Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yalla Peace: Celebrating ‘Passter’ in our troubled times, Jerusalem Post Column

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Yalla Peace: Celebrating ‘Passter’ in our troubled times
30/03/2010 23:06 Jerusalem Post Column

A taste of this combination of Passover and Easter at the Hanania household.

What another terribly marred Passover and Easter week. Now I know why so many Israelis and some Palestinians turn their eyes away from the constant tragedy and pretend it isn’t there.

My Facebook page is raging with anger between Palestinians and Israelis. “Friends” insist on posting notes about how the “other side” is responsible for everything.

“Terrorists.” “Racist Zionists.” Hateful blather. Yes, I know that people are killing each other and frankly I blame both sides. Of course, depending on whose side you are on determines who is to blame for the latest skirmish in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF entered Gaza and Hamas responded. So many were killed. And then the hate speech ramps up from both sides.

In peace, incidents like this won’t happen. In peace, IDF soldiers will cross into the Gaza Strip with permission from the Palestinians and, instead of firing on them, Palestinians might ask what they are doing.

SO MY wife (who is Jewish) and I are here in the United States planning for our annual “Passter” dinner, watching helplessly as the situation in Israel and Palestine deteriorates further.

Oh, sorry, “Passter” is a term you all in Israel and Palestine might not be too familiar with in these days of continued conflict, name-calling and blame. It’s something that can only come from peace. A combination of Passover and Easter.

My wife and I argue about the typical things Israelis and Palestinians seem preoccupied with these days, like the continued bloodshed, violence, fight over land ownership, targeted killings, terrorist attacks and the growing political division between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

But we don’t yell and scream. We don’t call each other names or spend our time planning revenge. No, we look at the people in Israel and the Palestinian territories and we shake our heads. A bunch of unruly kids. Okay. With weapons. They should all be sent to their rooms. Disarmed.

We have other important things to think about. Sunday was Palm Sunday, a very important holiday for me as a Christian. Monday night was Passover, a very important holiday for my wife and son as Jews.

We celebrate our religious holidays together. On Palm Sunday, we decorate eggs and then have a big dinner. Palestinians like to use one color – purple – to reflect the “Passion of Christ.” Americans like to decorate eggs with different colors reflecting the excessive commercialization of a holiday. (Ah those Americans. It’s all about money!)

Relatives drop off palm fronds symbolizing... well, I don’t need to explain it again, do I?

On Passover, we celebrate with a Seder. I like the way Arabs and Jews focus on food at holidays, as well as religious prayers and custom, of course.

IN MY comedy routine, I like to riff on the fact that Jews really don’t have much in the way of a food menu. That’s why the Israelis “stole” our land. To get the food. Humous. Falafel. Stuffed grape leaves.

They do have a dish called cholent, I’ll give them that. You know, it’s something Jews start cooking the night before and eat the next day. Arabs have a similar dish. It’s called “leftovers.” Of course, the Passover meal has many more sacred food items than my Arab menu; matza, wrapped in a napkin; maror (bitter herbs), which is usually horseradish that opens my sinuses; haroset (apples, nuts and cinnamon. We Arabs and Jews have a lot of nuts among us); the boiled egg (is it cheating to use an Easter egg?); and the one thing we all enjoy as Arabs and Jews – roasted lamb.

We bring the two holidays together because they often overlap and they are really so very close. Just look at the Arabic, Hebrew and English words. They may have the same origins, but surely sound similar. Passover. Pessah. Passion. Purple.

We call it “Passter.”

The mixing of Israeli and Palestinian words is a tradition in my Jewish-Palestinian home. It was started by my son, Aaron (that’s what my wife calls him. I call him Abdullah, of course). He was trying to learn the words “Shalom” and “Salam,” more example of similar-sounding Arab and Jewish words and he came up with “Shalam.”

Why not? It’s better than some of the words I have been reading on my Facebook page.

We do have that one moment at the Hanania “Passter” dinner table when Passover and Easter collide in a mini Arab-Israeli skirmish.

That’s when my wife always looks at me and tells my son, “Aaron, ask daddy to pass the Israeli salad.”

And I always respond with, “Abdullah, please tell mommy that we don’t have Israeli salad. We only serve Arab east Jerusalem salad.”

Can you blame the kid for scratching his yarmulke? And then grabbing the bowl of tabbouleh and dividing it equally, 78 percent for my wife and 22 percent for me?

Well, Happy Easter, Hag sameah, and a happy “Passter” from the Hanania household; what the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations might someday look like not just in our home but in Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Insha-Allah (God willing). And yes, yehi ratzon (same in Hebrew). I like to cover both bases.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Truth comes out in Census lies: Doesn't matter if you write in ARAB -- you WON'T be counted as Arab

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Census to Count Arabs as White, Despite Write-In Campaign
New America Media , News Report, Suzanne Manneh, Posted: Mar 25, 2010

The Census Bureau says it doesn’t matter if Arab Americans write their race in on their Census questionnaire. 

Even if they check the “other” box and write in “Arab,” as many community groups advocate, the Census will still count them as racially white.

“Anyone from Europe, North Africa or the Middle East [will be classified] as white,” said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the ethnicity and ancestry branch at the Census Bureau.

Ramirez said that will be the case no matter how many people write in “Arab,” because the Census Bureau is required by law to use racial categories determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and those categories do not include Arab.

Advocates for including Arab as a race say they will press on with their write-in campaign however. Census regulations provide that any organization can pay for its own special tabulation providing a formal count of write-ins.

“As with any write-in option, it is not comprehensive enough to be published as a ‘count,’ but it will provide us with important trends and estimates of the proportion of people of Arab ancestry who do not identify with the white race classification,” said Helen Samhan, the executive director of the Arab American Institute, which plans to order a special count.

“That is a start for working with the Census Bureau to research necessary changes in the way race and ethnicity are measured,” she added.

A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget told New America Media that current racial standards for the census will be reevaluated after the 2010 census, in time for the next one in 2020.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jerusalem Post: Yalla Peace: Act like citizens, not foreigners

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Yalla Peace: Act like citizens, not foreigners
23/03/2010 22:28

Arab citizens of Israel are in a unique position to help their people by being advocates for change, in Israel and in the region.

Israelis always tell me that “all citizens of Israel” are treated equally. They insist that although Israel is a “Jewish state,” non-Jews are treated with respect and equality.

Of course, that isn’t true. But it sounds good on paper. When it comes to how Israel mistreats its non-Jewish citizens, most Jews have their heads buried in the sand, with a finger on the trigger.

The reality is that non-Jewish citizens are discriminated against routinely.

It bothers me that Israeli citizenship cards have special codes to separate Jews from non-Jews. That violates the whole principle of “citizenship,” although the reason is clear, to make it easier to discriminate.

The Mossawa Center, an Arab Israeli group that monitors Arab citizen rights (and whose Arabic name means “equality”), recently released another scathing report showing that non-Jews in Israel are discriminated against.

It cites the increase of racist bills introduced in the Knesset attacking “free speech,” mainly that of “Arab citizens.”

• If a citizen denies the existence of Israel, he can be imprisoned for one year.

• If a citizen violates “loyalty to Israel,” he can have his citizenship revoked. I guess in conjunction with the first bill, he would be imprisoned for a year and then kicked out of the country.

• Government money would be denied to citizen groups that act in a way that express views like the “Nakba,” the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that refers to 1948 when Israel was created and more than 400 Arab villages were erased.

With a few other examples that are purely included because of the conflict, the report makes things sound really bad.

A BIG part of the problem, though, is that Arabs and Jews are not really different. We often do not agree, but we’re in the middle of a conflict and tensions are a fact of life.

So how much responsibility do the Arab citizens of Israel share in letting this disparity in free speech and democracy take place?

A big part of the problem is the Arab citizens themselves. They don’t help matters much. Arabs claim to want to be citizens, but they act like foreigners.

More often than not, extremist Arab activists in the West and Arab world urge Arab citizens in Israel to boycott Israeli elections and not vote.

So who is to blame when extremist Jews take control? The Jewish extremists or the misguided Arab citizens who listen to the loser activists in the Arab world?

“Denial” is the reality of Palestinian life. If we just pretend something isn’t there, it might go away. What we want to go away is the fact that over the past century, Arab policy toward Palestine has been characterized by one word. Losers! Arab culture has embraced the phenomena of its own failure by blaming someone else. Being a louder victim is a better choice in these circumstances for Palestinians than to work harder to participate in Israeli society and bring about change.

The Arabs are not doing their best. They embrace stupid policies like “normalization” – a hateful code-word used by Palestinians to describe any Arab who dares treat an Israeli like a “normal person.” It’s racist, too, because it suggests that all Jews are bad.

Many Arabs criticize my moderate views, not by engaging in the facts and issues I raise, but by pointing to the fact that my wife and son are Jews.

Many Arab comedians won’t participate with me because I perform with Israelis, not just Jews. Many Arab activists exclude me because I advocate two states rather than one.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that I write for a “Zionist newspaper” like The Jerusalem Post?

I HAVE learned to ignore these moronic critics in the Palestinian and Arab world because although they dominate the “vocal landscape,” they are the demographic minority. The problem is that most Arabs fear challenging the extremist minority. It’s easier to be silent than to stand up for what is right.

What should Arabs in Israel do? Stop acting like the rest of the Arab world.

Stop listening to the failed Palestinian activists who live in Europe and the United States. Those activists live in luxury, yet are the first to tell Palestinian refugees it is better to live in squalor by rejecting compromise based on two states than to live in their own state where they can focus on improving their lives. If the conflict were ever resolved, most Palestinian rejectionists would be unemployed. So continuing the conflict is in their best interests.

If Arab citizens of Israel want their rights, they should recognize reality. Stop boycotting elections. Stop spreading hatred against Jews as an answer to Jewish discrimination against Arabs. Stop placing all the blame on a handful of Jewish racists in the Knesset. And stop exaggerating racism by including examples that are purely political, like Israelis declaring that Jerusalem is their eternal capital.

You can always find an example of hatred, if you ignore the more frequent examples of common sense.

Arab citizens of Israel are in a unique position to help their people, not by embracing the failed policies of the Arab world and the Palestinian rejectionists, but by being advocates for change, change in Israel and change in the Arab world.

Stand up and tell the activists you support compromise, two states and the sharing of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians under occupation are under siege, and not just by Israel’s military. The extremist Islamists like Hamas are growing in power. Their goal isn’t just to destroy Israel, but to also to destroy Palestinian and Arab secular life.

Start protesting on the streets, not just against the bigotry and racism that surrounds your lives in Israel. Oppose the extremism that dominates the Arab world and the fatalistic policies of the Palestinian rejectionists, who are doing everything they can to block peace.

If the Arabs of Israel stood up as one, engaged the system fully and started to think and speak for themselves, not only would they have more rights in Israel, we might also have peace.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jerusalem Post: Why doesn't the Government want to know about Arabs in America?

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Yalla Peace: Some other race?

Why doesn't the government want to know how many Arabs there are in the US?

A lot of Israelis think it is rough growing up Jewish in the Western world, but we Palestinians and Jews share a lot. It’s just as difficult for us.

As a child, my friends once surrounded me and demanded to know “What are you?”

What am I, I wondered. “I’m American.” No you’re not, they insisted.

So I went home and asked my dad. “Dad, what am I?” My dad shook his head and said, “Ya rubbee. Don’t tell them you are Palestinian. Tell them you are Syrian or Lebanese.”

Imagine, it was okay to be Syrian or Lebanese back then. So I went back to school and the kids surrounded me again and they asked “What are you?” I told them: “I’m cereal. But I think my mother is a lesbian.” Badda boom! Great joke in my comedy lineup but also a true reflection of the challenges facing Arabs in America.

Things haven’t improved at all. In fact, they’ve gotten worse.

Recently the US Census announced its decennial campaign to “count” all Americans. You see, in America, money is distributed based on the ethnic and racial demographics of the population – how many people each ethnic and racial group has.

If the census shows blacks living together in one spot, the government designs political boundaries to help black voters strengthen their voices in elections.

THREE TIMES over the past 30 years, the US Census has spent millions on lobbying ethnic and racial communities to convince them to fill out the census forms which ask questions about family size. Traditionally, though, minorities have resisted the census believing it is a way for the government to peek into their lives, and then punish them for things they might be doing wrong.

Hispanics fear that the government might discover some of their relatives are “illegal aliens,” for example. (Actually, things could be worse for me. Instead of being Arab, I could be “Hispanic” and have the word “panic” built in to my name.)

So the census has added “ethnic identity” to the form and identified 29 ethnic and racial peoples to help them more easily be counted. And, the more easily you can identity yourself, the more benefits you may get.

When you review the census form’s long list of 29 “recognized” ethnic and racial groups, you notice that Arabs, and Jews by the way, are not included.

The groups are:


Black people are listed in three different categories on the form: Black. African-American. Negro. (A strange apparition in 2010)

Hispanics are listed in five different ways on the form: Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. Mexican-American. Chicano. What country does Chicano come from?

The census also identifies American Indian and Alaskan native. They even give them space on the form to write in their tribe.

There are all kinds of Asians. Lots of them. Asian-Indian, Japanese, native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Guamanian or Chamorro, Filipino, Vietnamese and Samoan. Just in case they missed someone, they’ve added categories for other Asians such as Laotian, Thai, Pakistani and Cambodian. They also have Pacific Islander, Fijian, Tongan. Who are Tongans?

I know why they don’t have Arab or Jew written on the US Census form. They don’t have any room left on the form.

Now, many people think that Jews already “control the news media” and don’t need to be counted. They have the highest voter turnout of any group in the country and are considered among the most politically empowered.

SO THAT leaves us Arabs. What do we have? Zip. Zilch. Zero. How many ways can I say ‘nothing’? The fact that the US government doesn’t want to know how many Arabs there are in America or where they live is really kind of strange, actually.

Because since September 11, 2001, the US government has done everything it can to identify Arabs and Muslims, too. Usually at airports, profiling us to pull us out of lines and give us the third degree. When it comes to something bad, the government is all over us as Arabs. But when it comes to getting something good, like power, the US government leaves us out. And it doesn’t count us.

We’re told when we complain that Arabs are not listed on the US Census form that we Arabs can just write our name on the “other” line at the bottom of the form.

That is so demeaning. I don’t want to be “other.” How much have we lost as Arabs in America because we’re not counted by the census?

Well, take a place like Chicago for example, that has 36,000 to 38,000 city jobs paid for by taxes (we Arabs pay taxes, too). Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was in Dubai last year trying to raise money for his near-bankrupt city, the second largest in America, by the way. He told
the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chicago has 250,000 Arabs. He treats them well, he boasted.

In fact, next month, Daley will be feted at a dinner hosted by the Arab American Institute in Washington for all the “good things” he has done for “his” 250,000 Arabs.

Well, it turns out he hasn’t done much for his Arabs at all.

Chicago has 3 million people. Do the math. Arabs are about 8 percent of the population. That means we should have 8% of the city’s jobs, or about 3,040 city jobs. Arabs have only about 200 total jobs in the city.

Arabs being paid to promote the census are angry with me. But I have learned one important fact when it comes to American politics: If you can keep ethnic groups from knowing how many they are, you can un-empower them.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

Check out In the Middle podcasts with the publisher and editors of ALO Hayati Magazine.

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Check out In the Middle podcasts with the publisher and editors of ALO Hayati Magazine.

About:::In The Middle Podcast
This is what happens when four diverse friends get together and dive into the core of social issues with a dash of love, a sprinkle of humor and a smattering of deep thought.

-There’s Wafa Kanan, the entrepreneur and international philanthropist with a heart of gold;
-Kerri Kasem, the radio and television host that tops the hot list with her jaw dropping takes;
-Michael Lloyd, the idea man, intrepid explorer and king of asking “Who am I to say no?”;
-Harout Hamassian, the financial expert, cigar master and sexologist with a renowned instinct on how to use his tongue.

How can you hear the In The Middle Podcast?
Go to iTunes http://tinyurl.com/ykquxpd

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hanania Jerusalem Post: It is "Apartheid Week" or just Apartheid "weak"

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It is "Apartheid Week" or just Apartheid "weak"
By Ray Hanania
Published in the Jerusalem Post Wednesday March 10, 2010

There is one important fundamental about truth: Genuine truth gives one the power to tolerate even the most heinous criticism. Tolerance of criticism is a sign of confidence. Intolerance is a symptom that what you believe may not really be true. So throw the toughest, harshest argument against what I believe, because I have faith in my own truth. Do you?

The Middle East is ripe with intolerant views that reflect the insecurity of people who refuse to see the truth. And the first truth assaulted is existence. By denying one’s existence, it becomes easy to respond to provocations with violence. It’s easy to kill something that doesn’t exist. Easy to deny something that doesn’t exist. And easy to explain to your own people when things don’t go your way that it’s their nonexistence that is the problem, rather than your own failure.

Palestinians and Israelis have been denying each others’ existence for years.

The late prime minister Golda Meir declared: “There was no such thing as Palestinians.” Israelis still argue that Palestinians don’t exist.

Arabs do the same, insisting Israel does not exist. They refer to it as “the Zionist entity.” Well, if Israel doesn’t exist, how can it be an entity? Why are so many people afraid of something that doesn’t exist? When denying existence doesn’t work, people turn to denying the celebrations of existence.

EVERY YEAR, Palestinians and Israelis mark May 14 in different ways. For Israelis, who mark Israel’s creation using the Jewish calendar, it’s a celebration. For Palestinians, the date is one of mourning.

Both sides take the reaction of the other as an offense rather than with understanding. Arabs see Israelis celebrating their victory in anger. Israelis watch as Palestinians commemorate their failure as a tragedy. So Jews are prohibited from celebrating Israel’s existence in Arab countries, and Israel is moving to adopt laws prohibiting Palestinians from celebrating the nakba. When banning the words that address existence doesn’t work, people turn to using words that hurt.

One word that hurts Jews is apartheid. Many Jews refuse to even speak the word itself, referring to it as the A-word in much the same way that Americans revile the pejorative racist description of black people, as the N-word. The word apartheid has more power to hurt than its actual meaning, which is why Palestinians seem to have glommed on to it.

What is the word apartheid and why are we fighting over it?

The word apartheid surfaced in, of all years, 1948 as the name of a political party in South Africa that symbolized the official policy of segregating blacks from whites.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, apartheid evoked a sinister meaning and became a bludgeon the world used to strike down South Africa’s separation of the races. South Africa’s racist white regime fell and the man it had imprisoned for 25 years, Nelson Mandela, became the new South Africa’s first black president.

I can understand how Israelis fear the word. It invokes the issue of separation – a word Israelis have used to describe the wall. It plays to Arab claims that Israel is a racist country that discriminates against non-Jews.

It’s first victim was Jimmy Carter, who while president ushered in the first peace accord between Israel and Egypt. He wrote a book that used the A-word in the title.

I think Carter is one of the most reputable people in the world. The most caring, genuine human being who ever became a leader. But like many Arabs, Carter exaggerated the problem by using the word. Carter tried to explain he wasn’t talking about Israel, but about how Israel’s occupation of the West Bank evoked images of apartheid.

Israelis and Jews around the world recoiled in anger and responded with punitive attacks against his character. Although Carter has backed down, the rejectionist Arabs have not.

Rejectionist and extremist Palestinians and their Arab allies have launched “apartheid week” to attack Israel. Although they are a minority they have built up a mirage of public support by exploiting the unanswered anger of the majority in the Arab world.

THE WORD apartheid does not really apply accurately to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The word occupation does. But the rejectionists no longer like the word occupation. Apartheid symbolizes the creation of one state, while occupation fuels the movement to create two.

In misusing the word apartheid, the rejectionists and their angry, blind followers are pushing toward reenacting the transformation of South Africa in Israel and Palestine.

Palestinians who support “apartheid week” do so either out of sinister hatred of Jews, or out of blind, unreasoning anger that simmers because they can’t properly vent. The inability to release pent up anger empowers the rejectionist minority but stems from the failures of Palestinians and Arab leadership.

When Arabs couldn’t defeat Israel, they turned toward demonization. And when demonization didn’t work enough, they simply exaggerated the truth. Exaggeration is a common trait among Arabs and Israelis, too.

It’s not easy for Israelis to deal with. Israelis also come in two categories, those who hate Arabs and those who are angry with Arabs but don’t know how to deal with the issue of justice and compromise.

Most Israelis simply denounce anyone who uses the word apartheid as anti-Semitic – another abused word used as a bludgeon for those who criticize Israel.

The word anti-Semitic is to Palestinians what apartheid is to Israelis.

I could ask Palestinians, won’t it make the creation of a Palestinian state that much harder to achieve if they put all their bets on the word apartheid? I could ask Israelis, doesn’t it show a weakness in your beliefs if you are so afraid of one simple word?

Maybe the answer is that both Palestinians and Israelis live in the dark shadows of one real truth – that they have done terrible things to each other over the years.

What frightens me more than the violence that has wracked the region over the past century is when people start attacking the use of words.

Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israel? No. Tolerance of criticism of Israel or Palestine is a sign of strength and hope.

Is it “apartheid week?” Or is it really “apartheid weak”? Rather than hold celebrations that fuel a hatred of Israel around an exaggerated word like apartheid, Palestinians should instead organize rallies and conferences that call for compromise based on peace and the creation of two states.

But Palestinians have to ask themselves the same question that Israelis must face: Do we release our anger against each other, or do we control it, and focus it on peace?

Peace and compromise are words I feel very comfortable to live with, even in a backdrop of anger.

(Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached atwww.YallaPeace.com)

Monday, March 08, 2010

American Arabs should resist the Census and demand their rights

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American Arab rights jeopardized in Census 2010
By Ray Hanania

There is a big push by the US Census targeting the American Arab community to participate, but it’s not new.

They have been saying the same thing now for 30 years: if American Arabs would just fill out the Census form and “right in” the word “Arab” in the “Other” category at the bottom of the form, American Arabs will benefit immensely.

And every decade, the same thing happens. American Arabs participate and they get absolutely no benefits. No benefits, that is, except the American Arab organizations and activists hired and paid by the census to treat the American Arab community like mindless lemmings.

American Arabs are so disrespected that the Census isn’t evenly shameful about the exploitation, insisting against the facts that American Arabs will benefit.

Benefit? How? Will we get jobs for American Arabs? No. The only jobs that come from the Census go to the muscle minority communities like the African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and the others that make up the 29 racial and ethnic groups identified by name on the Census form.

Will be get local municipal, regional, state or federal contracts? No. The contracts will go to the 29 ethnic and racial groups named on the Census forms.

The fact is not one of the American Arab activists can identify one specific benefit that American Arabs have received since we first began supporting the Census campaigns back in the 1980s.

Yes, the 1980s. I was there writing for a community newspaper when the government reached out to American Arabs and I did my part, writing columns and essays urging American Arabs to participate.

In 1990, again, the government came to the American Arab community and hired members of our community and bought advertising and even awarded grants to groups that promoted the Census. I did my part then too, never asking for a penny, believing the BS that somehow things would change and American Arabs would benefit from being “counted.”

In 2000, we did the same thing. We participated. I wrote more columns. We lobbied the community and urged them to participate.

And you know what? Nothing happened. Even though American Arabs participated, we were excluded from major contract awards, employment and more importantly in political empowerment.

It’s no secret that the majority of American Arabs in Chicagoland live on the Southwest Suburbs in District 230, the high school district that includes three high schools. No one from the state suggested that a legislative district be drawn to encompass the Arab community and “empower” us by consolidating our voter strength.

Sound implausible. It’s not. The State of Illinois has done that very thing to create Hispanic Districts and Black Districts. They’ve given jobs to Hispanics, Blacks and Asians.

They’ve awarded contracts to those communities and awarded huge grants to fund arts and culture.

But not for American Arabs.

And you know why?

Because for the past 30 years, American Arabs have been taken for granted. Instead of fighting for what is ours – we pay taxes like everyone else in this country – we just went along trying to be “good citizens,” filling out the forms and writing in our names.

Now suddenly a group of high-profile selfish American Arab leaders who are paid by the Census – the only people getting jobs in our community – are telling us if we don’t fill out the Census forms “the American Arab community will lose.”

Lose what?

Lose jobs? We’re not getting even a sliver of what we deserve. There are 38,000 employees in the City of Chicago and we account for 250,000 of the city’s 3 million residents. That means we should get 7.5 percent of the 38,000 jobs.  That would be almost 2,400 jobs. We have barely 300 total jobs, or 2,100 jobs short of what we should get but don’t.

And it’s worse at the state level were $19 million are disbursed every year to fund cultural and arts projects for various ethnic and racial community groups. The American Arabs get about $200,000 and half of that goes to non-Arab groups identified as “Middle Eastern” including Iranians and Israelis and Jews, the latter group also get even more from the state of Illinois.

This pattern is repeated in nearly every state in the union. We’re 4.5 million American Arabs and what do we have to show for it? Harassment, neglect, abuse, denial and one of the highest job loss rates in the country.

We have a handful of teachers in Chicago, and even less in the suburbs. We have a handful of elected officials, and not one district carved out for American Arab empowerment.

Now you can continue to do what we have always done, bent over without as much as a whimper and listen to the paid American activist flaks who are telling us to support the Census – to protect their jobs.

Or, for the first time in 30 years, we can stand up and make a statement against being exploited by a country that routinely abuses and denies our rights while targeting us for terrorist profiling.

We can make a statement in a powerful way or we can allow ourselves to be marginalized by American Arab leaders who benefit from the blood-money they are paid to lead us into national weakness.

Sometimes, it is easier to pick up crumbs than to fight for the cake.

I say, let’s fight for our rights and tell the Census and their mercenaries to “take that Census form and Shove it!”


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

From Dubai to Twitter - what's real? Hanania Jerusalem Post column March 3, 2010

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From Dubai to Twitter - what's real?
Could Salam Fayyad's new Twitter feed be another Mossad strategy to throw Palestinians into turmoil?
From The Jerusalem Post Published March 4, 2010

Whenever my wife Alison and I go out to eat, she always asks the waitress about her menu choices: “Does this one taste good?” I’m sitting there thinking, hmmm! I wonder if the waitress is going to lean over and say, “No. That really tastes terrible. You should go to another restaurant.”

Alison gets very angry with me when I point out the obvious: “Do you really expect the waitress to tell you the food doesn’t taste good?” The waitress responds with public relations, ignoring me and saying, “It’s good, but this one is better.”

Well, it’s one thing to confront a waitress and be na├»ve in a restaurant. It’s another in the Middle East, where it’s easier to blow nargila smoke in someone’s face. Arabs and Israelis are always willing to believe whatever they are told about the other, especially if it’s something bad.

Who murdered Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19? Dubai police point the finger at the Mossad, Israel’s secret spy agency, which has a record of assassinations, as depicted by filmmaker Steven Spielberg in Munich. Israel reacted predictably, asserting that Mabhouh was involved in smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip, and insisting he was responsible for the killing 20 years ago of two Israeli soldiers.

The Israelis refuse to take “credit” for the killing: Mabhouh was reportedly injected with a muscle relaxant that made him immobile, and was then suffocated with his hotel pillow.

Like the waitress put in a spot, Israel understands the power of public relations. Israelis spend millions on PR. They were the first in the Middle East to create a presence on the Internet, back in the early 1990s. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have no concept of PR or professional communications. They do little with strategy and most of it is by accident.

When Israel does something bad, Israeli officials never take credit. When Hamas commits a killing, they can’t wait to blame themselves.

YOU CAN see the differences between Israelis and Palestinians on the Internet’s leading new social networking tool, Twitter, which (for those who don’t know allows you to post messages of under 140 characters, including spaces). Other people can “follow” you and read your posts. Some people have as many as 1 million followers. Imagine being able to send a fast message to one million people at a time? That’s power PR.

A quick check shows there are many Palestinians and Israelis using Twitter.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has an account. Despite his bungling style, Ayalon has 1,745 followers and is following 805, nearly every one of them an Israeli person or a news site.

Ayalon is on top of the news, and is quick to send notices to his followers condemning the Palestinians for this or that and defending Israel’s actions. After the Chilean earthquake last week, he offered his condolences to the people of Chile and the families who lost loved ones – something he never seems to do when Palestinians are the victims of some confrontation with Israel.

I also found Twitter accounts for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and one of my friends, Labor Party Knesset member Einat Wilf.

On the Palestinian side, there are accounts for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, former security chief Muhammad Dahlan, and for the popular Palestinian moderate Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

I connected with Fayyad after he started to “follow” me. But how do I know any of the Palestinians are who they claim to be?

“Twitter Fayyad” writes fascinating posts like this one: “I think Rafik al-Husseini should take a page from Tiger Woods and do a press conference admitting his actions and taking responsibility.”

Or this exchange with “Twitter Dahlan” over who was responsible for the Mabhouh murder: “Ya man. Beards are only OK if you are mujahideen on holiday or Mossad tennis stars?”

And another from “Twitter Fayyad” to “Twitter Dahlan.” “Bas ya zelameh. I heard you were in Dubai pulling in old favors to get your ex-mukhabarat construction workers’ release, no?”

There is a real sense of humor in that last one.

The posts seem to suggest “Twitter Fayyad” is a regular guy with a good sense of humor, which is why he is so favored by many in the West, and scolded by Hamas and Jabha fanatics.

Or is it fake? Is this the waitress telling my wife what she wants to hear, or real honesty from a politician willing to jeopardize his job by telling the truth?

I like to think people who have a sense of humor are also likely to embrace peace. No sense of humor means no chance of ever making peace.

Of course, “Twitter Fayyad” may not be the real Salam Fayyad at all. That’s what my friend Hussein Ibish at the American Task Force on Palestine insists, and I believe him.

“Twitter Fayyad” has only 160 followers, and is following 305 others. That’s a clue.

Among people he is following are Shakira, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

In a region of the world where anger, hate and violence dominate the headlines, we could use more humor and a lot more of Shakira, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and especially Lady Gaga.

Of course, “Twitter Fayyad” could just be another Mossad strategy to throw Palestinians into internal turmoil. It’s not hard to believe, and certainly more effective than killing some obscure Hamas operative in Dubai.