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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.     

Good post on Shalala from Mondoweiss

We’d previously written about Donna Shalala’s humiliation at Ben Gurion airport. This insightful post over at Mondoweiss explains why Shalala doesn’t mind humiliation. House Arabs need to be accepted even at the expense of their own dignity. A very good example of the motivations and mindset of house Arabs and Muslims in the US.

Donna Shalala, VIP. That’s Very Ikhrasable Person.

One of the best things about being an Ikhras blogger is that there is never shortage of fresh material to write about. On a daily basis we hear stories about Arabs and Muslims trying hard to “prove” themselves within the establishment only to be reminded that the carrot they pursue is perpetually elusive.

Today’s example is Donna Shalala, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years during the Clinton administration. Zionist publication Yedioth Ahronot reports today that Shalala, described as a “VIP”, was “humiliated” at Ben Gurion Airport on her way to collaborate with Zionist universities. She was interrogated and disrespected because she has an Arab last name. It must have been a shock for Shalala, who confidently flew in having defended the Zionist entity’s interests, as Ynet notes that the “fact that Shalala arrived in Israel as part of an official delegation of the heads of universities fighting against the academic boycott against the Jewish State also seemed not to help her.”

Shalala had made a cozy spot for herself in the House (see the Ikhras mission statement for definition of House Arab). She occupied several leadership posts in academia and was favored by both Democrats and Republicans. She was the first Arab-American cabinet member, during the Clinton administration, and George W. Bush had awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. Indeed, her 20-page resume listing over three dozen honorary degrees and other distinguished awards makes her career the standard House Arab’s dream.

While Ynet thought Shalala is a Very Important Person, her political background suggests she’s more of a Very Ikhrasable Person (1). This career would have been impossible had Shalala spent her time working for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. She actually worked against liberation. She was granted honorary degrees by two “Israeli” universities, Technion University in 1994 and the University of Haifa in 1998. A member of the (Zionist) Jerusalem Foundation from 1982 to 1992, she advocated against boycott of “Israel.” The Jerusalem Foundation displays the full text of a statement she published in the Jerusalem Post less than a month before her humiliation at Ben Gurion. She wrote:

“I joined the presidents of the major American universities to denounce the boycott of Israeli academics. I sent a personal letter to the presidents of universities here, as did the other presidents, promising there would be no boycott in the United States and that Israeli scholars would always be welcome in the US,” said Shalala, a third generation descendant of Lebanese Maronite immigrants, who was the first Arab American to serve in a cabinet position and also the first to serve as a president of a major American university.

Her connection to the Zionist entity goes as far back to the 1960s. The Jerusalem Post article continues:

Shalala, who first came to Israel as a backpacker in the 1960s and also taught English at UNRWA camps in Lebanon, said she felt it was important to bring as many non-Jews as possible to visit Israel in order to “hear Israelis talk about their dreams and what they are trying to achieve as well as to meet Arabs.”

In spite of Shalala’s appalling anti-Arab, pro-Zionist stance, some House Arabs remained unfazed. Her high rank within the establishment trumped justice. As can be expected from House Arabs, who spend their lives chasing after the empire’s acceptance, the New Jersey chapter of the ADC bragged about her Arab lineage. ADC National hosted her as a speaker at its 1996 and 2000 conventions.

The treatment Shalala received at Ben Gurion is even more humiliating than the way Helen Thomas and Octavia Nasr’s careers ended. Thomas urged decolonization of Palestine and Nasr praised cleric Fadhlallah. While both later apologized for appearing to side with oppressed people, they could at least say their ordeals resulted from frustration with Zionism. Shalala can’t even claim that. She humiliated herself long before Ben Gurion’s officials got around to it.

This goes to show that no matter how “respectable” Arabs become, no matter how many distinguished posts they assume or honorary degrees they receive or how hard they try to appeal to their colonizers, the slavemaster sees no significant difference between the House Arab and the Field Arab. It is unfortunate that a clearly intelligent Arab woman dedicated her talents towards defending the Zionist entity, which continues to displace and dispossess Palestinians, and working for eight years for an imperialist administration that served the usurping entity and sanctioned Iraq.

This episode is similar to Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr’s treatment at the hands of white police officers while he was trying to enter his own house (no pun intended). While the Zionist treatment of Shalala, based on her Arabic last name, was racist and despicable, perhaps she now understands the humiliation Palestinians endure everyday under military occupation as they are subjected to checkpoints established on their own land by foreign colonizers.

(1) Ikh-ras-a-ble: adj. Arab or Muslim person who needs to ikhras (shut up) for collaborating with US empire and Zionism. See Ikhras mission statement for more: http://ikhras.com/?page_id=2


While Shalala had initially declined to comment, as per the Ynet article, after she pulled herself together she finally spoke:

“While I was inconvenienced, Israel’s security and the security of travelers is far more important. I have been going in and out of Israel for many years and expect to visit again.”

Shalala calls racist humiliation an “inconvenience” and continues to defend Israel’s actions. As Malcolm X would say, the House Arab loves the slavemaster more than the slavemaster loves itself. Our earlier analogy comparing Shalala’s ordeal to that of Henry Louis Gates Jr’s was too generous towards Shalala, as Gates actually had the decency to express outrage when he was racially profiled.

Ray Hanania is back with another family episode, more Zionist propaganda, and a new Arabic word

Once again Ray Hanania, the Arab-American comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, and newest ADC board of directors member who does not speak Arabic,  addresses the Arab-Israeli conflict within the context of family tales (real or imagined) and marriage to a Jewish woman.   The latest Hanania household episode involves his wife’s insistence that he sits down with his son and has a discussion about sex.  We can ignore Ray’s fatherly discussion of the Birds and the Bees and the lame attempts at humor that pepper his writing, but we do recommend those concerned with his son’s education have a talk with Ray himself.  What should not be ignored is some of the more serious and troubling assertions made by this Palestinian-American regarding the past and present history of Palestine and the Arab-Zionist conflict.

In this latest episode we find Ray telling his son “Arabs and Jews are basically the same. We’re both human beings. People. We just believe in different things.” I told him mommy and I have an armistice agreement, which was harder to explain than sex. “Mommy is the boss in our family, but I make all the decisions.”  While the first part of that quote is obviously true, the second half was probably an attempt at humor.  This has become a rather standard format for Hanania’s articles which often appear along side Daniel Pipe’s own articles with the JP inserting their photos next to each other as they appear at the time of this writing.   We’re not sure what the purpose of Ray’s constant reference to his marriage to a Jewish woman has to do with the conflict in Palestine, but it appears certain he believes his personal status provides him with unique insight which he wants to convey to readers.

As Ray’s alleged fatherly attempt to explain sex to his son evolved into a discussion about the conflict in Palestine he told his son “There was this country, Palestine. The Jews lived there. Then the Arabs lived there. Then Jews came back. Then they started to fight over who owns the land. Both sides did bad things to each other and everyone just got madder.”  Once again we see Ray adopting the Zionist narrative with two major empirically verifiable, historical inaccuracies.  First, the original inhabitants of Palestine were the Canaanites, an Arab group that descended upon the land from the Eastern Shores of the Arabian Peninsula and spoke an ancient Arabic tongue.   The Torah itself, which is not a history book, does not dispute this historical fact.  The Philistines, who originated in the island of Crete, came to Palestine and melted into the Canaanites and the land of Canaan became known as Palestine.   It is true the ancient Hebrew tribes were part of the region, but their presence in Palestine was transient and short-lived.   Therefore, contrary to the Zionist lie that Arabs came to Palestine with the rise of Islam, the land of Canaan, later Palestine, has been, since time immemorial, inhabited by Arabs.  The Arab claim to the land is not based on a religious imperative pursued as an article of faith nor is it a mythical deed issued from the heavens carrying God’s signature as grantor.

Successive waves of invaders (mostly foreign) and immigrants (mostly from the Arabian Peninsula) either left or were absorbed by the original inhabitants and never altered the Arab identity of Palestine.  It is the Palestinian Arabs who were the original inhabitants of the land, a fact which did not prevent Hanania from repeating the Zionist lie that the “Jews lived there.  Then the Arabs lived there.”  This history provides the Palestinians with an even more legitimate claim to being the descendants of the ancient Hebrews themselves than the modern European Jews who colonized Palestine, which also belies the second Zionist claim Hanania repeats that the  “Jews came back.”   The assertion that European Jews who colonized Palestine are descendants of the ancient Hebrews is nonsense with no basis (racist eugenics aside) in serious historical inquiry.  Furthermore, even if such fantastical claims, which are solely articles of faith, had any basis in truth, it would not justify the Jews “coming back” and ethnically cleansing the original inhabitants of Palestine who were there before them, and never left.

As we saw in our previous articles on Hanania, he has a habit of blaming both sides.  He did it again when he told his son “Both sides did bad things to each other” so he must still believe this makes him sound balanced and even-handed.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Not only is there no comparison between the level and scope of “bad things” (violence) that has been inflicted on the Palestinians and the Israelis, more importantly, there is no moral equivalence between the violence of the occupier and the resistance of the occupied.

The conflict in Palestine does not involve two competing narratives, both of which contain some truth that deserves to be considered as a legitimate point of view.  There is an objective truth.  There is an historical truth regarding the ancient history of Palestine and there is a truth as far as the modern day conflict is concerned, and this ancient and modern empirical truth stands stubbornly on the side of the Palestinian Arabs.  Those of us who are not pursuing a failed comedy career in the US and are not interested in a Chicago-area radio show, a column in the JP, or a position on the National Board of the lousy ADC have no reason to not speak the truth.  We see no historical or rational justification to entertain the absurd notion there is a legitimate “debate” about who owns the land.  Although we understand why an Arab-American might feel compelled to engage in such nonsense while living in the US, we certainly don’t, and we will not allow Zionist propaganda to masquerade as a serious academic or historical debate nor an alternative viewpoint.  For the oppressed Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland through mass violence by European colonizers and who continue to suffer under occupation and in refugee camps, stating the simple, objective truth is the least we can do. Those who are not willing to do so can do us all a favor and ikhras.

After a couple of more typically lame attempts at humor, Ray’s supposed discussion about sex ends up with his son asking him “How about sharing? Mommy tells me to do that all the time. If you and mommy get along, why can’t Arabs and Jews get along?”  What Ray Hanania did not tell his son is that Arabs and Jews have lived together in relative harmony centuries before Daddy married Mommy.  It is only with the advent of Zionism and the violent conquest of Palestine by European colonial-settlers that relations deteriorated.  In fact, I would tell Ray that Arabs and Jews have gotten along atleast as well as him and his wife.

As we saw in our previous coverage of Hanania, his “solution” for Palestine is for the Arabs to accept the permanence and legitimacy of a racist, exclusivist, Jewish state and abandon their right of return.  In effect he has invited the Palestinians, whose resistance to the colonization of their homeland he calls “terrorism”, to convert to Zionism.  We agree with Ray that   Arabs and Jews are basically the same.”  All human beings are basically the same and that’s why we find courageous Jewish voices who oppose Zionism.  What Ray does not understand is what binds Arabs and Jews and all human beings together is a  set of universal human values which form the basis of an increasingly powerful and vibrant global effort by all people of conscience from various ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds who have joined together in opposition to the racist colonial project of Zionism.  I may not have a Jewish spouse but I know what peace in Palestine requires.  Ray may need to adopt Zionism to keep the peace in his household, but in Palestine peace will prevail only with the defeat of Zionism.

Post Script – Ray used a new Arabic word in his latest article, he said, “Yaani [like, in Arabic] this and yaani that.”  Ray, of course, does not speak Arabic, but instead of admitting it, he’s trying hard to create the impression he does.  He can easily prove us wrong.  We’re not asking him to read a passage from the Holy Quran or recite any of the Mu’alaqqat, but just a short dialogue in Arabic is all we’re asking for.   C’mon Ray, if you speak Arabic you don’t have to ikhras.  You have a radio show.  Let us hear it.

Zogby: Wrong on African-Americans, Wrong on Arab-Americans

Uncle James Zogby, the embodiment of all that is wrong with Arab-Americans claiming to be representatives of our community, came out in defense of Shirley Sherrod saying “I understood her plight because I, and many other Arab Americans and American Muslims, had endured similar treatment.”   This ludicrous remark is simply not true and no comparison between the Arab experience in America, with all its anti-Arab racism, xenophobia, and discrimination, should ever be compared to the plight of African-Americans.  After beginning what appears to be a defense of Sherrod, Zogby spends the rest of his article whining about “a veritable industry…of anti-Arab groups and individuals whose job it has been to track our progress and to challenge our every advance with smear campaigns.”   Whatever progress and advances Zogby is referring to is illusory if not delusional. Neither Zogby nor any of the other “leaders”, individuals, and organizations posing as the “Arab lobby” in Washington can point to any progress or advancements by any stretch of the imagination.

Because Zogby and others like him have been a complete failure in having any impact on US government policy or public opinion the only illusory claim to success they can make is to point to the rejection by bigots and fanatical Zionists of their participation in the political process and acceptance by mainstream Zionists.  He complains about “attacks” on him after he delivered speeches at the Justice Department and the Pentagon, or when Al Gore invited him to “head up a project he was launching to support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza.”  The last one came during the days of the Oslo accords and its misplaced hope which coincided with the apogee of Zogby’s political career. Zogby was a fan of Bill Clinton who would visit the White House and pass messages from his mother to the President. Clinton assigned him the title of “adviser on Arab-American issues”,  quite possibly a consolation prize in lieu of what Zogby was hoping would be an ambassadorship to one of his favorite oil-rich, Arab city-states that support his one-man outfit.  Zogby was also appointed to the Democratic National Committee’s Resolutions Committee. When Oslo was signed he was invited to attend the ceremony on the White House lawn, and supported that attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause and legitimize the Zionist project.  At the time he predicted “In two to five years, Palestinians will have created new and irreversible realities in Palestine. These new factors plus the determination to be a free and independent people will create the momentum that will make statehood a reality.”  (“Palestine, Yes!” The Nation, Oct. 25, 1993.)

The most important example Zogby offers of his critics attacks on his glorious battles on behalf of Arab-Americans and Palestine has to do with his son.  Zogby points to attacks on his son Joe’s work in Martin Indyk’s State department office.   Zogby wants us to believe that he and his son are defending the Palestinian cause and the Arab community in the US and for that they are under attack by anti-Arab groups worried about their “progress.” What he fails to mention is that attacks on him and his son were spearheaded by the lunatic Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).   Zogby also fails to mention that Indyk himself is a committed Zionist who was an Israeli lobbyist before joining the Clinton Administration and later moving to the State department to become US ambassador to Israel.   The complete disconnect between Zogby, who like Ray Hanania, does not speak Arabic, and the Arab-American community is illustrated in his defense of his son’s work for Indyk.  That Zogby would consider such an appointment for his son as a sign of progress and advancement for Arab-Americans reveals just how alienated he is from the community within which he is despised, not respected for such “progress.”    No self-respecting Arab or any person of conscience would ever consider working for a Zionist in the State department.  The role of concerned Arab-Americans is to condemn the US government’s support for the Zionist colonial project in Palestine, and to offer an alternative to the Zionist narrative of the conflict in Palestine to the American public.  Such a fact-based narrative and advocacy will inevitably clash with the acceptable public discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the US.  Those who are willing to adopt such an approach would immediately be dismissed as radicals and extremists unwelcomed in the White House, State Department, or Halls of Congress. But the groveling Zogby, whose primary goal is acceptance within American officialdom, liked Bill Clinton a little too much, and he’s too proud of his visits to the white house and discussions with a President to dare cross the line.  Like the other Arabs looking for acceptance and photo-ops, he knows the proper limits of his “activism on behalf of Palestinians.”

So what is Zogby left with to bolster his claim to the mantle of Arab-American representation?  All he can do is point to Morton Klein, Daniel Pipes, and other members of the lunatic fringe’s opposition to his own participation in mainstream American Zionist politics.  And this has become the measure of success for his pathetic efforts.  According to Zogby  progress and success is to be  found in his appointment as Clinton’s adviser on Arab-American issues, the Pentagon’s willingness to invite him to the headquarters of the US war machine to address a Pentagon “Iftar dinner” at the same time the US is waging war on Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, or in the appointment of his son , a 3rd generation Arab-American to a position in the State department in the office of a Pro-Israel lobbyist, and of course the photo-ops that come with such “advances” and “progress.”

Zogby should never have compared his own spoiled life in the US with that of Shirley Sherrod.  There is no comparison between the African-American experience and any other ethnic group in this country.  If Zogby is looking for a justified analogy with African Americans, he should consider comparing his political activism to that of an African American who joins a white supremacist movement, and then claims proof of dedicated service to his black community can be found in the opposition of the Grand Wizard of the KKK to his participation in that group.  That is the only analogy Zogby can make with African Americans, and if he doesn’t like it he can atleast shut up.  I would say IKHRAS, but he never listened to his mother’s advice to learn Arabic.
B.N. Thanks to Hoda for sending us the Ahram link to Zogby’s article.

Mona Eltahawy slightly improving

We’d criticized Mona Eltahawy’s racist, sexist support for the French niqab ban. Ikhras notices improvement in Eltahawy’s discourse during her debate with Tariq Ramadan about the same topic.

This time, unlike in her Washington Post article, she didn’t say there was no similarity between women’s faces and minaret stone indicating she probably understands the analogy by now. And she didn’t blame European liberals for failing to interpret Islam for women. Keep it up, Mona. Hopefully you’ll retract your support for the niqab ban soon. Is it too much to hope you might stop bragging about normalizing with “Israel” on your website too?

David Ramadan: a “couple-of-properties” in America and the bombing of his old neighborhood in Beirut

David's old neighborhood, the Southern District of Beirut destroyed by Israel in 2006

Ikhras readers will remember David “Go GOP” Ramadan, one of the self-appointed spokespersons of Arabs and Muslims in the US.   As we saw in our first piece, David is the quintessential house Arab who confuses political activism with political folklore, a shameless self-promoter with very little knowledge of US government, politics, or society, and completely lacking any self-respect.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of this type of buffoonish immigrants is the need to routinely express their patriotism.  The constant bellowing of love for America and excessive flag-waving is patently insincere, but nevertheless, a necessary ritual that must constantly be performed in order to compensate for the minority status, and inferiority complex they carry around like an albatross.  The best time of year to spot these individuals in our community is the 4th of July.  So it was earlier this month as David was preparing to celebrate “America’s birthday.” While most other Americans were preparing to Bar-B-Que and watch the local fireworks show, David found himself in a moment of “reflections.”  Reminiscing on his “American JourneyDavid wrote the following: “My journey so far includes: college degrees, a happy marriage, a couple of properties, a few successful businesses, an active political life, lots of friends, and the legal immigration of my entire family… Thank you America and Happy Birthday.” David ended his blog post with “sincerely” before signing with the same name we don’t believe he had when he boarded that plane in Beirut taking him to America to begin what he strains to convince everyone is a deliriously joyful “journey.”

A few things jumped out immediately in this short blog entry.  First, it was a reminder that formal education does not immunize anyone against ignorance and stupidity.  Second, was the self-demeaning reference to material success as a basis for an amoral and self-serving patriotism which carries with it the inherent contradiction between personal self-interest and the collective well-being of a country for which patriots often express their concern.  This shallow understanding of patriotism combined with the vagaries of an insecure immigrant’s life experience is often manifested in immoral and absurd political behavior difficult to explain without taking into consideration the personal psychological complex of such a person.  David is a perfect example, but before illustrating this point, did you notice the emphasis on his family’s legal immigration?  David the Republican clearly emphasized his family members’ legal status to draw a contrast between them and the desperate migrant workers who risk their lives coming to this country to earn some money to send back home to their impoverished families.  No “illegal aliens” in David’s family, that’s for sure.  I wonder how long before he begins conducting community outreach programs on behalf of the angry, racist Tea Party crowd.

In David’s moment of reflection he tells us he grew up in the Southern suburb of Beirut.  For those who may not know, the Southern suburb of Beirut was virtually destroyed in its entirety by the Israeli air force in 2006 with the full military, political, and diplomatic support of a Bush administration that described the gruesome Israeli aggression, in the infamous words of the secretary of state at the time, as the “birth pangs of the new Middle East.”  On July 22 the NY Times reported on the extent of the Bush administrations complicity in that war which was fought in furtherance of the administration’s Neo-Con agenda:   “The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign. … The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said.” Every Arab and Muslim knows the US is Israel’s enabler, and the entire world was appalled at the US support of Israel’s naked aggression and heinous war crimes, but not David Ramadan.  He was busy “educating Arabs and Muslims about the Republican Party and smiling for the camera as he proudly posed for a photo with George Bush Jr.  David’s blog entry was very revealing in that it may have finally explained his enthusiastic support of US administrations’ wars on the Arab world, he owns “a couple of properties” in the US.   Yet I know many people who own property in the US and oppose US wars and support for Israel.  So what explains the behavior of this loathsome lowlife?

A smiling David poses proudly with the President. The Bush administration expedited a shipment of precision-guided bombs to Israel during its onslaught on Lebanon in 2006

For someone who supported the administration that launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq leading to the death of over one million people, the displacement of four million others, and the destruction of an entire country and civilization, another 1500 dead Arab civilians in Lebanon and destruction of his own childhood neighborhood*  may not seem like a big deal.  However, it is the perfect illustration of a disturbing moral and psychological mindset willing to overlook such atrocities inflicted on his own childhood’s playgrounds as a small price to pay for a photo-op with the American president, a pat on the back from a politician, or an  appointment to some local board.  Willing to sacrifice all self-respect, and with no purpose other than self-aggrandizement, insecure Arab-Americans like David  view US wars on their native homelands as a unique opportunity to prove just how loyal to America they really are.  Go ahead invade Iraq!  Bomb Lebanon! Hell, you can even help destroy the very neighborhood I was raised in!  I won’t oppose, I won’t protest, I’m a real American.

Republican Politician: "Get a picture of me with my boy Abdoolah. David: "My name is David Ramadan Sir, and I support you." Republican Politician: "Good Job Abdoolah"

People like David will never notice the millions of other American citizens far more sincere in their love of America and far more patriotic in their opposition to US criminal wars.  Their definition of patriotism is one David the joyful immigrant can’t apply to what he calls his “active political life”, but it is far more authentic than his phony couple-of-properties-patriotism.  These Americans will argue they’re the real patriots, and one who truly cares about the well-being of his country and people, and their place in the world would not hesitate to criticize and protest unjust wars.  Such people make a distinction between patriotism and unquestioning support for any government policy.   But before any citizen is able to stand up and voice any opposition he/she needs to feel they truly are a part of this society.  Driven by self-interest, insecurity, ignorance, and psychological baggage, people like David, despite their constant proclamations to the contrary, don’t really feel like Americans.

So instead of 4th of July “reflections” on an immigrant’s “journey” (and what a worn out cliché that is anyway), maybe some introspection would be more beneficial.  I would like to help David, and offer him some advice.  It’s permissible in the US to take a break from the flag-waving.  You don’t have to constantly tell everyone how much you love America.  I’m also an American and I and my American friends don’t believe your affirmations of love of country or patriotism.  We see them for what they really are, the insecure blathering of an immigrant trying just a little too hard to fit in.  In doing so, you’re demeaning yourself and doing a disservice both to the homeland you left behind and the country you adopted at a moment of deadly serious issues of war and peace.  We won’t try appealing to your self-respect.  You must have left that behind on the tarmac at the Beirut airport before boarding that plane for the US, but we saw you and your smiling face posing proudly with the President responsible for the destruction of Iraq and Lebanon and here’s what we suggest.  Make two copies of that picture, frame them, and hang one up on a wall in each of your couple of properties, sit back, relax, and ask yourself the following questions:  What might I have to contribute to America besides  sloganeering and flag-waving?  What would I say to the families of over one million dead Iraqis?  How can I help the disproportionally poorer American families whose sons and daughters were killed in vain based on what I know were lies but didn’t speak up so I can be on the Virginia Republican Delegation?  What would I say to the Lebanese I left behind in my old neighborhood?  How many people were killed there? How many properties were destroyed?  How could I have supported that?  Think about it David.  Are two properties and a photo with an American president really worth sacrificing your moral conscience and dignity?    And finally, wouldn’t it be better for you to just Ikhras?

*Disturbing images are followed by before and after photos of David’s childhood neighborhood of Southern Beirut in 2006

So much collaboration, so little time

Housies™ (that’s a new term I just coined to conveniently refer to “House Arabs and House Muslims”) are usually prompt to voice their opinions regarding non-urgent matters, petty issues and non-newsworthy news. Behold the examples:

Without missing a beat and in spite of limited resources, ADC promptly expresses solidarity with other communities. For instance, it condemned an attack on a Holocaust museum the same day it occurred. “The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation‘s largest Arab-American civil and human rights organization, is appalled by the shooting that took place earlier today at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.” ADC also gave Ann Coulter a scolding within a mere 24 hours of her anti-Semitic remarks on CNBC.

The ADC congratulated Barack Obama for his (undeserved) Nobel Peace Prize on the same day it was awarded him. Incidentally, the prompt compliment didn’t pay off, as Obama later didn’t even respond to ADC’s invitation to deliver the keynote speech at its 2010 convention (that convention story has nothing to do with the main point of this article; I just enjoy recounting it).

You can also count on the Housies to condemn and denounce evil Arabs and Muslims before they even get to trial, much less get found guilty. ADC proclaimed its outrage at Nidal Hassan’s actions at Ft. Hood on the same day they occurred. It also took the ADC only 24 hours to condemn Farouk Abdulmuttalib and offer assistance to the FBI.

ADC commended Obama’s hollow speech to the Muslim world on the same day he gave it: “The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee commends remarks delivered by the President of the United States in a historic speech on U.S. relations with the Arab and Muslim World this morning in Cairo.” Not to be out-prompted, Council on American Islamic Relations CAIR was also on top of it. But the winner on this one was James Zogby’s Arab American Institute, which celebrated the speech before Obama even gave it.

To nip in the bud all chances of the resurrection of Nazism, CAIR promptly waged war against a license plate that indicated support for a regime that was defeated in 1945. It also stood by Rabbi Michael Lerner the same day his house was attacked.

In matters concerning Arab liberation and self-determination, the Housies are faster than speeding bullets. ADC and AAI instantly congratulated Miss USA winner Rima Fakih within hours of her crowning.

These are just a few select samples. There is much more evidence that indicates the Housies (or more precisely, their interns/minions to whom all the work is forked out) are on top of their game. Nobody beats them in engaging in the non-controversial; affirming the obvious; seeking the empire’s approval; and punctually spitting out press releases about the mundane and the irrelevant.

Whether they’re distancing themselves from bad Arabs and Muslims, combating anti-Semitism or congratulating warmongers for receiving peace awards, the Housies could single handedly put to rest the stereotype that Arabs and Muslims are never on time.

Indeed, House Arabs and House Muslims are like superheroes arriving at the speed of lightning to the rescue of sensitive Zionists, warmongering politicians and beauty queens.

It’s a bird!

It’s a plane!

It’s a Housie!

Of course, even the most invincible superheroes will experience occasional delays and postponements, especially when it involves actual damsels in distress. These situations arise when it’s time to resist racism and stand up for Arabs and Muslims whom the empire blacklists. We’d shared with you the Housies’ reluctance to defend Helen Thomas when she suggested the reversal of settler colonialism in Palestine. ADC eventually uttered words of damage control nearly two weeks later while most other Housies kept their silence.

Once again, the Housies have recently expressed their disinclination to stand up for even their own fellow Housies. Think Octavia Nasr. See this timeline:

July 4, 2010: Just like her fellow Housies, Octavia is punctual. She promptly tweets words of respect about Fadlallah on the same day he passes away.

July 6, 2010: Zionist groups, including Simon Weisenthal Center and American Jewish Committee, notice the tweet and immediately take action. Octavia mumbles damage control on the same day (once again, she’s punctual).

July 7, 2010: CNN fires Octavia.

July 8, 2010: Ikhras editors feel smug because these events prove the Ikhras mission statement. After publishing their opinions on Octavia’s firing, Ikhras editors kick back and wait to see what the Housies will say in her defense.

July 11, 2010: Ikhras editors still waiting for Housies’ statement condemning CNN’s racist, Zionist-induced decision. Thabit starts wondering if Zool Zulkowitz, the Jewish guy ADC proudly cited in its Helen Thomas press release, is on summer vacation at an undisclosed location without cellphone reception.

July 15, 2010: Ikhras editors start to get really bored. They go as far as watching James Zogby’s show Viewpoint to keep entertained.

July 22, 2010: Crickets still heard chirping in House hallways. Ikhras decides to hold its breath no longer.

Although Nasr is Christian, CAIR and ISNA should have been interested because the person she caused a firestorm about was Muslim. The incident was right up ADC’s alley. Ray Hanania could’ve shown some solidarity. We also note the silence of the Lebanese American Organization, Dahlia Mojahid, Hussein Ibish, American Task Force on Palestine, David Ramadan and Taghreed Khodary.

Walid Shoebat, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Zuhdi Jasir and Wafa Sultan may detest Octavia’s sentiments but shouldn’t they support democratic values at CNN if they’re as infatuated with Western democracy as they say they are?

In fairness, I worry that Ikhras may have played a role in the Housies’ appalling silence regarding the Octavia affair. So let me say this to avoid any future confusion. By “ikhras”, which means “shut up,” we did not mean keep your silence about Arabs who get fired for offending Zionists!

Colonial Feminism Among House Muslims

Columnist Mona Eltahawy presents troubling arguments in her recent Washington Post article, From liberals and feminists, unsettling silence on rending the Muslim veil (July 17, 2010).

Mona Eltahawy

First, she argues “Some have tried to present the ban as a matter of Islam vs. the West. It is not. First, Islam is not monolithic. It, like other major religions, has strains and sects.” One wonders what Islam’s diversity has anything to do with the anti-Islamic motivation behind the French ban on veils. Had France passed a law against wearing yermulkes, it would have been anti-Jewish regardless of strains and sects within Judaism. Had France passed a law against wearing crucifixes, it would’ve been anti-Christian regardless of strains and sects within Christianity. Granted, there are different interpretations within Islam that range from requiring the woman to cover her body completely (as in Saudi Arabia, for example), to requiring covering only the hair, to not requiring any hijab whatsoever per more liberal interpretations. But the variety of opinions within Islam doesn’t make a ban on an expression of some Muslim women’s faith any less of an anti-Islamic law. In fact, the first paragraph of the Washington Post article she links to indicates that Islam was specifically mentioned in the legislation in issue. “The French Parliament’s lower house passed sweeping but constitutionally vulnerable legislation Tuesday that would bar women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public.” Eltahawy writes “Minarets are used to issue a call to prayer; they are a symbol of Islam. The niqab, the full-length veil that has openings only for the eyes, is a symbol only for the Muslim right.” Eltahawy distinguishes between the minaret ban and niqab ban only because she herself is for the niqab ban. This distinction makes little to no difference in the Islamophobic mindset. Both the minaret ban and the niqab ban are equally alarming as both stem from xenophobia, specifically Islamophobia. It is highly unlikely that the French legislature intended the niqab ban as a means to present Muslim women with a more progressive, egalitarian interpretation of their religion; the legislation was more likely fueled by intolerance and racism.

Next, Eltahawy writes “Some have likened this issue to Switzerland’s move last year to ban the construction of minarets. On the one hand, it is preposterous to compare women’s faces – their identity – to a stone pillar.” Eltahawy preposterously missed the point of the analogy. Analogies are used to point out a similarity of a particular aspect among entities. To analogize a man to a lion, for example, is to indicate courage. It would be absurd to suggest the analogy concerns consumption of raw meat. Hence, when anti-racist activists and writers liken the French veil ban to the Swiss minaret ban, the point is to track and condemn the growing trend of Islamophobia in Europe. No reasonable reader of that analogy would have drawn similarity between women’s face and stone.

Eltahawy goes on to criticize liberals who oppose their government’s repressive measure. She goes as far as blaming them for allowing “the political right and the Muslim right to seize the situation.” She wonders “[w]here were those howls when niqabs began appearing in European countries, where for years women fought for rights?” Stopping short of calling them hypocrites, Eltahawy writes “A bizarre political correctness tied the tongues of those who would normally rally to defend women’s rights.” What is bizarre is Eltahawy’s implication that it is European liberals’ job to interpret Islam for Muslim women. White man’s burden, anyone? Anti-racist Europeans’ primary task is to hold accountable for unconstitutional infringements their own government to which they pay taxes. While they’re entitled to their opinion regarding the veil, it is not their place to inform Muslim women how to practice their religion. In this regard, Eltahawy presents a racist argument; she sees it fit for non-Muslim Europeans to condemn the veil but we don’t hear her encouraging French Muslims to protest the Catholic Church’s denial of abortion and birth control for Catholic French women, for example.

While Eltahawy feigns concern with “the concept of a woman’s right to choose,” she cites Saudi blogger Eman Al Nafjan’s casual observation (that is, anecdotal observation not based on a scientific survey) that some Saudi women support the French ban. Eltahawy selectively cites excerpts from Al Nafjan’s post about how Saudi women are brainwashed and conveniently leaves out this less palatable part “I don’t live in France and I don’t even to plan to visit anytime soon and yet it made me happy that women there don’t have a choice. Yes this is one area where I’m anti-choice.” In addition, because the veil is required in Saudi Arabia, it’s not too surprising that some of Al Nafjan’s friends support the French veil ban. If a government were to force its citizens to eat burgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it wouldn’t be surprising if those citizens were to support burger bans elsewhere.

Eltahawy momentarily expresses unease with the “racist political right wing” but then concludes with making her position clear that “The French were right to ban the veil in public.” With this unequivocal statement, Eltahawy entrusts Islam’s interpretation and Muslim women’s right to choose to a state in top-down fashion instead of bringing about change on the grassroots level. Not any government, but one that has had a long racist, colonial history. This is not shocking coming from someone who brandishes her normalization with “Israel” on her website: “Ms Eltahawy was the first Egyptian journalist to live and to work for a western news agency in Israel.” Ms. Eltahawy, if you cannot support the fight against sexism and Islamophobia, then please Ikhrasi!

Contributed by Qasim


1) Emphasis within quotes added.

2) The term “Islamophobia” was employed in this article due its common usage. However, “anti-Islamic racism” or “anti-Islamic prejudice” are more accurate because they imply active, deliberate agency while “phobia” conveys helplessness and lack of deliberate intention (since phobia is a syndrome that occurs involuntarily).

Support the Irvine 11!

We support the Irvine 11 for throwing shoes (metaphorically) at Zionist ambassador Michael Oren. See the statement condemning disciplinary action against them and the recommendation to suspend the UC-Irvine Muslim Student Union. Go Field Muslims!

Ray Hanania and The ADC: TAKE 2

Recently, we at IKHRAS congratuled Ray Hanania on his appointment to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s (ADC) National Board, and came out in support of the ADC’s decision to confirm him.  We also stated why we support his appointment and provided a list of compatibility factors as complete and thorough as MATCH.COM.  In response we received a note from Hanania which stated the following:

“The biggest problem in the Arab World and the American Arab community is the lack of tolerance for differing opinions. There is no debate about the issues, it is always about personality. You don’t like my view, you attack me. That attitude and culture of intolerance has helped to weaken the ability of Palestinians to fight for their rights.”

Thanks for commenting
Ray Hanania

Of course our first article did indeed address the issues; in fact we numbered them, and pointed out that Hanania’s positions are very compatible with the ADC, thus, our approval of the marriage. Since we left Hanania unsatisfied we decided to take an even closer look, and,  in doing so, reaffirmed his views are worthy not of debate, but of rebuke. We think IKHRAS readers will agree.

For those who don’t know Hanania, he is a journalist and comedian, and it’s not always certain which role he is playing at any given moment.  He has a regular column in the Jerusalem Post, the right-wing Zionist rag which also regularly features Daniel Pipes’ hateful rants, their pictures often appearing together in the Op-Eds section as they are now.  As we will see Hanania has been well on his way to “normalization”, not only with Zionism, but with its most extreme elements.  His stand-up comedy routines which I forced myself to watch (a difficult, and at moments, even nauseating task) were very unfunny.  The choice of subject matter for his material (airplanes, terrorism, profiling and humous) was as predictable as his telegraphed punch lines, and when combined with his terrible timing makes for very lame performances.  I rewarded myself for my endurance and recuperated with a couple of performances by Duraid Laham and George Carlin who reminded me just how funny, insightful and provocative political satire and stand-up comedy can be.

Hanania’s choice of topics for his presumably more serious commentaries is also limited.  Naturally, the Arab-Zionist conflict tops the list, but after reading his collection in the Jerusalem Post what we found was largely endless blathering about a distinctly mainstream American (authorized) version of the conflict in Palestine.  Before we get to Palestine for which there is an abundance of material, we did find a couple of interesting and very telling articles about other parts of the Arab world worth mentioning.

The Comedy Tour Goes To DARFUR

Let us begin with a small detour to Darfur before addressing Hanania’s favorite topic.  In Darfur, Sudan, a humanitarian disaster precipitated by a civil war overlapped with foreign greed, meddling and interests, and was then seized upon and exploited in a campaign of demonization against Arabs.  Interestingly, the same Khartoum regime singled out for vilification was described by Western governments and media as “Muslim” when it was locked in a civil war in Southern Sudan, but given that Darfur is inhabited by Muslims it was necessary to redefine the regime as Arab, a change unnoticed by Hanania who chimed in on Sudan in this article.  Clearly lacking any basic knowledge of Sudan or the reality on the ground in Darfur, Hanania adopts the narrative and propaganda of the well-funded, star-studded “Save Darfur Coalition”, and   lectures the “racist” Arabs saying “The first people who should be standing up to tell the Sudanese government to stop oppressing innocent people and to disband the Janjaweed are the Arabs, Muslims, and especially the Palestinians.”  Hanania also repeats the old epithet about the crazy Arabs and their crazy conspiracy theories.  He accuses Sudan of blaming it “all on the Jews” and offers a single short quote for a Sudanese official for which he did not give a clear citation, and then builds on it by stating “Sudan’s response sits well with many who would love to distract attention from the atrocities by claiming the negative publicity is being generated by a Jewish conspiracy.”  Arab analysts and observers have rightly pointed out pro-Israel lobbying groups made Darfur one of the main targets of their “moral outrage”, a deeply cynical and blatant hypocrisy difficult to ignore given the non-stop violence of Israel in the service of a racist ideology and system.  This has to make us wonder what Hanania could contribute to the heretofore failed efforts of the ADC at combating negative Arab stereotypes.

In this same article Hanania appears not to speak Arabic very well, if at all.  In a sweeping generalization about Arab racism, he writes “there is a cultural hesitancy over Darfur driven by racism; the victims, who are mostly Muslim, are “Abeds– the Arabic word for “slave,” which, when used in this context, is equivalent to “nigger” in English.”   Hanania is correct the word “Abd” in Arabic does literally mean slave and it is the Arabic equivalent of the English “nigger”, which sounds as ugly in Arabic as it does in English.  However, Arabic, being the Semitic language that it is, does not ad the English letter “s” at the end of a word to form the plural form of the noun.  The plural of Abd” would be “Abeed”, and the English equivalent of Hanania’s “Abeds” would be “fishes” or “mouses.”  It would be really interesting to know if Hanania speaks Arabic.  Given his position on Palestine, which we will shortly look at, it appears he has never understood one single written or spoken word by any Palestinian refugee or resistance fighter.  He has used the word “Insha allah” and referred totabouleh, felafel and humous”, Arabic gems which when employed (and for some reason they appear as a set) usually indicate the Arab-American speaker or writer has immediately exhausted his Arabic vocabulary.  James Zogby also enjoys the Levantine, Arab salad dish and mentioned “taawbooleee” in the course of expressing his pride in his Arab heritage during a recent congressional hearing on, what else, terrorism.

“Moderate Saudi Leadership”?  Bad Satire or Bad Taste?

Unlike us here at IKHRAS, there is atleast one Arab government Hanania is willing to defend.  He apparently admires and supports the Saudi regime which, not coincidentally, happens to be the US-designated representative of the Arab people and Muslims worldwide, and a pliant conduit for American power.  This oppressive, medieval, reactionary tyranny, whose cruelties and obscurantism find no sanction in Islamic Jurisprudence or tradition, which was brought to power in the Arabian peninsula by Western colonialism, and undergirded by American power,  is described by Hanania as “one of our strongest allies” in the “war on terror” and “the war on oil prices” and he has promoted something called “moderate Saudi Arab leadership…” What exactly is “moderate” about any aspect of the Saudi regime?  Can Saudi moderation be defined as 50 lashes for lovers instead of a 100?  Or maybe six heads decapitated by sword in chop-chop square instead of a dozen?  Or could it be that the moderate Saudis have passed a law mandating a 5-year phased in reduction of the diameter of any cable used to “legally” whip women?   Is there any moderation in their treatment of Shia Muslims? And how moderate is their exploitation and abuse of foreign workers and maids who labor under conditions often, and fairly, described as a modern form of slavery?  The only element required for the designation of “Moderate Arab” by the US foreign policy establishment (and Hanania’s Pavlovian adoption of the term) is that all so critical moderation towards the Zionist regime in Palestine and American imperialism and domination in the region.  That anyone would characterize the Saudi regime as “moderate” is unsettling, and when such a characterization comes from a hypocrite feigning concern about an “attitude and culture of intolerance”, the irony should be obvious even to one with his poor satirical skills. This admiration for that Saudi beacon of tolerance and pluralism will be of great benefit to Hanania at the ADC which has always enjoyed coddling ambassadors of Pro-US tyrannies, semi-literate Arab royalty and oil-Sheikhs at their banquets or galas, and I confess I don’t know the difference.  

Campaign Platforms and More Poor Comedy

Hanania has quite a bit to say about the 100-year war on Palestine.  After forcing myself to read Ray’s views on Palestine I would characterize them as mainstream Likudnick, falling somewhere between Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu on the Zionist political spectrum.  You be the judge.

When discussing Zionism’s century of butchery, ethnic cleansing, and colonialism in Palestine, Hanania likes to “blame both sides” as if there is any moral equivalence between the violence of the colonizer and the resistance to colonialism.  He thinks this makes him sound reasonable and even-handed.  This moral equivalence canard and constant criticism of both sides (very mild when it comes to Israel) appears to be a regular theme in his writings, and an approach seemingly intended to be suggestive of his rational, realistic, and tolerant outlook, in contrast with the emotions, hate, and irrationality of the stereotypical Arab from which he is determined to distance himself.

He also appears to believe marrying a Jewish woman (something he often mentions in his writings and “comedy” routines) qualifies him to lecture Arabs about tolerance, co-existence, and mutual respect.  “My wife and I argue”, he says, “but we don’t yell and scream.” How wonderful it must feel basking in your own civility in Mid-West America.  I suppose it’s not too hard to do when you’re not locked up under siege in the open-air prison Gaza has become, or haven’t been living in a squalid refugee camp for decades.  It must be easier to maintain your civility when you’re leisurely lying around safe and secure in your living room celebrating holidays with your family without fear of soldiers coming to bulldoze your home, or having white phosphorous dropped on your children and neighborhood.  Yes I’m sure that makes it much easier to maintain a cool temperament and casually write about your dinner preparations at a time when the Israeli occupation army counts the calories (much the same as Veterinarians might do for animals at a zoo) entering the besieged Gaza strip.   In this same article the Arab-American comedian again mentions “Humous” and “Falafel” and even throws in “Insha’allah” at the end.  What did I say?

Hanania’s failure in pursuing a stand-up comedy career, which he will be trying to revive when he takes his seat on the ADC National Board, did not deter him one bit.  He continued his attempts at humor by announcing his candidacy for President of Palestine!  No where are his reprehensible views better illustrated than in his campaign “platform.”   Launching his campaign for President of Palestine (which may have upset Saeb Erakat, a comedian in his own right) he says:   “I think what Palestine and Israel need is a candidate who is unequivocal on a vision for peace. So here’s my platform. I support two states, one Israel and one Palestine. As far as I am concerned, I can recognize Israel’s “Jewish” character and Israelis should recognize Palestine’s “non-Jewish” character. I oppose violence of any kind from and by anyone. I reject Hamas’s participation in any Palestinian government without first agreeing to surrender all arms and to accept two states as a “final” peace agreement…Palestinian refugees would give up their demand to return to pre-1948 homes and lands lost during the conflict with Israel…I ALSO think Israelis should find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies to Palestinians for the conflict. I support creation of a similar fund to compensate those Jews from Arab lands who lost their homes and lands, too, when they fled…It’s my vision, but I also think it is a vision shared by a majority of Palestinians…

Hanania’s vision for a solution is identical to what Sharon, Netanyahu, and the other ideological descendants of Vladimir Jabotinsky hope the Palestinians will accept.  He politely calls on the Zionist colonizers to “find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies” in exchange for which the Palestinians would abandon their right of return and accept and legitimize a permanent existence in three or four Bantustans under Israeli domination and control which they will generously be permitted to refer to as a state.  Wasn’t it Sharon who said they can even call it an empire?  He calls on the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas, which like Israeli propagandists he routinely refers to as a “terrorist” group, to “surrender all arms.”  Hanania  has even claimedmost Palestinians… fear the violent threats from groups like Hamas and other extremists (who would just as soon murder another Palestinian as they would any Jew)”, and that Israel was “provoked” in 1967.  Forget the stupidity about provoking Israel in 1967, but notice the preposterous notion of separating a broad based Palestinian resistance group, and the largest democratically elected political party from the Palestinian people themselves, and the disgraceful conflating of resistance to Israeli occupation with violent anti-Semitism. Condemning Palestinian resistance to the colonization and occupation of their homeland, and attacking their demand of the right of return, the very definition of the Palestinian liberation movement (which began in 1948, not 1967) is a constant element in Hanania’s political ramblings.  In the same article, Hanania again calls on the Palestinians to “accept their own failures” and abandon the “unrealistic” demand of their inalienable right of return which the  Palestinian’s stubborn insistence upon seems to annoy our comedian as much as it does their Israeli occupiers.  He even throws in a favored Zionist distracter by shamelessly invoking the false analogy between the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the emigration of Jews from the Arab world.

Hanania’s “platform” (which if not for the Palestinian’s daily suffering and continuing Nakba would have been the  stand-up comic’s best chance of getting a chuckle out of me) accepts the legitimacy and permanence of the Zionist entity in Palestine, and its manifestation in a Jewish, exclusivist state at time when Zionists themselves are recognizing the inevitable collapse of their project.  What is truly astounding is that Hanania, with his crackpot realism, really believes those of us who reject Zionism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and occupation, are the “extremists.”  The apparent sincerity of a Palestinian-American’s belief  (even one driven by self-interest) in this skewed definition of extremism is a testament to just how completely and overwhelmingly the fictional, Pro-Israel narrative has come to dominate any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the US.

When he’s not attacking Palestinians and ostensibly criticizing an openly fascistic thug like Avigdor Lieberman, he does so not for the morally repugnant views and genocidal utterances other Israelis restrict to less public forums, but because “his ideas fall right into the hands of Palestinian extremists.” And just a few weeks ago when Israel, in a barbarous act of piracy, attacked the Freedom Flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza in the International waters of the Mediterranean sea, Hanania once again pulled out the blame both sides formula and wrote “Both sides are at fault in this confrontation…” He described the humanitarian activists including the nine brave Turks slaughtered on the high seas as being “against peace…”  He blamed them for choosing confrontation instead of negotiation and dismissed their efforts to help the besieged people of Gaza as a “dramatic PR drive.”  It wasn’t Israel, but the organizers of the flotilla that “brought more death and violence.” Ignoring the fact the Turkish peace activists were killed defending the Mavi Marmara ship from a military assault, Hanania viewed the incident as another opportunity to refer to Palestinian resistance groups as “terrorists” and managed to insert something about the killing of “innocent Israeli civilians” without offering a single kind word of condolence to the families of the murdered peace activists.

And if you’re not yet sickened by this Hanania character, he has even called on Palestinians to stop using the word Nakba and to replace it with something, get this, “less offensive” to their occupier.  He also criticizes the use of the word “apartheid” to describe the racist Zionist regime, and blames the Palestinian Arabs in occupied Palestine-48 for Israel’s discriminatory practices in that region of their homeland sayingA big part of the problem is the Arab citizens themselves. They don’t help matters much. Arabs claim to want to be citizens, but they act like foreigners.”  On the contrary Ray, the Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous population of Palestine never asked to be Israeli citizens.  Their second-class Israeli citizenship was imposed upon them, and they hardly act like foreigners. They live steadfastly on this land with the self-assurance that comes with being the original and  true owners of Palestine exuding courage, dignity and the silent confidence that this homeland will be liberated making the occupiers and colonizers feel like the insecure, foreign land-thieves they are.

Hanania’s positions are not simply foolish and naive, but also unconscionable.  They are detached from the Palestinian reality and struggle for liberation, and clearly tailored for an American audience within the context of the Zionist narrative that dominates any discussion of Palestine in this country.  This is typical of many Arab-American commentators seeking acceptance and approval from the establishment, but Hanania has gone further than most with his efforts to undermine the Palestinians people’s struggle for freedom.   His readiness to accept the permanence of a racist, colonial project and calls for abandoning the right of return constitute an abandonment of any legal consideration and represent a moral failure, not to mention a lack of pragmatism.  His attacks on Palestinian resistance groups and International solidarity activists are shameless. The reader also detects a strong anti-Muslim streak and a sectarianism in his writings alien to Palestinian society.  Hanania is entitled to his barely distinguishable political views and comedy routines, but he needs to be reminded the Palestinian people are not interested in his American inspired, Zionist approved formula for a “solution”, and the dispossessed Palestinian refugees did not authorize this journalist/comedian to make concessions on their behalf from the comfort of his American living-room nor do they need to be lectured about realism and civility.  We can go on, but we won’t.  We have seen enough.

Hanania accused us of not debating the issues and having a “lack of tolerance.” Maybe he’s right.  At some point it becomes useless to debate certain people and views.  Hanania falls into this group.  We have no tolerance for Zionism and its apologists regardless of their personal background.  The views he expresses are contemptible, and giving them any serious consideration would be a disservice to the Palestinian people.

Hanania’s comedic bankruptcy, vapid writings, and his stance on the struggle for Palestinian freedom and justice confirms, as we said in our first piece, his suitability for a position with the ADC.  As he prepares to take the stage on the National Board with the other jokesters of that lousy and failed organization we wish him better success in this second chance at a career in comedy.  We usually ask such people to IKHRAS, but we won’t ask Ray to do so.  We are looking forward to his gig at the ADC, and we’re still hopeful he may yet get a laugh out of us.

By: Thabit

Muslims, stars and stripes

If you’re going to get punched in the face, at least let it be for your opposing empire, not celebrating it: Southern Calif. Muslim Called ‘Raghead,’ Assaulted by July 4th Revelers

Hanania on extremism

Chicago-based comedian Ray Hanania criticizes Israel for  “provoking extremism in the Arab world”, calls Ramallah-based PA  “legitimate.”  Wants Abbas to ignore the “emotion-driven Palestinian public”, and instead  “hire a high powered public relations firm…”, and “do a 10-city tour of the US” as a strategy for Palestinian liberation.

20 YEARS LOST IN A SINGLE TWEET: CNN Fires Octavia Nasr, a well deserved humiliating exit from the network

So what happens to an Arab journalist who carefully toed the line for twenty years, but commits one small infraction?  She gets fired.  Twenty years of loyal service to the corporate-media and the political class it represents did not prevent CNN from sacking Octavia Nasr, the network’s token Arab, and Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs.   Her career-ending tweet expressed her sadness over the passing of Lebanese Shia cleric Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah, who is wrongly described as the “spiritual adviser” of Hizballah, the Lebanese civilian militia the US government designated as a terrorist group.  Fadlallah did support the right of the Lebanese people to resist Israeli occupation, and is among the most socially progressive religious leaders in the Arab world, certainly more progressive than the US-Supported Bin-Baz establishment in “Saudi” Arabia.  Fadlallah lived until this week because the CIA failed to kill him in a car bombing in 1985 which did succeed in killing 80 innocent Lebanese civilians.

Those of us who followed Nasr’s career at CNN were a little surprised by her misbehavior.  After twenty years honing her skills at the network she understood what was expected of her.  She had a demonstrated ability of knowing what to say, and more importantly, what NOT to say. She clearly was not anticipating the backlash when she sat at her computer (or picked up her Blackberry) for that career-ending tweet.  The speed with which CNN moved to fire her shows just how restrictive and uniform the corporate dominated “free press” has become.  The unofficial propaganda arm of the US government has no tolerance for the mere suggestion of alternative sentiments or viewpoints.  Even a short tweet expressing an unauthorized feeling of sadness over the death of a cleric in Lebanon by someone who spent two decades carefully following the script is enough to land that person a spot among the shunned miscreants.  Nasr tried to backtrack but it was too late.  The decision to fire her was taken before she sat down to explain her aberrant behavior.

Nasr deserves all the humiliation she must be feeling at this point.  Her firing should be a lesson to all those Arabs and Muslims in this country who are busy garnering mainstream media acceptance.  We know Arabs and Muslims are not judged on their journalistic skills or integrity.  They are hired based on their willingness and ability to strictly follow rigid narratives on any given topic, especially on issues relating to the Middle East.  In Nasr’s case she was the token Arab offering native expertise on Middle East events, and more importantly, native legitimacy for the official narrative.  Not once did Nasr dare defend the legally and morally sanctioned Lebanese resistance to the recurring Israeli onslaughts on innocent civilians and occupation of her native Lebanon.  She knew what was permissible, and expressing such views would have earned her a much earlier exit from CNN.  Not once before her unfortunate (from her perspective) tweet did she deviate from the storyline on any topic or current event.  In fairness to Nasr, this may not have been too hard to do.  She began her career in Lebanon at the LBC network of the right-wing, Christian fascist groups like the Phalange and Lebanese Forces.  This fringe element within Lebanon has always been sympathetic to Zionism and Western meddling in the region.

Nasr’s humiliating exit from CNN should be a lesson to all aspiring journalists pursuing careers in US corporate media outlets, especially those from suspect groups who carry around the extra burden of demonstrating they’re one of “the good ones.”   Nasr adopted her views and chose her words carefully.  Even her occasional mild criticism of US foreign policy was carefully couched within the finely delineated limits of permissible opposition.  The basic assumptions were never to be challenged.  Nasr knew that, I’m sure, but what she may not have known is that she was always only a single transgression away from being castigated and cast out.  Twenty years of sacrificing journalistic credibility in the interest of personal advancement and promotion did not earn her the benefit of the doubt on a single tweet.  Didn’t she just witness what happened to Helen Thomas?  What was she thinking?

What’s the matter?

How come there have been no fireworks sales on ADC’s website this July 4th?