Special Guest Submission: Community Backlash Against Maysoon Zayid

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Zayid At An ATFP Gala With Ziad Asali: Zayid boasts she has “never missed an ATFP gala.”

[Ikhras Note: Maysoon Zayid‘s refusal to support the BDS campaign against Israel or any Palestine solidarity activism considered “controversial” by American mainstream standards along with her support for the American Task Force On Palestine (ATFP) has led to a community backlash. In this special guest submission an ikhras reader and community activist highlights her support for the ATFP and the questions swirling around the US-backed “comedian.”]

On twitter Maysoon Zayid explained why she cannot publicly comment on BDS due to the fact that the Israeli government would ban her entry to Palestine in order to work with the kids of her namesake charity, “Maysoon Kids”.  For those who are not familiar with Palestine, entry to historic Palestine or West Bank is via Israel. If your destination is Gaza the entry points are Israel or Egypt—the latter is complicit with Israel so it is the same as applying for entry into Gaza from Israel.

First of all, with respect to Arabs, Israel’s racial caste system goes like this:  the Israeli Foreign Ministry harbors suspicion of anyone one has an Arab surname. Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories even admits to an applicant with an Arab surname that it will take longer to process their application to enter Gaza.  The worse scenario is if one is of Palestinian descent. Anyone of Arab descent, in this case “Arab American”, who has entered Israel is aware that they will be subject to extreme scrutiny more so than the average American citizen, unless the latter has been involved in the activist activities in support of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Bedouin of the Naqab.

Why I personally find Mason’s explanation disingenuous is that I am of Arab descent and am a supporter of BDS. I travel each year for a three month stay to Gaza, teach at the local university, and volunteer my services to a non-governmental organization.I have close ties with many of the students and people of Gaza.  I share the same risk as Maysoon. If Israel were to relinquish my privileges of entering Gaza or the West Bank, I would no longer be able to work in the Occupied Territories or maintain the close relationships developed over the last four years. The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories even admits to an applicant with an Arab surname that it will take longer to process his/her application to enter Gaza.

Some curious questions arise about Maysoon. One, to not publicly comment on BDS is as good as saying that “one is sitting on the fence” about BDS. Okay, for argument’s sake let us say that she does not want to take the risk of losing her non-profit organization by supporting BDS. Second, why is it in her tweets she makes statements about the Qalandia checkpoints and the occupation of Palestine, but she supports and  performs at all the galas of the American Task Force on Palestine whose president Ziad Asali was photographed at one of the celebrations of the Independence of Israel, glad handing Michael Oren, the soon to depart Ambassador from Israel to the U.S. Third, why does she lionize Hussein Ibish, who advocates that his tutees in the Hala Maksoud Arab American Leadership Program  read and follow the AIPAC manual of leadership—which his buddies over at AIPAC made him privy to their secret formula. Fourth, why is she a contributor to the Open Zion blog of the Daily Beast? Not knowing which way the wind blows her flirtation with BDS surprises us in her June blog at Open Zion.

Maysoon, Monsoon of Contradictions, she must understand that as a Palestinian American, her spinelessness is not very attractive, particularly in light of this week’s news that University of Michigan at Ann Arbor disinvited Pulitzer Prize winner, Alice Walker, because she supports BDS and stated that “Israel is an Apartheid State”.  Not to mention the number of brave Israelis and Jews from the U.S. and abroad who support BDS; many of whom have been banned from entry to Israel.

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