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