[ Ikhras Note: An ikhras reader and friend sent us the following letter in response to the awards committee’s decision to present the July 2013 Ikhras Shoe Of The Month (see previous post) to the group of Muslim-Americans that attended the White House iftar. Ikhras continues to welcome all feedback and encourages our readers to continue submitting their nominations for the monthly award.]
In the light of the ongoing drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, the nasal forced feedings of the striking Guantanamo prisoners to the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance programs, this award represents poetic justice for those attendees of the White House iftar—slavish and complacent– who accept a few Hansel and Gretel crumbs before standing up to the United States’ record of human rights and civil rights violations.
However, there are exceptions to persons who might disagree with U.S. foreign and diplomatic policies and do not have the time to protest openly , but daily perform good deeds on behalf of the Muslim community that far outweigh any shortcomings in activism.
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Their names do not appear on the American President’s “kill list”, the list of individual’s from exclusively Muslim or Muslim-majority countries singled out for extra-judicial assassination, and whose murder requires pre-approval by Barak Obama personally. Nor will their names be found on the US Government’s “no-fly” list or the FBI’s most wanted. These carefully selected Muslim names appeared on the invitation list for the White House Iftar Dinner on July 25, 2013. They included those you would normally expect such as American politicians and government officials and the ambassadors or representatives of Muslim-majority countries with regimes approved by the empire. But the guest list also included a handful of American Muslims described as “grassroots leaders” within the American Muslim community. They were invited to Obama’s iftar as ostensible representatives of an American Muslim community that doesn’t know them and has never heard of them. Although the ikhras awards committee was unable to determine the identities of these individuals, we are pleased to announce they are the collective winners of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for July, 2013.
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Maysoon Zayid is currently in occupied Palestine and she’s trying very hard to let everyone know it. She highlights these trips in an attempt to bolster her claims to pseudo-native authenticity and expertise which the government-backed “comedian” thinks she can use as a gimmick to promote her career on the margins of American pop culture upon her return back home to New Jersey. On this trip she’s claiming to be booked for several “comedy” shows in various “West Bank” venues (She will not be performing in Gaza because supposedly she’s banned from there, doesn’t tell us by who) but nobody has seen any brochure, advertisement, or announcement in any form from anyone in Palestine sponsoring or organizing these alleged shows. In the past her “comedy” shows in the Arab world were sponsored and organized by the US State Department. Nobody in Palestine outside her immediate family would’ve heard of Um-Zohan, and since the State Department isn’t sponsoring any shows this year her alleged performances, if true, will likely be nothing more but a brief appearance in front of a few bewildered school children she invited herself to visit. More importantly, Um-Zohan will not be telling the few Palestinians she may speak with about her activities back home in the United States.
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The American Task Force On Palestine started out as the Washington lobbying arm of the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, American-supervised Palestinian Authority, and naturally evolved into the Arab-wing of the pro-Israel lobby. A two man outfit, its run by the vapid Palestinian-American Ziad Asali and his more articulate sidekick, Hussein Ibish. Ibish was hired when the ATFP failed to find a single Palestinian capable of writing a simple press release willing to join the organization. The ATFP has been shunned and condemned by virtually the entire Palestinian-American community. It has, however, enjoyed the support of US-backed “comedian” Maysoon Zayid. Zayid, who’s turned Palestine into a punch line pursuing a mediocre career on the margins of American pop culture, is a regular at ATFP galas and events. Even before photos of Asali embracing Israel’s Ambassador at an Israel “Independence Day” celebration hosted by the Israeli embassy emerged, earning him the Ikhras Shoe Of The Month Award, the ATFP had long lost any semblance of being a Palestinian-American lobby. Zayid, who’s also known as Um-Zohan for her role in the racist, pro-IDF film of the same name, describes Asali as a “good friend” and refers to him as “Ziyaaaaaaaaaaawd.” To this day she has refused to comment on the scandal and continues her support of the ATFP.
The Ikhras editors are pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for May, 2013 is the Al Jazeera English website. The website earned this month’s shoe after deciding to remove an article, The Last Of The Semites, by Palestinian-American academic & Columbia University Professor Dr. Joseph Massad. The article’s criticism of Zionism as inherently anti-Semitic and its focus on the historical relationship between the Zionist movement and anti-Semitic European leaders and governments (including Nazi Germany) and their shared vision and objectives was more than the present day Zionists would tolerate. The article was first published on May 15. After an uproar by Zionist fanatics and pro-Israel lobbyists including Jeffrey Goldberg and Hussein Ibish, Aljazeera bowed to the pressure and the article was removed on May 19. After a backlash from Aljazeera insiders and free speech advocates the website restored the article two days later on May 21, but not before dealing a severe blow to the credibility of the English-language sister channel and website of the already thoroughly discredited Arabic-language network.
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Two Arab-American women, Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib and Rana Abbas, a former member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) in Michigan, have accused Imad Hammad, the ADC regional Director and Senior National Advisor for Public Affairs of sexually harassing them and several other women. The allegations stretch back to 1999, and apparently a formal complaint submitted to the ADC National Office in 2007 went ignored.
Sexual harassment is the most pervasive form of workplace harassment and takes several forms. According to Tlaib & Abbas, Hamad engaged in aggressive verbal and physical sexual harassment over an extended period of time. Such behavior should never be tolerated, and the failure of the ADC to investigate these allegations immediately after they were brought to the attention of its leadership is as alarming and troubling as the sexual harassment itself.
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The Ikhras editors are pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for April, 2013 is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR earned this prestigious honor for its reaction to Boston marathon bombings that killed three and injured more than 200 on April 15. The competition was stiff this month as the predictable buffoonery, expressions of moral outrage, and calls for the always ridiculous “interfaith meetings” commenced immediately after the bombing and continue as of the time of this writing. One community clown who recently discovered his Islamic heritage after the age of 40 as part of a new career path actually began a CNN segment with “I’m a Muslim and I despise terrorism.” April was a month in which we regret we have but one shoe to throw and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) were among the finalists. After an initially strong showing the ADC fell behind when it was reported that the suspects were Muslims, but not Arabs. The ADC is only responsible for the potential transgressions of 350 Million Arabs. Like CAIR, MPAC also assumed responsibility for about 1.5 billion Muslims and earned the dubbing Muslim Public Apology Center. However, after careful consideration the ikhras awards committee determined that the response of CAIR’s far more extensive network to the Boston bombings was the best illustration of the house behavior this award was established to recognize.
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In a previous post (see Ikhras Shoe Of The Month March 2013 below) we pointed out Lebanese right-wing journalist Octavia Nasr began her journalism career in Lebanon at the LBC network, the propaganda arm of the fascist Lebanese Forces established by Bashir Gemayel with the help and support of Israel before moving on to spend 20 years with CNN. Ikhras has confirmed that CNN was informed of Nasr’s work for the Lebanese Forces when she was first hired. Not only did this not raise any red flags for CNN management, but apparently working for a fascistic organization responsible for some of the ugliest massacres witnessed in recent history makes one an ideal employee at the unofficial US regime network. The following is from Lebanese-American Professor of Political Science Dr. As’ad Abukhalil. We cite with his permission.
When she [Nasr] was first hired I called Bernard Shaw, who was the chief anchor and I knew him some from DC and he interviewed me many times. I told him that she worked for the Lebanese Forces militia station, and he was shocked. He told me that they were under the impression that LBC is the state TV station of Lebanon. I spoke to him at length and he asked me to wait to take notes. He said that he would bring it up with management but nothing happened. I also mentioned I remember that her English was pretty weak.
An outfit in the United States calling itself the Syrian American Council has been active in calling for a US war on Syria. This is a Muslim Brotherhood front made up of Syrian-American supporters of the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. They openly support the MB campaign of terror against Syrian state and society while sloganeering about democracy, freedom, and human rights. For this group, which is about as representative of the Syrian people as right-wing Cubans in Miami are of Cuban public opinion, the FUKUS-GCC proxy war on Syria is not enough. They are appealing for a direct, all out US military assault on Syria. Members of this group have directly appealed to the most racist, anti-Arab Zionist fanatics in Congress including Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Eliot Engel, Illeana Ross-Lehtinen and others in hopes of leveraging the power of the empire to bring down a Syrian regime that the overwhelming majority of Syrians have refused to rise up against. As an alternative to overthrowing the regime this group has called for a policy which amounts to dismantling the entire Syrian nation-state and handing the remnants over to the Muslim Brotherhood and their Al-Qaeda allies. Arab-Americans and all those opposed to the US war on Syria must support the joint call of Syrian opponents and supporters of the Syrian government in rejecting any further US intervention in Syria and the entire region. We join the Syrian people in calling for an end to the US-backed proxy war on Syria and the withdrawal of all US military bases from the MENA region. Hands off Syria! US out of the Arab world!
The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month for March, 2013 is Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr. Nasr is receiving this coveted award for an article she wrote titled “What the city of Haifa taught me.” The article first appeared in Arabic in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar, and the English version appeared the next day on the website of the Saudi family news channel Al-Arabiya.
Nasr begins her article reminiscing about the “countless stories about Haifa’s golden days pre-1948.” The reader can almost detect a mocking undertone, as if life in pre-Nakba Haifa was not quite as “Golden” as relayed by the Palestinian refugees she encountered growing up in Lebanon, or was at least only part of the story of Haifa. Sure enough Nasr then goes on to share her awakening:
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Radio 786 Prime Talk program (Mar 26, 2013) examines Iraq a decade after the American invasion and occupation. Guests include Ikhras Co-Editor Thabit Al-Arabi and Iraqi Ambassador to South Africa Dr Hisham Al-Alawi.
Obama posters crossed out in occupied Ramallah.
As part of an effort to construct and promulgate a public relations narrative in preparation for Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, the White House summoned a group of Arab-American “leaders” to a meeting. Overcome by the lure of being invited to the White House and being part of the mainstream these groups and individuals sacrifice intellectual honesty and personal integrity while adopting all the false pretenses of the American imperial project.
Barack Obama met with several so called leaders and organizations that allegedly represent Arab and Muslim Americans ahead of his visit to occupied Palestine. The “Arab-American” groups that attended the meeting were the same unrepresentative, Washington-based cliques that are usually called upon when American politicians need submissive token Arabs to perpetuate the fiction the US government is taking all views into consideration. The groups included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the two-man American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP), and James Zogby’s one-man shop, the Arab American Institute (AAI).
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Ikhras fully supports Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine and all SJP chapters across the United States. SJP branches nationwide have been one of the leading organizations in the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the US. Columbia SJP’s misguided and divisive decision to sponsor an event featuring Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi as a guest speaker at what was dubbed a “Syria Solidarity Event” served as a distraction and did not help advance the mission of SJP. Our criticism of this controversial decision stems from our deep appreciation for this organization and the critically important role it plays on US campuses. SJP represents one of the most successful organizations working in the most hostile environment for any Palestine solidarity activism anywhere in the world. We trust Columbia SJP will learn from this mistake and remain focused on its mission as it continues its invaluable work in the future. As it does so we will continue to support Columbia SJP and all SJP chapters on their respective campuses across the country.
Long Live Palestine Arab and Free From the River to the Sea!
p.s. No Zionist should take any comfort in whatever disagreements that may exist within the Arab world or among Palestine solidarity activists. When it comes to justice in Palestine we are all unified and will continue our unrelenting struggle for the liberation of Palestine and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
Ikhras was pleased to learn that Omar Baddar has left his position as New Media Coordinator at the Arab-American Institute (AAI). While we’re unaware of the circumstances surrounding Omar’s departure from James Zogby‘s AAI we believe this can only be viewed as a welcome development. Despite our fundamental disagreements with Omar we have always believed that he, unlike the other establishment Arab-Americans, showed a great deal of sincerity despite his misguided approach to political activism. We hope that Omar’s departure from AAI will be an opportunity for him to remove the political shackles of Washington and join the rest of us shunned miscreants that refuse to cater their political activism and discourse to American political sensibilities. We believe Omar has a great deal to contribute to issues of concern for the Arab-American community, first, and foremost, the liberation of Palestine and ending US-Israeli wars on the Arab world. This will require not only leaving AAI but also leaving behind the model of futile political activism associated with this organization. We also hope that with Omar’s departure from AAI he will also leave behind his previous hostility towards ikhras. We look forward to a new relationship in the future, and wish him very best.