Tag Archive for Ray Hanania

Concessions from Chicago

Palestinian-American Zionist in Chicago now saysPalestinians have already recognized Israel.”

This is the same person who has called on the Palestinians to abandon their right of return and recognize a Jewish-exclusivist state in atleast 78% of Palestine.  Now he’s saying “The acceptance of this country is not only inherent in the Palestinians’ repeated declarations but also in the fact that their leaders are sitting down and negotiating two states.”  When did Mahmoud Abbas and his Vichy regime in Ramallah become the “leaders” of the Palestinians?   The Oslo gang in Ramallah maintains its authority only with Western funding, Israeli protection, and American sponsorship including oversight of a police force tasked with quelling all Palestinian popular resistance to occupation.  Meanwhile the democratically elected leaders of the Palestinians are under siege in Gaza or sitting in Israeli (or PA) jails.

Hanania: Now its “a little Arabic” and more whining

After claiming he was being “attacked” for his religious affiliation, Ray Hanania is now claiming some Arabs and Muslims have been attacking him for not speaking Arabic.  On September 9th, Ray wrote the following:  “The fact that I am a Palestinian born in America who speaks English and only a little Arabic is a cause of great alarm for Arabs and Muslims who use that to discriminate against me and others like me. They find the fact that my first language is not Arabic offensive and write some of the most ignorant and racist comments, worse than those written against Arabs and Muslims by the extremist rightwing in this country.”

Well, Ray, let’s be clear about two things.  First, you do not speak “a little Arabic.”  You speak no Arabic at all.  You can’t even pronounce your own surname correctly.  Your colleague at the Jerusalem Post, Daniel Pipes, can pronounce the few words he knows in Arabic much better than you.  Second, nobody has been attacking you for not speaking Arabic.  In fact, we are opposed to ethnic-based politics, and as readers of Ikhras know, we don’t believe Arab-Americans deserve our support simply because we share a common heritage.  We believe those who engage in debate should be evaluated on their publicly expressed (in any language) views and not on any aspect of their personal background which, as we told you before, is completely irrelevant.  We support all our fellow citizens across this world from all backgrounds who oppose Zionism,  Imperialism, and share our vision for a more just world, and we oppose all those who defend Israel and kowtow to the ruling political class in this country, including the Arab-Americans among them.

An Open Letter And Challenge To Ray Hanania

In a blog post on August 22, 2010 you accused Ikhras of participating in a “smear campaign” against you and made several baseless allegations including “attacking” you for being a Christian.  That blog post stated the following:  Several Christian leaders have contacted Hanania in the past few weeks saying they are urging their Arab Christian congregations to protest KabobFest and another hate site called IkhrasThe haters…continue to say that my religion has nothing to do with their vicious assaults but you will NEVER see them assault a Muslim in the same manner as they are now slandering me. The only reasons they are attacking me is because I am Christian, I am a moderate who openly and consistently opposes violence, and my wife and son are Jewish…I am even more proud to be targeted by hate mongers like KabobFest and Ikhras.”

You must realize this is not true, and we can only speculate as to why you have decided to pursue a personal campaign of sectarian agitation and foment division within the Arab-American community.  Our site is dedicated to covering a select group of Arabs and Muslims in the United States that claims to speak in the name of our community.  You have even made a living out of it.  Our focus is on their political activism and the positions they advocate ostensibly on our behalf, which they have no right to do.  We are not concerned with any aspect of the personal background of any individual including religious affiliation. This is readily apparent to any fair-minded reader of our site.  We have criticized your own exploitation of your personal background which you have done in pursuit of a comedy career, as a vehicle for self-promotion, and often as an implied claim to indigenous credibility for your commentary on Palestine and other topics related to the Middle East.  We have also criticized (ok, ridiculed) you for routinely mentioning the personal background of your family in your Jerusalem Post articles, and your recurring use (misuse) of the Arab/Jew dynamic.  While we questioned the relevance of this personal information to the debate, it was you Ray, not us, that insisted on inserting his family and personal background into the discussion.  Perhaps, as it now appears, it is all you had to talk about, but we refused, and will continue do so.

You now claim several Christian leaders contacted you in the past few weeks saying they are urging their Arab Christian congregations to “protest KabobFest and another hate site called Ikhras”. You also claim to have issued a statement to about “30 Christian leaders in Michigan, Illinois, California and Washington DC who offered their support to stand up to the anti-Christian racism that is finding its way into the rhetoric of some extremist Palestinian and Arab activists.

We Issue You The Following Challenge, Should You Choose To Accept

1) Reveal the names of those who offered you their support.  If they indeed offered to “stand up” for you why would they remain anonymous?

2) If any of these alleged religious or community “leaders” would like to “stand up” and “support” you let them do so publicly.  If we can verify their name, location, and leadership designation we pledge to post their statement of support on our website in its entirety and without editing.

3) Finally, we also challenge you to demonstrate where we expressed any form of “racism” or “hysteria” directed towards any group.  We pledge to post any justification  you can present for this ludicrous charge in its entirety and without editing.

We have received an incredible amount of support far beyond what we expected in such a short period of time.  Our community has welcomed the unprecedented coverage Ikhras is providing and our readership is growing.  Our readers are evaluating us based on the content and quality of our coverage, and not the angry whining of one individual upset about legitimate criticism of his publicly stated views.  Your attempt to wrap yourself in the collective shroud of a religious group within our community and shout “racism” may be all you have left.  Maybe stirring division and sectarian agitation is a final, desperate attempt to regain some limited acceptance among a select few after your unconscionable and offensive political views rendered you an outcast among the vast majority.  These reprehensible Zionist tactics betray a complete intellectual and moral bankruptcy.  They highlight your inability to engage in a discussion or debate about the real issues and serve as a further reminder of your own alienation from the Arab world and the Arab-American community in the US.  These cheap tactics will certainly fail because they will be rejected by both the Muslims and Christians in our community.  And we doubt you can find even a single “leader” to “stand up” and “support” you.  Put up or Ikhras!

Ray Hanania Goes To The Cayman Islands to “Sharpen” his “Palestinian Skills”

Since we began our coverage of Ray Hanania, the failed comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, newest ADC board of directors member, and Arab version of Joe the Plumber who doesn’t speak Arabic, we have noticed his alienation from the painful Palestinian experience with colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and occupation the last 100 years.  We don’t necessarily blame Ray.  Afterall, he was born and raised in the US, he is a product of an ill-informed, anti Palestinian  political culture, and has spent very little time, if any, among the Palestinian people in the refugee camps.  Neither does it appear that Ray has even done any serious reading of translated Palestinian sources or literature.  However, even if we were to make allowance for Ray’s inability to communicate with Palestinians and a life spent in the distant US, his indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians, and his lack of appreciation for what the ongoing 63-year Nakba has meant to their daily lives would be unjustified even for a removed and sheltered House-Arab like Ray.

Ray Hanania vacations here

his last Jerusalem Post article the Palestinian-American Zionist says “But it’s not just maintaining a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn that my “Palestinian-ism” has impacted. It goes far beyond, including even when I go on vacation.  Yes, I In don’t go on vacation to relax. I go there to sharpen my Palestinian skills.  Every morning at dawn, while on vacation in places like Punta Cana or at a resort along the Cayman Island’s famous Seven Mile beach, I find myself compelled into a ‘possession jihad.’  I don’t get up and walk to the beach at six in the morning simply to enjoy the sunrise or the pristine coral sand.
My first concern is staking out beach-front lounge chairs or a palm cabana with an idyllic view of the ocean…As a Palestinian, I just have to be there first.”

We do realize our comedian remains convinced he’s a political satirist and this delusion explains much of the playground banter we read in his JP articles, but as we continue to ignore his lame attempts at humor and his use of Arabic words like Jihad whose actual definition he undoubtedly understands about as well as CNN “experts” on Islam, and like them, pronounces it as “Jeeehaaawd”, we can’t ignore his callous disregard for the plight of the Palestinians.  When someone thinks of what it means to be a Palestinian (which is what we assume Ray means by “Palestinian-ism”) the image of “a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed carpet-of-a-lawn” is the last thing that comes to the mind of anyone with a remote knowledge of Palestinian life since the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by European, colonial-settlers in 1947-1948.

Palestinian Refugee Camp

What does come to mind are the teeming refugee camps with their tightly-packed cinder-block homes, narrow alleyways, open sewage ditches, inadequate schools and clinics, and no streets, shops, patios, lawns, flower gardens, parks, or playgrounds.  It is the harsh life of the deprived refugee camps with its abundance of courage and dignity that gave birth to the Palestinian liberation movement, and defined what it means to be a Palestinian.

If you thought the contrast between Ray’s imagination of what it means to be a Palestinian and the reality of the Palestinian Diaspora was the outer limit of insensitivity, you would be wrong.  Ray went even further and descended lower by describing his vacationing on beach resorts at destinations such as the Cayman Islands as an opportunity to “sharpen” his “Palestinian skills.” Whatever this toad was doing on a beach on the Cayman Islands that early morning all alone, he definitely was not sharpening any “Palestinian skills.” Palestinian skills are developed and sharpened under occupation and in desolate refugee camps a world away from Ray’s favorite vacation spots and even further removed from his obnoxious imagination.  Ray’s silly tale about the morning he set out to usurp the ideal beach spot ends with him sitting on a lounge chair to, as he described himself, “smoke a cigar with my look of conquest, a macho scrunch of thick brows and confidence.” We’re very interested to know which history book informed Ray that the Palestinians have been involved in any “conquest” in the last century.

He bizarrely portrays “Palestinian skills” as an instinct to seize land. According to him, this “possession jihad” is an intrinsic skill that manifests itself even when vacationing at beautiful beachside resorts like Punta Cana. It is unfathomable that a Palestinian-American who routinely exploits his ethnicity and heritage in pursuit of a myriad of profit-seeking adventures and self-promotion, appears unaware that the Palestinian side was the one that was dispossessed, not the dispossessor. This article would make sense if it were written by an Israeli describing his “Zionist skills” of usurping the best beachside vacation spots in Haifa, Acre (this writers favorite city on the Palestinian coast), or along the sea of Galilee, but it is appalling that Hanania reverses the basic facts of recent Palestinian history and switches the roles of colonizer and colonized.

Palestinian Refugee Camp

What the Palestinians have become skilled in over the years is survival and resistance in the most difficult living conditions.  These skills can’t be sharpened sitting in a lounge chair on the “pristine coral sand” of a beach resort smoking a cigar and sipping your favorite island drink. They are learned living under military occupation, standing in line at United Nations distribution centers to receive your monthly food rations, or sitting on a cold, concrete living-room floor in a refugee camp doing your homework by candlelight.  We don’t expect Ray The Comedian to understand the Palestinian reality any better than Joe The Plumber, but atleast the ignorant plumber (who wasn’t really a plumber just as Ray is not much of a comedian) never exploited their Nakba trying to make a name for himself or use it as subject matter in very unfunny comedy routines.

The Palestinian ability to endure life in the Diaspora, transform displacement into a liberation movement, and resist colonial occupation has never ceased to amaze both their enemies and their supporters.  Yet through it all they excelled in the basics of reading, writing, science, and mathematics, and pursued the arts, literature, and music.  In fact, the disadvantaged Palestinians have the highest college graduation rates in the Arab world.  The Palestinians were also forced to develop another set of skills allowing them to survive displacement, occupation, and refugee life.  So if we were to search for the meaning of “Palestinian-ism” we at ikhras suggest it is that special Palestinian quality that combines the basic skills needed by all people to grow, live and succeed in a normal life with an entirely other skill set made uniquely incumbent upon an uprooted and displaced people determined to live as free human beings in their homeland.  These are the qualities that define what it means to be a Palestinian.  And this is the Palestinian-ism that created a culture of resistance simultaneously making this brave people invincible while preserving their humanity in the midst of a struggle against an inhumane foe that has always operated outside of any moral constraints.

While the horrific Palestinian experience of the last 63 years is unique, the values underlying the message of the Palestinian cause are universal.  As such Palestinian-ism can’t be restricted to Palestinians.  It is an identity shared by all people from all backgrounds who struggle for freedom and against injustice.  It’s not necessary to be a Palestinian or an Arab to understand the meaning of Palestinian-ism.  Rachel Corrie, an all-American girl from Olympia, Washington understood what it meant to be a Palestinian.  She was so immersed in the life of Palestinians and skilled in Palestinian-ism, she was killed trying to save a Palestinian home by a ruthless enemy that routinely kills Palestinians.  Tom Hurndall, a British photography student and volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement was also a Palestinian.  He was killed in the Gaza Strip as he tried to help Palestinian children paralyzed with fear get out of the Israeli army line of fire.  He saved one little Palestinian girl before he was shot in the head as he came back to rescue another child.  The nine Turkish peace activists killed when Israel attacked the Freedom Flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea were also Palestinians.  By the time their blood washed up along the shores of Gaza Hanania was accusing them of bringing “more death and violence” and defending Israel.  These people along with millions of other freedom loving people across the world have all understood the universal message of the morally compelling Palestinian cause and therefore they all share the Palestinian identity.

On the other hand, Ray’s latest rambling shows it’s possible to come from a Palestinian-Arab background, and yet be completely oblivious to the Palestinian reality and what it means to live as a Palestinian.  Although his alienation is unjustified, it is excusable.  What is not excusable are his morally untenable positions regarding Palestine, his continuing efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause in the US, and the callous disregard  for Palestinian suffering demonstrated in all his writings.  And just as we thought we were going to complete his latest JP article without any mention of his family, low and behold, his wife and son make a brief cameo appearance when they  “meander along as if there were no worries in the world.”  We’re grateful Ray’s family was able to enjoy a visit to a beach and return to their Mid-West, American home safely.  That’s not always possible for Palestinian families.  We urge Ray to watch this video of a Palestinian family that went for a picnic on a Gaza Beach.  It may not be as luxurious as a resort on the Cayman Islands, but it was a trip Huda Ghalia and her family were looking forward to.  After listening to the anguish in her screams as she discovers the murdered father that rewarded her for an excellent report card with that picnic on a beach, maybe Ray will apologize for his tasteless allegories.  We doubt he has the character to do so, but he really should finally Ikhras!

Ray Hanania Plays the Sectarian Card: Old Zionist Tactics And More Proof He Does not Speak Arabic

One of the tactics Zionists and their supporters often employ is to make a partially accurate assertion about a reality or condition, blow it out of proportion and then exploit both the minor truth it may contain and the exaggerated extrapolations in order to deceive, mislead, and deflect attention from the racism and violence of the Zionist state.  Ray Hanania, the failed comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, and newest ADC board of directors member who does not speak Arabic, is now claiming to speak for and defend Christians Arabs and other Christians across the entire “Muslim world.”

Not only does Ray not speak Arabic, but his views of Arab society, which are strikingly consistent with American television images, boilerplate Orientalist clichés and Western media stereotypes, suggest he has never experienced a significant period of time living in the Arab world.  I doubt he has spent more than a few weeks in a couple of Arab countries, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has one of those vacation photos favored by tourists with him sitting on top of  a camel with a kuffiyeh on his head in his old family albums.  In his latest musing Ray is coming to the defense of the “persecuted” Christians in what he calls the “Muslim world.”  With a self-assured tone the Arab-American clown states, “The fact is that Christians continue to be persecuted in Muslim countries and the only defense we get is the argument of silence against “airing the dirty laundry” in public.”  Anti-Muslim bigots often make sweeping generalizations about that mythical, monolithic bloc of 1.5 billion people without any consideration of geography, nationality, language, culture, ideology, or the political systems and orientation of the over 50 different states that encompass  that reduced collective called the “Muslim world.”   Hanania is a product of an  American political culture characterized by very little knowledge of different peoples, cultures, geography and International politics, and one shouldn’t expect Ray The Comedian to be any better informed than Joe The Plumber about the Arabs or the  “Muslim” world simply because his parents or grandparents came from an Arab country.  Ikhras has already pointed out a strong sectarian streak in his JP writings, and blathering on Palestine so we are not surprised by his latest attempt to play the sectarian card in the service of Zionism.

It’s not possible to respond to a sweeping assertion like “Christians continue to be persecuted in Muslim countries…”   Unless Ray wants to take some time off from his silly “humor writing” and write a report about religious freedom and persecution on a given country or regime, there is nothing to respond to.   Ray does mention the murder of 10 Westerners in Northern Afghanistan by either “robbers” or “terrorists”, but such a crime carried out by Muslims hardly justifies such broad generalizations and indictments.  Limiting Ray’s assertions to the Arab world he mistakenly presumes to know slightly more about, we can say for certain his claims are demonstrably false.  By and large Christian Arabs themselves don’t claim to be persecuted. This isn’t about Christians being persecuted in any one Muslim-majority country, and Ray hasn’t discovered anything new when he points to Muslim extremists and murderers.  They exist among all groups.

What this is really about is the fueling of anti-Muslim hysteria and the promotion of an image of the Arabs and Muslims consistent with the Zionist narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Why else would Ray write “Christians face as much turmoil equally oppressed with Muslims under Israel’s brutal occupation as they do in Muslim and Arab countries.”   Even if this false claim was true, why would any discussion of the Christians’ plight in the Arab world or in Muslim-majority countries require comparisons to the conditions of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation?  Why is Israel the only state with which Ray draws any comparisons?  The reason is clear.  Ray wants to downplay the oppression and displacement (which he supports with calls to abandon the Palestinian right of return) of the indigenous population of Palestine which is qualitatively different in scope and duration than any other legitimate grievance others in the region may have.  Ray knows what he’s doing.  That’s why he attempts a preemptive defense when he writes “I don’t care if, as some fanatics argue, that discussing this “gives comfort” to the Israelis. The fact is that discussing it might also give comfort to many Christian Arabs who are not only fleeing Israeli oppression but also the sad reality of the Arab World, the Middle East and the Muslim World…” These old Zionist tactics failed even when they were employed by people far more cunning than this cheap sectarian agitator.

Bloomberg on his solidarity trip to express support for Israel's onslaught on Gaza Jan/2009

More evidence that Ray’s sectarian outburst is intended to be understood within the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict is found in his emphasis on Jewish support for the “Ground Zero” Mosque in New York.  As our readers will know we at Ikhras really don’t’ care if this Mosque is built, and we consider it an example of Muslim-Americans’ skewed priorities, but nevertheless, we do notice Ray emphasizing Jewish support for this project.  He writes “among the people leading the charge were Jewish Americans. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg were among those who expressed support for the mosque and urged religious tolerance.”   Anyone familiar with American political and social history knows that many Jews are defenders of civil rights and we certainly know more about America than Ray knows about the Arab and “Muslim” worlds.  However, we ask the question why the emphasis on Jewish-Americans as opposed to Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Hindus, or Buddhists?  Many advocates of civil rights and supporters of the project are found among all those groups.  Again, the answer is Ray wants to promote the Zionist narrative of the conflict in Palestine and downplay the crimes of Israel, and he thinks he can do so by highlighting Pro-Israeli Jews’ support for the building of an Islamic Center.

This is why Ray describes Bloomberg as a supporter of “religious tolerance.”  In other words, Ray wants the readers to believe that one can be a supporter of Israel and tolerance at the same time.  Bloomberg is a fanatical supporter of Israel who traveled there during Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in 2008 to express support for its massacres of Palestinian civilians.  As Israel was raining white phosphorous on the helpless civilians in Gaza Bloomberg saidWe have to stop this carnage, and the way to stop it is to have Hamas stop trying to kill innocents…,And if they won’t stop, then the Israelis have no choice but to use all the resources at their command to protect their citizens. We would do exactly the same thing in New York City.”  The “carnage” Bloomberg was referring to were homemade Hamas rockets, which had killed no more than half a dozen people, and not the massacring of hundreds of Palestinian children by Israel.  When asked about a “proportional response”, he quickly dismissed such a notion and insisted on Israel’s right to use all its resources “quickly and decisively” in pursuing terrorists.  That anyone who supports such crimes in Gaza can be described as “leading the charge” against the betrayal of “religious freedom and equality” or an advocate of “religious tolerance” is obscene, but the purpose of this description is obvious.  Ray who supports normalization with Israel wants to promote the Israeli narrative, downplay the crimes of Israel, and perpetuate the deadly lie that support for Zionism is a legitimate and respected point of view.

Ray The Comedian

Maybe if Ray understood Arabic he can actually speak to Christian Arabs who comprise the oldest Christians communities in the world.  With the exception of Lebanon, an artificial entity  carved out of Syria by the French Colonial power in order to create a Christian dominated state in which Muslims were marginalized politically and economically, and which experienced a brutal civil war which sometimes took the form of Christian-Muslim violence, relations among Christian and Muslim Arabs have been rather harmonious.  He should meet with Christian Iraqis and ask them about their lives prior to the US invasion and destruction of Iraq.  It was the US occupation of Iraq and its deliberate policy of stirring sectarian strife that lead to the slaughter of Muslims along with Christians and the bombings of Mosques along with Churches.  Or maybe he can go to Syria, and visit Ma’aloula northeast of Damascus and speak to members of a Christian community that still speaks the language of Jesus, and ask them about their living conditions.  They can explain it to him in Arabic or Aramaic, and I know he can find an English speaking interpreter in the city.  Ray can also go to the Palestine he keeps blathering about and speak to Christians and ask them if they are persecuted by Muslims or if they and Muslims both are persecuted for being Arab by the same Zionist regime and occupation he wants to legitimize and accept as permanent.  In fact, Ray should go to the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Hamas resistance organization he routinely describes as extremists, radicals, and terrorists and speak to the Palestinian Christians which share that large open-air prison with their fellow Palestinian Muslims.  Even in Egypt, where the largest Christian community in the Arab world lives, Coptic Christians legitimately complain about the unfair and discriminatory policies of the US backed dictatorship, but don’t claim to be persecuted.

There is one theocratic state in the Arab world that should be singled out for condemnation based on its religious bigotry, intolerance, and support of religious extremism, but interestingly Ray admires and supports the Saudi regime, and has promoted something called “moderate Saudi Arab leadership…” Hanania will have another opportunity to express his admiration for that Saudi beacon of religious tolerance the next time the ADC honors a representative of the Saudi regime at one of its banquets or galas, and I confess I still don’t know the difference.

More Proof Ray Doesn’t Speak Arabic

After writing “All my life, I was told that I should never use the phrase “Muslims and Christians.” Instead, I was told, we should always say “Arabs and Muslims.”  I don’t like it one bit. The silence demeans Christian Arabs and marginalizes them even more than we already are…” Ray should finally admit his ignorance of the Arabic language and Arab society.  First, its true Arabs generally don’t use the phrase “Muslims and Christians”, but that’s because unlike Ray the comedian they don’t view themselves through the false prism and constructs of the American political culture.  It doesn’t demean Christian Arabs nor does it marginalize them.  On the contrary, it emphasizes the common identity that transcends religious affiliation within the natural and shared social fabric of Arab society.   Ray is also oblivious to why he was told to use “Arabs and Muslims” which is precisely because the two are not interchangeable, a misunderstanding Ray himself has complained about.  If Ray understood Arabic and was able to follow the public discourse within the Arab world he would also not call upon Muslims to “publicly” condemn acts of terror, but the notion that not enough “good Muslims” have condemned “bad Muslims” has become a common theme among the ignorant bigots in the US who wouldn’t understand whether an Arabic-speaking Muslim is advocating terrorism or discussing Qataif recipes in anticipation of Ramadan.

Attempts by Zionists to stir sectarian strife among Arabs are not new, but they are usually more sophisticated than Ray’s amateurish ploy.  According to Hillel Cohen’s Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, in 1920 Chaim Weizman asked the intelligence office of the Zionist movement to come up with a plan to counter Arab opposition to Zionism.  The plan they presented to Weizman included “Provocation of dissension between Christians and Muslims.”  Since then Zionists have often attempted to create dissension and division among the Palestinians, but Weizman failed to sow the seeds of sectarianism in 1920, Israel continued to fail over decades of colonialism and occupation, and it is still failing today in Gaza and Chicago.

In addition to helping Israeli propaganda efforts, Ray also plays the sectarian card in dealing with criticism of his own political views.  He now claims “Publicly, my Arab and Muslim critics insist that my religion is not an issue, but many Christians know that is a lie. It’s one reason why I was targeted then and why I am being targeted now, as one of the new members of the National Board of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.” We at Ikhras have never mentioned Ray’s religious background and we couldn’t’ care less.  What we have focused on is his support of Zionism, his vapid writings, and his contribution to the efforts of the anti-Palestinian camp here in the US, which we, and the vast majority of Arabs, find contemptible.  We have also mocked his lame comedy routines, but that’s just for fun.

As we stated in the beginning the Muslim inhabited countries of the world can’t be reduced to a single, monolithic bloc, and it is neither possible nor necessary to respond to sweeping generalizations and indictments motivated by bigotry, prejudice, and various political agendas.  The Arab world itself is very diverse, and Christians within the various Arab countries may have different experiences living in various degrees of comfort and well-being.  It is true that the Christian presence is decreasing.  With lower birthrates and smaller numbers to begin with, immigration has made their numbers dwindle, but they are not “fleeing” Muslim persecution.  They are immigrating for the same reasons Muslims immigrate, for more opportunity and a better future that does not exist under the corrupt, illegitimate, and dictatorial regimes in the Arab world.  In Palestine, it is the brutal Israeli occupation that is driving out Christians.  Legitimate grievances of any community should not be downplayed and need to be addressed as part of the struggle for democracy, human rights, and a more just society, but whatever social ills Christians and Muslims may be experiencing must also not be exploited in furtherance of sinister political machinations or anti-Muslim propaganda.  Fortunately, the efforts of those who continue exploiting this issue will not be very effective until they make people like Ray The Comedian  Ikhras and find someone more skillful than this cheap and transparent amateur to promote and advance their political agenda.     

Ray Hanania is back with another family episode, more Zionist propaganda, and a new Arabic word

Once again Ray Hanania, the Arab-American comedian, Jerusalem Post (JP) columnist, and newest ADC board of directors member who does not speak Arabic,  addresses the Arab-Israeli conflict within the context of family tales (real or imagined) and marriage to a Jewish woman.   The latest Hanania household episode involves his wife’s insistence that he sits down with his son and has a discussion about sex.  We can ignore Ray’s fatherly discussion of the Birds and the Bees and the lame attempts at humor that pepper his writing, but we do recommend those concerned with his son’s education have a talk with Ray himself.  What should not be ignored is some of the more serious and troubling assertions made by this Palestinian-American regarding the past and present history of Palestine and the Arab-Zionist conflict.

In this latest episode we find Ray telling his son “Arabs and Jews are basically the same. We’re both human beings. People. We just believe in different things.” I told him mommy and I have an armistice agreement, which was harder to explain than sex. “Mommy is the boss in our family, but I make all the decisions.”  While the first part of that quote is obviously true, the second half was probably an attempt at humor.  This has become a rather standard format for Hanania’s articles which often appear along side Daniel Pipe’s own articles with the JP inserting their photos next to each other as they appear at the time of this writing.   We’re not sure what the purpose of Ray’s constant reference to his marriage to a Jewish woman has to do with the conflict in Palestine, but it appears certain he believes his personal status provides him with unique insight which he wants to convey to readers.

As Ray’s alleged fatherly attempt to explain sex to his son evolved into a discussion about the conflict in Palestine he told his son “There was this country, Palestine. The Jews lived there. Then the Arabs lived there. Then Jews came back. Then they started to fight over who owns the land. Both sides did bad things to each other and everyone just got madder.”  Once again we see Ray adopting the Zionist narrative with two major empirically verifiable, historical inaccuracies.  First, the original inhabitants of Palestine were the Canaanites, an Arab group that descended upon the land from the Eastern Shores of the Arabian Peninsula and spoke an ancient Arabic tongue.   The Torah itself, which is not a history book, does not dispute this historical fact.  The Philistines, who originated in the island of Crete, came to Palestine and melted into the Canaanites and the land of Canaan became known as Palestine.   It is true the ancient Hebrew tribes were part of the region, but their presence in Palestine was transient and short-lived.   Therefore, contrary to the Zionist lie that Arabs came to Palestine with the rise of Islam, the land of Canaan, later Palestine, has been, since time immemorial, inhabited by Arabs.  The Arab claim to the land is not based on a religious imperative pursued as an article of faith nor is it a mythical deed issued from the heavens carrying God’s signature as grantor.

Successive waves of invaders (mostly foreign) and immigrants (mostly from the Arabian Peninsula) either left or were absorbed by the original inhabitants and never altered the Arab identity of Palestine.  It is the Palestinian Arabs who were the original inhabitants of the land, a fact which did not prevent Hanania from repeating the Zionist lie that the “Jews lived there.  Then the Arabs lived there.”  This history provides the Palestinians with an even more legitimate claim to being the descendants of the ancient Hebrews themselves than the modern European Jews who colonized Palestine, which also belies the second Zionist claim Hanania repeats that the  “Jews came back.”   The assertion that European Jews who colonized Palestine are descendants of the ancient Hebrews is nonsense with no basis (racist eugenics aside) in serious historical inquiry.  Furthermore, even if such fantastical claims, which are solely articles of faith, had any basis in truth, it would not justify the Jews “coming back” and ethnically cleansing the original inhabitants of Palestine who were there before them, and never left.

As we saw in our previous articles on Hanania, he has a habit of blaming both sides.  He did it again when he told his son “Both sides did bad things to each other” so he must still believe this makes him sound balanced and even-handed.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Not only is there no comparison between the level and scope of “bad things” (violence) that has been inflicted on the Palestinians and the Israelis, more importantly, there is no moral equivalence between the violence of the occupier and the resistance of the occupied.

The conflict in Palestine does not involve two competing narratives, both of which contain some truth that deserves to be considered as a legitimate point of view.  There is an objective truth.  There is an historical truth regarding the ancient history of Palestine and there is a truth as far as the modern day conflict is concerned, and this ancient and modern empirical truth stands stubbornly on the side of the Palestinian Arabs.  Those of us who are not pursuing a failed comedy career in the US and are not interested in a Chicago-area radio show, a column in the JP, or a position on the National Board of the lousy ADC have no reason to not speak the truth.  We see no historical or rational justification to entertain the absurd notion there is a legitimate “debate” about who owns the land.  Although we understand why an Arab-American might feel compelled to engage in such nonsense while living in the US, we certainly don’t, and we will not allow Zionist propaganda to masquerade as a serious academic or historical debate nor an alternative viewpoint.  For the oppressed Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland through mass violence by European colonizers and who continue to suffer under occupation and in refugee camps, stating the simple, objective truth is the least we can do. Those who are not willing to do so can do us all a favor and ikhras.

After a couple of more typically lame attempts at humor, Ray’s supposed discussion about sex ends up with his son asking him “How about sharing? Mommy tells me to do that all the time. If you and mommy get along, why can’t Arabs and Jews get along?”  What Ray Hanania did not tell his son is that Arabs and Jews have lived together in relative harmony centuries before Daddy married Mommy.  It is only with the advent of Zionism and the violent conquest of Palestine by European colonial-settlers that relations deteriorated.  In fact, I would tell Ray that Arabs and Jews have gotten along atleast as well as him and his wife.

As we saw in our previous coverage of Hanania, his “solution” for Palestine is for the Arabs to accept the permanence and legitimacy of a racist, exclusivist, Jewish state and abandon their right of return.  In effect he has invited the Palestinians, whose resistance to the colonization of their homeland he calls “terrorism”, to convert to Zionism.  We agree with Ray that   Arabs and Jews are basically the same.”  All human beings are basically the same and that’s why we find courageous Jewish voices who oppose Zionism.  What Ray does not understand is what binds Arabs and Jews and all human beings together is a  set of universal human values which form the basis of an increasingly powerful and vibrant global effort by all people of conscience from various ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds who have joined together in opposition to the racist colonial project of Zionism.  I may not have a Jewish spouse but I know what peace in Palestine requires.  Ray may need to adopt Zionism to keep the peace in his household, but in Palestine peace will prevail only with the defeat of Zionism.

Post Script – Ray used a new Arabic word in his latest article, he said, “Yaani [like, in Arabic] this and yaani that.”  Ray, of course, does not speak Arabic, but instead of admitting it, he’s trying hard to create the impression he does.  He can easily prove us wrong.  We’re not asking him to read a passage from the Holy Quran or recite any of the Mu’alaqqat, but just a short dialogue in Arabic is all we’re asking for.   C’mon Ray, if you speak Arabic you don’t have to ikhras.  You have a radio show.  Let us hear it.

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

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.

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.