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.