Friday, December 31, 2004

Palestinians must stand up to terrorism from within Dec. 31, 2004

Palestinians must stand up to terrorism from within
Exclusive to Haaretz, Dec. 31, 2004
By Ray Hanania

On January 8th, in anticipation of Palestinian elections, Israel will pull back its military in order to accommodate the voting and to conduct a test to see if the "downsizing" can be maintained.

Although it is not a Middle East peace plan, it may help to contribute to an atmosphere where Palestinians can push the Israelis back to the negotiating table and resume the 2000 peace talks that faltered when Israeli negotiators balked at making the tough concessions on Jerusalem and the Palestinian Right of Return.

More importantly, it is an opportunity for the Palestinian National Authority to re-assert its authority in the occupied territories not so much from Israel, but in the face of the real threat to its leadership, from Hamas. The new PNA government must control Hamas vigilantism, and bring to an end the Hamas-inspired suicide bombings that undermine Palestinian support internationally.

Israel reportedly is considering maintaining the reduction in the days and weeks after the election in the hopes that policing and controls can be taken over by Palestinian police.

It’s a window of opportunity Palestinians should not miss. While Hamas will argue that it’s just another form of Zionist maneuvering that changes little, pragmatics among the Palestinians must see it as a part of the process of disengagement by both sides.

As the suffering for Palestinians continue, Hamas is growing in strength; despite occasional swings in public opinion surveys, the trends show a move towards continued conflict and a despair over a negotiated settlement.

From the Palestinian standpoint, the PNA must assert its authority whenever it can. They live under occupation and the Hamas response that there is no such thing as liberation until Israel is destroyed is inaccurate and merely a re-statement of their rejection of compromise.

Yet most Palestinians support land-for-peace compromise and a mini but viable Palestinian State in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and in Arab East Jerusalem.

But Palestinians are used to being hijacked by the lowest common-denominator. One Palestinian extremists can undo in violence what thousands of Palestinians can achieve in negotiations based on a rational realization that Israel cannot be defeated militarily and there is no going back to 1948.

The only road to 1948 is through hatred, lies, exaggerations and the immoral exploitation of Palestinian suffering by the extremists. The road to 1967 is damaged, potholed and difficult to maneuver, but a clear path that can still be repaired. Hamas and its rejections have done much to destroy that road and will continue, even after the elections.

The new Palestinian president, presumably Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) must act quickly after the elections to consolidate his authority first over the Palestinians. That means an immediate crackdown on Hamas and anyone who takes the law into their owns hands.

Hamas is an outlaw organization to Palestinians that operates outside of the weak but existing Palestinian legal system. Every nation has the right to crack down on its own militants while it is seeking to negotiate. Militants have no moral authority to engage in violence, especially when those acts are intended to undermine negotiations. The next Palestinian president must interpret his election as reinforcement of that principle.

This is not about doing Israel’s bidding. It is about doing Palestine’s bidding. Palestinians cannot use the principle of the Rule of Law to defend itself against the aggression of Israel’s military occupation. And certainly, Israel’s military has committed atrocities that are equal if not worse than atrocities committed by the Palestinians against Israelis.

But you cannot demand the cover of the Rule of Law to pursue your rights if you do not apply that law fairly, completely and across the board.

Palestinians cannot find their independence through the continued violence against Israel. It can only come through the non-violent pursuit of compromise, a strengthening of International community support and shifting the conflict from one of Palestinians versus Israelis to those opposed to compromise and those who support compromise.

Israelis who support compromise must support this Palestinian opportunity and not allow the tragedies that have injured both in the past stand in the way of true justice.

If Palestinians fail, so too will the Israelis.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author. His columns are internationally syndicated and are archived on his web at


Now that Israel has a partner Dec. 31, 2004

Now that Israel has a "partner"
Creators Syndicate Dec. 31, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Mahmoud Abbas is expected to win elections Jan. 9 to succeed Yasser Arafat as president.
It may finally end the Israeli government shell game of always coming up with excuses on why it doesn’t have to make real land for peace concessions.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who provoked the current Intifada and exploited it to reverse most of the compromises made by his moderate predecessors, refused to negotiate with Arafat.

It will be interesting to see what he does now that he can’t use Arafat as an excuse. Sharon says he wants peace, but what kind of peace?

Abbas has publicly denounced suicide bombings, saying violence has been counter-productive to Palestinian interests. He is willing to bring Palestinians back to a peaceful negotiated settlement.
But the real issue is whether Israelis are ready.

Abbas has hurdles: crackdown on the violence by groups like Hamas, a terrorist organization no better or worse than Israel’s settler movement.

Palestinians have already recognized Israel’s right to exist in the pre-1967 borders, accepted Israel’s control over West Jerusalem, and agreed to Israel’s security demands. They have even recognized that some Israeli settlements must remain in the West Bank, demanding only an equivalent land swap.

Convincing Palestinians to trust Israel will be a tall order.

During the failed peace negotiations, Israel promised to freeze and eliminate settlements. But while Arafat negotiated with the late Yitzhak Rabin (who was murdered by an Israeli settler fanatic) and Ehud Barak, whom Sharon defeated, the number of settlers expanded and some settlements grew in size.

Barak insisted on keeping all of the settlements around Jerusalem, and most in the West Bank, like Ariel. He offered to give Palestinians 1 inch of land in the Negev Desert for every 9 inches Israel kept. Wow, desert sand for rich agricultural farm land. What a deal!
Israelis assert they offered Arafat Jerusalem. What a joke.

Barak offered Arafat an "office" in East Jerusalem, administrative control over the Christian and Muslim holy sites, and administrative controls over "some" of the villages outside of Jerusalem.
The "capitol" Israel offered Palestinians is Abu Dis, a village located a mile west of Jerusalem. Barak’s proposal was to pretend it is in Jerusalem.

But if Abbas can meet his responsibilities, Israelis will be forced to meet their responsibilities. Israel must return the occupied lands, swapping inch-for-inch for land they keep, a counter-proposal Arafat made that Barak rejected.

Israel must share Jerusalem. Without Jerusalem, there is no such thing as a peace deal. Instead, there will always been violence.

Israelis must acknowledge their responsibility in causing the Palestinian refugee problem in 1948. Most refugees, according to polls, accept they will not be able to return to their original homes and lands.

A Palestinian state must be viable and cohesive meaning that the West Bank cannot be divided into separate segments controlled by the Israeli military, as Barak proposed.

Already, Sharon has said he will not attend a peace conference in London, hosted by America’s allies. He says he wants to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, where most of Israel’s military casualties have occurred.

He continues to build a wall, not separating Palestinians from Israelis, but in the midst of Palestinian land, separating Palestinians from Palestinian lands Israel wants to annex.

If this effort fails, Israelis will only have themselves to blame.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Don't undermine Iraqi Democracy by curtailing rights12-24-04

Don’t undermine Democracy by curtailing its basic rights
Creators Syndicate Dec. 24, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Why is there no Democracy in the Middle East? One of the main reasons is that constituencies there tend to bond not on specific political or social issues, but on religious issues of faith.
And for most "faithful," religion is non-negotiable. Right or wrong, if God "said it," it must be true, even if it makes no human sense.

So how do you nurture Democracy in the very region where the world’s religions were birthed? How do you instill Democracy without compromising fundamental views of faith?

The answer is to redefine religion in a political message where Democracy is permitted to fearless spread its benefits. That takes more courage than most leaders in the Middle East are willing to offer.

The true balance between religion and politics is what makes American Democracy so successful, although in recent years the tilt to the conservative religious right, and the erosion of pure principles of professional journalism have caused great consternation for the future.

Leaders in the Middle East must be willing to demonstrate that they can balance not only politics and religion, but also give their people the very benefit that makes Democracy successful: Freedom of speech including the freedom to speak against the very people who advocate Democracy.

Simply put. As an American, I should be allowed to burn an American flag without being punished either by the judicial system or by the public.

That power is so great that once people experience it, they will never turn away.Iraq faces the classic challenges prohibiting Democracy.

Shiites will vote Shiite. Sunni will vote Sunni. Christian Assyrians will vote Christian Assyrian. Kurds will vote Kurds. Arabs will vote Arabs and so on. The end result is predictable. Whichever group has the most followers will win in a vote.

Instead of unraveling these religious and ethnic bonds, the current Iraqi government is reinforcing them by oppressing the right of free speech and denying the public the very benefits it claims it seeks to bring.

Iraqis must have the freedom to praise the American-led occupation, and the freedom to challenge it. Even harshly, emotionally, passionately and aggressively. In fact, the right to challenge Democracy is what makes Democracy so powerful. Take that away and the people you are trying to encourage to embrace Democracy never will.

Free speech is not free if you restrict the voices of the people.

Iraqis must be permitted to denounce the American-led occupation. They should be allowed to challenge the actions of the American-appointed government. They should be allowed to develop political positions free from oppression as the only alternative to rising religious extremism.

Most importantly, the public should be allowed to publish whatever media they wish without fear of retribution.

The reality in Iraqis far different. And the toughest actions taken by the government there so far has been against the media it dislikes. It has censored and restricted the activities of al-Jazeera, the only truly Democratic voice in the entire Middle East, replacing it with pro-American propaganda that very few Iraqis even bother to read.

They have banned al-Manara, the television station of the religiously extreme Islamic Jihad organization.

What Iraq is doing is undermining Democracy, and basically stating that while they wish to have Democracy in their country, they have no faith in the power that Democracy is supposed to achieve.

They fear that extremists will use Democracy to undermine Democracy. It’s the single greatest fatal flaw of those who advocate Democracy.

Democracy can win only if you do not impose it on a people. They must embrace it. The public needs to experience the power of free speech, and the ability to burn their own flag.

Extremism feeds on the very oppressions used to protect Democracy. Closing al-Manara and restricting al-Jazeera do not contribute toward the strengthening of Democracy. They only insure that Democracy will not succeed in Iraq.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Palestinian candidates must oppose violence 12-22-04

Palestinians must oppose violence in election voice
Exclusive to Haaretz Newspaper
Dec. 22, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Not only is the future of a viable Palestinian State at stake in the Palestinian elections on Jan. 9, but so too is how Palestinians will be defined in the coming century.

The next President of Palestine has the opportunity to change the future of the Palestinians and achieve Palestinian Statehood by offering a vision of realistic hope that undermines growing extremism.

And specific issues must be addressed.

The two leading candidates, Mahmoud Abbas and Mustapha Barghouti, are both poised to overcome the challenges ahead, although Abbas may be better able to manage the realities of Palestinian political elitism.

In order to re-position the Palestinian people to achieve viable statehood, certain issues must be addressed.

The first issue is the unequivocal rejection of all forms of violence by Palestinians. Palestinians cannot denounce Israeli violence without first standing against Palestinian violence.

Rejection of violence must be unequivocal. The ugly truth of the Palestinian revolution that continued and uncontrolled violence has resulted in the loss of Palestinian land and rights, and erosion of international support.

The next Palestinian President must bring the Palestinian people back to the center in order to accept a secular based solution to the conflict. Religious extremism cannot be curtailed through force of arms but through force of reason and logic.

The best way to counter the steady rise of religious extremism is to show that secular Democracy is the better alternative. That means that the next Palestinian President must end all censorship of Palestinian media.

The people must be able to express themselves. This certainly poses an unusual challenge, too, in how Palestinians must address instances of hate speech.

Setting aside for the moment the obvious anti-Palestinian animosity among many Jews and Israelis in their own speeches and their texts, the next Palestinian President must speak out forcefully against racist attacks against Jews and Israelis.

The real issue in a Democracy is not whether or not an individual can express racist thoughts. Democracy protects everyone’s rights.

But the difference is in how a society responds to racism. Do they embrace it or do they speak out against it. Clearly, the next Palestinian President has a responsibility to speak out forcefully against those Palestinians who, for example, refer to Jews and Israelis as "animals."

In those instances where the hate speech originates from official government sources, it must be remedied and removed. Hate speech should remain with the haters where it cannot grow.

Another challenge is to properly frame and define the issue of "The Palestinian Right of Return."
Palestinians have a right of return, but not a realistic right of return. While we demand that Israel acknowledge this right, we must also acknowledge that returning to their homes and lands is not realistic in the context of peace and compromise.

The alternative is to demand that Israel acknowledge its role in causing the refugee problem, something it has consistently refused to do. And, the next Palestinian President must clearly define what the alternative solution will be: compensation and support.

The fact is most Palestinians do not expect to return to their lands. But they do expect that the weight of the loss is equally compensated in both pride, material and future living.

The majority of Palestinians are good people. They are religious but not fanatic. They are respectful and they do not hate.

The next Palestinian President must be prepared to lead with clearly defined agendas and goals.
Surely, these campaign positions will generate criticism. But in Western Democracy, the greatest measure of leadership is often based on the intensity of your critics.Just look at Israel.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning internationally syndicated Palestinian columnist, author and satirist. He is the former national president of the Palestinian American Congress. He can be reached at
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Friday, December 17, 2004

Abbas words of strength against violence 12-17-04

Abbas candidacy may be last chance for peace
Creators Syndicate Dec. 17, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Former Prime Minister and candidate for Palestine’s presidency has been saying all the right things. But will his words resonate among the growing extremism resulting from the continued Israeli occupation?

Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, was Palestine’s first prime minister until he bumped heads with the late President Yasir Arafat. Today, after Arafat’s death, Abbas is viewed as the leading candidate to take his place.

Abbas, who assumed Arafat's post as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, could go the popular route to insure an easy victory. Instead, he is taking the principled route of realism, a tougher road based on saying things that must be said but that often many do not want to hear.

This week, Abbas said that he was sorry for the support that many Palestinians gave to Saddam Hussein when Iraq invaded Kuwait. At that time, recognizing the deep dislike many Palestinians have for the Kuwaitis, Arafat had expressed solidarity with Saddam Hussein.

Arafat was taking the easy route, playing to the crowd rather than to the tougher road of principled reason. The Kuwaitis are the most anti-Palestinian of the Arab Gulf States. In contrast, Saddam Hussein was providing support funding to families of Palestinians killed by Israeli military occupation forces.

Not every Palestinian who is killed is a suicide bomber or a terrorist. Most are innocent civilians killed by Israeli attacks. Saddam Hussein’s money went to families that legitimately deserved the support when innocent members of their families were killed.

But money is not the answer to Palestine’s challenges. Nor is the Palestinian tendency to turn towards emotion rather than realism.

The next day, Abbas went further and said what most reasoned Palestinians have been afraid to say fearing retribution from Hamas and other violent extremists. Abbas declared the violence of this Intifada is wrong. In fact, Abbas said, the violence has undermined the Palestinian cause.

In an interview with a major Palestinian daily newspaper, Abbas said that Palestinians should resist the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza without resorting to violence.

Those are tough words from a man who is seeking to build a popular base to succeed Arafat as president in what is only the second major election in the nation’s history, scheduled for January 9.

While his views may cost him some voter support, they clearly distinguish him as the best hope for Palestinians to achieve peace based on a two-state solution.

His views show he has the courage to do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said, something rare not just in Palestinian politics but in the Arab World, too.

His comments were immediately brushed aside by a spokesman for Hamas, who claimed that the "consensus of the Palestinian people" supports violence as a response to Israeli policies.

And, his comments came in the wake of the first major violent attack against Israeli targets since Arafat’s death last month when Hamas militants killed five Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint at the Gaza-Egyptian border. It was a daring assault. The attackers dug the tunnel using their hands over a four month period.

The attack demonstrates that no matter Israel does, the extremists will find away around Israel’s policies as long as Israel continues to oppress Palestinians, kill civilians and confiscate Palestinian lands.

That is a powerful concept that makes many Palestinians believe that violence is the only way to respond to Israel own violent policies. And that becomes a tough challenge for Abbas.Can his words of non-violence win back the faith of the majority of Palestinians? Or, has the conflict become so brutal that all hope has been extinguished?

A key Hamas spokesman, Khaled Mashal, may have hinted at the answer when he said Hamas would end its attacks on Israeli targets "only with Palestinian consensus."

How else to judge consensus than through an election? And an Abbas victory would demonstrate Palestinian consensus in favor of non-violence and an end to the violent responses to Israeli aggression.

Hamas, however, cannot be trusted, especially since it is not official participating in the election. In the wake of Arafat’s death, popularity for Hamas and the use of violence in response to Israel’s brutal policies has increased among Palestinians.

Despite the murder by Israel of its most visible leaders, Hamas remains a strong organization founded on religious faith and an unwavering principle to reject compromise. Suicide bombings, which have turned world opinion against the Palestinian cause, remains a fundamental part of its military strategy, although it may become more creative.

Abbas offers the best hope for peace, and may be the alternative to Hamas. Abbas has a clear vision of a Palestinian State based on justice and non-violence. These next few weeks will be critical.

But everyone must recognize his courage in the face of an untenable situation aggravated not only by Palestinian extremism, but also by an Israeli government that has done little to encourage peace or Palestinian hope.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Muslim attitudes towards Christians must change Dec. 15, 2004

Muslim attitudes towards Christians must change
Arab American Media Services Dec. 15, 2004
By Ray Hanania

The Arab World is slowly being transformed into the Muslim World as the numbers of Christians continues to dwindle.

And although I am Christian by religion, I consider myself Muslim by culture. Certainly, most Americans who meet me believe because I am Arab, I am Muslim, too.

Following a speech on the justice of the Palestinian cause, an elderly American woman with gray hair and a mild personality, walked up to me and whispered in my ear, "How could you abandon your Christian faith to become an Arab?"

I am amazed by the depths of the ignorance of the West towards the peoples of the Middle East and to Arab culture. No wonder so many Americans hate us, as hate originates in ignorance.

But every Christmas, the greatest consternation I experience comes not from the "stupid American" with the stupid stereotypes, but the educated Muslim who experiences bigotry so often, you wonder how they can become bigots themselves.

I have been reading the writings of many Muslims who must believe they are being "tolerant" and "well intentioned" when they write that Muslims should approach the Christian season in America as "an opportunity to convert Christians to Islam."

These Muslim writers do not see the challenge as one of insulting the Christians who live in the Muslim World. Rather, they view the challenge in the subtleties of the new age of reason and understanding.

Imagine if I, as a Christian, proposed that Christians in the Middle East should do all they can to exploit Islamic holidays, like Ramadan, and use them to convince Muslims to convert to Christianity.

The truth is, in many "Arab" countries, that would be a capital offense. Minimally, the offender would be jailed or expelled from the country. Christians are not permitted to "proselytize."

When I was in Bethlehem last October at the beginning of Ramadan, I was pointedly told that I should not eat my food on the outdoor patio in deference to Muslims who were fasting until sunset.

And I constantly am reminded that Christians should not consume any alcohol in public, whether it is during or after Ramadan. That’s Haram, the Arabic word for "sinful" or "shameful."

I am also often invited to perform my stand-up comedy satire and give public speeches defending the rights of Palestinians at dinner banquets. But oftentimes, when the organizers of Muslim events discover that I am Christian, they always note that maybe I can’t reflect the same message to the audience as a Muslim comedian.

Even though Muslims and Christians are fighting and dying together in Palestine? And both suffer the oppression of brutal dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East?

But Muslims in American feel it is their duty to convert Christians to Islam.

One writer wrote, that at Christmas, Muslims can show Christians "the beauty of Islam," and explain that the embrace of Jesus, who is recognized by Islam as a prophet, is a natural progression that leads them to the Islamic awakening.

If Muslims want to show Christians, especially those in America, about the beauty of Islam, how about denouncing the vicious carnage by such groups as al-Qaeda a little more often and a little more persuasively than they have in the past?

How about if Muslims, instead of seeing Christmas as an opportunity to advance themselves, look at it with a sense of respect for a fellow human being whose faith shares one common belief in one God?

What if Muslims, rather than separating themselves on the belief that Islam is a better religion, embraced not only Christians but Jews and treated them as equals, rather than as "tolerated" peoples in a system of ancient "millets," religious distinctions for Armenians, Jews, Catholics and Orthodox Christians under the Ottoman sultunates.

For many years, Christians and Jews living in the "Arab" World were required to pay a Jizya, or tax, for the privilege of being recognized as "special." Christians and Jews were required to dress "modestly" in conformance with Islamic tradition, rather than with their own custom.
Most of the Jizyas have long gone. But the attitudes have remained.

And this Christmas, while I pray for the suffering of all Muslims and Christians who are dying in Bethlehem and throughout the oppressive Israeli occupation, I also hope that many of the ugly attitudes that dominated the Muslim World might change so that the world can see the true beauty of Islam, rather than its vanity.

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

The injustice of the David Boim verdict, Dec. 11, 2004

Arabs face injustice in American judicial system
Dec. 11, 2004
By Ray Hanania

This week, a jury convicted four organizations and its leaders of the murder of a 17 year old boy, awarding his parents $52 million in damages automatically tripled to $156 million as a result of a U.S. Law.

Under normal circumstances, one might call that justice.

But this case is not about justice at all.

It is instead about hypocrisy and the growth of racism, hatred and bigotry against Arab Americans.

The victim was David Boim, killed eight years ago in a terrorist attack by Hamas, a foreign based organization engaged in a war with Israel, a foreign country, that has been going on since 1947.

There wasn't one single shred of evidence to prove that the organizations or their leaders were involved in anyway in David Boim's murder.

If this had happened in any other country, no jury in its right mind would have convicted the defendants. But this is about Israel, and the double standards that allow Israeli citizens to also hold American citizenship. This is strictly prohibited by American laws for nearly every other American. You can't be the citizen of another foreign country and be an American, too.

But that's not the heart of the double standards or the bigotry that drove this jury to make this ridiculous award.

I might have cheered on the ruling. Several of the organization are extremist. The Islamic Association for Palestine is an extremist organization that has intimidated and harassed many Americans, including other Palestinians.

They have been found guilty on the principle that they support Hamas and therefore their support makes them liable for what Hamas has done. And, thanks to the pro-Israel congress, a special law targeting Israelis who were victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict can now file suit in civil court if they can establish that the cause of their suffering was "terrorism."

In theory, Palestinian Americans who have been murdered by Israel's extremist governments over the years, could also file suit against Israel and argue that Israel's actions caused their son's or daughter's death.

Several cases exist. American student Rachel Corrie was killed not eight years ago but less than two years ago by Israeli soldiers using a U.S.-made Caterpillar Tractor to destroy the home of a civilian Palestinian family.

The Palestinians whose home was destroyed could file suit against Caterpillar under the law, and Corrie's parents could also sue Israel.

But under American hypocrisy, those lawsuits would be thrown out with disdain and prejudice. The law that rewarded the family of David Boim only protects Israeli victims of terrorism. It does not protect Palestinian victims of Israeli terrorism nor Americans killed by Israeli soldiers.
Hell, you can't even get Congress to investigate Corrie's murder.

The fact is the court ruling against the extremist Islamic Association for Palestine, and three other organizations, is a conviction driven by hypocrisy that can only happen in an America consumed by racism and hatred against Arabs.

Evidence exists to show that the American criminal justice system is now as biased as is the American entertainment industry. You can make a film filled with hatred of Arabs and Muslims in this country, but you can't organize a heritage display that has any tinges of politics critical of Israeli terrorism.

This double standard didn't begin on Sept. 11. It just got worse.

More than 14 people who "looked Middle Eastern" were murdered in the six weeks after Sept. 11, but no one in American thinks that's worth investigating.

Never mind the thousands of Arabs who have detained illegally for no other reasons than their religion and race, or usually that an American neighbor said they looked like a terrorist.

Arab Americans are being arrested and charged in cases across this country holding them to a standard not held to other Americans.

Juries around the country are convicting Arabs simply on the basis of their race and religion, and no one is going to spend any money to investigate that either.

If you are an Arab woman traveling to attend her father's funeral in the West Bank, and someone claims to have heard you say the word "bomb" in a conversation with an airport security official, you will go to jail for three days, lose your job and be humiliated.

If you happen to be a store owner and a convicted gang member points a finger at you and alleges you supplied him with drugs, you will lose your pharmacy license and all your possession.

The murder of David Boim is a tragedy. But so was Corrie's murder and the killing of the 14 "Middle Eastern-looking people that no one seems interested in defending. Boim is one of thousands of innocent people - Palestinians and Israelis - who have been killed by both sides.

But the laws that protect David Boim do not protect victims of Israeli terrorism, and many supporters of Israel are responsible.

The same week of the jury's injustice in the Boim case, Congress approved $591,000 to fund a campaign to convince the Arab world that America is a land of freedom and justice.You wouldn't have to convince them of anything, if it were true.

Most in the Arab world know America is the land of hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to Israel and American foreign policy.

Arab Americans are learning that the double standard extends far beyond foreign policy and threatens their lives directly.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning nationally syndicated columnist and author. He can be reached at

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Arab American patriotism often ignored, Dec. 10, 2004

Arab American patriotism often ignored
Creators Syndicate, Friday Dec. 10, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Arab bashing is big business in America, and it’s very popular in the media.

On November 19th, when it was reported that an American soldier in Iraq had murdered at point-blank range and in cold blood an Iraqi prisoner, American superstar and radio talk show host Don Imus went on the air and denounced Arabs as "ragheads."

Notorious for his anti-Arab racism, in the past, Imus has called Palestinians "stinking animals," and the widow of the late President Yasser Arafat as "that fat pig of a wife."

Officials at MSNBC who carry Imus’ show said they were "sorry" if anyone was "offended" by his comments. I called Imus to ask how he felt about Jews, Blacks and other minorities, but the cowboy–hat wearing tough-guy didn’t have the courage to take my call.

Unfortunately, Imus is just a cheerleader in the tolerated rise of racism in this country. Unable to capture the people responsible for Sept. 11th, Americans have to blame someone. So we invade Iraq and take our anger out on innocent people.

Since Sept. 11th 14 people who "looked" Middle Eastern were murdered. Thousands of Arab Americans were physically assaulted or verbally abused. Scores of mosques and Arab churches have been burned or vandalized.

It doesn’t matter to Imus or his racist cohorts that most Arab Americans are patriotic.
Thousands, including my father and uncle, served during World War II. Currently, 3,500 Arab Americans serve in the U.S. Military, including in Iraq. One of those Arab Americans is David Roustum.

Roustum was an all-American. He was the captain of his football and hockey teams at Orchard Park High school in West Seneca, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. And he was patriotic in the truest sense of the word, enlisting in the Army National Guard 108th Infantry Division.

Initially, Roustum served as a member of the Military Forces Honor Guard, serving in 250 military funerals, before he was deployed to Iraq in March. The 108th Infantry Regiment, a part of the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade, deployed to Iraq in support of the Fort Hood-based 1st Cavalry Division.

Roustum was in his final semester at the University of Buffalo when he was called to active duty in March of this year, following in the footsteps of an older brother, Daniel, who also served in Iraq.

Conflicted about the war and acting more as a concerned father than an unpatriotic American, Roustom’s Syrian-born father, Russ suggested he go to Syria to stay with relatives.

After all, not everyone’s sons or daughters volunteered to sacrifice their lives for this country’s foreign policy. Certainly not Mr. Imus or other members of the media or even the majority of the members of the U.S. Congress, for that matter.

David Roustum declined telling his father that he is proud to fight for America.

A few days before Thanksgiving, military officials called Russ and his wife Jennifer to say that Spc. David Roustum had been killed on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Baghdad during an ambush. Three of his colleagues were seriously wounded and their parents said that Roustum’s actions had saved their lives.

Imus wasn’t just slandering an Arab American. He was slandering all Americans. Imus owes the public more than just an apology. That he is still at his job is the real tragedy in this country.

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