Thursday, September 23, 2004

CBS scandal and issues about American media and culture 9-23-04

Scandal on CBS accuracy raises issues about American culture
Arab American Media Services Thursday Sept. 23, 2004
Permission granted to reprint
By Ray Hanania

The scandal involving CBS and its now debunked report on President Bush's service in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War raises issues that might help people in the Middle East better understand the priorities and flaws of the American people and its media.

CBS was forced to publicly apologize for airing a report on its high profile segment, "60 Minutes". The celebrated media organization apparently relied on forged documents to argue President Bush may not have served honorably while in U.S. Military service. Worse, the producer on the story may have been inclined to overlook the flaws because of personal political biases.

As details of the documents surface, it seems clear they are forgeries.

But what's fascinating and should be of interest to the Arab World in trying to understand the American media, is how oftentimes the delivery of the facts in a new story is more important than the facts themselves.

The fact is, the debate over the media's character has overshadowed the debate over the character of the two men who would be president.

The American media is rarely satisfied with just having a "good story". They always want more.
The story of President Bush and his military service is really a simple one complicated both by this media character flaw, and by the presidential elections. Bush is being challenged by John Kerry, a Vietnam War hero Democratic presidential nominee.

Kerry served active duty on the front lines in Vietnam earning a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. He also received three Purple Hearts given to soldiers who receive "wounds".

Although both men served at the same time during the height of the Vietnam War fighting, Bush didn't serve active duty. Instead, Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard. Unlike today, national guard units during the Vietnam war were rarely activated to participate in combat.

Every American over the age of 18, and certainly the ages of Bush and Kerry, would have been drafted into service during the Vietnam War. One way to avoid active duty and fighting on the front lines where the dangers were certain was to join an Air National Guard. There was one in nearly every state.

But getting into the Air National Guard was difficult, unless you had political clout. The waiting lists were long and most applicants were rejected and sent to Vietnam to fight.

Bush had political clout. He was appointed to the Texas Air National Guard through the connections of his father, George H.W. Bush who was then a U.S. Congressman and later vice president and president.

Kerry served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam -- meaning that he returned to the front lines even though after serving your first tour of duty you could have returned to a safe assignment in the states. And you might think that the fact that Kerry served in the face of danger, and Bush instead chose to serve in a position that was as far away from real danger as possible, would be a campaign issue that distinguishes the two men.

In the face of danger, Kerry showed character and could have been killed. In contrast, Bush avoided danger and sought the safety of a stateside assignment that faced no real dangers and had no chance of ever being assigned to a war zone for combat.

It's a character issue, especially since Bush has advocated that Americans go to war with Iraq and other nations in pursuit of "terrorism."

Yet the CBS scandal demonstrates how the real issues are often cast aside and instead the focus is on the peripheral process of how one gets to the truth.

The documents CBS relied on show that Bush's military superior officer in the Air National Guard felt pressured to allow Bush to briefly transfer and leave his safe, non-combat assignment to go to Alabama where he could continue his "military service" and be able to work on the political campaign of a Republican ally of his father.

Yet, even without the documents, it is a fact that Bush did leave the Texas Air National Guard for assignment in Alabama so he could work on a congressional campaign there.

Not only was President Bush able to avoid serving in a war zone while still being able to claim he earned military service in the safety of a non-combat Air National Guard unit, but Bush also got preferential treatment allowing him to continue to earn Air National Guard credits elsewhere while serving a purely political mission.

Bush was able to do what nearly every other American his age at the time who didn't have a father who was a politically connected congressman could not do. They could not avoid fighting in Vietnam or serve in active duty, taking them away from their normal lives and careers and schooling.

In contrast, Kerry did what nearly every military-aged American was forced to do. He went to a war zone and fought in Vietnam. More than 69,000 Americans like Kerry didn't return and were killed in that war.

Kerry faced death. Bush avoided service.

Supporters of President Bush are gleefully exploiting the CBS scandal to deflect American attention from these basic and fundamental facts. You don't need more documents to prove these events.

But this is the nature of the American media accepted in American politics and American society: How you deliver truth is often more important than the truth itself.

# # #

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Malkin: One brunette who believes blondes shouldn't be singled out, 9-19-04

Michelle Malkin and the resurrection of fascism
Or, One brunette who believes blondes shouldn't be singled-out
Sept. 19, 2004 Arab American Media Services/Permission granted to reprint
By Ray Hanania

There is definitely a growing market for hatred in America.

One of the Donald Trumps cornering this new market is Michelle Malkin, the daughter of Philippine immigrants who probably has several autographed portraits of Ferdinand Marcos hanging in her office.

Malkin is a "white man" wannabe, the new face of neo-fascism in this country.

Malkin is one of those who believes the best way to eliminate intolerance is to simply eliminate the people who you don't want to tolerate. If you didn't have someone to not tolerate, you couldn't be intolerant. Therefore you have eliminated the sickness.

This precise definition of Malkin's philosophy might even work to eliminate racism -- if we could just get rid of Black people, we wouldn't have racists. Of course, the list of people Malkin hates is far broader than simply people from Africa and would take a lot of work to achieve that goal in its purest sense.

Malkin preached her philosophy of righteous disdain during a carefully managed appearance at Berkeley where she was pimping her new book, "In Defense of Internment," a title that might better translate into "Mein Kampf" for her generation that seeks to be free of bothersome dissent.

About 200 people, mostly students, listened to her as she stood in front of an American flag that was placed on the wall behind her, obviously to counter the ridiculous impression that in calling for increased detention of Americans she is in fact against everything that Old Glory represents.

I wasn't among the nearly one thousand who protested against her outside of her carefully managed appearance to keep out the tough questions. I watched her speech on C-SPAN. As I did, I noticed that during her speech, the American flag kept trying to fall off the wall, as if it were rolling in the premature grave Malkin hoped to bury its fundamental rights in.

Her ranting was similar to a monologue by right-wing comedian Dennis Miller, who she admires, except that her endless reiterations of why people should be jailed lack both humor or punchlines.

She said that contrary to popular belief, she is one of the biggest critics of President George W. Bush. Of course, maybe she meant in terms of height against other Filipinos her age.

That's a joke, of course. The kind that Malkin might argue would be more than enough to justify someone coming under the scrutiny of the FBI or who might earn the designation as "terrorist."
Bush isn't profiling enough, Malkin protested. Malkin argued repeatedly that not enough was being done to intern Arabs and Muslims and other potential terrorists; under Malkin's definition, a terrorist is anyone who is Muslim or who supports Muslims, is Arab or has Olive skin, or relatives or descendants in the Middle East.

To quote her, "If all of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11th were short, young Filipino women screaming Hail Marys … Fer sure! Barf me out! Totally!"

Lest you might think she was serious about criticizing Bush, she quickly noted that "I think Kerry would be worse." She said something even nastier about Ted Kennedy but I couldn't understand her words, which were distorted by sarcasm.

One of my favorite comments, which she made repeatedly during her speech was to compare the U.S. Constitution to "land mines." It's filled with them, she argued.

And when the issue of those thousands of people who have been rounded up and jailed and uncharged and denied the right of legal defense, she expressed with a distinguishable sigh and huff how she really felt sorry for employees of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI because they were overburdened with an endless and thankless job.

I can fully understand that. I don't know how many times I recall Heinrich Himmler make the same argument. Despite his best efforts, he just couldn't keep up with the never-ending discovery of more non-Aryans. Every time the German's conquered and occupied a new country. And religious profiling seemed to be his only answer!

Malkin brushed off a complaint about Timothy McVeigh from an audience member who tried to circumvent the carefully controlled forum. Malkin only answered questions submitted on index cards screened for acceptability, and only after she declared with true patriotism, "I'm not afraid to take on questions from the audience."

McVeigh, she said, was merely a "straw dog" used to distract from the real threat and the real terrorism from the Middle East. Until Sept. 11th, McVeigh had actually murdered more civilian Americans than any other single Islamic terrorist.

Thank God for the skin heads, White racist militias, neo-Nazis and Malkin that Osama bin Laden came along. I can just hear Malkin's whine reverse as her biggest fan base found itself being scrutinized, profiled and then interned fearing another Murrah Federal Building massacre.
Never mind that the FBI and police chased down every possible Arab and Muslim lead in trying to respond to McVeigh's terrorist act and that McVeigh was caught by accident when he was stopped for a broken taillight.

As she pandered to fears, racism and paranoia, Malkin proved that hate mongering has a kinder and gentler side in appearance.

The reason why terrorism has been so successful, she preached, was because of the New York Times, and a coterie of bleeding heart liberal columnists who she spent a lot of time naming and attacking as "intolerant."

If she could only get rid of those people, she could concentrate on doing America's work rounding up more of those Mohameddans, and Islamic-loving "reds."

In Malkin's cleansed world, Joe McCarthy would probably be appointed leader for life of the new American Civil Liberties Union.

Hey. If you just get rid of civil liberties, we wouldn't have to be burdened by an organization seeking to protect them.

Brilliant, Michelle.

# # #

Saturday, September 18, 2004

New Voices needed to stand up to Palestine-Israel violence, 9-18-04

New voices needed to stand up to violence
Arab American Media Services/Permission granted to reprint
Sept. 18, 2004
By Ray Hanania

A friend asked me recently to explain why someone would commit a suicide bombing. I said I didn't know.

Suicide bombings happen every week, mostly by Iraqi insurgents fighting our troops and Palestinians fighting Israelis.

Clearly, though, suicide bombings are the work of extremists who exploit human suffering. Why else does a human being chose death over life?

I don't support suicide bombings, but I think it is worth trying to answer the question. Can we prevent them?

Certainly, the voices of extremism have succeeded in drowning out the voices of reason on both sides? Suicide bombers are willing accomplices in a tragedy where extremists have convinced them that their self-destruction will somehow achieve some good goal.

Is it because in the Palestine-Israel conflict, there is no hope left for life? Or because Palestinians and Israelis seemingly have given up on peace and see violence as their unavoidable destiny?

Could it be that people see friends and relatives dying around them every day and no one else seems to care?

Their suffering is exploited by fanatics who distort religious belief, distorting the peaceful fundamentals of Islam, for example, convincing suicide bombers their act is an expression of faith.

It's not.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that few people seem to care when a Palestinian dies, but the value of an Israeli life is given so much more concern by the media and the public.

In the first 15 days of September, two suicide bombings took place in Israel, killing 16 people and wounding 93. The violence got widespread coverage.

In contrast, during the same period, 48 Palestinians, mostly civilian, were killed by Israel, including many young children. More than 250 Palestinians were seriously wounded. These killings got very little coverage.

Does this disparity in coverage contribute to the problem? I think so. I think it sends out a message that a Palestinian life is not worth the same value as an Israeli life.

I oppose suicide bombings. Most Palestinians I know are against them, too. But how do you ask a man whose young daughter has been slaughtered in an Israeli attack to set aside his grief and speak out against suicide bombings?

Palestinians feel that they are under siege, their land is being taken away and they have little hope for a just and fair peace, something that Israel has yet to offer. Israel's "most generous offer of peace" was far from what many would consider a just and fair peace.

The people of Israel and Palestine have both given up on peace. Neither side seems concerned about the suffering of the other. Israelis remain silent about the murder of innocent Palestinian civilians. Palestinians remain silent in the wake of suicide bombings.

Still, I know that before we can talk about peace, justice and fairness, we both need to stop the violence.

It would be nice if more people on both sides stopped contributing to the conflict by only speaking out against the violence in a partisan manner when it is against their own people. We should show compassion for each other, too.

If we did that, maybe we wouldn't have more suicide bombings or the collateral killings of young children.

I couldn't answer the question why it happens. But I think that pretty much sums up how both sides can make all the violence stop.

# # #

Friday, September 17, 2004

American actions reflect old Soviet styles in new Gulag, 9-17-04 AAMS

American actions reflect old Soviet styles in New Gulag
Arab American Media Services/Permission granted to reprint
By Ray Hanania

I grew up in an American that once had powerful values. Today, many of those values have lost their luster.

I remember reading the Gulag Archipelago and about its author and most famous guest, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, denounced by the Soviets as a "terrorist."

Today, the Soviet Gulag has been replaced by an American Gulag. It's not as bad, but it's close, holding thousands of political prisoners falsely accused of terrorism and denied the right of self-defense.

In this new Gulag, "Solzhenitsyns" and "Sharanskys" have been replaced by "Salehs" and "Arnauts." These are Arab Americans persecuted for political beliefs who face trumped-up, false charges of terrorism.

Maybe Americans have tired of championing civil rights. When it comes to rights of these new dissidents, Americans seem uncaring.

Does it bother us that American soldiers kill civilians or journalists? When the Soviets did it, we marched, protested and railed against the Soviet beast!

Recently, a reporter for the Arabic language satellite station, al-Arabiya, was killed by American forces in Iraq. His death was barely covered in the US. American officials brushed it off as "collateral damage." Few reported the other side of the story that tells a more damning tale of possible American war crimes.

The reporter, Mazen Tomeizi, was killed after an American skirmish with Iraqi insurgents ended. A Bradley armored vehicle was burned and two other American helicopters were crippled nearby.

As Tomeizi was doing his "stand-up report" in front of the Bradley, American helicopters fired several missiles killing him and 13 other Iraqi civilians including a young Iraqi girl. American soldiers insisted they were merely returning fire.

It reminded me of how Israeli forces fire missiles from helicopters into Palestinian villages killing civilian targets.

But the truth seems otherwise. Other Middle East media, including al-Arabiya, show Tomeizi being blown to bits while doing what American TV reporters call the "scene wrap." His blood splattered on the TV camera lens as he was being filmed.

It's gruesome. But the video taken before the killing shows no evidence that Americans were being fired on at all and the skirmish had long ended.

Most Americans haven't seen any of this, of course. It's prohibited by the new American Gulag. The public frowns on truth that implicates them in crimes, so American reporters seem pressured only to report permissible truth.

Many Arabs believe that American forces show a total disregard for the lives of Arabs and Arab journalists.

Americans don't like Arabs. I don't believe Tomeizi's killing was accidental. It may have to do with the fact that he was reporting in front of a burning Bradley, which symbolized how poorly America's war in Iraqi is going.

The fact that he happens to be Palestinian only adds volume to the disregard for his death.

It's a trait the American Gulag adopted from Soviet practices we once vilified.

The vast majority of the Soviet dissidents were Jews. Most of the American dissidents and political prisoners are Arab. American's hate Arabs in much the same way that many Russians hated Jews, forcing them to flee.

Some say "hate" is too strong a word. I disagree. Hate allows normal people to justify the unjustifiable.

Hating Arab Americans makes it easy to abuse them. Hate means we can ignore atrocities committed in our name by our soldiers.

That's the principle of the new American Gulag. We didn't invent. We just find it convenient.

# # #

Israeli extremists block peace 9-17-04

Creators Syndicate,
Ray Hanania

The Likud Party headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has split, and the Yesha Council representing the Israeli settler movement is taking sides as a political battle rages over whether Israel should withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

While some may see this as moderation battling extremism, it is really just another ugly war among Israeli extremists who stand in the way of peace and prolong the conflict for selfish political reasons. To Palestinians, Sharon is a terrorist, plain and simple.

The killing of civilians has shadowed his career since his first days as a terror unit commander in the 1950s. Sharon has split with his colleague, Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister also dedicated to continued bloodshed and violence. But one thing remains in common for them: They both oppose the creation of a viable Palestinian State.

The Israeli settler movement is a movement based on racism and discrimination. Only Jews are allowed to live in the settlements, which are established on lands confiscated from Muslim and Christian owners who are then expelled.

So when Sharon decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, some people argued ridiculously that he was taking steps to compromise and achieve peace. In reality, Sharon has found himself in a vicious battle, and he wants to cut his losses.

It was Sharon who provoked the current battle in September 2000. He then used the violence to exploit Israeli emotions and win election as prime minister. Sharon flooded the Gaza Strip and West Bank with soldiers who brutalized and pushed Palestinians into a conflict that Sharon now feels jeopardizes his leadership.

Making matters worse, some Palestinians have resorted to immoral acts of violence, such as suicide bombings. But most of the violence involves Palestinians defending themselves on their own land against attacks and killings by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

The split over evacuating the Gaza Strip has exposed the Likud and settlers for the terrorists that they really are. Sharon has accused Likud and settler opponents of the withdrawal of inciting civil war.

The one certainty of Israeli extremists is they love to pretend like they are innocent victims, when all along they are the causes of the violence themselves. When Sharon's predecessor Yitzhak Rabin tried to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians, it was a Likud settler fanatic who murdered him. In doing so, Yigal Amir also killed the peace process and made it possible for Netanyahu and Sharon to rise up in the flames they helped ignite. Both Sharon and Netanyahu opposed Rabin and the peace process, and both of them helped to undermine it and provoke Palestinian violence.

Throughout history, Israeli fanatics have resorted to terrorism. Likud founder Menachem Begin distinguished himself as the first terrorist to use kidnapping, assassination and murder in Palestine in the 1940s.

Once in power, terrorists never have to use open terror. Instead they act like Sharon, provoking the innocent into acts of violence and using that violence to achieve their political goals. Whether Israel does or does not withdraw from the Gaza Strip is meaningless.

Sharon's true intent is the destruction of a Christian and Muslim Palestinian State. Only until this terror conspiracy in leadership is replaced by a genuine Israeli peace leader can there be any hope for lasting peace.

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Israeli population data offers cynical hope 9-16-04 AAMS

Israeli population data offers cynical hope
Arab American Media Services/Permission granted to reprint
By Ray Hanania

Despite non-stop violence against them by Israel's military, Palestinians found some hope this week when the country's official census study showed Palestinians growing twice as fast as Jews.

Published by Israel's leading English language newspaper, Haaretz, the data shows that Israel's population of 6.8 million consists of 5.5 million Jews and 1.3 million Arabs.

Of course, those number do not include the Palestinians living under military occupation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank where Palestinians are killed at a rate three times faster than Israelis.

It does include citizens of East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally annexed and that the international community still considers occupied territory.

These quirks aside, the study indicated that the Jewish population grew by only 1.4 percent in 2003, compared to 3 percent for the Arab population.

Unlikely that Israel will make the concessions necessary to create a viable Palestinian State, the population trend is the only hope left for Palestinians in a land consumed by violence by both sides. Instead of two states, there will be one multi-national state, forcing Israel to become truly Democratic by default.

If you put those numbers to a calculator, and the growth rate remains the same, you can see where the numbers take you. In about 92 years, Israel will become a predominantly Christian and Muslim nation, unless Israel is planning something like expelling non-Jews.

The current growth rate will result in a population of 20,039,759 Jewish Israelis and 20,314,458 Christian and Muslim Israelis, by my calculations.

As a side note, the survey also showed that the Arab-Moslem population increased by 3.3 percent, while the Christian community increased by only 1.2 percent. That's a whole other calculation that just means that the Christian presence in the Holy Land will be even more negligible than it already is.

With these statistics in mind, you can bet the pressure will mount on Israel to expel its Arab citizens. You know. The Christian and Muslim "Arab citizens" Israelis constantly assert have "equal rights" in the "Jewish States."

It seems hard to imagine a time when the birthplace of Jesus might have no Christians, but it could happen.

Even harder to imagine is that a Jewish State built to collect Jews expelled or persecuted mainly from Europe because of growing Christian anti-Semitism, would now start expelling other religious groups.

This is a very cynical way to look at the future. But in today's environment where fanatics seem to have taken over both sides of the dispute, cynicism sometimes masquerades as hope.

The fact is the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been about population and land. Israel isn't just a state, it is a Jewish State. The conflict today isn't about whether Israel should exist or not, but whether Israel should be allowed to keep the lands it occupied in 1967.

But an even more difficult scenario to envision is that Israelis and Palestinians might look past the scars of violence and vengeance to achieve a just and fair peace.

Though 92 years seems far off, nearly the same time has elapsed since the Western Allies of World War I encouraged Jews to leave mostly Western nations to create their own "homeland" in Palestine, a country already populated by Christians and Muslims.

Who would have thought back then, it would lead us to where we are today?

# # #

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Must Arabs apologize for terrorism committed in their name? 9-14-04

By Ray Hanania
There is a healthy debate finally taking place in the Arab world, and it is based on a single question: should Arabs and Muslims apologize for the actions of terrorists who commit atrocities in the name of "Arabs" and "Muslims"?

Until now, most Arabs and Muslims have rejected this idea, arguing that they are not responsible for the terrorist acts, which are often committed by individuals or by groups sponsoring these individuals.

Therefore, why should they apologize for something they did not do? Yet, continued terrorist acts, the increase in the "shock factor" of the atrocities and growing anger in the world are forcing many Arabs and Muslims to reconsider their view.

I don't believe we should apologize for the atrocities themselves. These are the acts of individuals and organizations with whom most Arabs and Muslims and I do not agree.

Some Arabs and Muslims were among the dead on Sept. 11, and more than 14 people who were or looked Middle Eastern were murdered in post-Sept. 11 revenge killings.

But I do believe we should apologize for not having shown the courage to stand up to these terrorists among us sooner. In other words, we are not responsible for the terrorism, but we are responsible as Arabs and as Muslims to stand up and denounce those who commit atrocities in our name. And we have not done that.

Apologizing for not doing enough to stop the terrorists does not undermine what we hold as righteous causes, such as the liberation of Palestine and the movement to achieve a lasting peace based on land-for-peace compromise.

That is a just struggle that must continue, regardless of the terrorist acts committed in the name of Palestine.

As Arabs and Muslims, it is not our responsibility to apologize for the terrorism of a suicide bomber who strikes at Israeli military and civilians.

But we must speak out against acts that have hijacked the Palestinian cause against the will of the Palestinian people.

We do not need terrorism to win. We can win on the power of our justice. We do not need violence to justify what is already justified. Palestinians deserve to be free, and Israel cannot deny that inevitability. In the face of this terrorism, Israel has been able to prolong the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and resist what it considers unfavorable compromises, such as the true sharing of the city of Jerusalem.

By not speaking out against the rising incidence of Palestinian terrorism and suicide bombings, we are allowing these terrorists, who do not represent the majority of Palestinians, to hijack our cause, to marginalize the community and to assert themselves as the symbols of Palestinian liberation when they are not.

Arabs and Muslims were not responsible as a people for Sept. 11. Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and his Taliban hosts in Afghanistan were responsible for this terrorist attack. But continued Palestinian terrorism and the failure of Palestinians to denounce these killers have created a new reality and a new perception that holds us all responsible for the actions of a few. It may not be right, but it is a reality.

We need not apologize for this act of terrorism. But we must apologize for not doing enough to prevent it. We must do more to counter the growing perception that Arabs and Muslims endorse bin Laden's acts by speaking out more forcefully in denouncing bin Laden's atrocities.

Although we do not need to apologize for those in our community who also blame Israel and "Jews" for Sept. 11 -- or the ridiculous claim that Jews were alerted before the attacks to save their lives -- we do need to forcefully speak out against that stupidity in thinking. It's anti-Semitic.

In the growing debate about whether we should apologize for the terrorism, we must accept that we have not done enough to prevent those among ourselves from committing atrocities in our name.

We should struggle to protect our good name and our just causes from being violated by those who would use injustice as a weapon of revenge, and act now to prevent those in our community from committing further acts of terrorism in our name.

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC

Friday, September 10, 2004

Palestinians standing in the way of peace 9-10-04

Palestinians standing in the way of peace
Creators Syndicate Friday, Sept. 10, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Three years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Palestinians have failed to do enough to condemn the kind of Islamic extremism that caused the terrorism.

And while, technically, some Palestinians are correct in arguing that their cause was not behind Osama bin Laden's terrorism, they were uninvolved and they were unsupportive, a redefinition of terrorism and the rise of terrorism in the intifada place a moral burden on their backs they can't avoid.

Further, the failure of Palestinians to control their own Islamic extremist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, has redoubled the burden.Islamic fanaticism has permeated the Palestinian cause, undermining its justice and threatening Palestinian national aspirations.

They have functioned with the tacit approval of the Muslim world, and Palestinians, who embraced Islam as the so-called official religion of the yet unachieved Palestine, have fueled the linkage.

More than championing the principle of Palestinian justice, Palestinians must address without equivocation the terrorism that has taken place in their own name.

That terrorism parallels the terrorism of Osama bin Laden in the eyes of the West, which has the power not only to deny Palestinian national rights, but to empower Israel's growing right-wing government to exercise even worse acts of state-sponsored terrorism in the guise of self-defense.

Israel would not have been able to build the wall had Palestinians not failed to rein in the terrorists who have hijacked the Palestinian cause. Suicide bombings are immoral, and rather than undermine Israel's actions, they only serve to reinforce world moral support for Israel's repression.Israel would not have been able to expand its racist settlements had Palestinians not failed to control the free-lance terrorists who seem to dominate the current turmoil.

Israel would not have overcome years of Palestinian advances in the world toward nationhood had Palestinians stood firm in decrying not only Israeli atrocities but also atrocities committed by Palestinians or in the Palestinians' name.

Many might argue this is an unfair burden. It's true, it is unfair. But the Palestinian tragedy that is unfolding is worse than unfair, and unless Palestinians take serious steps to arrest the religious extremists among them, their cause will only further erode.

Before Palestinians can even speak out against Israel's actions, they must speak out against the actions of their own people. They can thank the Islamist movement for placing that inevitable burden on their backs. They can thank the rise of Islamic fanaticism for undermining their just cause. They can thank Osama bin Laden for pushing the cause of Palestine to the back burners of the international conscience. They can thank Sept. 11 for making it nearly impossible to stand up and demand justice or demand that Israel's atrocities end.

The truth is that despite the ugliness of Israel's wall, it has reduced Palestinian extremist suicide bombings. The wall is not the right answer for Israel, nor will it ever guarantee true long-term security, but it is providing the answer that Palestinians have failed to provide.

The longer Palestinians delay speaking out against the fanaticism among their own community, the worse the situation will become, and the more difficult it will be for Palestinians to achieve justice.

Even Palestinians who embrace peace and oppose violence cannot succeed as long as the Palestinian community, the conscience of the Palestinian people, fails to stand up and denounce terrorism and suicide bombings.

They must, as a nation, denounce Islamic fanaticism, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the instrument of these horrors, suicide bombings, or else they may be forced to surrender their historic claims for justice, compromise and peace.

Hamas stands in the way of peace, not Israel. The failure of the Palestinians as a nation, not individual groups, to denounce suicide bombings, stands in the way of justice.

Israel may not want to give the Palestinians a real just peace, but Palestinians have made it easy for Israel not to do so.

Ray Hanania was the national president of the Palestinian American Congress in 1995. He can be reached at

Monday, September 06, 2004

Why do the Republicans hate us? 9-06-04

Why do they (GOP) hate us?
Creators Tuesday Sept. 6, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Why do the Republicans hate us?

It was almost like the Republican National Convention was a party of Arab bashers, thanks in part to one of the opening night speakers who set this ugly tone, Rudy Giuliani.

The comments of the former mayor of New York may not seem surprising to some, since he was in office when 19 Islamic terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center and murdered nearly 3,000 innocent victims on Sept. 11th.

But Giuliani's comments shattered all barriers of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred, and he sounded more like one of the fanatic cable new talk show hosts who disguise hate for opinion, and demagoguery for news.

His vitriolic attacks may have rallied the emotional spirits of the Republican delegates gathered at Madison Square Garden, but it did little to strengthen their moral compass.

Giuliani masterfully pushed every hateful anti-Arab button he could, disparaging the Palestinians, the Arab World, Muslims and even Arab American organizations, all based on a philosophy that began with President Bush that has been bastardized just as clearly as Osama Bin Laden bastardized the true meaning of Islam.

"You are either with us or you are with the terrorists."

No. The real formula is that you are either with justice or you are against justice. But that would mean that people like Giuliani, whose careers have been built upon embracing heavy handed injustices, would have to set aside their partisan political agenda.

And Giuliani can't do that.

His clarion wasn't sounded for the world, but for those in America who dissent from his racist, conservative views. His narrow vision of "terrorism" is defined not by reason but by hate and bias. Every example was intended to promote a partisan, anti-Arab agenda that he has carried since the day he was first elected to office in New York.

His message was one of searing emotion and irrational vengeance.

I was sickened by his claim that he cared at all about the "poor people of Iraq," who he now says was the real reason why America invaded a sovereign nation that posed no real threat, only an imagined threat that was based on Bush's lies.

And I shivered when I heard Giuliani, who has never shown compassion for the poor in his own city, claimed to be the patron saint of victims of Sudanese terror or the women of the Arab World.

If Giuliani really cared anything about the women of the Arab World, why doesn't he have Hijab wearing Muslim and Arab women working on his staff?

Worse was his exploitation of the suffering of Sept. 11th.

As an American, I fear living in a Giuliani world. As an American, I am frightened by the policies that have put the tang in one of the most bitter and divisive election campaigns in American history.

As an American, I fear the message of hate that Giuliani was permitted to send out from what should be a beacon of freedom and justice; Giuliani's token abuse of those terms put all who have died to protect this country to shame.

Giuliani spoke with the same fervor and hysteria that once stirred the German people to put a Jewish face on the troubles that plagued their nation in the 1930s.

But there was an accidental truth in his acerbic tirade. He said, " When it catches hold there is nothing more powerful than freedom. Give it some hope, and it will overwhelm dictators, and even defeat terrorists."

If there is a remedy for people like Giuliani, it is true freedom, not the bastardized freedom that Giuliani today represents.

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Friday, September 03, 2004

Schwarzenegger's experience relates to Palestine, too 9-03-04

Schwarzenegger's speech recalls personal horrors
Creators Syndicate Friday Sept. 3, 2004
By Ray Hanania

I could relate to Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech to the Republican Convention in New York when he spoke about how Austrians walked past Russian soldiers during their occupation.

Schwarzenegger said the rule was "not to look the soldiers in the eyes."

If you did, you might attract their indiscriminate wrath.

You can say that about the Russians and everyone believes you. But if you try to describe the same experience with Israelis, no one cares.

During a visit I made there during the beginning of this current rebellion, Intifada, I crossed through several Israeli checkpoints with relatives who lived in Ramallah.

My cousin clutched her two small children who were at the point of tears as we tried to cross a checkpoint to go to Bethlehem where he father, a priest, lives. She said to me, "Don't look the soldiers in the eyes. They hate us. Look away from them otherwise it could cause a problem."

The soldiers were always heavily armed. They had backup soldiers in buildings nearby. Soldiers with machine guns watched from above and at some checkpoints, on nearby hills, Israeli tanks aimed their big guns at the civilians who slowly and painstakingly crossed the checkpoints to move from one city to another.

What my cousin meant, of course, was that any time, the Israeli soldiers could fire their weapon at you. You could be wounded or killed and no one would care.

When a Palestinian is killed, the area is cordoned off and Palestinian paramedics are not permitted near the bodies. Oftentimes, the people killed, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (the Palestinian version of the Red Cross) die because no one is allowed to take them to a hospital for treatment.

Many of those killed, according to the PRCS are women and even children, fired at by Israeli soldiers either jumpy because of the tension or driven by a fanatic rage that has swept over much of Israel.

They often fire indiscriminately. Everyday, Palestinians are killed and no one cares. The only time anyone really cares is when a Palestinian extremist commits a suicide bombing and kills Israelis. Pictures of the Israeli victims are splashed across newspaper front pages all the time. But you rarely see the images of Palestinians killed, and they are dying nearly everyday.

The Israeli soldiers hold their automatic weapons high. I walked past to go to Bethlehem to visit my mother's family. She was born under the shadow of the Church of the Nativity, which is today under the shadow of a constant Israeli occupation and unending Israeli military assault.

We walked past the soldiers and I made the mistake of looking up. I just couldn't believe that in this day and age, a soldier could just decide to kill you because he or she doesn't like the look you gave them.

My cousin bowed her head and held the small hands of her two children tight as they cried and quickened their pace past the soldiers.

"Keep moving. Keep moving," she whispered loud enough for me to hear but soft enough so the soldiers, who were a dozen or more yards away could not.

Off on the side of the road was a taxi that had been pulled over. The driver had been screaming at the Israelis who ripped his car apart and destroyed its wheels. The man was yelling in Arabic that he did nothing. People walked by in fright .

The soldier pointed to me as my eye caught his eye and he crooked his finger and waved it towards him. I still did not sense the danger that might take place. I pretended to look away like I didn't see him, but he started to yell in Hebrew and then in Arabic.

Other soldiers ran up to me and pointed their guns at me. And they grilled me like I was a prisoner. They were only satisfied when they saw my blue American passport. One of the soldiers said in English he had a cousin who lived in Chicago. And he asked me about the Bulls and Michael Jordan.

After the chit chat, they let me go.

But everyday I wonder aloud. What if the trigger-happy Israeli shot me? Who would really care?

Palestinians are killed there all the time. Americans, too. I didn't hear that concern in Schwazenegger's speech.

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