Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interview with Bradley Burston of Israel's Haaretz Newspaper

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JAN. 2010 -- Interview with Haaretz Columnist Bradley Burston

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tragedy in Wonderland, the fatalism of the rejectionist ideology

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It's one thing to be optimistic. But when you replace optimism with fatalistic hope, it is irresponsible and even selfish.

How else do you describe the bizarre, although articulately expressed, assertions by Ali Abunimeh, the presumed successor to the late great philosopher Edward Said, that Israel is "failing?" Published on Abunimeh's web site "The Electronic Intifada," where Abunimeh pines for the days when Palestinians were willing to sacrifice everything by using inadequate violence to respond to Israel's military violence, the column makes the seemingly bold claim that Israel is a "failed" state.

That kind of rebellious declaration, or rhetoric, does make the Palestinian sheep that follow him blindly cheer for optimism. But it isn't optimistic at all. In fact, attempts to rally the Palestinians with empty claims are undermining Palestinian ability to overcome the occupation.

The fact is if Israel is a "failed" state, then what is Palestine? What is the Palestinian achievement? What is the Palestinian strategy/ What is the means by which Palestinians might exploit this national failure by Israel?

The sad truth is that Palestinian extremists have been feeding false hope and useless rhetoric that instead of moving Palestinians to overcome the occupation have deluded them into believing that the continuation of the occupation is good because it will miraculously vanish because "Israel is a failed state."

Never mind that the movement Abunimeh cheers like a scene from the film "Lord of the Flies" amidst the bonfire of his vanities is an empty movement with only one goal: keep the conflict going because there might be some miracle. Because that is what Palestinian extremists need, a miracle. And they don't mind waiting through three more generations of Palestinian refugee destitution in the hopes it will arrive. Someday. Not now, of course. But someday, in the distant future.

People who are desperate and denied leadership will consume anything for hope. Alixirs. Promises of dreams that in reality are nightmares. False hope is always what false leaders offer to the hopeless. Because feeding hopelessness preserves the leaders of the "leaders."

They can't tell the people the sad and pathetic truth that after 62 years of fighting with false hope and lies and alixirs, the Palestinian people are no closer to statehood than they were in 1948. The rejectionists used to blame that failure on the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat. Never mind that Arafat was the only Palestinian to achieve any significant objective, raising through revolution the Palestinian people out of the abyss of darkness and forcing the world to recognize that we in fact do exist. But that revolution in the hands of extremists and other false Palestinian prophets is non-existent. They wish for it, which is why Abunimeh's Electronic Intifada is an online altar to a power long lost.

There have been two Intifadas. The first was powerful and pushed Israel to the negotiating table that it falsely claimed it hoped to sit at with Palestinian peace partners. The sacrifices of the first Intifada, led by Palestinians at the grassroots level of the occupation, had a goal: to resist the oppressive Israeli military occupation and to push Israel to a solution to end the occupation and allow creation of a Palestinian State.

The second Intifada was started not by Palestinians but by Ariel Sharon, an Israeli terrorist in a three-piece suit who rose from the infamy of the Qibya massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1953 (and later was also involved in the Qafr Qassem massacre as a military supervisor in 1956) to become Israel's most vicious prime minister. It was hijacked from the hapless Palestinian people by the terrorism of Hamas, a religiously fanatic militant organization that Sharon and Israel helped midwife into being in the 1970s.

Abunimeh, who comes from the same corrupted Palestinian elite who destroyed Palestinian hopes and dreams in the pre-1948 years, pines for another Intifada, a violent and unnecessary option that would heap huge suffering upon a Palestinian people already max-ed out in suffering. The last thing the Palestinians need is another violent struggle against Israel. After two failed struggles and limited success from a revolution, Palestinians need leaders who can bring the conflict to an abrupt end and achieve at least some form of genuine statehood sovereignty. The only way to do that is to negotiate a real peace that establishes Palestine as a state in the last remaining land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There is still hope for that two-state settlement, but that hope is exactly what pushes the rejectionists to mislead Palestinians into believing that somehow Israel, which has its military boot on the necks of Palestinian Nationalism, is in fact a "failure."

The only answer is peace. But that is why the rejectionists and their disciples continue to push for conflict. Their goal is the same goal that was sought by Hamas when Arafat and the late Yitzhak Rabin sought to negotiate a final peace agreement. Hamas and Abunimeh want the option of peace to be erased forever. If they can just get rid of the slim hope for peace through negotiations and compromise, then, maybe, Palestinians will stop trying to compromise and instead go all out in a new Intifada, one in which the leaders, sheltered in their luxurious homes in the decadence of the West that they so despise, can cheer on each and every Palestinian to martyrdom. Every Palestinian Martyr becomes another opportunity to push palestinians away from hope and in to the hands of all out conflict.

That reality is that while many in the world are outraged at Israel's military and violent excesses in the West Bank and the alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, Israel is far from failure. It is the Palestinian people who are moving closer and closer to failure, thanks to the rejectionists and their lack of leadership and their inspirationally misleading words to fight on. "Until every last Palestinian has sacrificed his or her life for the rejectionist cause."

But Abunimeh is just one person. A good person when he is not leading the Palestinian people, but one who is leading Palestinians to another decade of slaughter. The real problem is the extremism that his zealotry represents. The idea that destroying peace and igniting a new Intifada because "Israel is a failed state" is so appealing to the traumatized, hapless Palestinian masses (who have been embraced by conflict for so long they know no other means of life) they are willing to go that route and lose everything rather than salvage what they can.

Many often point to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and observe that Palestinians mimic the Israelis in their actions. Yet Palestinians have not mimicked israel at all. Instead, they chose the fatalistic and the failed option almost every time. Israelis have always taken what they could, when they could, and how they could. In contrast, Palestinians, led by rejectionist leaders, have insisted that they must take "all or nothing."

It was the three famous "No's" in the 1960s. And those "No's" have turned into the foundation of Palestinian rejectionist policies. No normalization. No compromise. No peace. "All or nothing."

I will admit though that Abunimeh has a better chance of achieving the goal that is the destiny of his leadership: Palestinians, having demanded "all," will find themselves with "nothing."

You never know, though. There could be a miracle. Someday. Maybe. Possibly. Just say no to peace. Turn anger into hatred and hatred into violence.

Or, Palestinians can break the bonds of the extremist hallucinogens, open their eyes, see that their people are in such a state of despair that compromise is their only hope to begin to rebuild their devastated nation.

But few Palestinians have the courage to admit that they made a mistake, they were wrong and that the policies of violence and empty rhetoric are as much to blame for their plight as are the brutal policies of the Israeli occupier.

Israelis could not have wished for a better opponent, one that allows emotion to trump reason and good decisions to be erased by empty words of extremist and rejectionist rhetoric.

Tragedy in Wonderland.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, December 28, 2009

When life becomes frivolous -- challenges facing Palestinians in the occupation

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When life becomes frivolous
By Ray Hanania
Jerusalem Post Monday Dec. 28, 2009

I read recently that a group of Palestinians decided they were going to host the first-ever Miss Palestine contest. But it was quickly scuttled when religious and secular extremists decided it wasn't good for the country.

The argument, repeated often in interviews, held that it was somehow wrong for Palestinians to engage in such "frivolity" when there were more serious issues like the tragedy of the occupation and the suffering of the economic collapse associated with the occupation.

A similar pageant is held in Haifa, but when the idea was brought to Ramallah, the supposedly bustling cosmopolitan heart of Palestinian society, the "governor" decided to cancel it because the event "coincided with the first anniversary of the Israeli attack against Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

Other Palestinian leaders said it was canceled because it was simply inappropriate to celebrate when so many are suffering.

That kind of thinking is exactly why Palestinians have been losing over the years. They embrace the psychology of the victim rather than exercising the will of the victor.

It's simple. When you surrender to tragedy you live the life of a victim. You become the victim. You become the hostage of suffering, and your life begins to reflect a life without will.

And that explains why there is so little hope in Palestine.

I entered stand-up comedy after September 11, 2001 specifically because I know that the most powerful response to tragedy and suffering is to spit in its face, to tell tragedy, terrorism, violence and suffering that you will not simply lie down and surrender without a fight.

And the best way to fight is to be human and to exercise the power of humanity through a resistance to tragedy.

Humor, not anger, is the answer to hatred. Humor and being human is the answer to suffering and tragedy, and even to the loss of life.

The reality is that the human spirit of the Palestinians cannot surrender to the suffering of the Israeli occupation or to the continued conflict that seems never-ending. To surrender and to allow the suffering to consume our lives means that we have given up the hope of being human beings and living full lives.

IN FACT, the answer to the occupation is to not stop being human, and to do the very things that tragedy and oppression throw at you.

The Palestine beauty pageant would have been a powerful statement to the world that Palestinians will not surrender to the occupation nor allow the suffering to dictate how they live their lives.

It also would have been a powerful statement to themselves to energize their inner spirit and allow them to find strength just when strength is needed most.

At the most tragic moment, when a family member dies, sadness is the appropriate response to respect the dead. But the most appropriate response for those who survive and are left holding the tragedy of the person's death is to give the spirit a boost, to allow them to overcome the hardships of suffering.

Humor is often found in the aftermath of burials and wakes because humor helps the survivors to survive.

Underlying this conflict in human survival for Palestinians is the steady rise of the religious fanatics who bring the lowest common denominator of life, subservience to zealotry, as their answer to tragedy and suffering. In reality, they want you to continue suffering because it helps them disguise their inability to be true leaders.

In fact, when a society "suffers" and embraces victimization, false prophets with little talent or leadership ability can rise more quickly to control the population.

Instead of focusing on the failings of the leaders, embracing the tragedy makes it easier for the failed leaders to avoid accountability.

The pageant would have been a declaration that Palestinians are a people who can rise above the challenges that oppress people, not just in Palestine but throughout theMiddle East, where living as an oppressed victim seems to be a way of life.

And that's no joke.

The writer is a Palestinian American satirist and peace activist. He can be reached at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Principles that should guide Palestinian and Israeli Peace

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These are some principles I have fashioned that I hope will become the basis for establishment of Yalla Peace Parties throughout the world to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

1-We can disagree about the past with passion and emotion and still come together for a great future together. We do not have to deny each other's narratives about the past, or challenge them, on order to agree on a mutual future of peace and compromise. This is the first step. Stop using the past as a bludgeon to attack the other side, while closing a blind eye to similar conduct among our own peoples.
2-We apply one principle of fairness, justice, morality to achieve compromise looking within ourselves to find and correct the fault. Israelis must be able to denounce the killing of Palestinians before they can denounce the killing of Israelis. Palestinians must be able to denounce the killing of Israelis before they can denounce the killings of Palestinians.

3-We resist the temptation to blame people for the actions of individuals, and resist the temptation to respond in anger and in kind. This is not about people but rather about politics and government policies that have gone wrong and feed on the suffering, tragedy and confusion of our peoples.

4-We set aside the old paradym of Israelis versus Palestinians and instead define our movement as moderates versus extremists. We use the M Word proudly and reject those who seek to deny it as a means of distracting eyes from their own extremist ways and views.

5-We embrace two-states, Israel and Palestine, and deal with the issues after we achieve a real peace and two states. We create two states on the basis of the bigger principle and later negotiate the final borders, the sharing of Jerusalem, compensation and resettlement of the Palestinian refugees, the dismantling of which specific settlements, the swap of land, etc. Create two states so that Israel and Palestine become equal partners at the negotiating table rather that seeking to achieve the unachievable through an imbalance with Israel as the subjugator and Palestine as the subjugated.

6-We strive to see the bigger picture and not get drawn in to the battle over the "pebble." We see that peace based on compromise is the answer to past violence and terrorism. We don't allow one disagreement to discourage us from seeking the bigger agreement of peace.

7-We resist the rhetoric of hatred. We stop stereotyping Israelis and Palestinians. We reject hate speech, denial of the suffering of others. Palestinians must stop enabling or advocating Holocaust revisionism or questioning the Holocaust. israelis must stop questioning the existence of Palestinians or the facts that they lost many homes and lands as civilians in the 1947-48 war.

8-We view criminal acts (violence, terrorism, all acts of physical injury) not as the consequences of a people but rather as the result of individual conduct. Terrorism and violence must be treated as criminal acts not an excuse to persecute or demonize any other people.

9-We do not allow violence and terrorism to derail compromise and recognize that the more successful we become in reaching peace based on compromise and two-states, the extremists will push harder until it is too late with more violence, and violence of the most despicable kind including suicide bombings and military massacres.

10-We view violence of the past in its context not as a means of defining the future. The massacres in the Gaza Strip are horrendous but the answer is not to respond with violence, but rather to build peace to prevent future events from re-occurring. The same with violence against Israelis. We treat them as horrific incidents, not blanket condemnation of an entire people.

11-We stop blaming others and begin to address the challenges among ourselves. Palestinians stop blaming Israelis and Israelis stop blaming Palestinians. Instead, Palestinians look into themselves and identify their errors, mistakes, misconduct and change them. Israelis look into themselves and identify their errors, mistakes, misconduct and change them.

12-We accept that Peace is the answer and that both sides have injured each other.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, December 21, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist Ray Hanania tells the U.S. Census to SHOVE IT!

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Ray Hanania tells the U.S. Census to SHOVE IT! In this Opinion Commentary on YouTube.

-- Ray Hanania

The US Census and American Arabs, a Satirical approach

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The CENSUS: A satirical approach

Have you all filled out your census form yet?

I’m not filling it out. No. I won’t fill out the Census form because I want our name ARAB spelled out in black ink on the Census form … with all the other names … I pay my taxes … I am NOT writing the word ARAB on the form … the US Government should write it on the form for me …

They do that for everyone else.

The Census form has a long list of “recognized” ethnic and racial groups:


They list Hispanics five different ways on the Census form:

HISPANIC, LATINO OR SPANISH ORIGIN … Mexican American … Chicano … What country does Chicano come from?

They list Black people three times on the Census form :


American Indian or Alaskan Native … they even give you a space to write in your “TRIBE”

There are all kinds of ASIANS …

Asian Indian … Japanese … Native Hawaiian … Chinese … Korean … Guamanian or Chamorro … Filipino … Vietnamese … Samoan

OR … “Other Asian” such as Laotian … Thai … Pakistani … and Cambodian.

And they even have

Pacific Islander … Fijian … Tongan.

I know why they don’t have ARAB written on the Census form … They have already printed 28 other ethnic and racial groups … and THERE’S NO MORE ROOM for us anywhere on the form …

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hatred against Arabs and Muslims answered

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Hatred against Muslims and Arabs answered
By Ray Hanania -- 
Below are two columns you should read both. The first reflects the growing racism and hatred among a growing number of uneducated and uninformed Americans. The second represents the facts, responding to the hatred and bigotry. As an American Arab military veteran from a family of American Arab military veterans, I am proud to present this debate that is the heart of America's misguided conscience today.
By Terry L. Sheldon
[President] Obama said, in his Cairo speech: "I know, too,  that Islam has always been a part of America's story.
Dear  Mr. Obama:
Were those Muslims that were in America when the  Pilgrims first landed? Funny, I thought they were Native  American Indians.
Were those Muslims that celebrated the  first Thanksgiving day? Sorry again, those were Pilgrims and  Native American Indians.
Can you show me one Muslim  signature on the United States Constitution? Declaration of  Independence? Bill of Rights? Didn't think so.
Did Muslims  fight for this country's freedom from England? No.
Did  Muslims fight during the Civil War to free the slaves in  America? No, they did not. In fact, Muslims to this day are still  the largest traffickers in human slavery. Your own 'half brother'  a devout Muslim still advocates slavery himself, even though  muslims of Arabic descent refer to black muslims as "pug nosed  slaves." Says a lot of what the Muslim world really thinks of your  family's "rich Islamic heritage" doesn't it Mr.Obama?
Where  were Muslims during the Civil Rights era of this country?  Not present. There are no pictures or media accounts of Muslims  walking side by side with Martin Luther King Jr., or helping to  advance the cause of Civil Rights.
Where were Muslims  during this country's Woman's Suffrage era? Again, not  present. In fact, devout Muslims demand that women are subservient  to men in the Islamic culture. So much so that often they are  beaten for not wearing the 'hajib' or for talking to a man that is  not a direct family member or their husband. Yep, the Muslims are  all for women's rights aren't they?
Where were Muslims  during World War II? They were aligned with Adolf Hitler.  The Muslim grand mufti himself met with Adolf Hitler, reviewed the  troops and accepted support from the Nazi's in killing  Jews.
Finally   Obama, where were Muslims on Sept. 11th, 2001? If  they weren't flying planes into the World Trade Center, the  Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 people on  our own soil, they were rejoicing in the middle east. No one can  dispute the pictures shown from all parts of the Muslim world  celebrating on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other news networks that  day. Strangely, the very "moderate" Muslims who's asses you bent  over backwards to kiss in Cairo, Egypt on June 4th were stone cold  silent post 9-11. To many Americans, their silence has meant  approval for the acts of that day.
And THAT,  Obama,  is the "rich heritage" Muslims have here in America.
And now we can  add November 5, 2009-- the slaughter of American soldiers at Fort  Hood by a muslim major who is a doctor and a psychiatrist who was  supposed to be counselling soldiers returning from battle in Iraq  and Afghanistan.  That,  Obama is "muslim heritage" in  America.
By Jamaal Badaani
President Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in the Military (
Dear Mr. Sheldon;
I read your impassioned piece below to our President and Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Hussain Obama regarding Muslims in America titled "MUSLIMS A PART OF OUR HERITAGE.....ALWAYS......I THINK NOT"......., and as a Patriotic American who has fought for this country since June 1981 - your characterizations regarding Muslims in your writing needs to have some facts clarified.  I sent you attachments to you personally via email to support my point.
As a Muslim American Marine, I have lead Marines in combat on numerous occasions and since 9/11, I participated in counter-terrorism operations to pursue those terrorist bastards who attacked our country - I didn't wait for my country to call, I asked to be deployed, and waited for six months with home and personal possessions in storage by moving out of my home, and waited by renting a room from a friend, so when my turn was called I would not waste valuable time preparing - I was prepared and deployed at a moments notice.
The terrorists used Islam to justify their horrific and cowardice acts on 9/11.   As Americans, Arabs and Muslims packed their bags, as I did, to get some pay back against the terrorists who struck our country.  The attack on our country was not a Christian thing, it was not a Muslim thing, it was not a Jewish thing, and surely it wasn't a white, black, yellow, or brown thing.
It was terrorists who hated us for a multitude of reasons that struck our country on 9/11 - all which transcended color, race, religion, and nationality.  In doing so, the terrorist killed those who were from over 87 countries in the deaths at the World Trade Center, and my fellow brothers and sisters in Arms lost their lives in the Pentagon.  Muslims were among the dead both in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
The first documented Arab American immigrant - Private Nathan Badeen - from Syria died in the revolutionary war on May 26th, 1776, Private Nathan Badeen was with the 18th Continental Army of Massachusets.  He died fighting for a cause of freedom - two months prior to seeing the Declaration of Independence issued to the British.  So yes, there were Arab Americans and Muslim Americans who also died in the revolutionary war, as documented in the attachments - in addition to Private Nathan Badeen.
Over 5,000 Muslim and Arab Americans fought on both sides of the civil war - can you imagine Arab and Muslim Americans who were rebels, and on the other side Arab and Muslim Americans with the Union fighting to end slavery.
Over 15,000 Arab Americans fought in WWII to help rid the world of a Tyrant.
Since 9/11 Muslim and Arab Americans have given their life serving in the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan - Captain Khan saw the threat of a vehicle in Iraq approaching dangerously towards the check point manned by his fellow Army Soldiers - Captain Khan ran outside of the wire to a safe distance away from harms way to his soldiers and jumped in front of the vehicle so it could detonate before it got to his troops.  Captain Khan was months away from his Doctoral Degree when 9/11 happened, but held off getting his degree so he could join the US Army and serve his country in time of need.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Is the Goldstone Report being used merely as a weapon of continued conflict by extremists on both sides?

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Many are arguing that Palestinians who fail to denounce Israel for its conduct in Gaza, as cited by the Goldstone Report, is an indication of failed leadership and they are using the Goldstone Report not as a review of Israeli war crimes (and Hamas war crimes, too) but rather as a political weapon to attack Israel and moderate Palestinian leaders who support two-states. It is the typical manner in which extremists exploit Palestinian suffering, not to end the suffering but to continue the conflict to an end they seek but that is impossible to reach.

The Goldstone Report is an unprecedented action in Arab-Israeli history, meticulously detailing the war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza during the War Israel started in November 2008. But it also details war crimes committed by the Hamas terrorist organization, which is no different than the settler terrorist organization which is slowly choking moderates out of Israel's government.

But the Goldstone Report is not the real priority for Palestinians and the blame game, which Palestinians and Israelis play well through years of experience, is an exercise in futility when it comes to achieving justice.
The only answer to the tragedies, war crimes and violence is peace, peace based on two-states and peace based on non-violence by both sides.

As Palestinians and Arabs, we can continue to scream at Israeli atrocities to no avail, or, we can work towards a genuine peace based on compromise. Any other goal besides compromise is not possible and only prolongs the conflict and prolongs the suffering mainly for Palestinians.

Supporters of the One-State agenda, a nightmare plan for the continued mental occupation of the Palestinian people embracing an impossible goal, argue that only Israel should be criticized because they killed more Palestinians than Hamas killed Israelis.

How can we Palestinians have fallen so low morally to make that argument when every life is worth fighting for in a moral and principled world. Crime and criminals should be punished through the court of law not through vigilante justice nor through emotional screaming that feeds irrational rejectionism.

If we achieve peace then the tragedies and sufferings will end. The Goldstone Report and the terrorism of the Israeli military and the Hamas fanatics are a symptom of the failure to achieve peace, a result that has been played over and over during the past 61 years. The history of Palestinian and Israeli relations are pock marked by repeated tragedies of similar circumstances and those tragedies will continue.

Rejectionists and one-staters insist that the PLO and the Palestine National Authority have failed to prosecute the case for the Goldstone Report, saying they are not leaders.

But the truth is that those fanatics are using the Goldstone Report not to achieve justice for the victims but as a weapon in their continued efforts to block peace and provoke more conflict. The rejectionists and fanatics want more violence and they want more atrocities so they can point a finger at the enemy -- Israelis and Palestinians -- and blame someone to score political points. It makes them popular among the emotion-distraught Palestinian population and public. Screaming hate is always the easy road to leadership. But real leadership is to recognize the reality of the Goldstone Report, argue for its adjudication through a process of the Rule of Law, but not use it to prevent peace. Real leadership comes from those Palestinians who stand up to the fanatics in our community and who demand that we have a two-state solution and an end to the conflict.

The real failures are among the fanatics and extremists and Hamas terrorists who use violence and suffering to keep the cauldron of tragedy stirring so they can artificially lift themselves up to self-proclaimed positions of leadership while allowing our people to sink into a lifetime of tragic hell.

Their dream of continued conflict is a nightmare for the Palestinians that we continue to live, exploited and fueled by Israeli extremists and settler terrorists, but one that we help to make happen through rejection.

Two-states and peace are the only real answer to the atrocities committed in the Gaza Strip by Israel's military and by the settler fanatics.

Ray Hanania

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My response to the vicious slander by Laila el-Haddad, the "Gaza Mom"

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Here's my response (to Laila el-Haddad's personal attack -- the extremists NEVER address the issues, they only attack the person) and under the guise of being the "Gaza Mom", she attacked me personally in part because I am a Christian Palestinian (married to a Jewish wife) and because I espoused support for peace based on two-states, something she clearly rejected. (Click to read her blog). 

When you support the one-state "solution" you are condemning Palestinians to generations of despair and suffering, but that suffering and despair enables you to self-focused activism. Anyone who supports "one-state" is either consumed with suffering and tragedy or simply an extremist who rejects compromise, and NOT a moderate. So why waste my time talking to you?  

Gaza IS NOT the only issue. The issue is peace, something the Hamas terrorists (and the settler terrorists) do not want. When we have peace, we will have a safe Gaza and West Bank and Palestine State. But I don't think you want peace at all. You want victory over the "Jews" and the Israelis, and you won't stop fighting until you turn back the clock to 1922. It ain't going to happen. And don't wrap yourself up with the suffering of my people. It's people like you who have enabled the Israeli extremists to achieve what they have.

Your extremism is undermining the Palestinian cause. And although you use your celebrity to achieve personal gain, the Palestinians are suffering because of your extremist views and your hatred of moderates, Jews and Christian Arabs who like me dare to express their views.

You asked, I answered.  

Ray Hanania

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My letter to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on J-Street

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Letter to the editor from: Sent at: Oct 21 2009 at 06:39 am EDT (re: Click here to read Jewish Telegraphic Agency Story on J-Street):  

To the Editor:  

As a Palestinian American Activist who speaks out forcefully on peace and against the use of violence, and who supports a two-state solution, I am concerned at the attacks being made by Jewish American and Israeli groups against J-Street, a Jewish American organization that 1) recognizes Israel and 2) supports a non-violent peaceful solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.  

We cannot achieve genuine, long lasting peace if we silence the legitimate discussion and debate between our peoples and if we both move to our far rights, denouncing anyone who has ever criticized Israel, or Palestine, and seeking to exclude rather than to build a new and more effective moderate consensus that embraces the fundamental goals of peace based on compromise and a rejection of all violence.  

As one of the bloggers and writers participating in an independent blogging panel hosted by Tikun Olam, I am surprised that the responses to J-Street and the panel have been so harsh from some American Jewish organizations and news outlets. It is discouraging that there are so many people who are fighting to preserve the status quo of conflict and who resist seeking ways to bring two antagonists closer together.  

There is not one Israeli, not one Jew, not one Palestinian and not one Arab who has not said something critical of the other side. To pretend that 61 years of tragic conflict has not produced a difficult relationship marred by violence on both sides and highlighted by emotion-filled rhetoric is a tragic mistake that does not create an environment which supports Israel's right to exist or the right of Palestine to exist, too.  

We can continue to attack each other, or we can insist on findings a path towards peace. I support Israel's right to exist along side an independent Palestinian State. As a Palestinian and former national president of the Palestinian American Congress, and a writer who often criticizes bad Israeli government policies and bad Palestinian government policies, I believe Palestinians and Israelis must be ready to compromise and that violence by both the Hamas terrorists and the armed settler fanatics must be brought to an end.  

The solution is simple if we are willing to embrace it. Compromise. Tough compromise. Fair compromise. Rejection of violence and a fundamental belief that neither side is safe nor can sustain a safe future without achieving a two-state solution. Anyone who rejects that is merely helping to foment more conflict and insure that the future for Israelis and Palestinians remains one fraught with violence and uncertainty.  

Thanks Ray Hanania

in response to their report (Click here to read their story on J-Street and rising criticism from mainstream Jewish American Organizations)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Movement to moderate Jewish voices at J Street could reignite moderate Palestinian voices

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For years, APIAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, has had Jewish American political thought in an extremist headlock, a new voice of Jewish American moderation is rising in strength called J Street. The organization, which is being pilloried by extremist pro-Israel conservatives, holds a major conference on Israel and Middle East next week in Washington D.C. I'll be participating in a special blogging panel of Israelis and Palestinians who support compromise and peace based on two-states organized by Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam.

There is no doubt that Jewish American thought on peace between Palestinians and Israelis has been driven to the far, extremist right by AIPAC and its network of pro-Israel funding mechanisms. In fact, in part because of AIPACs powerful lobbying, many Jewish Americans who normally would support peace based on compromised have been pushed into a corner embracing a one-sided peace in which Israel retains all that it has taken over the years without making any sacrifices for peace while demanding that Palestinians do everything from surrendering some West Bank Lands, compromising on Jerusalem, accepting some of the illegal all-Jewish settlements and accepting a state that lacks the true power of sovereignty over its lands.

At the same time, many Palestinians are being pushed into the corner of extremism by the failure of the Palestinian leadership to achieve any real concessions from Israel. There is a growing movement of Palestinians who are now calling for a "one-state" solution which is not a solution at all but the end of the Palestinian Revolution and claim to nationhood. The one-state agenda basically abandons the occupation as the primary evil in the current relationship between Israel and Palestine, and instead naively proposes that the Arab population will grow at such a rate that eventually Israel and Palestine will become one Arab State, the original goal of the Arab World in the 1930s and 1940s that laid the groundwork for six decades of Palestinian failures.

Palestinians live in occupation and in the diaspora for the fundamental reason that they have allowed their emotions to lead them into believing the notion that nothing less than total Jewish surrender can compensate for their suffering and their failures and military losses. In other words, Palestinians have been taught that the shame of their failures can be compensated through rejection and emotion, and in many cases, unrestrained violence of vengeance that often targeted innocent civilians.

Every time that the Palestinian leadership sought to compromise with Israel and achieve a step forward towards the two-state solution, Hamas terrorists using a bastardized distortion of Islam as their standard intentionally targeted Israeli civilians in suicide bombings. This ongoing violence gave many Palestinians the only form of fulfillment, a macabre sense of justice.

This failing among the Palestinians to develop a reasoned strategy to support a compromise that would maximize their returns pushed many Israelis and American Jews into extremism themselves. They use Palestinian failure as a justification to reject true compromise and this formula has become the foundation of AIPAC's political assaults. It has held American public opinion hostage through ignorance of facts, leading them to believe that it is the Palestinians who refuse to compromise when in fact it is the dominant Israeli government that, even during the peace process, continues to expand settlements, confiscate Palestinian lands and provoke hostilities through policies of confrontation and even violence.

Next week in Washington, Jewish Americans who still believe in two-states, and peace based on compromise will meet to discuss how to strategically move the two-state solution out of the margins. Their success can also motivate Palestinian moderates to reinvigorate their own support of two-states and peace based on compromise.

What is that compromise? Most Palestinians know what it is. Palestinians know that they cannot defeat Israel, but they can continue to make the lives of Israelis miserable and painful, at a cost of making their own lives miserable and painful too. That's the Hamas option.

They also know that if Israel were to become serious in peace, and if moderate Jews and Israelis can reclaim control of their public opinion, they would reciprocate and support peace based on compromise. And that compromise entails very clearly defined concessions for both sides. Israel surrenders the majority of Palestinian lands it occupied in 1967 and end its provocative military attacks not just against Hamas but other Palestinians in the West Bank. It means that Israel stop expanding its settlements and instead begin dismantling the settlements. It also means Israel accepts that there must be a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem that would represent the capitol of a Palestinian State.

It also means that Palestinians accept the reality that the right of return may be a legal legitimate right, but that it is an unrealistic right that can never be achieved. Palestinians must accept the fact that refusing to compromise on the Right of Return is in fact a form of punishment on the Palestinian people living in the diaspora with no hope other than the empty promises made to them year after year by Palestinian fanatics who refuse to compromise. Those fanatics will fight to the very last refugee to prove their point.

But before Palestinian moderation can re-establish itself, the moderate Israeli and Jewish movement must re-assert itself. They Pace Now is dead and that the leftists in Israel no longer have a voice in Israeli policy. If Jewish and Israeli moderation is dead than the future is bleak for everyone. But if it can resurrect itself, it is very possible that might reignite the moderate Palestinian movement.

And that moderate Palestinian movement is the only hope Palestinians have for the future. We can remain interlocked in an unending conflict in which Palestinians sustain far more punishment than the Israelis, with no real hope of statehood, or we Palestinians can recognize the reality and replace emotion and hate with passion and reason. If we can, we might see a sovereign Palestinian State in our lifetime.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize and that puts world's evil on notice

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President Obama’s genuine desire for peace earns Nobel Peace Prize
By Ray Hanania

President Obama’s first call in coming to office was to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He then made an epoch speech to the Arab and Muslim world to repair the damage caused by his rightwing and narrow-minded predecessor President George W. Bush.

Obama has pushed the Israelis to force them to accept peace based on returning Arab lands, even though the Israelis have surrounded the wagons and have allowed Israel’s most racist elected official, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to become their spokesman. In fact, Israel’s Lieberman is the new face of hate in the world.

He is shifting from the illegal American war and occupation in Iraq to the genuine fight against terrorism and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

And Obama has vowed to the American people that despite this country having wasted hundreds of billions on politically motivated wars driven by oil money greed, he will fight to make their own country a place where every American will be guaranteed the right to adequate healthcare, something most Americans now lack.

You don’t even need to read the announcement from the Nobel Committee explaining why they have given this year’s Peace Prize to President Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama is more than just a president seeking justice. His name has come to symbolize a movement of change. Change from a past driven by racist bigotry and hatred to a future of justice where the Rule of Law actually has relevance and justice is based on issues of principle and fairness, not on partisan political influence.

Israel is not just a “Jewish State” in Obama’s eyes, but a nation that must also abide by the Rule of Law. Hypocrisy has no place in Obama’s administration, which is why his words have placed special notice on Israel which has more nuclear weapons than any other power outside of the United States and Russia. And yet Israel refuses, like Iran, to abide by the International rules seeking to limit and monitor and inspect nuclear weapons.

Although Obama has not achieved any of his mighty goals, the fact that he has set them is what earns him the special honor. It takes a real courageous man in this world to stand up to the forces of hatred and bias to advocate for fairness for all.

Obama’s policies may or may not achieve their stated goals, but they have already changed the dynamics of one important region of the world in the Middle East.

The Nobel Peace Prize award will put a special pressure on Israel to stop pretending that it supports peace. It throws cold water on the face of Israel’s arrogant and reticent society that it cannot pretend to seek peace and embrace politics and politics of racism, apartheid, bigotry and war.

Israel cannot pretend to support peace and continue to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and continue to imprison 1.4 million civilians in the world’s largest and most oppressive prison system called the Gaza Strip.

Israel cannot claim the right of defense when it is in offense against justice, the Rule of Law and peace, and it cannot hide behind lies it perpetrated through the manipulation of a friendly international media to assert that Hamas started the Nov. 2008 war. In fact, everyone knows that Israel started that war for one reason, to exact punishment on Hamas before Obama could be sworn in as president.

For the first time in World History, the facts are clear and all of the crimes in this world have been placed together shoulder-to-shoulder. Israel’s phony claims of being the victim when it is in fact the aggressor and oppressor are exposed.

Barack Hussein Obama is what the late great President John F. Kennedy is said to have been but could never become. He is the light of hope that might open the door to a world that is genuinely at peace and where all men and women are created equally and where the concerns of the poor are as important as the concerns of the wealthy.

As an American and a Palestinian Arab Christian, I am proud of this year’s choice for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in a way I feel a special part in that award as if the peace prize has been awarded not to just one man, but to an entire world of people who have not completely given up on hope.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talks how host. he can be reached at

Friday, October 02, 2009

Chicago's Olympic bid failure can be blamed on Daley's failure to respect American Arabs

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted Tuesday to reject Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. The committee consisted of over 100 members, including 12 from Arab countries. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley may have set the city up for a "fall" when he falsely boasted to the Ruler of Dubai during a visit there that his administration has been very considerate of American Arab needs. There are more than 230,000 Arabs living in Chicago, Daley said, or 7.6 percent of the population. But, the tragedy is that American Arabs in Chicago have no real representation on the city's 50-member city council, less than 1 percent of the city's 36,000 jobs, and are marginalized at almost every level of City Government.
Mayor Daley and AON Corporation Chairman Patrick Ryan must bear the brunt of the responsibility for losing the bid. The city has been besieged by ongoing scandals that have undermined public support for the Olympic Games.
Daley, who vowed that taxpayers would not be responsible for any losses incurred by the Olympics if held in Chicago, quietly planned to put taxpayers on the hook for any losses -- losses that could not be projected this far in advance of the games. Only weeks ago, after denying taxpayers would be responsible, Daley forced the rubber stamp Chicago City Council to approve a guarantee that in fact taxpayers would be on the hook for any financial losses, a requirement demanded by the IOC.
That and the bloated and wasteful spending of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, soured most Chicagoans on the game bid. The majority of Chicagoans opposed the Olympic bid, not because they do not believe the Olympics could be beneficial, but because they just don't trust the corruption-plagued Chicago Machine that Daley heads. Daley and the 2016 Olympic Committee were dishonest in their approach in dealing with the public.
Worse, though, is the abuse American Arabs continue to take under Daley's leadership. Mayor Daley patronizes American Arabs, but does not support the American Arab community.
The fact is that if American Arabs represent 7.6 percent of the city's 3 million citizens, then American Arabs should have 7.6 percent of the city's jobs, 7.6 percent of the teaching jobs, 7.6 percent of the firemen positions and policemen positions which are all above and beyond the basic city employment. American Arabs should also have 7.6 percent of the city's multi-million dollar contract awards. And American Arabs organizations should be receiving 7.6 percent of the millions of dollars in contract grants awarded for ethnic and heritage pride programs.
The reality is that despite Daley exaggerating the truth in his meeting with the Ruler of Dubai and also Arab members of the IOC's board, the truth prevailed. Arabs hold less than 1 percent of the city's jobs, have only 2 to 4 out of thousands teaching positions, get only crumbs from the city's multi-million dollar grants programs for culture, ethnic and heritage pride, and we get no real respect.
The 2016 Olympic Committee met with American Arab leaders several times. At one meeting, I complained that we want to support the Olympics but that Daley and his administration takes our community for granted. The spokespeople on the 2016 Committee insisted they could do nothing about the shortcomings toward or community but said they would make the point loud and clear to the mayor.
They did not.
In fact, out of the more than 360 members of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, only two are Arab. Later, as a result of my columns, several more were added.
All American Arabs in Chicago and throughout the United States are asking is that we be treated equally, fairly and just like everyone else, every other ethnic group, every other racial group, every other religious.
But because of the politicized nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, American Arabs are not treated fairly. We are patronized, ignored, left out and even oppressed.
Nothing says that more than the apparent abandonment of Chicago's bid by the Arab World IOC delegates and the delegates from Africa. They were our chance. But the greed and politically selfishness of some of the top leadership of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee failed to put the focus where it should be.
Chicago should have been portrayed as a city of fairness, equality and diversity.
Clearly, most of the IOC's delegates, including the Arab delegates, saw through the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee's ruse!
-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arab delegates of the Olympic Committee can begin change in anti-Arab American foreign policies

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Hanania column on International Olympics and American Arab empowerment
Arab World has opportunity to confront bigotry in America
By Ray Hanania

This week, the Arab World will be participating in a vote that on its face may seem insignificant to the many problems that plague the Middle East but could begin a process of changing the United States.

The vote will take place Friday in Copenhagen where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide which of four cities between Madrid, Tokyo, Rio and Chicago will win the right to host the Olympics in 2016.

Compared to the votes in the United Nations where the pro-Israel bloc continues to block peace, hold back the advances of the Arab World and continues to denigrate the rights of Islamic countries, the IOC vote Friday may seem insignificant.

In fact, though, the vote could begin a process not of changing the United Nations, but rather creating an opportunity to enact change in the United States, the one nation that holds the key to the future of the Middle East.

The IOC consists of 111 members, 12 of whom representative the Arab World  from Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Each country has one member on the IOC except Egypt and Morocco, which have participated the longest and most successful in past Olympic competitions, each have two members.

Those 12 Arab delegates can be the deciding factor in awarding the Olympics to Chicago.

Why is Chicago important? Unlike other nation’s competing for the Olympics, Chicago’s presentation is made by the city, not the country. Chicago officials beginning with its Mayor Richard M. Daley, have been lobbying to get President Barack Obama to make an appearance in Copenhagen to help swing the vote in Chicago’s favor.

As an American, I want the IOC to grant the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. But, as An American of Arab heritage, I also want the United States and Chicago to recognize their failure in respecting not only the principles of justice and fairness in the Middle East, but to end the practice and reality of the city’s discrimination against it’s citizens who are of Arab heritage.

In voting this week, the 12-member Arab delegation should use its power to condition their decision on how the winning city will respect its expatriate citizens.

That is a difficult thing to ask since none of the countries of the Arab World have ever recognized the real potential and the value that Americans of Arab heritage represent. The Arab World has always acted in a vacuum on Middle East issues believing that the decision-making process in American begins at the top levels of government.

The truth is, American power begins at the grassroots level. The “trenches” where American Arabs have been waging a long and difficult fight against discrimination for most of their existence in this nation.

Particularly in Chicago, one of three American cities with the largest population of Arabs, the American Arab community has been the most abused.

Local government officials like Mayor Daley have played a game with a double-edged sword. On the political level, Chicago has played a major role in strengthening the hand of the pro-Israel community in America giving them considerable voice in local and regional government.

At the same time, Chicago has gone out of its way to undermine the power of American Arabs who have been as much or even more American than their counterparts supporting Israel.

This vote Friday in Copenhagen can either permit the status quo where Arabs are disenfranchised in the American political system, or it can begin a new initiative to force American governments like Chicago to recognize and respect the rights of American Arabs.

Arabs in America have served in this nation’s military from the first day that they came to this country in the mid-19th Century. They have been loyal American citizens and also loyal to their heritage.

Yet, they have been disrespected by this country and victimized by American racism, fueled by the politics of the Middle East.

Worse, they have been abandoned by the Arab World. Their ability to help the Arab World counter the discriminatory policies in the United States has never been recognized by the Arab World.

When Arab delegates vote this Friday, they should keep in mind that if they support awarding the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, they should view this as an opportunity to demand that Chicago’s Mayor Daley end his discriminatory practices against Chicago’s Arab citizens and treat them as equals.

That means that Chicago should empower American Arabs the same way Chicago has empowered other citizens of other ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds.

Chicago has been deficient in giving jobs to American Arabs. There are 230,000 Arabs living in Chicago – according to Mayor Daley speech to the Ruler of Dubai earlier this year. That is 7.6 percent of the city’s population. Yet, Arabs have less than 1 percent of the thousands of jobs in city government. They have been patronized disrespectfully by politicians like Mayor Daley who want our votes but do not want to jeopardize their ties to other groups like the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Chicago and America.

The Arab delegates at the IOC can force Mayor Daley to do what is right and put ethics and principle above partisan politics.

Mayor Daley should be told he must do more to empower American Arabs in his city. Mayor Daley must be told he must do more to empower American Arabs in Illinois, the state in Which Chicago resides which is a powerful state among the country’s 50 states.

Mayor Daley must be told that the campaign to undermine American Arabs in his city must end.

If that happens, we will see the voices and empowerment of American Arabs rise in the United States, and in turn give the Arab World a greater voice in helping this country develop foreign policies that are based on the rule of law, ethics, principle and morality, rather than on partisan politics driven by the pro-Israel lobby and its extremist leaders.

It’s an easy price to exact from the United States. The question is, do the Arab delegates and the Arab World recognize that influencing American foreign policy through Americans of Arab heritage is far more beneficial and rewarding than trying to lobby this country from their far away Arab capitols?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning American Arab journalist, author and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at