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Public funeral for victims of the infamous Qana massacre in South Lebanon, April, 1996. Shimon Peres ordered the attack on…

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

Notes:

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?

Ray Hanania and ADC: A Combination as Perfect as Chocolate and Peanut Butter

I respectfully differ with Programmer Buydatti over at Kabobfest for calling to remove Ray Hanania from the ADC’s national board. Hanania is actually at home with ADC (or should we say “at house”?) No shock or disappointment on my part. Hanania and ADC make unauthorized concessions on behalf of the Palestinian people. They both operate within the framework of the US empire and accommodate it instead of opposing it. They both lower the bar on Arab rights. They both undermine the political standing of our people in the US and in the Arab world. They both subscribe to self-defeating, compromising positions. The fundamentals of their politics overlap. Any differences are negligible nuances no more significant than preferences of condiments on the same dish. Here are a few examples:

1) Both Hanania and ADC support the so-called two-state solution for the occupation of Palestine

The two-state solution is immoral and unjust. Nobody has the right to concede Arab property stolen in 1948 to Zionists. The Palestinians who have been waiting for over 60 years to return to their homes did not authorize Hanania or ADC to impute legitimacy to “Israel.” The fact that over 60 years have passed since the Nakba does not diminish Palestinians’ claim. All colonialisms will end no matter how long they seem to last. Just ask India, Congo and Algeria.

Hanania supports the two-state solution.

“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.”

While ADC has sporadically hosted speakers who raised suspicion about the viability of a two-state solution, such as Mustafa Barghouti, ADC has far more frequently demonstrated support for the two-state solution. For example:

ADC’s ex-president, Ziad Asali, has stated:

“The two- state solution addresses the legitimate fundamental fears of both people and cannot be abandoned because violent men, on either side, are allowed to exercise their veto power by unleashing their deadly wares.”

The ADC also hosted Greg Khalil: “Mr. Khalil worked on a variety of issues–including Israel’s construction of a barrier in the West Bank and Israel’s unilateral evacuation of its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005–that might impact prospects for peace and a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

ADC reprinted a Washington Post editorial by Mahmoud Abbas in which he wrote: “poll after poll shows that a majority of the Palestinian people wants a negotiated two-state solution to our conflict with Israel”

ADC published Yousef Munayyer’s paper, which advocates for the two-state solution:

“7. The United States should work diligently for the recognition by a unified Palestinian partner and Israeli government of a two-state solution as it is the foundation for any successful peace negotiations.”

2) Both Hanania and ADC support J Street

Buydatti rightfully criticizes Ray Hanania for “[expressing] admiration for J Street, an Israeli lobbyist group.” But ADC admires J Street, too! Hanania supports J Street in writing but ADC went a step further and hosted J Street’s founder as a speaker at its 2009 convention:

“J Street Director Jeremy Ben-Ami Confirmed to Speak on Israeli/Palestinian Conflict at ADC Convention …  Jeremy Ben-Ami, is the Executive Director of J Street, a pro-Israel and pro-Peace lobby in Washington, DC.”

That is the same Jeremy Ben Ami who states “I am a Zionist personally. I am deeply committed to a Jewish home, to a democratic home, to a Jewish Israel. I’m deeply committed to that and you know my family background … we are unabashedly for a Jewish home in the land of Israel, that there should be a Jewish home that is a democracy, that has a Jewish character and a Jewish flavor and where the law of return is a fact.”

It is perplexing why an Arab civil rights organization would host a speaker who “unabashedly” subscribes to a racist ideology that, by definition, involves ethnic cleansing and expulsion of indigenous Palestinians and theft of their land, resources and culture. Kabobfest is right to call Hanania out for admiring J Street but why let ADC off the hook for doing the same thing?

3) Both Hanania and ADC condone “Saudi” meddling in Arab affairs

“Saudi” Arabia’s crimes against Field Arabs are too numerous to list. It has provided military bases from which the US raided Iraq; supported Salafi sectarianism globally; offered concessions to “Israel”; continued to pump oil to the US in spite of nearly a decade of occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq; and discriminated against its own Shiite minority, to mention a few examples. It is by no means a friend to occupied peoples. None of that has stopped Hanania or ADC from forming alliances with the House of Saud.

Hanania believes there is such thing as “moderate Saudi Arab leadership” No wonder they call him a comedian.

In a Huffington Post article titled “President Obama Did Not Bow Far Enough,” Hanania also defends Saudi Arabia in the context of King Abdullah’s meeting with Obama in 2009. “Saudi Arabia has also been a strong ally in the war on oil prices, holding down prices to help American consumers who have guzzled gasoline at outrageously cheap prices for generations”

Once again, ADC supports in deeds what Hanania supports only in words. The ADC hosted a high-profile Saudi prince, Al-Walid Bin Talal, as keynote speaker at its 2009 convention:

“at the Anniversary Gala the keynote speaker was Prince Al Walid bin Talal Al Saud, recipient of ADC’s Global Achievement Award”. ADC actually has a heritage center named after him. Heritage of what? Heritage of Arabs in the House?

4) Both Hanania and ADC support perpetrators of imperialist aggression

The US was founded on genocide of Indian tribes, slavery of African peoples and land theft. From inception to the present day, the US has raided and robbed innocent peoples and overthrown democratically elected governments from Hawaii to the Philippines, Vietnam, Panama, Haiti, Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s no more consistent to oppose the war while supporting the troops than it is to oppose a rape while supporting the rapist.

So why would Arabs, who as a people have more or less been on the receiving end of US aggression, support US troops? A look at civil rights history may give us some insight. M. S. Handler wrote in June 1965 about his meeting with Malcolm X. He wrote that Malcolm “repeatedly cautioned me to beware of Negro affirmations of good will toward the white man. He said that the Negro had been trained to dissemble and conceal his real thoughts, as a matter of survival. He argued that the Negro only tells the white man what he believes the white man wishes to hear, and that the art of dissembling reached a point where even Negroes cannot truthfully say they understand what their fellow Negroes believe.” The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999, xxvii, emphasis added.

Both ADC and Hanania dismiss atrocities committed by US troops in order to state such blindly loyal assurances. It would have been bad enough to ignore the history of US crimes towards other peoples. But it’s particularly puzzling of ADC to support US troops at the same time those troops are occupying Iraq, a majority Arab country last time we checked.

Hanania “served with the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and in the Illinois Air National Guard.” I was unable to find evidence of Hanania renouncing his role and apologizing to the Vietnamese people, who never did the US any harm. It was a war that led MLK Jr. to call his country the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Hanania’s service is proudly displayed on his website.

So there is abundant proof that Hanania reflects, not contradicts, ADC’s values. That the ADC invited him to join the board should come as no surprise, especially since they already enjoyed a warm relationship having identified common themes. “Hanania also served in many roles with the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which awarded him a Media Freedom Award in 1988 and again in 1993, including recently as a media advisor to the Chicago ADC board.”

I say to Hanania and ADC: Congratulations on embracing each other and IKHRASOO. For our non-Arabic-speaking readers, Ikhras means shut up in Arabic. The double O is for addressing the plural.

No House Arabs were harmed during the research and writing of this piece.

-Qasim

Let’s Meet David “Go GOP” Ramadan: An IKHRAS Political Profile

 

A smiling David poses proudly with the murderer of the Iraqi people

You in all likelihood never heard of this ordinary, uninspiring, run of the mill house Arab, but he’s been speaking in our name for a while now, and we think it’s time for him to IKHRAS. So allow us to introduce you to David Ramadan, a name not unlike Mustafa Rothschild, but house Arabs have a habit of substituting their Arabic name with a more English-sounding one, an exchange they consider an integral part of their assimilation process.  Anyway, David Ramadan, who is very patriotic as you can see from his blog and never leaves home without an American flag on his lapel, wrote this article, “Why I Support McCain”, at the height of the Presidential campaign back in September of 2008.   In this piece David introduces himself as a member of the Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention and also vice-chairman of the party’s outreach work to the Arab and Muslim communities in Virginia.   In other words, we are immediately informed that David, a Republican in the era of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz will either be completely unknown to the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims or, when noticed, become a natural target of their contempt and ridicule.  It’s virtually impossible for David not to know where he stands within these communities, but for someone who sought the participation on the Virginia Republican delegation to the Republican convention, he probably doesn’t care.   These “political activists” view   the Arab or Muslim label as a gateway into American mainstream politics providing them an opportunity to participate in activities such as this once-every-four-years, meaningless American festival.  It should come as no surprise to anyone the one Arab-American who approves of David’s politics and activities is none other than James Zogby, who plays a similar role as his counterpart in the Democratic Party.  Around the same time David scribbled his unoriginal and vapid little piece, the website of Uncle Zogby’s one-man outfit featured David in an article hilariously titled “Arab-Americans on the move,” which for Mr. Ramadan appears to be a challenge both literally and metaphorically.

In discussing his background Ramadan says “I grew up recognizing the civic duty of every member of the community to be involved in politics.”  This is not true.  Ramadan according to his own website emigrated from Lebanon in 1989 where the state and civil society hardly existed during a civil war which would not end until a year later.  The savage Lebanese civil war that raged from 1975-1990, when David came of age, did not provide an environment conducive for learning about civic duty and political activism, but it’s something he thinks sounds enlightened.

Republican Politician: "Get a picture of me with Abdoolaah" David: "My name is David Ramadan Sir" Republican Politician: "Whatever"

Ramadan says his job is “educating the public about the Republican Party and also educating the Republican Party on the Arab-American and Muslim community on what we need from candidates in order to support them.”  Yes David, the Arabs and Muslims in this country really did not know what John McCain and the Republican Party stand for until you came along to explain it to them.   And can you let us know what it is you told the Republicans we “need” from them in order to support them?  And what did you actually get as far as substantive policy assurances that lead you to conclude you should support McCain and contribute almost $10,000 to his campaign? Since immigrating to the US, David has proudly supported every Republican candidate for President  including the  first war criminal named Bush to launch a war on Iraq  (who was also Vice-President in 1982 when the Marlboro man’s administration “green-lighted” and supported Israel’s summer invasion of Lebanon which lead to the killing of over 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese.  David was still there at the time)  as well as the second son of a Bush who,  following in his father’s footsteps launched an even bloodier  war on Iraq,  and was complicit in Israel’s latest barbaric onslaught on David’s native Lebanon in 2006.

Given his past behavior and personal ambitions it was only natural for this despicable Arab to support a war criminal like John McCain who made his “service” during the US war on Vietnam a defining feature of his campaign and character.  This so called American “hero” flew over 20 combat missions during operation “Rolling Thunder”, the “shock and awe” of Vietnam which killed a million Vietnamese civilians, before he was shot down and captured by the Vietnamese resistance which, incidentally, treated his wounds the same way Iraqis treated Jessica Lynch.   McCain has even referred to his Vietnamese victims as “gooks” and has unsurprisingly shown the same callous indifference to the death of Iraqis.  On several occasions during the campaign season McCain “visited” occupied Iraq and turned sites which just a few days earlier were scenes of bombings, bloodshed, and corpses into backdrops for campaign stops.   Yet all this did not bother Ramadan who set out to convince the Arab community McCain (and his kooky, Pro-Zionist, airhead running mate) were worthy of their support and vote on election day.  “Every vote counts” parrots David in the article published on Uncle Zogby’s website, and then shockingly adds “we have a social and cultural duty to our ancestry to vote.”  No we don’t you poorly performed parody.  In fact, we have a moral duty to NOT vote for war criminals that launch wars on the Arab world.   We have a duty to our ancestry and the friends and families we left behind, and to any other people who fall victim to the US industrial war machine to atleast Ikhras if we can’t stop the bombs from being dropped on their homes and loved ones.  We can only imagine the reaction of the families of the dead Iraqis and Lebanese had they heard such a reprehensible statement coming from someone claiming to be looking out for their interest half way across the world in America, but we can console ourselves with the fact they never heard of this character with his patriotic talking points driveling down without any consideration or respect for the lost lives of their innocent loved ones.

In a very sinister piece of political advice Mr. Ramadan tells Arabs and Muslims “we need to separate our ties to the homeland and foreign policy from local policies.”  When translated this means they should ignore the wars waged by the Republicans on Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan and support them anyway “because they are conservatives.”   Let’s ignore David’s stereotypical assumption all Arabs or Muslims are conservative. Yes this is the same person I quoted above as saying “we have a social and cultural duty to our ancestry to vote.”  If you’re a little confused by now, let me explain.  David believes we have a duty to our ancestry to vote, and this duty to vote is best fulfilled by voting for Republican candidates even if they are waging war on our living family and friends in the Arab world today.   Rational people, especially those with the misfortune to live in a country and belong to a group potentially targeted by those David wants us to support, would (although I concede their bias and vested interest) vehemently disagree with this baffling line of reasoning.  My ancestors are dead, and my living family and friends in the Arab world would not want me to vote for someone who may drop bombs on their cities and villages and burn their children’s flesh with white phosphorous, but I’m sure they would appreciate me marching along side other American citizens of all backgrounds in opposition to immoral wars which may prematurely lead them to join my ancestors.

Describing his thuggish candidate in glowing terms Ramadan said McCain “supports the US finishing the trouble that George Bush got the US into in Iraq.  The US should withdraw its troops from Iraq but first they need to get the job done and that job is to secure America’s interests and secure democracy in a solid Iraq.”  Trouble?   And what sort of trouble did the US get into, David?  This sounds like 200 thousand American soldiers and mercenaries involuntarily stumbled into Iraq, and, in the process of their unfortunate mishap, accidentally destroyed an entire country.  Is “trouble” an appropriate word to describe the invasion of an innocent country leading to over a million dead and over four million displaced Iraqis? And if so, how would you suggest the Iraqis describe their own plight brought about by America’s trouble? Is that what you consider “outreach” to Arabs and Muslims in the US?  Is that how you “educate” them about the Republican Party?  All we have to do is pick up the NY Times or switch our TV to CNN to read or listen to this gibberish so don’t waste your time and please spare us the clichés about “getting the job done” or “securing democracy”.  It’s insulting enough listening to it from those who wrote the talking points for you.

David also says “As an Arab, I am very worried about what would happen in Iraq if US troops withdrew today. I would anticipate genocide and civil war in Iraq if that happens.” If you were truly worried, “as an Arab”, or an American, or whoever you are spoofing at the moment, you would not have supported any war on Iraq and you would today call for the immediate withdrawal of the US occupation.  And your anticipation of “genocide” and “civil war” shows that you, in addition to the slogans and catchphrases, have adopted the white man’s burden and its accompanying paternalistic notion that Iraqis need the US to keep them from slaughtering each other.  I have news for you David:  Iraq has never seen civil strife until the Republican president you supported along with his minions and the Pro-Zionist forces decided to invade the country, dismantle its institutions, and actively stir civil strife.  As for the Genocide, that started long ago with the first Bush you supported and the US imposed sanctions and routine bombings which lasted over a decade (presided over for eight years by the Democratic Administration of Bill Clinton which the same Uncle Zogby who provided you with his imprimatur, was defending much the same way you defend the Bush’s) killing one million Iraqis prior to the 2003 invasion including five thousand children under five each month.

After explaining why Arabs and Muslims should support McCain and not Obama, David confirmed, as if we needed any confirmation, he is not seriously interested in appealing to Arabs and Muslims in this country by saying “Obama is not good for the Arab world, just as he is not good for Israel.”  Is this really an issue for our community?  Since when does anyone in our community care about what’s good for Israel?  And why should anyone care about the usurping Zionist entity?  David says this because he realizes appearing to be anti-Israel in this country will be an obstacle to participating in mainstream politics and becoming a member of the Virginia Republican Delegation, but he will never admit it, just as he will never admit his views render him an outcast in his native Lebanon, the Arab world, and among all people of conscience.

Besides proving his willingness to spit on the graves of millions of murdered Vietnamese and Arabs, David Ramadan, in just two short and silly articles, manages to discuss his Middle-School level understanding of US government, declare his devotion to Republican “values”, demonstrate his support for all of America’s wars, express his concern for the Zionist state, and demonstrate an ability to regurgitate American clichés and slogans.  Good Job David or whatever your real name is.  Now please IKHRAS!

Contributed by Thabit.

Incurable Subservience

While the Zionist lobby grants approval and disapproval of US politicians based on their respective stances towards “Israel,” the yardstick for ADC’s assessment of US politicians is anything but US policy towards Arabs suffering under imperialism.

We were initially pleasantly surprised to see no war criminals listed as guests at ADC’s convention this year. In the past it had hosted Colin Powell, for example, a few months after he presented false evidence of WMD in Iraq to the UN in 2003, and Bill Clinton, who starved and bombed Iraq for eight years and enabled the expansion of Zionist land theft. Having invited Ralph Nader, we thought perhaps ADC had decided to consider the plight of Field Arabs.

Turned out it was too good to be true. Jennifer Loewenstein, Faculty Associate of Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote recently in Counterpunch (emphasis ours):

“Halfway through his speech, Nader [keynote speaker at the ADC] noted that President Obama had been the original choice of the ADC as the keynote speaker. When I asked Dr. Safa Rifka, Chairman of the ADC’s Board of Directors, if he would verify that President Obama had been invited to address the audience that evening, Rifka responded in undisguised contempt, “Absolutely; and you can mention my name as well.” He said he himself had sent the invitation and that the White House hadn’t even bothered to reply.”

ADC obviously felt comfortable enough with Obama’s abhorrent policies to invite him. For some mysterious reason, Obama’s Cairo speech must have somehow whitewashed Obama’s crimes both abroad and domestically. If Obama’s Cairo speech was intended as propaganda, it certainly worked on the ADC. As Malcolm X told us, the whip isn’t the only tool that the slavemaster uses to subjugate the slave. The slavemaster clothes, shelters and feeds the slave. Those slaves who live in the house get impressed and feel grateful. ADC’s “undisguised contempt” surfaced only when it was given the (predictable and somewhat deserved) cold shoulder. Had Obama accepted, ADC would have received him with the same red carpet that met Clinton and Powell before him.

The ADC’s “undisguised contempt,” we hope, was not accompanied with surprise. One could say Bush tried harder than Obama to win over Muslims. Obama, after all, has had the burden of disproving he is a Muslim. On the other hand, nothing prohibited Bush from making mosque visits, dancing with Saudi kings, Keith Ellison was sworn in, and the first congress to be opened with an Islamic prayer happened during his presidency.

The way ADC decides who to invite as keynote speaker is puzzling. We would denounce Palestinians of ’48 who invite Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni or Ehud Olmert because those are Zionists leader who have killed and dispossessed innocent Arabs and stolen Arab land and resources. How exactly is the US occupation of Iraq any less criminal than the Zionist occupation of Palestine?

Can’t ADC see the futility of prostrating itself to the White House? Why does ADC subject itself to this kind of humiliation? Hasn’t Obama already made his anti-Arab, anti-Muslim politics clear enough? When will ADC learn that defiance is more useful than subservience?

UPDATE: ADC finally speaks on Helen Thomas

At the time of our first post on the House Arab and House Muslim reaction to Helen Thomas’ remarks, we noted that Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) had not yet issued a statement. ADC eventually got around to it. While the cliché goes “better late than never,” in ADC’s case it’s appropriate to say “better never than late.”

First, ADC states that it “acknowledges Ms. Thomas’ apology.” It is unclear why ADC has a position on her apology at all since it wasn’t directed to them, unless ADC was as outraged by the remarks as Zionists, the actual audience the apology was intended for. Had ADC issued an immediate, unequivocal support of Thomas as Consejo Nacional de Comunicadores Ciudadanos, Alison Weir and Gary Leupp did, she probably would’ve felt less intimidated into retracting her brave comments knowing her fellow Arab-Americans stood by her.

Second, it is clear that ADC, like the Arab-American Institute, does not support the substance of Helen’s comments and is attempting damage control. Helen Thomas is perceived as a successful Arab-American. Any strong statements she makes may reflect on other Arab-Americans including the ADC. If it disagrees with the content of the remark, ADC is bound to distance itself and wash its hands of it to avoid the mainstream’s wrath. So are we to understand that ADC does support European Jews’ appropriation of Palestinian land, the expulsion of the native inhabitants of Palestine, and the establishment of an exclusivist colonial settler state?  And does the ADC consider it immoral to ask the colonial settlers to pack and vacate the occupied homes?  Some of them, like the openly racist, Moldovan ex-nightclub bouncer-turned “Foreign Minister” of the Zionist regime, who spent most of his life outside of Palestine, over one million other former residents of the USSR have been in Palestine for less than 20 years.  And if the unprecedented and magnanimous Palestinian offer of establishing a non-racist Palestine with equality for both the indigenous population and the invading population is unacceptable to the colonial-settlers then packing and leaving is a solution they should be the first to embrace.  Besides, aren’t’ they always complaining about the “rough neighborhood”?  The opportunity to move into a better neighborhood (their greatly improved old neighborhood) might be welcomed.

Maybe the ADC Legal Department could spend its time advocating for the Palestinian right to restitution of their homes and property.  If they need help they can look to the many European Jews and non-Jews who are doing exactly that in the post-Communist Eastern European states.  And doesn’t the ADC remember that when Yassir Arafat was at Camp David negotiating, the Israelis and Americans proposed that Palestinians who have been living in refugee camps since their expulsion from their homes in 1948 “get the hell out” out of the entire region, and instead of going home, accept resettlement in various other countries in Europe, and Canada, the US, and as far as Australia?  Why was that not considered an appalling idea by the ADC, and did they issue any press releases at the time? ADC’s soft position (to put it mildly) is not surprising considering the long list of Zionism-supporting speakers the ADC has hosted in the past including Bill Clinton and Colin Powell.

Third, Helen Thomas stated her remark on May 27, 2010 (as the ADC press release affirms). ADC didn’t issue a statement until June 9, roughly two weeks later. Why the delay? It appears ADC was busy trying to find someone of the right background to quote, namely “Mr. Zool Zulkowitz, who represents American Jews defending Ms. Thomas.” If Zulkowitz hadn’t opined that Thomas meant that “Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine,” the ADC might have never found the courage to issue a press release on Thomas. Known as vociferous defenders against anti-Semitism, the most pressing problem in America right now, ADC may have outright condemned her.

Finally, ADC agrees that “Ms. Thomas should be judged on her ’50-plus years of probing journalism, and not on a 30-second sound bite'”. ADC wants people to remember the career, not the remark. It is probably safe to say that for Palestinian refugees, (the vast majority of which never heard of this American organization which has no right to play politics with their inalienable rights), suffering under wretched conditions for the last 60-plus years, the comment will most certainly be remembered more than the lifetime of journalism. Between demanding the restoration of land to its rightful owners v. posing questions to the presidents of the world’s greatest purveyor of violence, there is little room left for doubt as to which will resonate more with Field Arabs. If ADC couldn’t find it in itself to support Helen Thomas, and defend the morality and legitimacy of her suggestion, it could’ve at least IKHRAS!

Our offer stands. Next next time ADC invites Helen Thomas, Ikhras readers get a hookah on the house.

House Arabs Only Defend Speech That Doesn’t Offend Zionists

By now, many people have heard about the repercussions of Helen Thomas’ comment:

“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine […] Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land; it’s not German, it’s not Poland’s… “they should go home” to “Poland, Germany, […] America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries?”

As can be expected, this remark led to a firestorm. Thomas apologized and subsequently retired from her long career. Her agency dropped her and an invitation to give the commencement speech at a Maryland high school was withdrawn.

Public reaction aside, let’s take a close look at the substance of what she said. She simply called for the decolonization of the Arab land of Palestine in the same sense that Algeria was decolonized of the French. She demanded the reversal of the historical wrong of settler colonialism. Her comment didn’t advocate for any kind of violence. In fact, she didn’t even demand that the Jewish settler community be “removed” or “expelled.” She only advocated that they “leave,” which implies a voluntary act.

Helen Thomas is not the first to note that all Palestine is Arab land. Gandhi stated:

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs… Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.”

Even if we were assume for the sake of argument that Thomas’ comment was beyond the pale, doesn’t the First Amendment apply to her? Or does the Arab-American establishment only defend speech that doesn’t offend Zionists? The Arab-American leadership’s reactions to Thomas ranged from deafening silence to outright condemnation. It’s been three days since the controversy erupted. That’s plenty of time for anyone outraged by the attacks on Helen Thomas to voice objection and show solidarity.

American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Although ADC had honored Helen Thomas in the past and hosted her as a speaker, the line was drawn at her remark. As of the date of this writing, ADC has issued no press releases defending Thomas’ fundamental right to free speech, not to mention the Palestinians’ right to full decolonization of their land. Neither did we receive as little as an internal email on ADC’s list encouraging members to stand by their brave fellow Arab. If ADC invites her back to speak or receive awards in the future, Ikhras readers will each receive a free hookah.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)

The classical Islamic position is that Palestine is Islamic land, that Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest site in Islam from which the Prophet took a voyage to the heavens. Palestine obviously carries much weight with Muslims, observant and secular alike. However, CAIR has said nothing in solidarity with Helen Thomas. She might have won CAIR’s support if she were a rabbi.

Hussein Ibish: Nothing.

American Task Force on Palestine: A search for “helen thomas” reveals no relevant results.

Irshad Manji: Nothing.

American Islamic Forum for Democracy: Nothing.

Arab American Institute: We can understand Arab and Muslim groups’ reluctance to support Helen Thomas. Her comment, after all, offends Zionists in the same way slavemasters would be offended when called upon to free their slaves. Silence regarding Helen Thomas’ right to express an opinion, while not excusable, is understandable. So why would any Arab-American want to join the mob that is attacking her? In what the Arab American Institute’s James Zogby thinks is damage control, he volunteers that “Helen Thomas clearly misspoke,” that “It is a shame that her career ends this way” and that her remark was a “mistake.” Zogby could have stopped there but he went on to compare her remark to Rush Limbaugh’s “disgraceful and insulting comments about African Americans, gays, Muslims, and women” and “Pat [Robertson’s] bizarre pronouncements connecting the devastation of Katrina or Ariel Sharon’s stroke with God’s justice”.  Why is Zogby pouring gasoline on fire? Isn’t that the ADL‘s role? Would Zogby say it’s right and moral to impose the Jews on the Arabs? Does he in fact believe Palestine is German or Polish land? James, if you can’t support Helen Thomas’ right to free speech, at least IKHRAS!

While the Arab and Muslim American mainstream demonstrably failed to stand up for their fellow Arab-American’s right to express an opinion, we note that at least one Mexican-American group has succeeded where House Arabs have failed. This group’s solidarity with Helen Thomas is remarkable considering the Mexican-Americans community has enough to deal with; the struggle in light of the recent Arizona SB 1070 law. The below was forwarded to us on emaill:

On the day we in Mexico celebrate the Day of Freedom of Expression, Helen Thomas, a bright and daring journalist who until yesterday, had been reporting for the Hearst network of newspapers such as The San Francisco Chronicle, among others, and a reporter who before being forced out occupied one of the first seats at the press conference room of the White House, was fired or, as the current Chairman of the corporation put it:  “presented her resignation…” only for voicing her thoughts in regards to the criminal assault of the Israeli army against 19 human rights activists in the Mediterranean Sea that were in route to the Gaza Strip to carry humanitarian aid to the Palestine People.Besides the violation to one of the most sacred liberties a human being has such as the right of free expression, Helen Thomas was obligated to resign to her job, one she had been performing with brilliance and dignity for more than 50 years, and for this reason we affirm:  WE ARE ALL HELEN THOMAS, AND WHAT HAS BEEN DONE AGAINST HER HAS BEEN DONE AGAINST ALL OF US!

Patricia Barba Avila
Directora General del Consejo Nacional de Comunicadores Ciudadanos, A.C. (CONACC)
Titular del programa Desde la raíz transmitido por Radio La Nueva República todos los martes y viernes de 19 a 21 (hora del Pacífico) y de 21 a 23 (hora del Centro) [ingresar a Google y teclear Radio La Nueva República)
Jueza para el Tribunal Internacional de Conciencia (TIC) – Foro Social Mundial (FSM)

What the Muslim-American Establishment Fights For

If I may sound so callous, allow me to admit that I don’t really care about recent approval of building a mosque near Ground Zero (that’s New York’s ground zero for the purposes of this article, not Baghdad’s or Kabul’s). Aside that this step will anger islamophobes, which is always a good thing, I see nothing to celebrate.

I would be impressed if the mosques that were destroyed in Al-Lid and Palestine 48 were rebuilt for Nakba survivors to pray in, or if the mosques of Iraq that were destroyed during the US invasion and occupation were restored.  However, I fail to see the point of pouring much time and energy into gaining legal and political permits to build a mosque near the site of an event that happened on 9/11/2001, in retaliation for which around 2 million Muslims have been killed between Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan and other sites of the so-called war on terrorism. 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 dispossess Afghani and Iraqi refugees feel safe enough to return home?

Let’s examine what interests will be served. What will Muslims get out of the establishment of a mosque at ground zero? A place to pray at most. And it’s not like there was a shortage of mosques in New York. Indeed, one Muslim who advocated for the building of the mosques stated there were already 200 mosques in New York, so building one at ground zero won’t be a big deal. Any attempt to enhance political standing in the US discredits the entire mosque effort islamically, as the intention (niyyah) behind building a mosque or performing any deed should be made exclusively for pleasing God.

What will the US get out of the establishment of a mosque at ground zero?

1) A PR cover for its war of terrorism against Muslims. The US couldn’t possibly be islamophobic if it builds a mosque near ground zero, right? The best cover for intolerance and xenophobia is building a mosque at ground zero at a time when many Muslims still linger in Guantanamo, many millions live under military occupation, and many Americans approve of Arizona-style immigration enforcement.

2) An opportunity to spy on Muslim congregants. One of the projects sponsors has stated “We have worked to ensure that our mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists.” How can that possibly be accomplished without violations of civil liberties? Will people get interrogated about their politics on their way in to prayers? Will there be security cameras installed in the mosque? Will the imam’s Friday sermons be surveilled? Will congregants be required to submit personal data for “record-keeping” purposes? Will phonecalls going in and out of the mosque be monitored? Now that the Muslim American establishment feels indebted to the US for granting it land (it had stolen from Native Americans) to build a mosque on, can you picture Muslims refusing civil liberties intrusions in the name of security at such a sensitive location?

3) 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 of three majority-Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine).

What more could the US ask for? I can’t see what the Tea Party and other islamophobes are fuming about.

Mark my words: 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.

Incidentally, it is remarkable to note how victimized the citizens of the world’s only superpower feel; they’re viewing this event with the same sense of bitterness and irony with which Palestinians view the building of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum near the ruins of Deir Yasin, where a horrific massacre took place in 1948.

Contributed by Ikhras writer Kathim.

ADC Congratulates Muntadhar Zaidi as “Arab of the Year” – Not!

The Press Release They Failed to Issue

House Arabs and House Muslims constantly display disorganized priorities. Malcolm X told us that the House Negro values the food the masta throws him while the Field Negro plots for escape from his wretched conditions (see the Ikhras mission statement for a video of Malcolm’s explanation). Below is a satirical spin on a joyful press release issued by the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee on Rima Fakih, a young Lebanese-American woman who won the Miss USA beauty pageant. We observe that the ADC failed to show any excitement about a far more important event, Muntadhar Zaidi’s hurling his shoes at George W. Bush. “The Press Release They Failed to Issue” will be a regular feature on Ikhras.

ADC Congratulates Muntadhar Zaidi as “Arab of the Year”

Washington, DC | May 17, 2010 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) extends its wholehearted congratulations to Mr. Muntadhar Zaidi, who was crowned “Arab of the Year” in Dearborn, Michigan for his heroic action of throwing his shoe at President George W. Bush, Commander in Chief of war on Iraq and five years of US occupation.  His brave act was greatly appreciated by Arab-Americans, and all anti-war Americans from all backgrounds who have rallied behind the Arab community in opposing this immoral and illegal war on an innocent country.

Last year, Mr. Zaidi had competed against 50 other contestants, including James Zogby, Hussein Ibish, Ziad Asali, Dahlia Mujahid and John Abizaid for the prestigious recognition of Arab of the Year.  He will spend the next year traveling the globe to promote a shelter he will build in Baghdad to help war widows and orphans.

ADC President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, “we are very proud of Muntadhar Zaidi. He is a very brave as well as a very selfless young man.  We are elated by his success, and are confident that he will honor all Arabs and the anti-war movement in the US in representing the United States in the global “Best Revolutionary Competition.”

Muntadhar, who is 31-years old, is a journalist with Al-Baghdadia news channel.  His contempt for the occupation of his homeland, Iraq, intensified during reporting on countless Iraqi martyrs killed by US occupation.  After his reign, Muntadhar aspires to liberate Arab lands from the Euphrates to the sea.

ADC wishes Muntadhar much success and happiness as Mr. Arab, and extends to him our continued best wishes in all his future endeavors.

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The actual press release ADC issued:

ADC Congratulates Rima Fakih as Miss USA 2010

http://www.adc.org/media/press-releases/2010/may-2010/adc-congratulates-rima-fakih-as-miss-usa-2010/

Washington, DC | May 17, 2010 | www.adc.org| The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) extends its wholehearted congratulations to Ms. Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Michigan, who was crowned Miss USA 2010 last night at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You can read more about Ms. Rima Fakih, who is of Lebanese descent, by visiting the links to the following articles:

The Detroit News: Dearborn woman crowned Miss USA

NY Daily News: Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010 winner: Lebanon-born Miss Michigan is first Arab-American to take crown

Last night, Rima competed against 50 other contestants, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Rima will go on to compete for the title of Miss Universe this summer.  She will spend the next year traveling the globe to promote the Miss Universe organization.

ADC President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, “we are very proud of Rima Fakih.  She is a very intelligent as well as a very beautiful young woman.  We are elated by her success, and are confident that she will honor all Americans in representing the United States in the Miss Universe Pageant.”

Rima, who is 24-years old, is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, earning a degree in Economics and Business Management.  She began competing in beauty pageants while in college, as a way to earn scholarship money.  After her reign, Rima aspires to attend law school.

ADC wishes Rima much success and happiness as Miss USA, and extends to her our continued best wishes in all her future endeavors.

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