Every year in April James Zogby’s one-man shop, the Arab-American Institute (AAI), holds its annual “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala. The AAI states that it “established the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards to recognize those whose commitment to our common humanity is a living reflection of the spirit the great Lebanese-American poet.” OK. Well, for the past five years the Al-Thani family dictatorship that has ruled Qatar with an iron fist since its establishment has held Mohammed Al-Ajami in jail for the crime of poetry. During these five years, and previously, the embassy of Qatar in Washington DC has been one of the main sponsors of the annual “Gibran Gala” as Zogby likes to call it. What the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month award winner claims his annual event was established to celebrate is a crime punishable by imprisonment by one of the main sponsors of the event. Zogby has been on the payroll of the Arab oil-Sheikhs (or “shakes” as he calls them) for decades and his hypocrisy comes as no news to anyone. He also enjoys the largess of the Saudi-Wahhabi regime and the United Arab Emirates who will also be sponsoring his “Gibran Gala” next month. For the past two years Zogby, for unexplained reasons, has stopped releasing the names of the sponsors and underwriters of the annual AAI flagship event. We believe this decision was taken as a direct result of ikhras’ highlighting of the “Gibran Gala” sponsors. Zogby is clearly on the defensive about his links to the GCC embassies and the funding he receives from these tyrannical regimes. There is no need for Zogby to feel defensive. He is entitled to maintain relations with any regime and embassy he chooses, but he has no right to do so in the collective name of the Arab-American community. We do not expect Zogby to cut ties to his benefactors which will most assuredly lead to the same fate as Ziad Asali and the American Task Force on Palestine. We do, however, call on Zogby to remove “Arab-American” from the name of his shop.
The Arab-American Institute (AAI) is set to honor NYU President and fanatic Zionist John Sexton at its upcoming annual gala on April 29, 2015. AAI President Jim Zogby, winner of the ikhras shoe-of-the-month award, will be presenting Sexton with an “Award for Individual Achievement.” Sexton has come out in strong opposition to the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) against the Israeli settler colony, specifically the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Sexton is also known for leading the effort to silence Palestine solidarity activism on the NYU campus. It was also under Sexton’s leadership that the loud voices condemning BDS under the guise of defending “academic freedom” fell silent when Israel banned a Palestinian from traveling to the US to participate in its own “Paths to Peace” program. Despite his support for Israeli repression, opposition to BDS, and failure to defend academic freedom Zogby describes Sexton as “a man who combines rare qualities of academic leadership with a keen commitment to global education.”
Palestinian-American Zionist, anti-Arab racist, homophobe (See “Hanania Emails Scandal”), failed comedian, Radio Talk Show host (but only because he buys his own airtime), former ADC National Board member , former Jerusalem Post columnist, and Ikhras Shoe Of The Month Award winner Ray Hanania is calling on Arab-Americans to join the pro-Israel lobby. According to Hanania, J Street, the racist, anti-Arab organization dedicated to the destruction of at least 78% of Palestine, “has given American Arabs who support peace based on compromise someplace to go.” Hanania considers J Street to be the “moderate”, “pro-peace” voice within the pro-Israel lobby which we’re supposed to believe stands in stark contrast to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which Hanania says “has actively opposed peace.” In his typically confused, incoherent fashion, he goes on to invoke the model of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) which he characterizes as the only “major” (it consists of two people and a Washington DC office kept open with generous support from Arab oil-Sheikhs) Arab-American organization “that actively supports the two-state solution” without mentioning the ATFP proudly flaunts its collaborative relationship and alliance with AIPAC. Hanania specifically mentions Ziad Asali, giving the ATFP head a nod of approval. Asali, another recipient of the Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award, joined Hanania on that honor roll after becoming the only Palestinian in the world to celebrate “Israel Independence Day.”
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).
To our knowledge, during the entire eight days of Israeli air, sea, and land bombardment of Gaza not a single authentic Palestinian-American voice or any neutral, objective expert on the Arab world was invited to appear or write in mainstream television or print media. Instead what we watched was a parade of pseudo-analysts, Arab Zionists, anti-Palestinian ideologues, self-appointed spokespersons of all stripes, and even a couple of comedians. All of them, without exception, were invited to parrot the Israel narrative, or at best, offer polite criticism of Israel in the name of Palestinians and Arab or Muslim Americans.
Ikhras is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month Award for September, 2012 is Dr. James Zogby. The omnipresent, self-appointed representative of Arab-Americans earned this prestigious honor for his disgraceful behavior at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Although rarely is there a month in which Zogby is not the front runner for this award, the quintessential careerist and cheap propagandist for the State Department and Arab oil-Sheikhs beat out all other nominees for the September, 2012 ikhras shoe award before the convention even started.
[Ikhras Note: The following is a belated publishing of an Ikhras book review of James Zogby‘s Arab Voices: What They are Saying To Us And Why It Matters. It was written shortly after Zogby launched his book tour with a party and reception at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington in October, 2010.]
James Zogby couldn’t have picked a more appropriate setting to launch his new book than a party and reception at the Washington embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The event was hosted by “H.E.” Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, and, true to form, the following day Zogby slavishly thanked the Nahyan family representative: “I was so gratified by last night’s reception. Ambassador al Otaiba’s hospitality, his kind words of introduction and the great work of his staff provided Arab Voices with such a wonderful launch.”
The book is titled “Arab Voices: What they are saying to us and why it matters.” In explaining the objectives and motivation behind the book Zogby says “I wrote the book for two reasons…One [reason] is because the stakes are so high. We’re in real trouble in the Middle East…it’s not getting better”…The second reason, he explained, was to “shatter” the myths Americans have about Arabs.” Zogby, of course, is not going to shatter any myths or change any false perceptions. This is one of those grandiose claims he often makes about his ability to influence public policy and popular perceptions in the United States (US). As the omnipresent, self-appointed representative of Arab-Americans sets out to “paint the most accurate picture of the Arab people, explaining who they are to the American people”, we ask which Arab voices has he been listening to cocooned up in Washington since the 1970’s? Which Arabs is Zogby most familiar with? And is he qualified, and capable of candidly and accurately explaining the Arab world to the American public? For reasons we discuss below we believe Zogby is not only unable to do so, but is probably the last person in America who can explain indigenous Arab voices to a US audience.
[Ikhras Note: The following was a comment by Jeffrey Blankfort.* It’s not just Arab-Americans that reject the political pandering of establishment Arabs. Palestine solidarity activists and all Americans opposed to the US policy in the Middle East have been equally frustrated with Washington Arabs that are busy garnering mainstream media acceptance and clamoring for photo-ops with US officials. Although these opportunistic careerists are unwilling to address the false narratives and assumptions of American officialdom, principled social activists and other Americans of all backgrounds do not hesitate to do so. ]
James Zogby, the poster boy for all that’s wrong for what passes as an “Arab Lobby” in Washington DC, has pursued a comfortable, air-conditioned career as the self-appointed spokesperson for the Arab-American community. An unprincipled, career opportunist pursuing petty ambitions and false prestige, this cheap political prostitute for the State Department (which organizes most of his appearances in the Arab world) and the Arab oil-Sheiks of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates maintains a busy social calendar which he wants us to believe is a sign of Arab-American political empowerment. The following are a few entries that establish a pattern we have discovered in his writings and talks. When we stopped we still had over 20 more examples we could have included, but the following should suffice:
In a recent Huffington Post article titled “Support Syria’s People”, James Zogby declared the Syrian regime has lost its legitimacy and called on the league of Arab states to “suspend” Syria’s membership in the organization.
“The Arab League should make it clear that the Assad regime has lost whatever legitimacy it once claimed in the Arab World and promptly suspend its membership in the organization, declaring that the regime has forfeited the right to play a role in Syria’s and the region’s future.”
That the self-appointed spokesperson of the Arab-American community is continuing his decades-long pattern of self-serving pandering to U.S. officials comes as no surprise to anyone. Zogby’s shameless behavior is so well known and established by now that Arab-Americans have been mostly ignoring the omnipresent careerist and his hijacking of the collective community name. As long as Zogby is organizing galas and promoting ignorant, oil-sheiks Arab-Americans can continue ignoring his social calendar, but the community must not ignore his self-promoting activities when they include the cynical manipulation of the 2011 Arab uprising and the political and human rights of the Arab people.
James Zogby, who describes promotional efforts on behalf of Arab oil-“Shakes” , attending galas with Lisa Halaby (we decline to call her “HM Queen Noor”), and hobnobbing with the “moderate” Zionists as Arab-American political activism is defending his most recent poll. The poll which was obviously conducted and manipulated to reach conclusions that are both Washington friendly and supportive of Saudi propaganda interests has received extensive criticism.
From Angry Arab Website: Lebanese-American Professor on James Zogby’s propaganda services for UAE and Saudi regimes.
From the AngryArab Website:
In the first place, actions and statements like these send absolutely horrible messages overseas about the inability of American politics to deal fairly with any Middle East issue that involves Israel. And so these behaviors end up undercutting U.S. diplomacy.
Relax Jim, and don’t worry about the “horrible messages” this could send to the Arab world. It won’t make any difference at all. By now the entire Arab world understands the U.S. government has never dealt “fairly” (or morally) with the Arab-Israeli conflict, and they harbor no illusions about any change in U.S. policy anytime soon despite your galas and valiant efforts in Washington since the 1970’s. In fact, all rational, informed people in the U.S. and the Arab world recognize the U.S. Government is the main sponsor of the Zionist colonial occupation of Palestine, and the enabler of all of Israel’s crimes. After all the death and destruction Zionism has inflicted on Palestine and the Arabs, pretending that somehow a few more anti-Arab, pro-Israel remarks by members of Congress that most people in the Arab world have not heard of will make things worst is not only untrue, it’s downright silly. We know you want to participate in the Washington discourse, and, therefore, feel compelled to offer an acceptable, mainstream message, but if you can’t be honest with other Americans and speak the truth about the U.S. role in the region, isn’t it better to just Ikhras.
The Arab-American community must stand with the Egyptian people and their continuing struggle for freedom, full sovereignty and independence, human dignity, and social justice. The establishment Arabs in this country are too busy promoting their careers and enjoying their false sense of prestige on the margins of Washington officialdom. In the meantime the Egyptian people continue a struggle (see video previous post) whose outcome is not yet determined, but the victory of which, in this most geopolitically important Arab state, can break foreign imperialist domination of the region and create a new Egypt and with it a new Arab world. Arab-Americans must make the success of the Egyptian people and their 2011 uprising a central concern. The counter-revolution is underway, and the US regime, its allies in Europe, and puppets in the Arab world, first, and foremost, the tyrannical Saudi regime, are working tirelessly to bring the Arab Spring to an end. Given the continuing meddling of the American government in Egypt, and the extensive relationship between the Pentagon and the repressive Egyptian junta that continues to rule, Arab Americans must highlight and oppose the American role in trying to abort the Egyptian revolution, prevent the achievement of the Egyptians’ national aspirations, and subject the well-being of Egypt and the interests of its people to American imperialist designs. This cause is unlikely to be adopted by the establishment Arabs in Washington, but it should be by the entire Arab-American community.