Monday, December 23, 2013

Southwest Airlines is so much less than what it promised

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Southwest Airlines is so much less than what it promised
By Ray Hanania

Flying on an airplane used to be fun. But these days, it’s changed. And it’s not just because of Sept. 11. It has more to do with greed.

Southwest Airlines is a good example. Cited 10 times by Fortune Magazine for its financial management, it knows little about how to treat customers.

Southwest Airlines began in Texas in 1967 as Air Southwest and changed its name in 1971. It has always portrayed itself as the “little guy” in the airline business, promising the highest service and the lowest cost.

Like all of the airlines, Southwest Airlines saves money by nickel and diming its passengers, offering the lowest fares by treating passengers like cows. But Southwest Airlines has taken it all one step further.

They don’t assign seats when you buy your ticket. That’s too civilized for cows. Instead, you line up based on whether you pay them extra money. Some people might call that bribing the company to give you a better place in line.

You get seats in one of two ways. You are assigned a “boarding position” when you register for your flight online at least 24 hours before your flight.

Or, you can pay the airline $15 per passenger to have them assign you a “boarding position” 36 hours before the flight in boarding positions 1 through 60.

But 40 minutes before the flight, Southwest Airline sells the first spots in line to passengers who are willing to pay $40 more.

Worse, is that no one really checks to see if people are being honest. The boarding steward doesn’t care. He just checks you in. So many people simple get in the line even ahead of their real assigned number.

You can see how all that ala carte spending starts to add up.

It’s uncivilized, which is what Southwest Airlines should use in its motto. “We’re the uncivilized airline, but we’re rich” rather than their worthless motto which now laughingly proclaims, “Doing the Right Thing.”

What does that mean anyway? The “right thing” for who? Not the passengers.

When you pay $15 to “early register” for the flight, don’t you think that means getting a seat assigned. No. It means getting in a pecking order on where you stand in line trying to get a seat.

The steward jokingly urges passengers to pay the extra $40 per person “to sit with your significant other,” meaning the chances of a family sitting together are probably only 30 percent. Those are bad odds.

The uncivilized way they assign seats is only the beginning. The seats themselves are the most cramped of any airline. In fact, when you get into your seat, somewhere at the back of the plane after paying a fortune, the fold-out tray opens and touches your stomach. It has a sliding feature, but it has no room to slide on normal people.

They are constantly also trying to “balance” their airline wait, asking passengers to take a later flight for a flight coupon. That tells me they constantly overbook.

Maybe they should call Southwest Airlines “Sardine Airlines.” At least you will know what you are paying for.

I liked the old days when airlines treated people with respect. You got what you paid for. Now, they want to take your money and give you what they want.

There was a time when people meant something. These days, we’re just Sherpas for someone else’s profits.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at Or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Memory of Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel should be revived

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Memory of Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel should be revived

Saudi Gazette Sunday, December 22, 2013
English: Deir Yassin. Attacked by Irgun 9th Ap...
English: Deir Yassin. Attacked by Irgun 9th April 1948. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On May 27, 1942, a Nazi leader's car was attacked by the resistance. Within a month, the Nazis had tracked the attackers to a Czech village called Lidice and had expelled or massacred most of its residents, men, women and children. Today, Lidice is remembered every June in ceremonies and memorials in several cities around the world.
That made me wonder about the more than 400 villages that were destroyed by Israel in 1948 in its effort to purge non-Jews from the territories it had captured. What has been done to memorialize them or to remember their destruction?
In 1978 during the dawn of the computer era, I began writing a computer software program called “Baladi: The Palestine Database” which sought to compile facts about Palestine’s history that the owner of the software could expand. I released it publicly in 1985.
It actually consisted of several databases including one that listed chronologically by year, month and day events in Palestine’s history; a travel feature that allowed you to walk 15 of the most scenic routes of pre-Nakba Palestine, and several others that included maps and more. The databases were expandable and information could be inputed by the user.
One of the databases in Baladi was a listing of every Palestinian city, town and village that existed, including the complete list of those Israel had destroyed during its creation in 1947 and 1948. What I learned was that many of the largest Palestinian cities and towns had been attacked by Israel long before the so-called “Arab invasion” that followed Israel’s formal declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948 – giving the lie to the Israeli assertion that the Arabs started the war when they invaded in 1948.
No, the Israelis started the war in 1946, using terrorism, hostage taking, suicide bombings and the murder of civilians, such as the massacre of Deir Yassin. Many of those villages and cities that were attacked and destroyed were located in the area of the UN Partition Plan that had been designated to be a part of the “Arab state.” I continue to update the database online at
But as I read about the efforts to commemorate Lidice, I wondered about the more than 400 Lidice’s that were destroyed by Israel and what efforts were being made to memorialize them. What was being done to remember them?
There are several campaigns to commemorate the vicious massacre by ultra-terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, two of Israel’s prime ministers, of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, an attack that sparked the refugee flight.
And what about memorializing the cities, towns and villages that have survived Israel’s vicious oppression over the years? What are we doing to support them?
One of the problems of the Palestinian challenge has been the slow process of documenting our history. There are many websites that promote anger and hate against Israel, and certainly Israel, as a government and military deserves much criticism. In fact, charges should be brought against Israel in the International Criminal Court for its violence and terrorism.
But the story of Palestine is a story of beauty. It is a story of people and families and achievements. We should be documenting our history in more detail, not just as statistics but as a people. Who are some of the people who were murdered by the terrorist Haganah and Irgun organizations?
We should have their pictures and biographies available so that years from now, others will know what Israel did to a people who lived in a country called Palestine.
One of my friends, activist and businessman Sam Bahour who now lives in Palestine, is helping a project called the Theatrical Museum of Palestinian Oral History. It sounds like a great project, but of course, every project needs funds.
And for some reason, we Arabs have a problem with funding. We can get some funding, but not enough. Funding is always a problem. The Arab world is one of the wealthiest regions in the world. Arabs are among the wealthiest in the world. A recent study noted that the Middle East has 157 billionaires, or 40 percent of the world’s billionaires. That’s compared to the 28 percent who live in Europe, 22 percent who live in North America (the United States mainly) and 18 percent who live in Asia.
Yet, Israel’s distorted message that twists history, denies Palestinian rights and demonizes Arabs has far more financial support. Pro-Israeli groups spend far more on public relations and press releases, on the underwriting of movies and television shows, and even on the ownership and advertising support of newspapers and mainstream news media.
They have their own museums to commemorate the Holocaust and Jewish history, and so much more. Yet, when it comes to Arab history and especially Palestinian history, there is so little. And what little exists does so on meager budgets.
In a world where perception is reality, what you do has an impact on how people view your causes. If they see that you yell and scream a lot but rarely invest your own money in something, maybe that something isn’t worth their support either.
Could our failure as Arabs to put our money where our mouths and emotions are be a part of the reason why the public so easily brushes aside our rights and claims to justice, and instead embraces the hateful anti-Arab images promoted by Israel and other groups with political agendas?
If our own people can’t step up to the plate to invest in the history of our Arab culture, or of Palestine, then what kind of history do we really have?
– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chronology of controversy and lies against ADC

Chronology of controversy and lies against ADC

The extremist critics of ADC use the Big Lie to pressure moderates and good people out of leadership in the American Arab community. The controversy at ADC is a reflection of this continued strategy by the fanatics.

Here is a chronology of the attacks and vicious lies, and the sequence of events, to help you understand the real motives in the assault against ADC.

ADC Chronology of Controversy


ADC Founded


Rashida Tlaib says she was sexually harassed by Imad Hamad, but says nothing to anyone until 15 years later.


Sexual harassment complaints were filed by eight women against Imad Hamad. ADC conducts an internal investigation. Imad Hamad was required to take a sexual harassment course.


Jan. 10 
Rana Abbas, who was deputy director under Imad Hamad, leaves ADC Michigan after joining it in 2000, later claiming she was one of the women sexually harassed by Hamad in 2007.


June 1
Chicago ADC Board member Ray Hanania is nominated by the Chicago ADC Chapter to serve as the official representative on the ADC National Board.

June 4-6
ADC National Convention

June 5
Two extremists confront Ray Hanania at the ADC asking if his wife is really Jewish and threatening to protest his appointment to the national board because of his opinion that the Palestinian Right of Return should be compromised as a par of a final peace with Israel.

June 23
Will Youmans, Ikhras and KabobFest call for Hanania’s resignation. Hanania alleges the fanatics oppose his moderation and support of peace with Israel.


May 5
Critics accuse ADC National of seeking to censor Malek Jandali and prevent him from performing a song he wrote in 2011 “Watani Ana” that some considered critical of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad

June 1
Ray Hanania nominates Warren David, the longtime publisher of "Arab Detroit," as National ADC Board Chairman

June 9-12
ADC National Convention

June 9
ADC issues statement to clarify Jandali controversy. Read statement.

June 10
Ray Hanania declines reappointment to the ADC Board, citing the costs of travel to and from Washington DC, and the manner in which the board makes decisions.

June 10
The Arab American Institute and Jim Zogby issue a statement denouncing ADC for allegedly censoring Jandali “The silencing of Mr. Jandali has unfairly harmed and cast a pall on the hard work done by ADC's staff to make this convention a success. It also hurts ADC’s members who look to this organization for leadership as the country’s largest Arab American civil rights organization.” Read AAI attack on ADC.

June 11
Trying to stem the public criticism, ADC plays a recording of Malek Jandali’s song at the convention. Jandali filed a copyright violation lawsuit claiming the song was played without his permission.

June 27
Extremist activists Hoda Mitwally and Yaman Salahi publish a vicious attack in Aljazeera English libeling ADC, Safa Rifka and Ray Hanania, and complaining of Hanania’s criticism “against Palestinian solidarity activists.” Read their attack column.

July 1
Warren David is officially named National President of ADC. His salary is reportedly over $100,000. His appointment was approved by the board in June.


April 12
ADC issues apology to Malek Jandali for playing his song without his permission and reportedly pays Jandali’s legal bills.

June 21-24
ADC National Convention


May 31
Rashida Tlaib, based in Greater Detroit, sends letter to ADC’s National President, Warren David, claiming she and other women were sexually harassed by Imad Hamad -- she in 1997 and the others in 2007 demanding that action be taken. The delay in making the claims leads many to believe the attacks against Hamad are driven by politics. Click to read letter.

Oct. 3
ADC publishes a press releases claiming they investigated and responded to the sexual harassment charges. Read release.

Oct. 18
ADC Communications Director Raed Jarrar is fired by ADC. Read Alarabiya Story.

Oct. 21
Several Female staff members of ADC's national office go on strike in protest of what they believe is the failure of ADC to act on the sexual harassment charges and in response to Jarrar's dismissal.

Oct. 23
The Female staff members quit ADC.

Oct. 29
Will Youmans, Warren David’s nephew, and Khaled A. Beydoun, publish a vicious attack against ADC and Safa Rifka in alJazeera. (Youmans is the nephew of David’s wife Amal.) Read the column.

Nov. 17
Extremist activists at George Washington University protest at an ADC hosted Women’s Initiative Concert at Lisner Auditorium that featured the 2013 Arab Idol winners, denouncing ADC.

Nov. 22
Imad Hamad resigns from ADC. Read Detroit Free Press article.

Nov. 23
Fatina Abdrabboh, 32, a Dearborn attorney is named as Hamad’s successor.

Nov. 25
ADC president Warren David is fired by ADC National Board Chairma Safa Rifka. ADC spokesman says David failed to represent the official policies of ADC.

Dec. 4
ADC National names attorney Samer Khalaf as Warren David’s successor.

Dec. 9
The Arab Daily News reports that Safa Rifka will be the keynote speaker at ADC Michigan’s annual fundraiser to be held Dec. 13, angering anti-ADC activists. Anti-ADC activists announce they will protest at the banquet.

Dec. 10
ADC Michigan announces it is canceling its annual Fundraiser set for Dec. 13 in Dearborn. Read article in Detroit Free Press.

TBC ...

Sunday, December 01, 2013

2nd Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference: “Empowering Our Nation by Engaging Communities”

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2nd Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference
Empowering Our Nation by Engaging Communities”

In Collaboration with the Arab American, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American Communities

Keegan Michael Key, star of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele" will headline the signature 2nd Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference, Empowering our Nation by Engaging Communities, to be held on Friday, December 6, 2013, at The Carlisle, 435 E. Butterfield Rd, Lombard, IL 60148 from 8:30am to 4:00pm. 

This unique conference explores the culture, diversity, and contributions of the Arab American, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American communities as it examines the images portrayed in media, film, and television, and their implications in education, government, and corporate America.

In Partnership with the Governor's Office of the State of Illinois, the Mayor's Office of the City of Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, University of Chicago, LaSed, NAACP, SER and Ziyad Imports, the conference offers 6 Continuing Education Credits by the University of Chicago for Educators, Social Workers, Counselors, Therapists, and Clinical Psychologists. Sponsorship opportunities with information booths and special student and group discount rates are available. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, conference materials, and certificate of completion. 

Join the 2013 Conference Presenters: Keegan Michael Key, Chicago's Second City alum and star of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele"; film and television actor and activist Sayed Badreya, star of "Iron Man", "Mirage", "Three Stooges", "Don't Mess with the Zohan"; Professor John Woods, PhD, of the University of Chicago will share a unique and thought provoking presentation on the evolution of images in the media. Second City's Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Dionna Griffin-Irons will infuse improv with audience participation; Diversity and Motivational Speaker, Attorney Maaria Mozaffar, founder of The  Skinless Project has inspired women in leadership and management roles; Comedy genius and award winning journalist, Ray Hanania, will also perform. The conference has established a unique forum which provides effective and education tools as it creates bridges for constructive dialogue and networking while exploring the challenges and triumphs that ultimately bring us together as communities and impacts us all as Americans.

For more information, visit:  Media Contact:  Siham Awada Jaafar (313) 910-1955

NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: Due to unforeseen circumstances with the Alhambra Palace Restaurant, we have been forced to change the venue for the Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference on December 6, 2013. The event will now be held at The Carlisle located at 435 E. Butterfield Rd, Lombard, IL 60148. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK -- what we really remember, and want to forget

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JFK -- what we really remember and want to forget
an American Arab remembers

By Ray Hanania
English: John F. Kennedy, photograph in the Ov...
English: John F. Kennedy, photograph in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Probably more than half of the people living in America today were not born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was only 10 years old and to be honest, I knew nothing about him. My parents generation would often talk about how handsome he was and how beautiful the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was.
There was another "politician" that my parents generation were talking about, too, at the time who took Kennedy's place after he was killed. His name was Charles Percy. His daughter had been murdered the five newspapers that came to our house screamed in giant headlines. During his election, our elementary school asked who would we vote for -- everyone picked him because he was "better looking" than the other guy, Senator Paul Douglas.
Good looks meant a lot in politics and elections in those days.
But that was it. I was too young to understand the Bay of Pigs invasion screw-up in Cuba. It meant nothing to me that his brother, Bobby Kennedy, was appointed the U.S. Attorney General and his priority was to crack down on the Mafia, which FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover insisted did not exist. I didn't know that either.
I knew the United States and Russia were at odds and we might blow ourselves up with nuclear weapons because I had watched movies like "Them" in which nuclear weapons explosions had created giant ants. As a 10 year old, that was scary, even though when I watch the movie "Them" again today, I wonder how the simplistic filmmaking could have scared anyone. But there was the Russian satellite, called "Sputnik" which was a round silver-like ball of metal with three "legs" or antennas.
Sputnik had been launched in 1957 just before Halloween -- I was only 4 then and a few people had dressed up like the frightening Russian satellite. Sputnik flew around the earth for about 22 days before it stopped working and then came crashing down weeks later in January 1958. But the fear that overcame America lasted years and fueled the "Space Race."
November 22, 1963, that Friday morning when I was walking up the slight hill of Chappel Avenue at 92nd Street to return to school, was just a normal day. I went to Joseph Warren Elementary school -- yes, we literally walked a mile four times a day including to and from school in the morning and afternoon, and to and from school for lunch. There wasn't any snow because it wasn't slippery. As I walked back to school, a friend who was inside the fenced playground that was adjacent to the side walk yelled to me, "Hey Ray. The President is dead."
English: President John F. Kennedy, First Lady...
English: President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Senator Patrick V. McNamara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What president? Who? Kennedy? We didn't call him JFK. The handsome guy our mom's liked. He was dead. Shrug. What did I know. Seriously. I meant nothing to me. Except that the school gathered us all together into the auditorium and the Principal and some of the teachers said things that I don't remember. And then they sent us home, which was not cool because my dad worked at Sinclair Oil downtown and my mom worked at Solo Cup not too far from the school, after we finished lunch.
That's what I remember. That's all I remember of that exact moment. I see the uphill inclined sidewalk. The fence. The kids playing in the playground next to the new yellow bricked school building with the flat roof that made it look like one of those Frank Lloyd Wright homes my dad was always talking about, a few were in the neighborhood. The old, brown bricked school building with the steep inclined roof was straight ahead.
That's it. But that's what has haunted me ever since. The memory of "where I was" and "what I was doing" has remained burned in my mind ever since. And instead of fading away, it has festered like an open wound. The Kennedy Funeral dominated everything the entire weekend. We had little transistor radios made of plastic that we purchased for a few dollars with little ear plugs to listen to the Beatles music and rock and roll music. Between the songs, there would be a lot of talk. We'd switch from WLS to WCFL. It was a radio station battle back then and we picked up the Silver Dollar Surveys from the local record store which listed what new songs were out and how they ranked.
Hananias1957The television was small. Black and white. I recall watching the funeral procession. And seeing the rebroadcast of the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man the media and police immediately concluded had killed Kennedy. There was never any doubt and there was never a real investigation. It was Oswald and that was that. The Warren Commission and everything that came out of the mouths of our government, including "LBJ," that "cowboy" who no one really liked but who was no president, all said the same thing. Done. Closed, That's it pal.
We were afraid that the Soviet Union was going to bomb us with nuclear weapons and I would transform into some kind of monster bug from the radiation, if we didn't burn up. Thank God for our little classroom desks with the shiny beige tops that would protect us from the fallout that we climbed under during Nuclear Attack Air Raid drills in school.
If we had children hiding under desks at school for any reason, parents would go berserk today. Screaming and filing lawsuits against the schools and teachers and it would turn into a political crisis. But back then, we were afraid. And everyone had to been afraid that just maybe the Soviet Union was involved in murdering Kennedy. That's why the government had to fight so hard to convince us it wasn't the Soviet Union because if it was, we would be screaming for revenge. We would bomb the hell out of those "Communists." Those "Commies."
I knew those words. Fear of nuclear bombs and a Soviet invasion was real. It was only 18 years since the end of World War II and the Nazi invasion and destruction of Europe. And the Nazis did horrible things. The gassing of prisoners and mass murder, later called the Holocaust, was frightening.
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on...
Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
George Orwell's book "1984" was not a piece of fiction. It was the boogieman that lived in our minds. And we were headed in that direction back in 1963, only 18 years after World War II. The war had only been over 8 years when I had been born. It was fresh in our minds.
If there was even a hint of a conspiracy or Soviet involvement through Oswald, we would have gone to war. Although, maybe no one really wanted to go to war. Maybe our technology wasn't as great as we thought. The Soviets, after all, beat us to Outer Space. When we look back at it from today's perspective, "Sputnik" was just a metal ball. A symbol of the space race. But back in 1963, Sputnik flew above our homes and scarred the crap out of Americans. Our imaginations were bing fed fear. What did we really know?
If we attacked the Soviets, the Soviets would attack us. Nuclear carnage. A nuclear nightmare. We might beat them, our politicians assured us, but everyone knew that in a nuclear exchange both places would be sizzling, smoldering wastelands of radioactive rubble, breeding giants ants, gila monsters and awakening God knows what from the Earth's crust. Was our nuclear arsenal really better than the Soviet nuclear arsenal? We didn't know for sure. They told us it was but no one really trusted to government.
Today, all of that is meaningless. And when we try to understand the pathetic investigation that was decided minutes after JFK was shot that Oswald was the killer, the fear of a conspiracy drove people to the edges of paranoia. We didn't want to go there. We didn't want to go there.
The body of President John. F. Kennedy lies in...
The body of President John. F. Kennedy lies in repose in the East Room of the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Blaming it all on Oswald was a convenient way to relax the American people. It made us feel comfortable. It made us feel safe. It was just one guy. Never mind all the strange and contradictory facts that were never really explored or considered.
Oswald tried to kill a retired American General a few months before using the same Italian-made Mannlicker Carcano rifle. He was 100 feet away hiding behind a bush outside the guys house. And he missed.
And from atop the 6th Floor of the Texas School Depository Building he fired a first shot when the limousine was closest and clearest in front of his site, and missed. And then finally hit Kennedy in the upper back with a second shot as the limousine was further away. And then finally, hit the president in the kill zone, cross hair shot in the back of the head from even further way, a distance almost three times what he tried to do when he missed the General who was standing and not moving 100 feet away months before.
How is it that almost four miles away, a Dallas police officer just happened to see a White Guy walking the street doing nothing to bring attention to him except walking the street, and the decide to pull him over for a first look because a few descriptions had been given of the killer? And Oswald just went home and grabbed his handgun and decided to go out of his apartment. All that time passed since the killing. So many White guys with light hair and jackets walking the streets, but Oswald is picked out like a needle in a haystack. And then after a second confrontation with the police officer, Oswald shoots him.
The Dallas police were corrupt in 1963. The Mafia that Hoover claimed didn’t exist had their little tentacles into the police. Jack “Ruby” Rubenstein, who murdered Oswald on live television 48 hours after JFK was killed in the basement of the Dallas Police headquarters, was a pal of the Dallas Police.
English: Grave of at the Shannon Rose Hill Mem...
English: Grave of at the Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The police confronted Oswald in the Texas School Depository building less than 2 minutes after the killing on the 2nd floor cafeteria of the building. He was holding a bottle of pop. He wasn’t rushed. Wasn’t sweating from running down the stairs from the 6th floor only seconds earlier. Not disheveled. Calm. And just shrugged his shoulders when the police officer asked who he was and the building manager said he’s an employee of the building. And then let him go.
And then we are supposed to believe that this man who shot the Dallas Police Officer who had Soviet ties but didn’t have Soviet ties was the sole killer because the gun was found on the floor where he was supposed to be working.
Why ask those questions? Why try to find out the truth? Why not just lie and makeup a set of facts and have your government buddies print it in a massive document that no normal person could or would bother to read, and just tie the bow and put the whole sordid crisis away in the back of our minds where it sits refusing to leave. Unanswered. Unfinished. Suspicious. And full or questions and concerns. A dark place in our minds from a dark period in our lives where fear really reigned but today sounds so ridiculous to try to argue.
But it was.
That’s what I remember.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at Or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.)