Ikhras Special Report: Linda Sarsour Finds A Patsy In Local Palestinian Pastor

Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award Winner – August 2017

Ziad Asali Relapsed Into Peace-Processing, Says Israel "Most Successful Model Of Modern Nation-Building"

US-Backed "Comedian" Finally Got Some New Material

An Open Letter And Challenge To Ray Hanania

In a blog post on August 22, 2010 you accused Ikhras of participating in a “smear campaign” against you and made several baseless allegations including “attacking” you for being a Christian.  That blog post stated the following:  Several Christian leaders have contacted Hanania in the past few weeks saying they are urging their Arab Christian congregations to protest KabobFest and another hate site called IkhrasThe haters…continue to say that my religion has nothing to do with their vicious assaults but you will NEVER see them assault a Muslim in the same manner as they are now slandering me. The only reasons they are attacking me is because I am Christian, I am a moderate who openly and consistently opposes violence, and my wife and son are Jewish…I am even more proud to be targeted by hate mongers like KabobFest and Ikhras.”

You must realize this is not true, and we can only speculate as to why you have decided to pursue a personal campaign of sectarian agitation and foment division within the Arab-American community.  Our site is dedicated to covering a select group of Arabs and Muslims in the United States that claims to speak in the name of our community.  You have even made a living out of it.  Our focus is on their political activism and the positions they advocate ostensibly on our behalf, which they have no right to do.  We are not concerned with any aspect of the personal background of any individual including religious affiliation. This is readily apparent to any fair-minded reader of our site.  We have criticized your own exploitation of your personal background which you have done in pursuit of a comedy career, as a vehicle for self-promotion, and often as an implied claim to indigenous credibility for your commentary on Palestine and other topics related to the Middle East.  We have also criticized (ok, ridiculed) you for routinely mentioning the personal background of your family in your Jerusalem Post articles, and your recurring use (misuse) of the Arab/Jew dynamic.  While we questioned the relevance of this personal information to the debate, it was you Ray, not us, that insisted on inserting his family and personal background into the discussion.  Perhaps, as it now appears, it is all you had to talk about, but we refused, and will continue do so.

You now claim several Christian leaders contacted you in the past few weeks saying they are urging their Arab Christian congregations to “protest KabobFest and another hate site called Ikhras”. You also claim to have issued a statement to about “30 Christian leaders in Michigan, Illinois, California and Washington DC who offered their support to stand up to the anti-Christian racism that is finding its way into the rhetoric of some extremist Palestinian and Arab activists.

We Issue You The Following Challenge, Should You Choose To Accept

1) Reveal the names of those who offered you their support.  If they indeed offered to “stand up” for you why would they remain anonymous?

2) If any of these alleged religious or community “leaders” would like to “stand up” and “support” you let them do so publicly.  If we can verify their name, location, and leadership designation we pledge to post their statement of support on our website in its entirety and without editing.

3) Finally, we also challenge you to demonstrate where we expressed any form of “racism” or “hysteria” directed towards any group.  We pledge to post any justification  you can present for this ludicrous charge in its entirety and without editing.

We have received an incredible amount of support far beyond what we expected in such a short period of time.  Our community has welcomed the unprecedented coverage Ikhras is providing and our readership is growing.  Our readers are evaluating us based on the content and quality of our coverage, and not the angry whining of one individual upset about legitimate criticism of his publicly stated views.  Your attempt to wrap yourself in the collective shroud of a religious group within our community and shout “racism” may be all you have left.  Maybe stirring division and sectarian agitation is a final, desperate attempt to regain some limited acceptance among a select few after your unconscionable and offensive political views rendered you an outcast among the vast majority.  These reprehensible Zionist tactics betray a complete intellectual and moral bankruptcy.  They highlight your inability to engage in a discussion or debate about the real issues and serve as a further reminder of your own alienation from the Arab world and the Arab-American community in the US.  These cheap tactics will certainly fail because they will be rejected by both the Muslims and Christians in our community.  And we doubt you can find even a single “leader” to “stand up” and “support” you.  Put up or Ikhras!

The ADC continues to Ikhras about Human Rights violations in “Saudi” Arabia

The Guardian has reported “A Saudi couple tortured their Sri Lankan maid by hammering 24 nails into her hands.”  Such stories, which are covered far more extensively and thoroughly in the European press than here in the US where Saudi support of terrorism is the favored topic, come as no surprise.  What is also not surprising is the lack of condemnation by Arab-American individuals and organizations which appoint themselves representatives of our community and describe their outfits as civil and human rights groups.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination committee (ADC) describes itself as the “largest Arab-American grassroots civil rights organization in the United States”, and is currently “CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF DEDICATED SERVICE TO CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS.”  Yet the ADC has never condemned the gross human and civil rights violations of the Saudi regime.  On the contrary, the ADC has often hosted representatives of this tyrannical, medieval regime at its annual banquets or galas, and presented them with many awards, some carrying amusing names.

Human Rights Watch has documented the serious human rights violations and abuse of domestic workers in “Saudi” Arabia that prevails within an “atmosphere of impunity fostered by government inaction.”  In 2008, HRW issued a 133-page report, “‘As If I Am Not Human’: Abuses against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia,” which concluded “Employers often face no punishment for committing abuses including months or years of unpaid wages, forced confinement, and physical and sexual violence, while some domestic workers face imprisonment or lashings for spurious charges of theft, adultery, or “witchcraft.”  The plight of domestic workers in “Saudi” Arabia often amounts to a form of modern day slavery.

Instead of condemning the oppressive Saudi regime for these civil and human rights violations, the ADC has fostered relations with the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC, regularly invites representatives of the regime as guests of “honor” at its conventions, banquets or galas, and  receives financial support from Saudi oil-Sheiks.  In fact, a buffoonish Saudi Prince helped finance the headquarters of the ADC in Washington DC which includes a “heritage center” named after him.

The explanation for the ADC silence on the human rights violations within “Saudi” Arabia is readily and easily explicable.  First the financial relationship between the ADC and figures within the Saudi regime is invaluable especially to an organization, which despite claims to the contrary, doesn’t enjoy any significant base of support within the Arab-American community.  Furthermore, the Saudi regime’s status as an American-client state and a conduit of US power in the Arab world makes it incumbent upon an ADC leadership whose main objective is acceptance within the US political establishment to maintain positive relations with American-approved regimes.

The ADC’s elitist agenda and leadership, its lack of any significant support within the Arab-American community, and its acceptance of financial support from oil-Sheikhs associated with American client states provides the obvious explanation why this corrosive organization has experienced 30-years of failure.  We expect the ADC to continue to Ikhras when it comes to democracy, freedom, and human rights violations in “Saudi” Arabia and other Pro-US Arab tyrannies.  As a result, it will also continue to lack any credibility, grassroots legitimacy, or moral authority, and when ADC leaders do speak, which will always and inevitably be about mundane, uncontroversial topics, they will not be doing so on behalf of Arab-Americans.

“Lame, Elitist Agenda”

Ikhras reader Hoda sent us the following:

Lately the ADC has been spamming inboxes with the following pathetic email. There is nothing sadder than seeing them co-opt the language of progressive social movements to serve their lame, elitist agenda. The last time I checked, collecting money from rich Arabs doesn’t exactly qualify as “organizing.”

She makes a good point. Ikhras does not recommend donating to the ADC.  It is money wasted.  Better to contribute to a fund for Palestinian or Iraqi refugees.  Besides the ADC gets enough money from Arab oil-Sheiks.

Thank you, Hoda.

Arab-American candidate for California state assembly claims he’s Swedish

It’s too bad the vast majority of Arab-Americans will never hear about this story or the characters involved.  It unfolds against the backdrop of a state Assembly race in central Orange County, California.  The race for the 68th assembly district pits Costa Mesa Republican Mayor Allan Mansoor against Democratic candidate Phu Nguyen.  Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American, but Mansoor’s background is not so clear cut and has apparently been causing him some personal anguish.  The district includes the city of Anaheim, home of the Disneyland resort and adventure Park, and the Arab-Americans involved in this local squabble can be escapees straight out of Disneyland’s popular Fantasyland attractions.   The Arab-American candidate claims to be Swedish while one of his local detractors is another Arab-American who used to claim to be Greek, which is an often believable, and always less ambitious metamorphosis.

It appears Mayor Mansoor has taken exception to being classified as an Arab-American.   He descends from an Arab father and a European raised mother.  In an old blog post Mansoor wrote: “My father, though born in Egypt and with an Arabic name, was greatly influenced by European cultureHe was also raised as a Christian in a Coptic Church as opposed to a Muslim.” He also makes sure to emphasize his mother was raised in Europe and says “Swedish culture was more prevalent in our home than Middle Eastern culture.”  After receiving criticism from a couple of  local Arab-Americans Mansoor responded saying “Why do they want to dictate what I call myself…I’m an American plain and simple and I’m proud of my family’s heritage.”     He also noted his European-oriented mother cooked Middle Eastern food in his culturally Swedish home when he and his brothers were growing up.  He never did tell us what his mother cooked for him, but don’t you just love the Arab-American tendency to invoke Middle Eastern food when they feel they need to boost their ethnic profile or respond to political criticism?  James Zogby has been talking about “taawbooleee” (Tabbouleh) for over 30 years, and has yet to convince anybody he represents anyone in the community or has anything even remotely relevant to say about any of its concerns.

We’re surprised a couple of Arab-Americans have expressed indignation Mansoor went out of his way to disavow his Arab heritage accusing him of “self-hate” and “racism.”  One of his local Arab-American detractors claimed to be Greek, and changed his name in an effort to hide his own Arab heritage but explains that was just a “matter of marketing” in preparation for a political career that has yet to get started.  With over the top language, he compared Mansoor to Judas and called on him to “repent and stop denying his Arabic heritage.”   We at Ikhras believe when Arab-Americans are condemned for disavowing their Arab heritage by another member of our community   who officially changed his first name, claimed to be Greek, and would add the letters K O P O L O U S to his Arabic  surname as proof,  it is time to let them go.  We need to just wish them well and let them go.

While the Democratic candidate may hope to benefit from the squabble between Mansoor and a couple of marginal local figures in Orange County, the truth is the Arab-American community is neither organized nor interested in a local election.  As the article correctly pointed out “the community is often more absorbed in the day-to-day dramas in the Middle East than local politics.”  It is very likely that no more but a handful of Arab-Americans are even aware of the local election so there is no “Arab vote” to be won in Orange County despite the significant Arab presence.

In fairness to Mansoor, his campaign consultant has said “…his client had frequently brought up his heritage in their discussions. But Mansoor has also been clear that he doesn’t believe in being a hyphenated American.”  While the rejection of hyphenated Americans would warm the hearts of people like Pat Buchanan we are not convinced.  He is obviously trying to disassociate from his Arab roots.  However, we see no reason to condemn him.  With his Republican agenda and anti-immigrant views which many Republicans try to masquerade as a law enforcement issue, we would not have supported him had he expressed pride in his Arab background and described himself as a supporter of the ideas of Sati’ al-Husri.  The denial of one’s heritage presents a personal psychological issue that should be addressed, but it’s entirely irrelevant to the Arab-American community.

We at Ikhras see no reason to condemn Mansoor and we are not the least bit upset by the disavowal of his Arab heritage.  We accept the denial of his Arab roots and welcome his disassociation with the Arab-American community.  We believe such behavior does far less harm than the actions of those who appoint themselves as our representatives and hijack the Arab-American label in furtherance of their own petty agendas and personal ambitions.  We would never try to force an Arab identity upon Mansoor, nor are we concerned with the political ambitions of this individual as long as they are not pursued in our name.  Furthermore, given the pride they have expressed in their European origins, if Sweden and Greece would be willing to accept these characters, we would like to send Mansoor and his detractors to them.  And with their recent experience in Orange County, California, they would arrive highly qualified for a position with Euro Disney.

An urgent appeal from Ikhras to Arab-American students: 10 Questions to ask before applying for an internship with the ADC

ADC Fall Fellowship and Internship Opportunities in Washington, DC!

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is seeking interns and fellows for the upcoming fall semester.  The internship will be held in Washington, DC, at the ADC headquarters located in the historic district of Georgetown.”

One of our readers has brought to our attention the above announcement the ADC has been circulating through email. We strongly discourage all Arab-American students from working with this lousy organization which is not representative of the Arab community nor any significant constituency within it.   College years are among the best years of our lives.  It is a time of learning, growth, and development.  It is a period where we seek knowledge and understanding of the vast world we live in while searching within ourselves for that which is important to our personal lives.  It is during this college quest when we mature politically and develop the values that remain with us for a lifetime.  We can’t think of a worst organization than the ADC for a young and energetic student to waste valuable time with during this important and special stage of life.

If serving and empowering the Arab community is your goal this is not the organization you want to be affiliated with.   If you are a motivated political activist who cares about the issues and challenges facing our community, society, and world then you must not waste your energy with this elitist and corrosive organization.  We strongly urge college students to channel their efforts towards more fruitful political activism. You can do so by joining anti-war organizations, issue oriented groups such Al-Awda, or boycott campaigns against Israel, along with human rights groups, and a variety of other student organizations on your campuses. If none exist than take the initiative and begin one yourself with other like-minded students.

As wars and occupation continue in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Zionist entity intensifies its efforts to solidify its colonial project in Palestine, Gaze remains under siege, civil rights remain under attack, and anti-Arab racism and Muslim xenophobia goes mainstream, this is not the time to waste any of our human resources on this failed organization.  If defeating Zionism, bringing wars to an end, promoting civil and human rights, and empowering the Arab community are your goals you will be greatly disappointed with your experience at the ADC.  It has a well established 30-year record of failure and disappointments which should be more than enough to dissuade you from wasting one afternoon applying for an internship, let alone an entire summer or semester working there.

We strongly advise you to utilize your time and energy in the interest of a community, society, and world that needs dedicated and concerned individuals more than ever.  We strongly discourage you from pursuing such an illusory opportunity which is a waste of both your personal potential and our community’s assets and human resources.  If you feel you might still want to give the ADC a chance by applying for an internship at the ADC headquarters in Washington DC, we would like to provide you with a series of questions to contemplate and ask during your interview for the internship position:

1)      Will I have to visit Congress and shake the hands of Pro-Israel members who finance the Zionist colonization of Palestine and Israeli wars on Arabs?

2)      Will I have to attend or participate in any ADC events where war criminals like Colin Powell are invited to speak?

3)      Will I have to attend or participate in any events where representatives of Pro-US Arab tyrannies will be guests of “honor” because the building I will be working in was partially financed by them or they made other financial donations?

4)      Do I have to stand and applaud every time an American politician generously concedes not all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists or makes other politically correct statements?

5)      During my work period at the ADC will I be able to openly condemn US Imperialism and warmongering at ADC events?

6)      During my work period at the ADC will I be asked to visit any embassy or meet with an ambassador of any Pro US Arab tyranny?

7)      I do not support Zionism or the “right” of the Zionist entity to exist.  I support the liberation of Palestine, and the Palestinian right of return.  Will I be able to express these common sense political positions at ADC events?

8)      I adhere to a complete boycott of the Zionist entity and all Zionist groups.  Will I be expected to participate in events where Zionist groups such as J-Street will participate?

9)      I read that Ray Hanania has joined the ADC National Board.  As an intern would I have to talk to him?

10)     What is the difference between a Banquet and a gala?

Ibish on Palestinian Education

Hussein Ibish insults Palestinian’s intelligence, echoes Raphael Patai’s racist “Arab mind” concept, ignores Israeli occupation as primary education-hindering force, advocates for normalization with Zionism.

This new plan for intervention is exceptionally important to lay healthy foundations for a successful, viable Palestinian state that could live in peace with Israel … But more importantly, it is impressive and unusual in the Arab context to find a serving prime minister, with the support of the president, openly attacking what might be called the closing of the Arab mind, and to find a government proposing concrete plans to combat reactionary trends and promoting analytical skills and critical thinking. It’s not just the Palestinians who need to learn such lessons, it’s the entire Arab world.

Rima Fakih: The Beauty Pageant Scholar and The Arabs

Arabs were elated a short time ago; 24 year old Rima Fakih – the first Lebanese American, the first Arab American, the first Muslim, and the first immigrant to win the Miss USA title – Fakih seemingly established the foundation for ‘victory’ according to the acclimatized Arab community.

The tight-knit hamlet of Arabs, stemming from Egypt to England, were grinning from ear to ear and it is all thanks to what they called a “historic victory” in the curvaceous shape of an Arab woman.

Fakih, in keeping with the indiscretion of the inane online polity, paved the way for the Arabs – with her crown came the breaking of a new dawn, the coming of change. You can almost hear the animated sound of ululations once more.

In light of such an aberrant occasion Ms. Fakih once stated that her acquisition, embodied in the form of a beauty pageant, would exhibit that “…there are Arabs that are caring, that are good people, and who love the country they live in. I think it would make the Arab image a more positive one.” The mainstream view of the Arab people would be castrated, made void and questionable due to this bold achievement; Rima was evidently our one-way-ticket to adulation.

Arabs have certainly come a long way. From strategic achievements against the Roman Byzantine forces to creating the largest bowl of Hummus we now have Rima to add to our ever expanding list of ‘victories’.

Victory no longer means the redemption of our lands in spite of brutal foreign occupation, no, we are instead making it permissible to capture the soul of the Western military machine one high-heel at a time.

Recently Ms. Fakih has used her fundamentally nefarious platform to stigmatize Muslims; yes, who would have seen this coming?

In an interview with Inside Edition Fakih was asked about the “Ground Zero” Mosque – She stated that “…it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”

I assume Rima, who is now busy practicing for the ‘Miss Universe Pageant’, is not at all concerned about the thousands upon thousands of 9/11’s conducted, promoted and orchestrated by the United States of America; Her crown seems to be on a bit too tight.

And of course, the masses applaud her for not only being “beautiful” but for having an “…intelligent opinion about the Ground Zero Mosque.”, one comment reads.

Her beauty somehow makes it permissible to hold an opinion contrary to US Law and common sense.

But this is the overwhelming fulfillment praised by the Arabs; Rima Fakih’s vacuous accomplishment , which comes in the form of a misogynistic ‘beauty contest’, and the acclaim which the Arab populace has laced with the empty ‘victory’ has made me realize how far we have fallen as a people.

Victory is when we take back Al Aqsa. Victory is when we free our Iraqi mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of Western occupation. Victory is when we redeem every tear shed by those made orphans under Western imperialism.

Qais Nawwaf said it best:

In light of the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe the main political objective of Arabs living in the west generally and the US specifically ought to be disruption of, and eventually putting a halt to, the war machine that has devastated and exhausted the lives of innocent millions. Arab-Americans are in an ideal position to demand this. They live in the belly of the beast, and they are in no need to be educated on the fundamentals of the realities of war and occupation, at least in comparison to the general American public the majority of which is frequently found unable to find Afghanistan and Iraq on a map. Arab and Muslim-Americans’ perpetual quest for acceptance, pursued with disregard for the responsibility of seriously opposing the wars and occupations, brings to mind Malcolm X’s statement addressing African-American involvement in opposing war on Congolese: “they’re able to take these hired killers, put them in American planes, with American bombs, and drop them on African villages, blowing to bits Black men, Black women, Black children, Black babies, and you Black people sitting over here cool like it doesn’t even involve you. You’re a fool. They’ll do it to them today, and do it to you tomorrow. Because you and I and they are all the same.”

Rima Fakih, regardless of her origin and her religious ties, is someone to be vehemently admonished. Muslims and nonMuslims should be rebuking all those who align themselves with xenophobia, Islamophobia and any individual who blatantly disregards religious/irreligious freedom.

Fakih may be a ‘beauty queen’ but her subjective ‘beauty’ only goes so far and it certainly does not make up for her other shortcoming, especially in terms of intellect and logic; she is using her platform to further promote the mainstream mantra – that Muslims are not to be accepted into society.

Fakih in Arabic means “scholar”, ironically; There is a phrase in my native Arabic – “Laysa Kul’i Fakih b Fakih” which translates as “Not every scholar is a scholar”. This rings most true, especially when applying it to Rima Fakih.

This is a special contribution to Ikhras by Ms. Roqayah Chamseddine, a Lebanese-American humanitarian activist. She is a an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science/Pre-Law and Journalism. She was a member of the Gaza Freedom March last December in Cairo.

Ray Hanania Goes To The Cayman Islands to “Sharpen” his “Palestinian Skills”

Since we began our coverage of Ray Hanania, the failed comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, newest ADC board of directors member, and Arab version of Joe the Plumber who doesn’t speak Arabic, we have noticed his alienation from the painful Palestinian experience with colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and occupation the last 100 years.  We don’t necessarily blame Ray.  Afterall, he was born and raised in the US, he is a product of an ill-informed, anti Palestinian  political culture, and has spent very little time, if any, among the Palestinian people in the refugee camps.  Neither does it appear that Ray has even done any serious reading of translated Palestinian sources or literature.  However, even if we were to make allowance for Ray’s inability to communicate with Palestinians and a life spent in the distant US, his indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians, and his lack of appreciation for what the ongoing 63-year Nakba has meant to their daily lives would be unjustified even for a removed and sheltered House-Arab like Ray.

Ray Hanania vacations here

his last Jerusalem Post article the Palestinian-American Zionist says “But it’s not just maintaining a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn that my “Palestinian-ism” has impacted. It goes far beyond, including even when I go on vacation.  Yes, I In don’t go on vacation to relax. I go there to sharpen my Palestinian skills.  Every morning at dawn, while on vacation in places like Punta Cana or at a resort along the Cayman Island’s famous Seven Mile beach, I find myself compelled into a ‘possession jihad.’  I don’t get up and walk to the beach at six in the morning simply to enjoy the sunrise or the pristine coral sand.
My first concern is staking out beach-front lounge chairs or a palm cabana with an idyllic view of the ocean…As a Palestinian, I just have to be there first.”

We do realize our comedian remains convinced he’s a political satirist and this delusion explains much of the playground banter we read in his JP articles, but as we continue to ignore his lame attempts at humor and his use of Arabic words like Jihad whose actual definition he undoubtedly understands about as well as CNN “experts” on Islam, and like them, pronounces it as “Jeeehaaawd”, we can’t ignore his callous disregard for the plight of the Palestinians.  When someone thinks of what it means to be a Palestinian (which is what we assume Ray means by “Palestinian-ism”) the image of “a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn” is the last thing that comes to the mind of anyone with a remote knowledge of Palestinian life since the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by European, colonial-settlers in 1947-1948.

Palestinian Refugee Camp

What does come to mind are the teeming refugee camps with their tightly-packed cinder-block homes, narrow alleyways, open sewage ditches, inadequate schools and clinics, and no streets, shops, patios, lawns, flower gardens, parks, or playgrounds.  It is the harsh life of the deprived refugee camps with its abundance of courage and dignity that gave birth to the Palestinian liberation movement, and defined what it means to be a Palestinian.

If you thought the contrast between Ray’s imagination of what it means to be a Palestinian and the reality of the Palestinian Diaspora was the outer limit of insensitivity, you would be wrong.  Ray went even further and descended lower by describing his vacationing on beach resorts at destinations such as the Cayman Islands as an opportunity to “sharpen” his “Palestinian skills.” Whatever this toad was doing on a beach on the Cayman Islands that early morning all alone, he definitely was not sharpening any “Palestinian skills.” Palestinian skills are developed and sharpened under occupation and in desolate refugee camps a world away from Ray’s favorite vacation spots and even further removed from his obnoxious imagination.  Ray’s silly tale about the morning he set out to usurp the ideal beach spot ends with him sitting on a lounge chair to, as he described himself, “smoke a cigar with my look of conquest, a macho scrunch of thick brows and confidence.” We’re very interested to know which history book informed Ray that the Palestinians have been involved in any “conquest” in the last century.

He bizarrely portrays “Palestinian skills” as an instinct to seize land. According to him, this “possession jihad” is an intrinsic skill that manifests itself even when vacationing at beautiful beachside resorts like Punta Cana. It is unfathomable that a Palestinian-American who routinely exploits his ethnicity and heritage in pursuit of a myriad of profit-seeking adventures and self-promotion, appears unaware that the Palestinian side was the one that was dispossessed, not the dispossessor. This article would make sense if it were written by an Israeli describing his “Zionist skills” of usurping the best beachside vacation spots in Haifa, Acre (this writers favorite city on the Palestinian coast), or along the sea of Galilee, but it is appalling that Hanania reverses the basic facts of recent Palestinian history and switches the roles of colonizer and colonized.

Palestinian Refugee Camp

What the Palestinians have become skilled in over the years is survival and resistance in the most difficult living conditions.  These skills can’t be sharpened sitting in a lounge chair on the “pristine coral sand” of a beach resort smoking a cigar and sipping your favorite island drink. They are learned living under military occupation, standing in line at United Nations distribution centers to receive your monthly food rations, or sitting on a cold, concrete living-room floor in a refugee camp doing your homework by candlelight.  We don’t expect Ray The Comedian to understand the Palestinian reality any better than Joe The Plumber, but atleast the ignorant plumber (who wasn’t really a plumber just as Ray is not much of a comedian) never exploited their Nakba trying to make a name for himself or use it as subject matter in very unfunny comedy routines.

The Palestinian ability to endure life in the Diaspora, transform displacement into a liberation movement, and resist colonial occupation has never ceased to amaze both their enemies and their supporters.  Yet through it all they excelled in the basics of reading, writing, science, and mathematics, and pursued the arts, literature, and music.  In fact, the disadvantaged Palestinians have the highest college graduation rates in the Arab world.  The Palestinians were also forced to develop another set of skills allowing them to survive displacement, occupation, and refugee life.  So if we were to search for the meaning of “Palestinian-ism” we at ikhras suggest it is that special Palestinian quality that combines the basic skills needed by all people to grow, live and succeed in a normal life with an entirely other skill set made uniquely incumbent upon an uprooted and displaced people determined to live as free human beings in their homeland.  These are the qualities that define what it means to be a Palestinian.  And this is the Palestinian-ism that created a culture of resistance simultaneously making this brave people invincible while preserving their humanity in the midst of a struggle against an inhumane foe that has always operated outside of any moral constraints.

While the horrific Palestinian experience of the last 63 years is unique, the values underlying the message of the Palestinian cause are universal.  As such Palestinian-ism can’t be restricted to Palestinians.  It is an identity shared by all people from all backgrounds who struggle for freedom and against injustice.  It’s not necessary to be a Palestinian or an Arab to understand the meaning of Palestinian-ism.  Rachel Corrie, an all-American girl from Olympia, Washington understood what it meant to be a Palestinian.  She was so immersed in the life of Palestinians and skilled in Palestinian-ism, she was killed trying to save a Palestinian home by a ruthless enemy that routinely kills Palestinians.  Tom Hurndall, a British photography student and volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement was also a Palestinian.  He was killed in the Gaza Strip as he tried to help Palestinian children paralyzed with fear get out of the Israeli army line of fire.  He saved one little Palestinian girl before he was shot in the head as he came back to rescue another child.  The nine Turkish peace activists killed when Israel attacked the Freedom Flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea were also Palestinians.  By the time their blood washed up along the shores of Gaza Hanania was accusing them of bringing “more death and violence” and defending Israel.  These people along with millions of other freedom loving people across the world have all understood the universal message of the morally compelling Palestinian cause and therefore they all share the Palestinian identity.

On the other hand, Ray’s latest rambling shows it’s possible to come from a Palestinian-Arab background, and yet be completely oblivious to the Palestinian reality and what it means to live as a Palestinian.  Although his alienation is unjustified, it is excusable.  What is not excusable are his morally untenable positions regarding Palestine, his continuing efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause in the US, and the callous disregard  for Palestinian suffering demonstrated in all his writings.  And just as we thought we were going to complete his latest JP article without any mention of his family, low and behold, his wife and son make a brief cameo appearance when they  “meander along as if there were no worries in the world.”  We’re grateful Ray’s family was able to enjoy a visit to a beach and return to their Mid-West, American home safely.  That’s not always possible for Palestinian families.  We urge Ray to watch this video of a Palestinian family that went for a picnic on a Gaza Beach.  It may not be as luxurious as a resort on the Cayman Islands, but it was a trip Huda Ghalia and her family were looking forward to.  After listening to the anguish in her screams as she discovers the murdered father that rewarded her for an excellent report card with that picnic on a beach, maybe Ray will apologize for his tasteless allegories.  We doubt he has the character to do so, but he really should finally Ikhras!

Park51 Imam: “I am a supporter of the state of Israel.”

Two interesting items on Park51:

First, Professor As’ad Abu Khalil described Park51 as “a gesture intended to appease the mainstream culture.” We couldn’t agree more and we’ve presented a similar argument previously.

Second, Park51 imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s politics have been raising suspicion among the population the Department of State is trying to win over. The New York Times tells us that at a talk he gave in Cairo in February “some questioners were so suspicious that he felt the need to declare that he was not an American agent” because he called for acceptance of the West and normalization with Israel:

Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them, the imam said; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West and Israel.

One inquisitive audience member remarked:

Wasn’t the United States financing the speaking tour that had brought the imam to Cairo because his message conveniently echoed United States interests?

One simply cannot serve two conflicting sides at the same time. The Times quotes Professor Omid Safi characterizing Abdul Rauf as not been outspoken enough on issues “‘near and dear to many Muslims,’ like United States policy on Israel and treatment of Muslims after 9/11.”

According to the Times article, Abdul Rauf subscribes to a Sufi interpretation of Islam. His interpretation of Islam or embrace of any religion or no religion for that matter, is irrelevant to us. What concerns us is the most troubling quote in that article, “I am a supporter of the state of Israel.” We’d argued that “the ground zero mosque will be a breeding ground for ikhras-worthy events”. We rest our case.

Check out our previous articles on Park51.

God approves of ADC

American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) is excited that the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) has opened up a new channel of income for it: “sadaka” (sic). On July 19, 2010 FCNA issued a fatwa (religious opinion) that ADC is eligible to receive this form of Islamic charity.

This fatwa is problematic and offensive to Islamic sensibilities on many levels. First, the ADC does not deserve Muslims’ money. The ADC has consistently undermined the struggle for Muslim rights both in the US and abroad. It has invited war criminals who have Muslims’ blood on their hands, most notably Bill Clinton and Colin Powell.

It should come as no surprise that FCNA issued this fatwa. FCNA, like its sister affiliate ISNA, gives more priority to giving a Muslim face to American empire than to mobilize its membership to throw a wrench in the imperialist war machine. It is insulting to the Islamic religion to use fatwa-granting authority to reward ADC opportunists. The ADC, FCNA and ISNA have kept the bar of the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities’ activism low. Instead of mobilizing people on the grassroots level to stand up for themselves and their oppressed brethren abroad, these groups have encouraged spinelessness and cowardice.

It has become unimaginable that Muslims and Arabs in the US react to their own oppression or to massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq the way African-Americans, for example, conducted the civil rights movement in the sixties. Maneuvered by a collaborating leadership, the Arab and Muslim American communities rarely do sit-ins, civil disobedience, boycotts or uprisings no matter how many bombs rain on innocent Afghani and Iraqi civilians.

Arab and Muslim communities in the US have faced civil liberties violations, arbitrary detentions, ethnic profiling and islamophobia. Discussion of those practices are beyond the scope of this article. Our focus is on the community’s leadership, which has not helped to meaningfully confront these troubling measures. The community generally has learned to be scared, to hide in the shadows pending the empire’s approval of the limitations of its discourse and activism. If and when Arab and Muslim Americans are politically active, the majority of their actions do not threaten the status quo. They are encouraged to write letters to politicians, to “yalla vote” and to lobby, repressing the dignified outrage that they could and should sense at massacres committed by the US government.

ADC instills in Arab children at a very young age to engage in these futile, self-delusional practices “Suggest ways that s/he can help from here in the U.S.: writing letters to officials calling for the end of the war, raising money for anti-war and humanitarian organizations, volunteering for a local organization are some ideas”; “Children can also write to the President [and other elected officials] asking for a speedy end to the war so American troops can return home.”

The ADC gives Arabs and Muslims the impression that a right is a favor they should thank their masters for, not something they inherently deserve:

“We commend the statements of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell and the numerous senators and members of Congress who have cautioned against attempts to stigmatize the Arab-American and American Muslim communities or blame them for this tragedy.”

While ADC occasionally objects to clear-cut cases of racism, its “positive” efforts only aim to apply a façade of political correctness to make things slightly more comfortable for itself in the House.  Rather than speaking the community’s conscience, the ADC has applauded enemies of humanity for crumbs they have thrown to Arab and Muslim causes. For example:

“ADC Applauds Blair’s Support for a Palestinian State”

“ADC Hails President Bush on Palestinian State”

“ADC Welcomes Secretary Powell’s Statement that the Occupation Must End”

“ADC Welcomes Bush Call For Ending Israeli Offensive, Endorses Powell Mission”

“ADC Welcomes Administration Commitment to Palestinian Statehood”

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes comments from President Bush and Secretary of State Powell that distance the Administration from continuing anti-Islam remarks made by several evangelical leaders.”

Is FCNA aware that the ADC supported US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, a majority Muslim country:

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today expressed support for actions by the United States to bring to justice the criminals behind the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC”

Is FCNA aware that the ADC hosted Colin Powell a mere four months after presenting a false case to the United Nations about non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to propagate for a war that has killed over a million Iraqis to date?

Does FCNA know that the ADC hosted Bill Clinton at its 2009 convention, one of the most pro-Israeli presidents in history, who had also sanctioned Iraq for eight years? What did FCNA think was Islamic about that?

One could understand FCNA’s approval of the ADC had it, say, organized an Arab-American, Muslim-American strike against the wars and occupations. Or had it organized its interns to do civil disobedience at the White House. Or had it declared a moratorium on working with US administrators, legislators and government branches until Arab and Muslims’ civil liberties are fully respected.

Another reason this fatwa is unwarranted is that the ADC already receives ample funding from US allies, Gulf oil sheikhs. “Prince Alwaleed [bin Talal Al Saud] donated $2.6million toward the purchase of ADC‘s present National headquarters.” Muslim American’s money is better donated to people who are actually disenfranchised and who receive no funding from rich, undemocratic US allies.

Ikhras issues the following counter-fatwa:

It is haram (forbidden) to donate to the ADC until such time that it:
1) ceases to host and engage with war criminals;
2) apologizes to the Afghani, Iraqi and Palestinian people for undermining their causes;
3) ceases to express gratitude for common sense, politically correct statements by politicians;
4) ceases to receive funding from Gulf Arabs and other such undemocratic entities.

Park51 Serving Intended House Function

When we were brand new to the world of blogging, namely two months ago, we expressed our frustration with the mainstream Muslim-American community’s misplaced enthusiasm for the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The media has been rife with coverage of opposition to Park51 because it’s perceived as a triumph for militant Islamism and disrespect for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Encouraged to “refudiate,” some Muslims have also opposed it on the grounds that it is a “deliberate provocation, to thumb our noses at the infidel” and “rub salt in [Americans’] wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.”

Ikhras had entirely different reasons for criticizing Park51. Here’s a quick rehash. On June 7, 2010 we wrote in What the Muslim-American Establishment Fights for:

How will the building of a mosque near Ground Zero alleviate the grief of 2 million Muslim families that have lost loved ones? How will it protect Muslims from the empire’s claws? What role will it play in defanging the US war machine? Will Abu Ghraib survivors’ psychological scars heal? Will this mosque help dispossessed Afghani and Iraqi refugees feel safe enough to return home?

Feisal Abdul Rauf: Department of State's Muslim spokesperson

We were concerned that the US would use Park51 as a “PR cover for its war of terrorism against Muslims” and that it would serve as a “distraction to keep Muslim Americans tied up in the perpetual task of chasing after acceptance in the US instead of engaging in the far more pressing priority of working to end the occupations to three majority-Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine).”

 More importantly for purposes of this article, we predicted that:

the ground zero mosque will be a breeding ground for ikhras-worthy events. Muslims will host US presidents, US National Security Advisers and other such war criminals there. Friday sermons will consistently fail to criticize US foreign policy. Muslim-American soldiers will pray there before getting deployed to participate in the empire’s crimes abroad. Groups like “Seeds of Peace” will use the mosque as a site to engage in useless negotiations between Zionists and Palestinians. The FBI and DHS will hold sessions to learn “Muslim culture” to look more politically correct when detaining and deporting Muslims.

Our speculation, sadly, is finding support. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center’s imam, has been actively engaged in enhancing the US’s image as some kind of US ambassador to Muslims.

the US state department flew Rauf to Saudi Arabia this week to promote America by telling audiences “what it’s like to practise Islam under our regime of religious freedom and equality”.

 At a press conference earlier this week, the Department of State explained the purpose of its Abdul Rauf’s propaganda trip. Straight from the DOS’s website:

He will be traveling to the region at the end of this week starting, as I recall, in Bahrain, then Qatar, then the United Arab Emirates. He is participating – I think this is fourth trip – as part of an International Information Program. We have about 1,200 experts in a range of fields that travel on behalf of the United States every year. About 50 or so of those are religious figures. They come from every stripe. We have rabbis, imams, Protestants, Catholics who participate as part of our effort to promote religious tolerance and religious freedom around the world. The guidelines that we provide him – he is there to promote this kind of international dialogue. We have had conversations with the imam to make sure he understands that during these kinds of trips, he’s not to engage in any personal business. He understands that completely. But this is his fourth trip and we value his participation as a religious figure here in the United States who can help people overseas understand the role that religion plays in our society.

Damaged minaret in war-torn Iraq

It is no surprise that Imam Abdul Rauf’s itinerary includes countries like Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, which are already staunch US allies. The man wouldn’t stand a chance trying to convince citizens of Kabul or Baghdad that the US is a tolerant, egalitarian entity.

We’re all for dialogue as long as the US boot is not on the neck of those it’s trying to “dialogue” with. Is Imam Abdul Rauf unaware of atrocities the US is committing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq? Has he no concept of decades-long US support for Israel throughout its colonial occupation of Palestine?

This is as ridiculous as a Vietnamese-American cleric flying around to give a good impression of the US around the time of the My Lai massacre. 

For a Muslim to ignore US atrocities and focus on the its supposed “regime of religious freedom and equality” is an expression of American arrogance. House Muslims, with their knowledge of English, their degrees from American universities, their spacious houses in the suburbs and their consumerist lifestyle, perceive their position on the empire’s sociopolitical ladder as more valuable than the lives of dispensable Muslims languishing in refugee camps. An Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan is more “cool” and worthy of advocacy than mosques in Afghanistan and Iraq the US has bombarded.

The House Muslim strives to be tolerated in the US. To convince himself that he is worthy to the slavemaster, he turns a blind eye to the Field Muslims’ suffering. The House Muslim tells himself the empire’s approval of Park51 redeems it to some extent. He thinks his efforts advocating for Park51 absolve him of the responsibility of resisting the wars.

The House Muslim’s throat-gripping fear of the US informs him that he has only two choices: accommodate the US to the point of collaboration with its war crimes or face its disapproval then its wrath. The House Muslim thinks he’s smart for adopting “strategies” that involve going along with the US’s agenda in the short term, which will mysteriously lead to serving Islam and Muslims’ interests in the long-term. America might even give rise to the long-awaited caliphate someday. But for now, it needs a Muslim face to explain away its war crimes, and House Muslims need to step up to the plate.

It’s remarkable how a single two-minute-long speech could succinctly explain this House phenomenon. The bedrock of Ikhras’ mission statement, we never get tired of referring to it as it never stops being relevant as long as there are oppressors and oppressed. As Malcolm X described the House Negro:

The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro… the house Negro would look at you and say, “Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?”

Probably one positive use for Park51 will be that it will make our job at ikhras.com easier. A beacon for House Muslims, it will bring them out of the woodworks and brandish their House-related accomplishments in one convenient place for us to observe, expose and tell to Ikhras.

To the Health of Palestine’s Starving Children!

One of the first articles ever uploaded to Ikhras involved our opinion of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. We still don’t care about the mosque but it’s been interesting to see arguments unfolding on both sides of the debate. It’s specially amusing to note how it really brings out the “house” in some people.

Ikhras recently indicated that House Muslims like Ahmad Bedier’s United Voices for America were a little too excited about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi’s congratulating Muslims on Ramadan. Not to be out-housed, the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) also joined the grateful chorus by thanking Obama for “his stance on religious freedom” at the White House Ramadan dinner earlier this month. Like UVA, ADC also provided a convenenient online form for users to easily send e-gratitude. Readers are welcome to revisit our analysis of why this eagerness to express gratitude is a bit silly; we won’t reiterate here. 

Muslims dining at the White House

Hijabs and beards at the White House. What more could Muslims possibly desire?

ADC was sure to highlight that Obama’s comments were heard in person by its president Sarah Najjar-Wilson, who was a guest at the White House Ramadan dinner. For a House Muslim or House Arab to be hosted at the White House (no pun intended) is a dream come true no matter how vile the President’s politics. Ongoing wars on Muslims need to be put on the backburner while more important Muslims stuff their faces inside the citadel of power.

Not only does an invitation to this feast indicate elite social status but it is politically and legally significant. As a witty Ikhras reader stated, the guest list constitutes the entirety of the official list of Muslims and Arabs who are not on a government terrorist watchlist.

In its excitement, ADC ignored coverage from a source as easily accessible as the online New York Times, which indicated Obama may not be as supportive of the Ground Zero mosque as House Arabs and Muslims would like to think. Ali Abunimah provides this excellent analysis. We  encourage readers to check out Abunimah’s piece in its entirety and we reprint the following insightful excerpt:

What I think is really going on is that at first Mr. Obama did want to say that he supported the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan, but is retreating — as I expected he would. Or perhaps he wants some people to think he is supporting the initiative, while being able to tell others that he isn’t.

If Obama is just upholding the First Amendment, that is certainly commendable, but let us not pretend he is adding very much to the debate or taking a particularly courageous stand. Has it really come to this that we stand in awe when the President of the United States says he supports the most basic tenets of the Bill of Rights? (I guess so since so many others are flouted). But in fact very few people have challenged the right of the Cordoba Initiative to build its community center on the property it owns in lower Manhattan. The ADL’s Abe Foxman acknowledged that right and even Sarah Palin did not challenge the right. 
For House Arabs and House Muslims, the only regrettable aspect of the White House iftar was the Israeli ambassador’s absence. We’re too afraid to research how many House Muslims and Arabs perceived that scheduling as a deliberate effort on Obama’s part to favor Muslims and alienate Zionists. Regardless, if ADC National was polite and courteous enough to thank Obama for his Ramadan greetings despite his strangulation of Afghanis and Pakistanis, when ADC opens an office someday in Tel Aviv it will surely thank Netanyahu for his Ramadan greetings despite his strangulation of Gaza.
Finally, a picture, especially if drawn by the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, is worth a million words:

"In solidarity with the children of the camps who are dying of hunger and thirst. To their health!" Image courtesy of najialali.com

Ahlam Mohsen rocks!

Ms. Ahlam Mohsen threw a pie at Zionist senator Carl Levin. Ms. Mohsen had no regard for future job prospects, proper appearances or “strategy.” Like Muntadhar Zaidi, she put justice above concern for her own wellbeing. We congratulate Ms. Mohsen for setting a fine example for antiwar activists everywhere.

Ms. Ahlam Mohsen

With a solid record in sacrifice and courage, this was not the first time she was arrested for standing up for justice. She’d been arrested while protesting the Gaza massacre last year.

At only 23 years of age, Ms. Ahlam Mohsen was wise to observe Democrats’ complicity in war crimes. Commenting on why she pied Levin:

“We wanted to target Levin today to send a message that liberals and Democrats are just as implicated in the violence (of war) as the Republicans.”

Your message received loud and clear, sister Ahlam, and heard in the mountains of Afghanistan, on the Tigris’ shores and Palestine’s hilltops. Thank you for your selflessness and your dedication to resisting the wars. While mainstream Arab and Muslim American organizations may fail to support you or even condemn you, their voices do not matter next to the millions of occupied Arabs and Muslims who will recognize your heroism.

Spare us the Ramadan greetings

Quiz time! On August 12, 2010 United Voices for America, through its president and founder Ahmad Bedier, issued to American Muslims an urgent call to action. Guess what it concerned:

A) Protest against the US occupation of majority Muslim populations in Afghanistan and Iraq

B) Mobilize for economic, cultural and academic boycotts of “Israel”

C) Organize a campaign to deliver direly needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza

D) Direct all Ramadan donations to devastated flood victims in Pakistan

E) Write a letter to congressperson or senator urging the cessation of hostilities the US and Israel commit towards Muslims

F) Thank Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton for issuing Ramadan greetings.

While answer E would’ve been laughable, it is not nearly as appalling as the correct answer, F.

The UVA’s call to action encourages Muslims to “take a few seconds to send a quick email to the Obama administration and The Speaker of the House thanking them for respecting and celebrating our pluralistic American Values.”  To ensure maximum Muslim participation, the UVA even provides a convenient online form for people to instantly send their heartfelt appreciation.

It is hard to imagine that Mr. Bedeir, a self-proclaimed “expert on Islam, media relations, human rights, hate crimes and the Mideast,” is unaware of the following easily searchable information:

“Since Obama took office, according to the AP, the number of drones operated by the CIA over Afghanistan and Pakistan doubled. A May 2010 report quoted unnamed counterterrorism officials who speculated that the Obama administration’s closure of the secret CIA interrogation centers and intent to close the Guantanamo Bay prison was a direct influence on the expansion of the drone assassinations. According to the officials, the killings are necessary because there is no longer any place to put captured terrorists… Pakistan has repeatedly protested these attacks as they are an infringement of its sovereignty and because civilian deaths have also resulted, including women and children, which has further angered the Pakistani government and people”

Since Bedier and UVA couldn’t possibly be unaware of the atrocities inflicted on Muslims by the Obama administration, we are only left with one explanation behind its gush of gratitude for these hollow Ramadan greetings. During slavery, the House Negro was similarly aware but unconcerned about the torture and humiliation inflicted on the Field Negro. In his statement on this topic, which is the foundation of Ikhras’ mission statement, Malcolm X stated:

“The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself… If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, ‘What’s the matter, boss, we sick?’ We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself”

While a number of Muslim Americans will heed UVA’s call and rejoice, we suggest they should take no comfort in Obama’s statement. His predecessor, George W. Bush, whose atrocities towards Muslims are in no need of listing, had hosted Ramadan iftars (dinners following day-long fast) annually throughout his eight years of presidency. Bush was also the first to add a Qur’an to the White House library. At best, it was naïve to be impressed by the empty White House propaganda gestures under Bush and it is naïve today. As Dr. Aslam Abdullah correctly remarked about one such Bush White House iftar in 2006:

“the iftar party came at a time when the Bush Administration is engaged in two wars that have resulted in the deaths of more than half a million Muslims as well as the destruction of two countries, namely Iraq and Afghanistan. There should have been a voice telling Mr. Bush that he was wrong in pursuing aggression in Iraq”

Some Muslim Americans may decide it is a good “strategy” to express gratitude to Obama as it was to have voted for him, supported him and reminded themselves of their connection to him via his father’s faith and his childhood in Indonesia. However, this “strategy” makes it impossible to criticize him on foreign policy as Dr. Abdullah urged, much less oppose him. As Malcolm X pointed out, the “favors” master affords the House Negro stir his gratitude and eliminate any chances of voicing criticism no matter how harsh the master’s treatment of the Field Negro.

Today’s American Dream offers Muslim Americans nice houses in the suburbs, professional jobs, materialistic perks and a sense of belonging and identifying. Not belonging to humanity with a dedication to advocate for its oppressed and downtrodden, but belonging to a merciless empire that was founded on genocide, built by slaves and expanded at the expense of innocents all over the globe.

We’re open to entertain evidence to the contrary, but it’s unlikely that these Muslims share UVA’s ecstasy about Obama, Clinton and Pelosi’s gestures:

Drone attack victims in Pakistan

Are Ramadan greetings enough to make us forget this?

US under Obama continues to support Zionist repression of Gaza

Ray Hanania Plays the Sectarian Card: Old Zionist Tactics And More Proof He Does not Speak Arabic

One of the tactics Zionists and their supporters often employ is to make a partially accurate assertion about a reality or condition, blow it out of proportion and then exploit both the minor truth it may contain and the exaggerated extrapolations in order to deceive, mislead, and deflect attention from the racism and violence of the Zionist state.  Ray Hanania, the failed comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, and newest ADC board of directors member who does not speak Arabic, is now claiming to speak for and defend Christians Arabs and other Christians across the entire “Muslim world.”

Not only does Ray not speak Arabic, but his views of Arab society, which are strikingly consistent with American television images, boilerplate Orientalist clichés and Western media stereotypes, suggest he has never experienced a significant period of time living in the Arab world.  I doubt he has spent more than a few weeks in a couple of Arab countries, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has one of those vacation photos favored by tourists with him sitting on top of  a camel with a kuffiyeh on his head in his old family albums.  In his latest musing Ray is coming to the defense of the “persecuted” Christians in what he calls the “Muslim world.”  With a self-assured tone the Arab-American clown states, “The fact is that Christians continue to be persecuted in Muslim countries and the only defense we get is the argument of silence against “airing the dirty laundry” in public.”  Anti-Muslim bigots often make sweeping generalizations about that mythical, monolithic bloc of 1.5 billion people without any consideration of geography, nationality, language, culture, ideology, or the political systems and orientation of the over 50 different states that encompass  that reduced collective called the “Muslim world.”   Hanania is a product of an  American political culture characterized by very little knowledge of different peoples, cultures, geography and International politics, and one shouldn’t expect Ray The Comedian to be any better informed than Joe The Plumber about the Arabs or the  “Muslim” world simply because his parents or grandparents came from an Arab country.  Ikhras has already pointed out a strong sectarian streak in his JP writings, and blathering on Palestine so we are not surprised by his latest attempt to play the sectarian card in the service of Zionism.

It’s not possible to respond to a sweeping assertion like “Christians continue to be persecuted in Muslim countries…”   Unless Ray wants to take some time off from his silly “humor writing” and write a report about religious freedom and persecution on a given country or regime, there is nothing to respond to.   Ray does mention the murder of 10 Westerners in Northern Afghanistan by either “robbers” or “terrorists”, but such a crime carried out by Muslims hardly justifies such broad generalizations and indictments.  Limiting Ray’s assertions to the Arab world he mistakenly presumes to know slightly more about, we can say for certain his claims are demonstrably false.  By and large Christian Arabs themselves don’t claim to be persecuted. This isn’t about Christians being persecuted in any one Muslim-majority country, and Ray hasn’t discovered anything new when he points to Muslim extremists and murderers.  They exist among all groups.

What this is really about is the fueling of anti-Muslim hysteria and the promotion of an image of the Arabs and Muslims consistent with the Zionist narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Why else would Ray write “Christians face as much turmoil equally oppressed with Muslims under Israel’s brutal occupation as they do in Muslim and Arab countries.”   Even if this false claim was true, why would any discussion of the Christians’ plight in the Arab world or in Muslim-majority countries require comparisons to the conditions of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation?  Why is Israel the only state with which Ray draws any comparisons?  The reason is clear.  Ray wants to downplay the oppression and displacement (which he supports with calls to abandon the Palestinian right of return) of the indigenous population of Palestine which is qualitatively different in scope and duration than any other legitimate grievance others in the region may have.  Ray knows what he’s doing.  That’s why he attempts a preemptive defense when he writes “I don’t care if, as some fanatics argue, that discussing this “gives comfort” to the Israelis. The fact is that discussing it might also give comfort to many Christian Arabs who are not only fleeing Israeli oppression but also the sad reality of the Arab World, the Middle East and the Muslim World…” These old Zionist tactics failed even when they were employed by people far more cunning than this cheap sectarian agitator.

Bloomberg on his solidarity trip to express support for Israel's onslaught on Gaza Jan/2009

More evidence that Ray’s sectarian outburst is intended to be understood within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict is found in his emphasis on Jewish support for the “Ground Zero” Mosque in New York.  As our readers will know we at Ikhras really don’t’ care if this Mosque is built, and we consider it an example of Muslim-Americans’ skewed priorities, but nevertheless, we do notice Ray emphasizing Jewish support for this project.  He writes “among the people leading the charge were Jewish Americans. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg were among those who expressed support for the mosque and urged religious tolerance.”   Anyone familiar with American political and social history knows that many Jews are defenders of civil rights and we certainly know more about America than Ray knows about the Arab and “Muslim” worlds.  However, we ask the question why the emphasis on Jewish-Americans as opposed to Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Hindus, or Buddhists?  Many advocates of civil rights and supporters of the project are found among all those groups.  Again, the answer is Ray wants to promote the Zionist narrative of the conflict in Palestine and downplay the crimes of Israel, and he thinks he can do so by highlighting Pro-Israeli Jews’ support for the building of an Islamic Center.

This is why Ray describes Bloomberg as a supporter of “religious tolerance.”  In other words, Ray wants the readers to believe that one can be a supporter of Israel and tolerance at the same time.  Bloomberg is a fanatical supporter of Israel who traveled there during Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in 2008 to express support for its massacres of Palestinian civilians.  As Israel was raining white phosphorous on the helpless civilians in Gaza Bloomberg saidWe have to stop this carnage, and the way to stop it is to have Hamas stop trying to kill innocents…,And if they won’t stop, then the Israelis have no choice but to use all the resources at their command to protect their citizens. We would do exactly the same thing in New York City.”  The “carnage” Bloomberg was referring to were homemade Hamas rockets, which had killed no more than half a dozen people, and not the massacring of hundreds of Palestinian children by Israel.  When asked about a “proportional response”, he quickly dismissed such a notion and insisted on Israel’s right to use all its resources “quickly and decisively” in pursuing terrorists.  That anyone who supports such crimes in Gaza can be described as “leading the charge” against the betrayal of “religious freedom and equality” or an advocate of “religious tolerance” is obscene, but the purpose of this description is obvious.  Ray who supports normalization with Israel wants to promote the Israeli narrative, downplay the crimes of Israel, and perpetuate the deadly lie that support for Zionism is a legitimate and respected point of view.

Ray The Comedian

Maybe if Ray understood Arabic he can actually speak to Christian Arabs who comprise the oldest Christians communities in the world.  With the exception of Lebanon, an artificial entity  carved out of Syria by the French Colonial power in order to create a Christian dominated state in which Muslims were marginalized politically and economically, and which experienced a brutal civil war which sometimes took the form of Christian-Muslim violence, relations among Christian and Muslim Arabs have been rather harmonious.  He should meet with Christian Iraqis and ask them about their lives prior to the US invasion and destruction of Iraq.  It was the US occupation of Iraq and its deliberate policy of stirring sectarian strife that lead to the slaughter of Muslims along with Christians and the bombings of Mosques along with Churches.  Or maybe he can go to Syria, and visit Ma’aloula northeast of Damascus and speak to members of a Christian community that still speaks the language of Jesus, and ask them about their living conditions.  They can explain it to him in Arabic or Aramaic, and I know he can find an English speaking interpreter in the city.  Ray can also go to the Palestine he keeps blathering about and speak to Christians and ask them if they are persecuted by Muslims or if they and Muslims both are persecuted for being Arab by the same Zionist regime and occupation he wants to legitimize and accept as permanent.  In fact, Ray should go to the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Hamas resistance organization he routinely describes as extremists, radicals, and terrorists and speak to the Palestinian Christians which share that large open-air prison with their fellow Palestinian Muslims.  Even in Egypt, where the largest Christian community in the Arab world lives, Coptic Christians legitimately complain about the unfair and discriminatory policies of the US backed dictatorship, but don’t claim to be persecuted.

There is one theocratic state in the Arab world that should be singled out for condemnation based on its religious bigotry, intolerance, and support of religious extremism, but interestingly Ray admires and supports the Saudi regime, and has promoted something called “moderate Saudi Arab leadership…” Hanania will have another opportunity to express his admiration for that Saudi beacon of religious tolerance the next time the ADC honors a representative of the Saudi regime at one of its banquets or galas, and I confess I still don’t know the difference.

More Proof Ray Doesn’t Speak Arabic

After writing “All my life, I was told that I should never use the phrase “Muslims and Christians.” Instead, I was told, we should always say “Arabs and Muslims.”  I don’t like it one bit. The silence demeans Christian Arabs and marginalizes them even more than we already are…” Ray should finally admit his ignorance of the Arabic language and Arab society.  First, its true Arabs generally don’t use the phrase “Muslims and Christians”, but that’s because unlike Ray the comedian they don’t view themselves through the false prism and constructs of the American political culture.  It doesn’t demean Christian Arabs nor does it marginalize them.  On the contrary, it emphasizes the common identity that transcends religious affiliation within the natural and shared social fabric of Arab society.   Ray is also oblivious to why he was told to use “Arabs and Muslims” which is precisely because the two are not interchangeable, a misunderstanding Ray himself has complained about.  If Ray understood Arabic and was able to follow the public discourse within the Arab world he would also not call upon Muslims to “publicly” condemn acts of terror, but the notion that not enough “good Muslims” have condemned “bad Muslims” has become a common theme among the ignorant bigots in the US who wouldn’t understand whether an Arabic-speaking Muslim is advocating terrorism or discussing Qataif recipes in anticipation of Ramadan.

Attempts by Zionists to stir sectarian strife among Arabs are not new, but they are usually more sophisticated than Ray’s amateurish ploy.  According to Hillel Cohen’s Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, in 1920 Chaim Weizman asked the intelligence office of the Zionist movement to come up with a plan to counter Arab opposition to Zionism.  The plan they presented to Weizman included “Provocation of dissension between Christians and Muslims.”  Since then Zionists have often attempted to create dissension and division among the Palestinians, but Weizman failed to sow the seeds of sectarianism in 1920, Israel continued to fail over decades of colonialism and occupation, and it is still failing today in Gaza and Chicago.

In addition to helping Israeli propaganda efforts, Ray also plays the sectarian card in dealing with criticism of his own political views.  He now claims “Publicly, my Arab and Muslim critics insist that my religion is not an issue, but many Christians know that is a lie. It’s one reason why I was targeted then and why I am being targeted now, as one of the new members of the National Board of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.” We at Ikhras have never mentioned Ray’s religious background and we couldn’t’ care less.  What we have focused on is his support of Zionism, his vapid writings, and his contribution to the efforts of the anti-Palestinian camp here in the US, which we, and the vast majority of Arabs, find contemptible.  We have also mocked his lame comedy routines, but that’s just for fun.

As we stated in the beginning the Muslim inhabited countries of the world can’t be reduced to a single, monolithic bloc, and it is neither possible nor necessary to respond to sweeping generalizations and indictments motivated by bigotry, prejudice, and various political agendas.  The Arab world itself is very diverse, and Christians within the various Arab countries may have different experiences living in various degrees of comfort and well-being.  It is true that the Christian presence is decreasing.  With lower birthrates and smaller numbers to begin with, immigration has made their numbers dwindle, but they are not “fleeing” Muslim persecution.  They are immigrating for the same reasons Muslims immigrate, for more opportunity and a better future that does not exist under the corrupt, illegitimate, and dictatorial regimes in the Arab world.  In Palestine, it is the brutal Israeli occupation that is driving out Christians.  Legitimate grievances of any community should not be downplayed and need to be addressed as part of the struggle for democracy, human rights, and a more just society, but whatever social ills Christians and Muslims may be experiencing must also not be exploited in furtherance of sinister political machinations or anti-Muslim propaganda.  Fortunately, the efforts of those who continue exploiting this issue will not be very effective until they make people like Ray The Comedian  Ikhras and find someone more skillful than this cheap and transparent amateur to promote and advance their political agenda.