN HELP RESTRAIN THE URGE TO VENGEANCE AND REVENGE.”
This is a totally absurd statement, and if, by any stretch of the imagination, one manages to come up with parallels between the two struggles, they would be so generalized and decontextualized to render them utterly meaningless. Statements are not merely a collection of words. They convey meaning and provide the structure within which we understand the subject matter. The struggle in Palestine is not a Civil Rights struggle and the language of Civil Rights is misleading and distorts the ongoing 68-year old Palestinian Nakba.
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Abbas Hamideh at #SupportPalestineInDC2016
[Ikhras Note: Ikhras was inspired by the Arab-American and U.S. Muslim “activists” and “representatives” that hijacked our collective community name, issues and causes for their own self-aggrandizement and in furtherance of personal ambitions unrelated to our communities’ agenda, interests, and well-being. As such, we have focused on exposing, ridiculing and holding accountable House Arabs and House Muslims in the US, to borrow Malcolm X’s expression. Although you will never see them in U.S. mainstream media, enjoying a White House “Iftar”, or groveling in front of pro-Israel U.S. politicians, we do have many Field Arabs who are genuine, principled activists committed to social justice and the liberation of Palestine. Palestinian-American activist Abbas Hamideh is one of these Field Arabs. Hamideh is a co-founder and leader at Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition and a tireless activist. We found the following entry on his FB page which we are republishing with his permission. We call on all activists within our community to adopt this model of activism.
] You can follow Hamideh on twitter and on his Facebook Page.
When Hezbollah was determined to liberate southern Lebanon they weren’t waiting for an American political miracle to do it for them they did it themselves. They finally rose up and took what was there’s. We have a few examples of Arab liberation from Algeria and so on. I want some Arabs particularly in the west to stop feeling this apathy and stop having such colonized minds. Don’t settle for crumbs and false hope. Start believing in yourself and your people and believe that you are more worthy than whatever “solution” is thrown your way. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You don’t have to accept temporary lip service or a trend that’s giving you a “glimmer of hope.” No one is going to give us anything. Spare me the crumbs, spare me the “what choice do we have?” Did Malcolm X give in? Did Martin Luther King give in? Some of you quote these great leaders without understanding their message. Don’t be afraid to want what’s yours and to claim it without any reservation. As a Palestinian you don’t have to apologize to anyone about demanding your full inalienable rights. I know I won’t.
The hypocrisy of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) when it comes to condemning violence and terrorism is common knowledge by now so it should have come as no surprise that immediately following the news of a terrorist attack in Brussels CAIR rushed to issue a press release condemning the attack and feigning moral outrage. This is standard operating procedure for the ikhras Shoe-of-the-Month award-winning organization which has been consistently selective in which terrorist attacks it condemns and which ones it chooses to ignore. This pattern of behavior has not been difficult to discern. CAIR basically adopts and internalizes the racist double standards of Western governments and media. Acts of terrorism in Western cities receive far greater attention that those in Arab, African, or Muslim-majority countries. Rather than offering a clear moral condemnation of all acts of terrorism regardless of the nationality, race, or religion of the victims and perpetrators, CAIR issues disingenuous press releases that amount to little more than transparent political posturing.
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Every year in April James Zogby’s one-man shop, the Arab-American Institute (AAI), holds its annual “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala. The AAI states that it “established the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards to recognize those whose commitment to our common humanity is a living reflection of the spirit the great Lebanese-American poet.” OK. Well, for the past five years the Al-Thani family dictatorship that has ruled Qatar with an iron fist since its establishment has held Mohammed Al-Ajami in jail for the crime of poetry. During these five years, and previously, the embassy of Qatar in Washington DC has been one of the main sponsors of the annual “Gibran Gala” as Zogby likes to call it. What the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month award winner claims his annual event was established to celebrate is a crime punishable by imprisonment by one of the main sponsors of the event. Zogby has been on the payroll of the Arab oil-Sheikhs (or “shakes” as he calls them) for decades and his hypocrisy comes as no news to anyone. He also enjoys the largess of the Saudi-Wahhabi regime and the United Arab Emirates who will also be sponsoring his “Gibran Gala” next month. For the past two years Zogby, for unexplained reasons, has stopped releasing the names of the sponsors and underwriters of the annual AAI flagship event. We believe this decision was taken as a direct result of ikhras’ highlighting of the “Gibran Gala” sponsors. Zogby is clearly on the defensive about his links to the GCC embassies and the funding he receives from these tyrannical regimes. There is no need for Zogby to feel defensive. He is entitled to maintain relations with any regime and embassy he chooses, but he has no right to do so in the collective name of the Arab-American community. We do not expect Zogby to cut ties to his benefactors which will most assuredly lead to the same fate as Ziad Asali and the American Task Force on Palestine. We do, however, call on Zogby to remove “Arab-American” from the name of his shop.
[Ikhras Note: As we were writing this blog post Hisham Melhem appeared on CNN to once again repeat the comments that are addressed in it and added what appeared to be a justification for Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar.]
After news of the extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar in a Damascus suburb by Israel broke we could not help but remember a recent series of tweets by Hisham Melhem about the Arab resistance icon. After Syrian officials confirmed the death of Kuntar the Israeli hasbara machine immediately began repeating the stale propaganda narrative about “operation Nasser” that Kuntar led into occupied Northern Palestine in 1979 during which he was captured. Kuntar spent 30 years in prison before Israel was forced to release him in a prisoner swap with the Hezbollah resistance organization seven years ago. Melhem’s comments deserve to be highlighted as illustrative of a certain type of Arab, but first some background.
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The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for November, 2015 goes to Pope Tawadros II. Pope Tawadros earned this honor after embarking upon a normalizing visit to Jerusalem. The visit to the occupied Palestinian capital marks the first time the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church has visited the city since it fell under Israeli occupation in 1967.
After the signing of the Camp David “peace accords” between” the Anwar Sadat regime and the usurping Zionist entity in 1978, the late Egyptian Pope Shenouda III issued a papal ban preventing members of the Egyptian Coptic Church from visiting the Arab city while under Israeli occupation. Israeli tourism to Egypt had boomed following the treaty, but it had little to no reciprocal effect on the part of Egyptians. The treaty, from the outset, as it remains today, was highly unpopular among all Egyptians making it unlikely that any significant number of Egyptians would visit occupied Palestine. Nevertheless, Pope Shenouda was a highly principled and politically astute leader and understood that any visits, even by a handful of Egyptians, including any Egyptian Coptic Christians, would be a propaganda victory for Israeli hasbarists. Pope Shenouda was the head of the church for over 40 years and remained opposed to any normalization with Israel until he died.
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Dalia Mogahed is an establishment Muslim we have written about previously and one of those we refer to as “professional Muslims” This is a group which includes self-described experts on everything and everybody from Morocco to Indonesia, political and civil rights activists, “interfaith” and community leaders, and even a few comedians. What they all have in common is that they managed to turn the Muslim religion into a profession. By simply being a Muslim (we know of one case in which the person was never a Muslim until he was offered an opportunity to participate in US State Department propaganda campaigns if he claimed to be one) a variety of opportunities that were not otherwise available are suddenly a quick and easy path to a career, business opportunity, or mainstream media attention.
This week Mogahed was invited to appear on MSNBC’s Meet The Press to discuss Islam, “Muslim opinion” and terrorism in the wake of the Paris Attacks and a rise of overt, anti-Muslim bigotry in the US, particularly among Republican Party candidates and their supporters. The invitation was intended to make the silly Chuck Todd appear as that rare cable news host who would invite an actual Muslim to speak. To that extent, the interview served its purpose. Mogahed immediately began the interview by praising George Bush Jr. The first question was about US public reaction today as compared to after 9-11 to which Mogahed answered as follows:
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The site of twin suicide bombings in the Burj Al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut
In the past few years we have noticed and documented on social media a distinct and disturbing pattern of behavior from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) regarding its response to terrorist attacks across the globe. The latest terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Paris, coming just one day after a similar attack in Beirut, stood out as a clear reminder of CAIR’s consistent hypocrisy and selective moral outrage.
After the same terror group targeted a market and mosque in Beirut killing over 40 people, there was no reaction from CAIR, no statement condemning the slaughter, no press conference, and none of those meaningless “interfaith vigils.” One day later as news of the attacks in Paris broke, and before the extent of the carnage became known, CAIR quickly issued a press release condemning the attack and immediately commenced a well-advertised, public campaign of moral outrage.
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U.S. Muslims, including the few that support some of the advocacy work of the Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR), have begun to speak out against CAIR’s support for U.S. wars abroad. Not only has CAIR supported every U.S. war since its establishment including the wars on Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, it is currently lobbying for a U.S. war on Syria. We received the following letter from a U.S. Muslim which she first sent to CAIR. We do not endorse the assertions or opinion expressed in this letter. It is entirely the viewpoint of the author. We are, however, publishing it in its entirety. It serves as a reminder that although our community may have differing opinions on a variety of issues, all but a handful of self-serving ideologues and careerists would support U.S. wars on Muslim-majority countries. CAIR does not speak for the U.S. Muslim community which stands united with all Americans opposed to U.S. militarism and imperialism and in solidarity with all victims of U.S. wars.
The letter is from Suzy Abu-Nie. Abu-Nie wanted to make it clear she does support the work of CAIR. In her own words she explained “I do like some of their work (civil rights) for helping Muslims in the US but I never like their stance on US foreign policy…Again I do respect CAIR’s work domestically but when it comes to politics abroad, their stance is wrong.”
The following is the full text of the letter she sent to CAIR after receiving an email urging Muslims to support a “No-Fly Zone” over Syria (a euphemism for war) to which she received no response. We are publishing this letter with the permission of the author. Other concerned members of our Muslim community are welcome to send us their thoughts and opinions which we will share with ikhras readers.
This is my email response to the CAIR email that was sent on the list-serve. Man did they piss me off with their email…
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After meeting with White House officials to once again urge the Obama administration to launch a war on Syria, American Islamists led by the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award-winning Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held yet another of their Syria-related press conferences. This latest one was staged in front of the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. to condemn Russian military assistance to Syria. Last week Russia began an air campaign directed at Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations. The joint Russian-Syrian operation was undertaken after an official request from the legitimate Syrian government and months of planning by the Russian and Syrian military leaderships. Nevertheless, CAIR and the usual cast of U.S. Islamists, which included the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), decided to condemn Russia’s military operation in Syria, as if these impudent charlatans are entitled to offer an unsolicited opinion about, let alone a condemnation of, a bilateral relationship between two independent sovereign states. Clearly, they have adopted the same paternalistic, condescending and colonial mentality of the U.S political class in front of which they made a career out of groveling.
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The Arab-American Institute (AAI) is set to honor NYU President and fanatic Zionist John Sexton at its upcoming annual gala on April 29, 2015. AAI President Jim Zogby, winner of the ikhras shoe-of-the-month award, will be presenting Sexton with an “Award for Individual Achievement.” Sexton has come out in strong opposition to the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) against the Israeli settler colony, specifically the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Sexton is also known for leading the effort to silence Palestine solidarity activism on the NYU campus. It was also under Sexton’s leadership that the loud voices condemning BDS under the guise of defending “academic freedom” fell silent when Israel banned a Palestinian from traveling to the US to participate in its own “Paths to Peace” program. Despite his support for Israeli repression, opposition to BDS, and failure to defend academic freedom Zogby describes Sexton as “a man who combines rare qualities of academic leadership with a keen commitment to global education.”
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The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for March, 2015 goes to the euphemistically described Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid. Eid earned the prestigious award for his participation in the StandWithUs Anti-BDS Conference 2015. Eid, who played the role of that rare “good Palestinian”, was touted as one of the two most notable speakers along with Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile, “liberal” pro-Israel Harvard Law Professor that has advocated torture, the demolition of Palestinian homes and eradication of entire towns. Eid has made a name for himself among a select few by traveling around the world as a pro-Israel advocate. His travels, itineraries, and speaking engagements have been organized by Zionist lobbying groups that apparently have assigned him the task of undermining pro-Palestine solidarity activism with a special focus on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
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