The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SPJ asks me to remove post on encouraging Arab journalists to mail their shoes to protest President Bush

This is a response to a letter fromt he President of the SPJ requesting that I remove a post which urged Arab American journalists and others to "mail" their shoes in protest to President Bush ... at the request of SPJ, I removed my post, which is reprinted below under my response.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday Dec. 19, 2008

Dave Aeikens

Re: My post on throwing shoes and mailing my shoes to President Bush:

Hey Dave … I viewed the shoe-throwing incident as representing a form of free speech that is not violent … I know some people say throwing a shoe is violent, but I don’t see it that way … I also felt that Arab American journalists feel that the Iraqi cameraman responded in a way that is denied many Arab world journalists, not just in Iraq where people are not allowed to fully express themselves … I didn’t see it as a political statement at all … I also think that mailing my shoes to President Bush as an Arab American journalist and opinion writer is an appropriate form of protest against the repression his administration has come to symbolize not just in the Arab World but in the Arab American community.

I will take it down as a courtesy to the SPJ … BUT, I think this topic should be discussed in more detail …

Arab journalists and Arab American journalists are discriminated against every day … I don’t see the concern or attention to these matters at all. In fact, for example, UNITY would not even discuss our issues with them, but they decided to address our issues on their own by reaching through the Arab American journalism community rather than working with the Arab American journalism community.

Because SPJ has done so much to work with Arab American journalists, and ONLY for that reason, I will remove the posting, and replace it with this. I think that in an America where Arab satellite television can’t find a place on Comcast Cable or most major cable TV programs because Americans think that Arab World journalism is “biased” is an outrage, but Arab American journalists are the only ones who see that and get no support from the mainstream media.

Arab American journalists are always a problem, but never a part of the solution, never a part of the positive movement forward, always excluded, always ostracized, always put under severe scrutiny for our words in ways that no other community is also measured. It’s unfair and I protest it. But, again, out of respect to the SPJ and only to the SPJ because the SPJ has more than any other organization reached out to Arab Americans at least in this small manner to give us a platform where we might express our views, I will remove it and post this instead.

I hope to see mainstream American journalism show the same concern for the discrimination that we continue to face in this country as Americans of Arab heritage trying to carve out a place in professional journalism. I hope one day to see mainstream journalism ask aloud why there are no Arab Americans writing columns at major newspapers given the fact that the Arab World and the Middle East are among the TOP stories and the main focus of this country’s news media attention.

I hope that is an acceptable compromise.

Thank you and I appreciate and respect your views
Ray Hanania


I just came back from the post office and mailed an old pair of shoes to President Bush at the White House in protest of his policies.

Arab journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Kanye West of the Arab World, has started a trend that I think is great. Let's face it, he didn't go there and blow himself up. That's progress in a region where violencebecomes the protest form of choice. But al-Zaidi, who was brutalized by guards (one reportedly yelling not to kick him in the face"), is a hero. Instead of violence, he used a cultural form of protest that is popular in the Arab World, and that one many American came to know when American soldiers during the invasion of Iraq, pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in front of one of the dictator's palaces in Baghdad, (trying to make it look like the "people" did it) and then those civilians who were brought there by the military started to express their disdain for Saddam Hussein in the way they knew best, by throwing their shoes at the statue.

How ironic that more than five years later, Iraqis are now throwing their shoes at President Bush?

And I want to help, as a fellow Arab American journalist who believes that violence is NEVER the right choice, NEVER a good choice, and NEVER a strategy for success, the symbolic throwing of my shoes at Bush (courtesy of the US Postal Service) is the most powerful expression of free speech today against the Iraq war possible.

I hope you will join me and others.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, December 15, 2008

Protest President Bush by mailing your shoes to the White House

I just came back from the post office and mailed an old pair of shoes to President Bush at the White House in protest of his policies.

Arab journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Kanye West of the Arab World, has started a trend that I think is great. Let's face it, he didn't go there and blow himself up. That's progress in a region where violencebecomes the protest form of choice.

But al-Zaidi, who was brutalized by guards (one reportedly yelling not to kick him in the face"), is a hero. Instead of violence, he used a cultural form of protest that is popular in the Arab World, and that one many American came to know when American soldiers during the invasion of Iraq, pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in front of one of the dictator's palaces in Baghdad, (trying to make it look like the "people" did it) and then those civilians who were brought there by the military started to express their disdain for Saddam Hussein in the way they knew best, by throwing their shoes at the statue.

How ironic that more than five years later, Iraqis are now throwing their shoes at President Bush?

And I want to help, as a fellow Arab American journalist who believes that violence is NEVER the right choice, NEVER a good choice, and NEVER a strategy for success, the symbolic throwing of my shoes at Bush (courtesy of the US Postal Service) is the most powerful expression of free speech today against the Iraq war possible.

I hope you will join me and others.

Here is the information on the White House, where to mail your packages:

The White House
President Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC., 20500

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Amnesty urges release of dissidents in Tunisia

Amnesty International Press Release
Friday, Dec. 12, 2008

Trial of Tunisian Trade Union Leaders a Travesty of Justice, Charges Amnesty International

Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,

(Washington) -- Amnesty International is calling on the Tunisian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested and tried for exercising peacefully their right to freedom of expression and assembly. Others should be retried in fair proceedings in line with Tunisia’s international obligations.

The human rights organization issued its appeal after yesterday’s prison sentences handed down to 38 trade union leaders and protesters in unfair trial proceedings for their involvement in demonstrations in the Gafsa area.

“The verdict and sentences have been a subversion of justice and they should not be allowed to stand,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy program director at Amnesty International.

A Gafsa Court handed down prison terms of up to 10 years against 33 trade union activists and protesters who were accused of leading the unrest against unemployment and high living costs in the first half of this year in the phosphate-rich Gafsa region in southeast Tunisia. Four were tried in absentia.

Charges included “forming a criminal group with the aim of destroying public and private property” and “armed rebellion and assault on officials during the exercise of their duties.” They were among the hundreds arrested after a wave of protests against unemployment and high living costs that wracked the phosphate-rich Gafsa region in south-east Tunisia in the first half of this year.

“The Tunisian authorities must immediately stop criminalizing social protest. Instead of trying peaceful protesters and trade unionists, the authorities should investigate the allegations of torture previously raised by the defendants,” added Sahraoui.

Amnesty International is concerned that serious violations of fair trial standards have been committed, including that the defense lawyers were not able to present the case of their clients; the defendants were not interrogated in court and the demands of the lawyers that their clients be medically examined for trace of possible torture and to call and cross-examine witnesses were rejected by the court.

Yesterday’s verdict came amid reports of a heavy security presence. Security forces were deployed along the roads leading to the court as well as in main access roads to the city of Gafsa. The roads leading to the court were said to have been barred by the security forces who prevented a number of human rights activists from reaching the court.

“The trial raises yet again questions as to the independence of the judiciary in Tunisia and shows the Tunisian authorities’ determination to quell any independent voices inside the country,” said Sahraoui.

The leader of trade union and spokesperson for the Movement of Social Protest in Gafsa, Adnan Hajji was sentenced, along with six others, to 10 years’ imprisonment in the trial. The rest received prison sentences ranging from two to six years, including at least eight suspended sentences. Journalist Fahem Boukadous and France-based human rights activist Mouheiddine Cherbib, received, respectively, six and two years in absentia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information, please visit:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Foods of Chicago Features Arab American recipes and writers

Gloria Baraks
Vice President/Marketing
G. Bradley Publishing, Inc.
112 W. Jefferson/Suite 122
St. Louis, MO 63122
Cell phone 314-651-9079
Office phone 314-966-8336
Fax 314-966-5110
Web -


A Delicious History

Chicago was built by immigrants, and in creating this urban behemoth these newcomers they got their hands dirty. First, they toiled to clear and rebuild the city from the charred remains of the Great Fire. They labored in the awesome and fearsome vast Union Stockyards and faced the fiery furnaces of the mighty steel mills. Many took pride in their workmanship raising and supporting the impressive Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893.

These immigrants came to a Lake Michigan shoreline paved not with gold, but with opportunity. They raised families, taught their children and built divinely inspired houses of worship. They opened the door for people of every nation and culture to come and share the intense drama of life in a growing city.

But even as they aspired to become fully American, these immigrants did not leave everything of their old worlds behind them. They brought memories, photographs, languages and faiths. They also brought Grandmas recipes, the cherished taste of home reminding them of the love and warmth of their roots. Indeed, they were defined by what they put on the table.

This publication is a companion piece to the television program The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History, produced by WTTW11 Chicagos public television station. WTTW producer/writer Dan Protess and host Geoffrey Baer see the program and book as a celebration of Chicagos diversity. Dan summed it up perfectly when he said, I really cant think of a better window into Chicagos distinct communities than food.

The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History is a wonderful blend. a book like no other. Much like a recipe that offers delightful combinations to entice the senses, this book is a delectable mixture of culinary delights and reflections on the rich cultural history of Chicagos diverse communities. You and your family will enjoy and cherish this book for years to come.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Afghan Chronicles Chicago Premiere Thursday, December 4

Afghan Chronicles Chicago Premiere Thursday, December 4, 6-8pm
International House at the University of Chicago
1414 E. 59th Street

In partnership with the Canadian Consulate of Chicago and the International House at the University of Chicago Free AdmissionReservations required. Click here to RSVP.Call 312 222 7871 for more information Join the Freedom Museum, Canadian Consulate of Chicago and the University of Chicago's Global Voices series for a screening of the riveting film Afghan Chronicles. This documentary explores the expanding role of media in Afghanistan and its contributions to the country’s efforts to rebuild after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Filmmaker Dominic Morissette will be on hand for a short discussion after the film.

Friday, November 14, 2008

MidEast Youth TV relaunches at

We have been working extremely hard on improving Mideast Youth and its services. After launching the beta version of MEY TV, our video-sharing community, more than a year ago, we have come a long way! So we invite you to check our newly developed video platform here:Mideast Youth TV

The Internet has transformed the video medium into an increasingly powerful and interactive form of communication, and allowed for the circumvention of censors. Recognizing this power, Mideast Youth TV was created in order to provide a forum for worthy videos to be shown and distributed.

Through this space, we would like to recognize and support important documentaries, video op-eds, independent regional filmmaking, music, and more, while welcoming controversy.

Although the Internet abounds with video sharing sites, censorship of controversial content has become apparent in them, and we felt it was crucial to finally have a place we call our own, where we can showcase our videos and those of others without having to protest their wrongful removal.

In order to start publishing videos, you don't necessarily have to register! Our website supports Open ID. That means that if you have an AIM account, a account, or Yahoo, Blogger, Livejournal, or more, you can simply sign in with one of those accounts and start posting videos/comments. Once you log in you would notice many great features on the site and we hope that you will take good advantage of them.

We hope that you like what we did with the site and that our hard work has paid off. Don't forget to spread the word about it!

-- Esra'a Al, Director

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jordanian film producer in Chicago Nov. 18

Natalie Campbell Lisa Xia
Phone: 312.744.2172 Phone: 312.744.9181
E-mail: E-mail:

First-ever Jordanian Independent Film, Captain Abu Raed, Debuts in Chicago Nov. 18
Guest Appearance by Film’s Writer, Director and Producer

(November 11, 2008) – The Chicago debut of Captain Abu Raed, the first-ever independent film to come out of Jordan, will be hosted by the Amman Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International during Arab American Heritage Month on Nov. 18, 2008. Already a winner of numerous awards at Sundance and other festivals, the film will be screened at Columbia College Chicago with a guest appearance and question and answer session by its renowned writer, director and producer, Amin Matalqa.

Winner of the 2008 Sundance Best Audience Award, the 2008 Helsinki International Film Fest Best Audience Award, the 2008 Seattle International Film Fest Best Director Award, and Jordan's entry for 2009 Oscar's Best Foreign Film Category, Captain Abu Raed is about an elderly airport janitor mistaken for a pilot by the children in his neighborhood. Seeing the grim realities that surround them all inspires him to play to the children's assumptions and try to make a difference in their lives.

The Amman Committee has facilitated the inaugural screening of this ground-breaking Jordanian film as part of its mission to support projects relating to urban affairs, education, culture, economic development, social services and fundraising. In addition, since the Sister Cities signing in June 2004, the Committee has dedicated itself to fostering meaningful social service and humanitarian exchanges, raising more than $100,000 in 2008 with the assistance of HRH Princess Ghida Talal and HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan for the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman.
The screening is free, and RSVPs are required. For additional information and to RSVP, contact Adrienne Tongate at More information about the film can be found at

Event Details:
November 18
Columbia College Chicago1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor, Film Row Cinema. Reception at 7 pm and movie screening at 8 pm.


The Chicago Sister Cities International Program, under the auspices of the City of Chicago, provides leadership to develop, manage, and coordinate comprehensive programs and projects with Chicago’s sister cities. It aims to increase international trade, promote economic development and support exchanges in the fields of culture, education, medicine, social services, environment, and technology with its sister cities for the benefit of the City of Chicago, its residents and businesses. For more information about the Chicago Sister Cities International Program, please call (312) 744-2172 or visit

Chicago’s Sister Cities include: Accra, Ghana (1989); Amman, Jordan (2004); Athens Greece (1997); Belgrade, Serbia (2005); Birmingham, England (1993); Busan, Republic of Korea (2007); Casablanca, Morocco (1982); Delhi, India (2001); Durban, South Africa (1997); Galway, Ireland (1997); Gothenburg, Sweden (1987); Hamburg, Germany (1994); Kyiv, Ukraine (1991); Lahore, Pakistan (2007); Lucerne, Switzerland (1998); Mexico City, Mexico (1991); Milan, Italy (1973); Moscow, Russia (1997); Osaka, Japan (1973); Paris, France (1996); Petach Tikva, Israel (1994); Prague, Czech Republic (1990); Shanghai, China (1985); Shenyang, China (1985); Toronto, Canada (1991); Vilnius, Lithuania (1993); and Warsaw, Poland (1960).

Lisa Xia
Chicago Sister Cities International
78 E. Washington St., 4th Floor
Chicago, IL, 60602

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Arab American newspapers increase significantly in past year

This is a mirror post from the al-Sahafiyeen Society of Professional Journalists Arab Journalism Blog at and

The National Arab American Journalists Association ( monitors the comings and goings of Arab American publications. We are proud to report that the number of Arab American publications (newspaper and magazines) have increased in the past year by the addition of 7 new publications.

The number increased from 81 to 88.

Here is the breakdown of the Sept. 2007 study:

Regional Breakdown of newspapers

Midwest – 29 – (6 States) IL., MI., IND, OH, MN, WI
South – 5 – (2 States) FL., GA.
East – 19 – (8 States) NY, NJ, MD, MA, VA, PA DC, CT
Northwest – 2 – (2 States) OR, WA
West – 26 – (4 States) CA, TX, AZ NV

(Including National Magazines – 11)

Here is the new update as of November 8, 2008:

Regional Breakdown of newspapers

Midwest – 30 – (6 States) IL., MI., IND, OH, MN, WI
South – 7 – (2 States) FL., GA.
East – 19 – (8 States) NY, NJ, MD, MA, VA, PA DC, CT
Northwest – 2 – (2 States) OR, WA
West – 30 – (5 States) CA, TX, AZ NV, CO

(Including National Magazines – 12)

It also represents an increase of one more US State, from 22 to 23, with the latest state offering an Arab American publication to be Colorado.

The complete breakdown of the statistics are on our web site at

This is quite a contrast from October 2002, just over a year after Sept. 11 when the number of publications still publishing in the face of rising anti-Arab animosity after the terrorist attack dropping to an all-time low of about 57 newspapers and 8 magazines.

Chicago, for example, prior to Sept. 11, 2001, had seven Arab American publications. In the months after, all but one closed down and remains in publication although with new ownership as of 2006.

We also monitor the number of Arab American radio programs and cable TV programs and we have seen a slight increase in those areas also, although the print media continues to dominate Arab America journalism.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New play addresses religious oppression in Iran, debuts in Chicago in November

For Immediate Release: September 19, 2008
Jay Paul Deratany, Writer/Producer, 312.375.3574
Two Iranian Teenage Boys sentenced for crimes against God
Permoveo Productions, presents the world premier of the play:
Haram Iran a play written by Jay Paul Deratany
At the Athenaeum Theater
Please Be Our Guest on Opening Night, Saturday, November 8th, at 8 p.m.

Chicago – Haram Iran, written by Jay Paul Deratany and Directed by David Zak, is based on the true story about the trial of two Iranian teenagers in Mashad, Iran in 2005.
Haram Iran tells the story of two boys coming of age, and struggling with their identities as Arab Iranians, and as typical teenagers longing to discover their place in the world. Ayaz Marhouni and Mahmoud Asgari, two fifteen year old boys who may have been experimenting with their sexuality-- like many teenagers do, however, they get caught in an innocent situation, publicly humiliated and tried in the Iranian legal system. The story follows the boys' passions--one for literature and the other for sports--and their friendship. The play takes the audience into the complexity of their relationship, and then the horrifying ordeal of being tried by an unforgiving Iranian legal system which misinterprets the Muslim law of Sharia.
The dates, names and many of the facts are true, however the trial scenes and much of the side story of the boys is fictional since it is not known exactly what occurred during the trial. What is known is that they were adolescents, who were tried and sentenced for "moral sins".
In Iran thousands of people, including children, are jailed or killed each year, some because they are women who have had pre-maritial sex, and others because they are considered to be homosexual.
Haram Iran is critical of Iranian politics and their very flawed legal system. This play does not, however critique or criticize Muslims, or the Islamic faith, which is a loving and peaceful religion. In fact, to the contrary, the writer draws the distinction between a loving faith and some of its misguided extremist followers.
Producer/writer Jay Paul Deratany has said "this play is about exposing the human rights violations being committed on a daily basis, therefore I will be donating a significant portion of the of the profits from this play to Amnesty International for the aid and assistance to Iranians who suffer from torture and injustice." So when you buy your ticket, remember that some of your ticket price will go to help those who are in desperate need of our care and love.

Opening Night
Thursday, November 8th at 8:00
Regular Performances are
November 6, 7 and 8 - 8:00 pm
November 9 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 13, 14, 15 - 8:00 p.m
November 16 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 20, 21, 22 - 8:00 pm
November 23 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 28, 29 - 8:00 pm
November 30 - matinee 2:00 pm
December 4, 5, 6 - 8:00 pm
December 7 - matinee 2:00 pm
$20 for Adults
$18 for Students & Seniors
Theater seats 60
Tickets are available through TicketMaster® at or by calling TicketMaster® at 312-559-1212, you will be able to guarantee your space and print your tickets online.

Tickets are also available at the Athenaeum Theater.

2936 N. Southport
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6860

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taybeh Palestine OctoberFest Oct 11-12,2 008

Release, Taybeh Municipality,
Taybeh-Ramallah, Palestine
Festival Coordinator: Dr. Maria C. Khoury,
Mobile: 054 5 465 845 or 059 318 347 Email:
(Nadim Khoury +972 2 289 8868) Sept 20, 2008

Taybeh Oktoberfest, the 4th annual village festival is scheduled, Sat and Sun, Oct 11 &12, 2008 in Taybeh-Ramallah, Palestine, 11 am to 10 pm with the opening celebration, 11am at the Taybeh Municipality on Sat, Oct 11th including Al Kamandjati Music and Duernbach Blas Music Band from Bavaria. A successful 2005 first time event initiated by Taybeh Brewing Company, the Oktoberfest in Palestine promoting all local products produced in Taybeh thus boosting the local economy has become a favorite for thousands including dignitaries, ministers and head of representative offices. The festival is the cooperative work of Taybeh Municipality ( and its mayor David Canaan Khoury with all local civic organizations.

The most magnificent site in Taybeh, the Byzantine ruins of St. George Greek Orthodox Church is now a national protected archeological site. New plans are underway in cooperation with Riwaq and the Spanish Cooperation for preventive restoration of Taybeh’s historical old town maintaining traditional architecture with the vision of moving future Oktoberfest activities to the historic neighborhood.

The Taybeh Oktoberfest allows participants to share in the ancient roots of Palestine since Taybeh is one of the oldest places in the region known by its Biblical name Ephraim thereby offering visitors a cultural, educational and ancient heritage on one of the highest mountain regions in Palestine. With a population of less than 2,000, Taybeh residents who suffer to exist under Israeli occupation experience the Oktoberfest as the ultimate form of non violent action.

Taybeh Beer, a leading Palestinian manufacturer who made history launching Taybeh Golden Beer in August 1995 will continue its leading role by introducing the first Palestinian non-alcohol Brew made in traditional German style, 100% malt. This light, crisp, refreshing drink will continue to inspire a Palestinian Oktoberfest in search for freedom and democracy.

The origins of the “Oktoberfest” date back to 1810, when a lavish five-day celebration was held all over Munich to mark the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig.

Music groups will include Spafford Children’s Center, Wael Abu Salom and Mohamed Hadeeb; Culture Shock, the new Rock-Rap Band; Sanabel; G-Town Hip Hop Makers; Zaman Arabic Gipsy Music; Cinderella-Al Kasaba Theater; Karate Demonstration from Japan; Sarab for Dance; Assayel Dance Troup; Ramallah Orthodox Club; Al Ghad Al Jadid Folklore (Beit Sahour); Ibdaa Dance Troup (Bethlehem) and many local Dabkeh groups. Taybeh will host the first Tag Rugby in Palestine Ramallah Blue Snakes vs Beit Jala Lions RFC, 1 pm, Sunday, October 12th, Taybeh Soccer Field, North entrance of Taybeh.

Please join us Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, 2008, in Taybeh, Palestine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Press COnference Thursday Sept. 25, New York on anti-Muslim hate DVD "Obsessions"

Contact and RSVP: Meryl Zegarek Public Relations,, 917-493-3601


DATE/TIME Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:30pm - 5:30pm
WHERE: Intersections, 274 Fifth Avenue (at 29th Street) NYC
WHAT: The Cost of War at Home & Abroad Series addresses Muslims in the Media– panelists discuss the media's portrayal of Muslims post 9-11 and how that has affected the Islamic community. They will also address the 60 minute video “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” distributed by the Clarion Fund, which plays on fear, and distorts the reality of the Muslim community. As recent as this past weekend, this DVD has begun distribution to 28 million households in the U.S. bundled as an advertising supplement in newspapers, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal (specifically in cities outside of NYC). The film features Daniel Pipes, Alfons Heck, Walid Shoebat, Nonie Darwish and others.

Intersection’s Executive Director, Rev. Robert Chase, will moderate the press conference and will also unveil a new website about Muslims in America called The website addresses the lack of understanding of Muslims in the U.S. with the intent to build bridges of understanding across lines of faith and culture, and counter the stereotypical narratives of Muslims portrayed in our media, and in propaganda such as the Obsession video.

WHO: (the multi-cultural global initiative of The Collegiate Churches of NY), and Faith House Manhattan. Panelists will address the press and take questions (prior to the public event, 7pm - 9pm)

• Debbie Almontaser, founding & former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy
• Anisa Mehdi; Emmy-award winning filmmaker, consultant about Muslims to academic institutions and media outlets;
• Hussein Rashid, founder of, works with major political figures and institutions, advising them on the history and culture of Muslims. – is a new website aimed at combating harmful stereotypes about Muslims that persist in American society. It was inspired by a new and major report, Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World. The report was compiled by the Leadership Group on U.S. Muslim Engagement, comprised of more than thirty American leaders, including such luminaries as Madeleine Albright, Stephen Covey, Daniel Yankelovich, Vin Weber and Imam Feissal Abdul Rauf. This report will be released on September 24th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

(Daisy Kahn, Ex. Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), is on the public panel, but not yet confirmed for the press conference.)

Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.
255 West 108th Street, Suite 9D1
New York, New York 10025
Office/Land-line 917-493-3601 Fax: 917-493-3598

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ADC commemorates Sabra and Shatilla massacres

ADC Remembers Sabra and Shatila

Washington DC | September 16, 2008 | | Today, marks 26 years since one of the bloodiest and most brutal massacres in recent history, the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Twenty six years ago, shortly after the Israeli army seized control of West Beirut, Lebanon, right wing Phalangist militia forces, under the direction of Israeli forces, made their way into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila located on the outskirts of the city. Once in the camps the militias massacred hundreds of defenseless men, women and children. Israeli troops, who were in control of the area, allowed the militias into the camps, prevented the refugees from fleeing for their lives, and lit the night sky with a continuous series of flares as the killing raged for two days. The US had pulled its troops out of Beirut just days prior to the massacres, and had given a guarantee of protection to the residents of the refugee camps.

Following massive outrage and protest from the international community as well as from Israeli citizens, the Israeli government formed The Kahan Commision of Inquiry. The Commission found that Israel was responsible for participating in the violence and recommended the dismissal of the Army Chief of Staff. Then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was also forced to resign after the Commission concluded that he bore personal responsibility for the massacre, and should never hold public office again. In 2001, Sharon became the Prime Minister of Israel a position he held until he suffered a massive stroke which rendered him incapable of carrying out his duties as Prime Minister.

ADC C President Mary Rose Oakar said, "We must take the time to remember the victims of the horrific Sabra and Shatila massacre. The massacre is a reminder to us all of the tragedy of Palestinian refugees who have been excluded from their homeland for more than half a century and their vulnerability as a stateless people. It underlines the necessity for a just settlement to the refugee issue based on the Right of Return, which is enshrined for all refugees in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and was specifically applied to the Palestinian refugees in UN Resolution 194."

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee |
1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW | Washington, DC | 20007
Tel: 202-244-2990 | Fax: 202-244-7968 | E-mail:
You are subscribed as

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arab author dissects Sarah Palin in new book "Barracuda"


This timely book describes how McCain’s choice of ‘the Barracuda’, a.k.a. Sarah Palin, as his running mate, opened the flood gates of the media to controversy and speculations.

While Radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Bush adviser Karl Rove hailed Palin, some Republicans were dismayed, who felt the choice underscored McCain's weaknesses. Palin is facing an investigation in Alaska for alleged abuse of power involving her former brother-in-law.

McCain’s choice of Palin could not have been more timely and savvy. Palin managed to steal all the attention and the limelight from Senator McCain who could not be happier!

American media has quickly turned its attention from JoeBama to McPalin – but more so to Republican VP and Alaska Governor Sarah. Where does Palin buy her eyewear? Will Oprah ever have Palin on her show? She’s been in the spotlight for few days and has given plenty of news for the media to talk about

McCain-Palin Republican presidential campaign buttons now read “The Hottest Chick,” “Our mama is better than your Obama,” “Read my Lipstick,” “She proved you can throw a punch with a French manicure.”

“Though Sarah Palin is clearly a powerful speaker, I kept thinking it was a monologue on Saturday Night Live and Palin was "news roaster" Tina Fey, says one commentator.

“Will the media test her on substance or let her play "Ms. Congeniality?" It is up to the public to see through the fact-free diet we're being fed. Despite Campaign Spin, McCain Would Be a Disaster on Women's Rights”, claims columnist Laura Flanders.

Columnist Kimberly Gadette describes Palin pick as “The Bikini Car Wash: One Sexist Tradition” “in selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain is dusting off an old GOP tool: the estrogen guard. Slap a friendly, female face on a hard core-conservative political platform, and pray that the pundits will only take pot-shots and talk about gender. It worked for George W. Bush and it just may work for Palin”.

The choice of Sarah Palin, as it seems, is a high risk bet that could bring high rewards, but there are no guarantees. Many wonder whether she is ready to be vice-president and lead the US, should something happen to McCain if he is elected president.

Democrats said they felt insulted that McCain thought he could woo women by just putting any woman on his ticket, with one sentence making the rounds: "Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton".

Aladdin Elaasar’s BARRACUDA is a must-read for all American voters and those following American elections and politics. The result of this year’s election will not only impact the USA, but many nations around the globe.

In this timely book, Aladdin Elaasar investigates: Who is the real Sarah Palin? Palin’s Political Records; Palin’s connections with Big Business and Big Oil. Is Sarah Palin’ an Extremist? Is she a Zombie Republican or a Right Wing Feminist? How Populist is Sarah Palin? Can Sarah Palin's faux-feminist machismo and her handlers succeed in using purely symbolic appeals and Culture Wars to camouflage her actual record and the plain contradictions in her story? Will the Slogan of the McCain/Palin Administration- in their quest for oil- be: Drill, Baby, Drill?


For media reviews and interview:
Please contact

Aladdin Publications
1723 Hudson Bay,
Palatine, Illinois 60074
Tel 847 668 4206

About the Author

Aladdin Elaasar is a syndicated columnist and lecturer. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State and Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East”. Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992. Email him at:

Praise for the Last Pharaoh

"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt. "

- Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomacy; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone -

“Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveals a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. But the views expressed by Aladdin Elaasar in The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.”

- Professor Tate Miller, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Why everyone has to read this book? -

“Let me give you the four scariest words I can't pronounce in Arabic: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak's "emergency rule" dictatorship is deep into its third decade, making him one of Egypt's most durable pharaohs. His succession plan is clear: Son Gamal tries to replicate Beijing's model of economic reform, forestalling political reform... “

- Thomas P. M. Barnett, Esquire columnist and author of “The Country to Watch: Egypt"

Friday, September 05, 2008

Aramica Publisher maced by Police at Denver Democratic COnvention

View the New York Times video report?

SPJ criticizes arrests at conventions

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Clint Brewer, SPJ President, (615) 301-9229,
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (509)859-2818,

ATLANTA – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists, currently meeting in Atlanta for the annual SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference, are expressing outrage over recent arrests of journalists at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

SPJ, which represents journalists in all types of media outlets, is especially concerned that police in Denver and St. Paul=2 0have displayed aggressive tactics that interfere with the free flow of information and the constitutional guarantee of a free press. Additionally, what may have been viewed as an isolated incident in Denver last week has spilled over to St. Paul. SPJ firmly believes that both incidents represent an unacceptable infringement of the rights of journalists and, ultimately, a disservice to the public.

“There is a distinct and important difference between law enforcement officers keeping order and arbitrarily exercising police power,” said SPJ President Clint Brewer. “It’s clear that in both Denver and St. Paul, the journalists who were arrested were fulfilling their professional obligation to report objectively and fairly. As an organization that advocates on behalf of the journalism profession, we can’t sit idly by while members of our industry are treated unfairly.”

Last week, ABC News producer Asa Eslocker was arrested in Denver as he and a film crew were preparing an investigative piece on the role of lobbyists at the DNC.

This week, the arrests of journalists continued in St. Paul as three people with the independent news program “Democracy Now!” were arrested while covering the story of protests at the20RNC. One of those arrested was the show’s host, Amy Goodman, who ran to the scene after receiving a phone call that two of her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were under arrest. A now popular video on YouTube shows Goodman’s arrest. The video suggests that Goodman was acting as a journalist seeking information about her producers, not as a protestor. Matt Rourke, an Associated Press photographer, was also arrested in the same incident.

While SPJ is disturbed that the police have blurred the line between protestors and journalists covering such protests, it is not condemning the actions of police to maintain public safety when demonstrations become violent.

“Police have a duty to protect and serve the public. So, too, do journalists serve the public interest,” said Brewer. “SPJ doesn’t object to the police stopping violence. Rather, we are merely alarmed by the disconcerting trend of journalists being treated as if they are a threat to public safety, when they are clearly fulfilling their roles as professional reporters.”

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sheikh Zayed Book Award entry deadline approaching

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the world’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes, to see whether we could post a call for nominations for the award’s 2009 session on your website.

Writers from across the world are invited to apply across all nine categories of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award – with AED 7 million (€1,282,868) in prize money available for the winners.

Two of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, were based in Europe.

Ibrahim Al Kouni, who resides in Switzerland and spent his childhood in the desert in Western Libya, won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far. Rifa’at Al Chadirji, who now lives in Britain, won the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Fine Arts.

We would therefore like to encourage any writers whose work has contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development to nominate themselves before the October 15 2008 deadline.

One of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, resides in Switzerland. Ibrahim Al Kouni won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far.

The award, which was established under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and in memory of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, has been running for three years with nine categories open for nominations:

• Literature
• Children’s Literature
• Translation
• Young Author
• Fine Arts
• Publishing & Distribution
• Cultural Personality of the Year
• Development of the Country
• Best Technology in Culture

Winning authors from previous years have received considerable attention in the international media as well as coverage across the Arab world.

If you would like some more details on the application process for next year’s award, visit

Monday, September 01, 2008

NAAJA protests arrest of Arab American journalist and two colleagues outside GOP Convention

Arab American journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a producer at Democracy Now (, was arrested outside the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota along with host Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar. They were covering a street protest.

The National Arab American Journalists Association ( , founded in 1999 and with 275 members nationwide, has issued a formal protest demanding the release of all three journalists.

"The National Arab American Journalists Association today protests the arrest of Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar as they were reporting on a street protest outside of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul today," said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.

"NAAJA demands thatr the three journalists be released immediately. Their arrest while covering a street protest is a violation of the protections accorded journalists in this country."

Here is the release issued by Democracy Now on the arrests:

ST. PAUL, MN-Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here:

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation's leading independent news outlet.

Democracy Now! is a nationally syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman's Arrest:


Democracy Now! airs on over 650 radio and TV stations, including Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public access, PBS, satellite TV stations (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410;

Sharif grew up in Cairo, Egypt. He joined the Democracy Now! staff in 2003 after leaving the lucrative world of corporate investment banking. As the U.S. led occupation of Iraq was in full swing, Sharif traveled to Baghdad with DCTV filmmaker John Alpert. In addition to shooting video footage in Iraq for Democracy Now! Sharif reported from the streets of Baghdad on the occupation.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bush offers Ramadan greetings to Muslims

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 29, 2008

Ramadan 2008

I send greetings to Muslims observing Ramadan in America and around the globe.

The holy month of Ramadan is a special time of prayer, fasting, and service. For Muslims, these days commemorate the revelation of God's word to the prophet Muhammad in the form of the Qur'an.

I thank the men and women of the Muslim community for their contributions to America. Your love of family, and gratitude to God have strengthened the moral fabric of our country. Our Nation is stronger and more hopeful because of the generosity, talents, and compassion of our Muslim citizens.

Laura and I send our best wishes. Ramadan Mubarak.



Saturday, July 26, 2008

tearing down Barack Obama's Walls

Click Comic Strip to view larger image
Ray Hanania's World Comic Strips
July 26, 2008
View more of Ray's Comic Strips

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Michael Savage at it again; This time against children with autism

I wanted to give you a heads upon a rally and press conference today in NYC hosted by national autism groups against right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage. Savage, who is one of the most widely listened to talk radio hosts in the country, recently claimed that autism was a “fraud in 99% of cases,” and that the children needed to “cut the act out.” Here are the details on the protest, along with a release on Savage’s remarks. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Brandon Hersh
Press Assistant

Media Matters for America202.471.3205 Office
202.527.0190 Cell202.756.4101 Faxbhersh@mediamatters.org

Media Matters for America is a progressive research and information center dedicated to monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the media.

National Autism Group and Angry Parents to hold Press Conference today in Manhattan to announce rally and protest in City of San Francisco for July 23, 2008,

Autisms Groups will call for the Firing and Boycott of San Francisco Based Conservative Radio Jock Michael Savage Evelyn Ain of Autism United and Angry Parents will hold a press conference on July 21, 2008 at 2pm (EST) in NYC outside WOR Radio Studios located at 111 Broadway in Manhattan calling for the firing of San Francisco based National Conservative Radio Jock Michael Savage and asking for a boycott by parents of children with autism of all stations carrying his signal. Mr. Savage outraged the autism community by saying 99% of children suffering with autism are brats and morons on his national syndicated radio show. They will be announcing a national protest in San Francisco California on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 with autism groups and parents across the nation outside of Savages hometown. Over 2 million children and adults have autism. 1 out of every 150 children are diagnosed with autism today.


Friday, July 18, 2008
J. Jioni Palmer (202) 471-3205

Top Radio Host: Autism Is “A Fraud, a Racket”
Host Michael Savage Mocks Those Living with Autism and Smears Minorities with Asthma
** For Audio/Transcript of the remarks, CLICK HERE **

Washington, DC – Media Matters for America today condemned nationally syndicated conservative radio host Michael Savage for incendiary comments directed at those who live with autism and their families. During the same broadcast, Savage, the No. 3 talk radio host in America, also attacked those in “the minority community” who suffer from asthma.

“What Michael Savage said was foolish, mean-spirited, and hurtful,” said J. Jioni Palmer, spokesman for Media Matters. “It’s unfortunate he would use his radio program to make fun of and belittle these kids. Instead of ridicule and cheap shots, the children suffering from autism and asthma and their families need support and compassion.”

During the July 16 edition of his show, Savage claimed that autism is “[a] fraud, a racket. ... I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’ ”

Savage also stated: “[W]hy was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I’ll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], “When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], “I don’t know, the dust got me.” “See, everyone had asthma from the minority community.”

Talk Radio Network, which syndicates The Savage Nation, claims that Savage is heard on more than 350 radio stations. The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.

** For Audio/Transcript of the remarks, CLICK HERE **

Media Matters for America is a progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Media Matters is the first organization to systematically monitor the media for conservative misinformation every day, in real time. For more information, visit

Full transcript:

Savage on autism: "A fraud, a racket. ... In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out"

Summary: On his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage claimed that autism is "[a] fraud, a racket. ... I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' "

On the July 16 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage claimed that autism is "[a] fraud, a racket." Savage went on to say, "I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' " Savage concluded, "[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said -- 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have."

Savage also stated: "[W]hy was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I'll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], 'When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], "I don't know, the dust got me." ' See, everyone had asthma from the minority community."

Talk Radio Network, which syndicates The Savage Nation, claims that Savage is heard on more than 350 radio stations. The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
From the July 16 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:

SAVAGE: Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket. For a long while, we were hearing that every minority child had asthma. Why did they sudden -- why was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I'll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], "When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], 'I don't know, the dust got me.' " See, everyone had asthma from the minority community. That was number one.

Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is.

What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them,
"Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."

Autism -- everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, "Don't behave like a fool." The worst thing he said -- "Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry." That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Point to Point: Arab journalists discuss Hezbollah and Israel, and indictment os Sudan's president

Veteran award winning columnists Ray Hanania and Ali Alarabi discuss and debate the most recent news in the Middle East on Point to Point: Interviews without Boundaries. The topics include the recent prisoner swap between the powerful Lebanese Shiite Militia Hezbollah and the Government of Israel, trading the remains of two Israeli solders killed when Hezbollah sought to capture Israeli soldiers to trade for its soldiers held by Israel in the summer of 2006, an assault that provoked Israel to launch a brutal retaliation against Lebanon's civilian population and Hezbollah strongholds. Israel released five prisoners, including the notorious Druse fighter and leader, Samir Kuntar (Kantar, Qantar), of a 1979 mission into Israel that resulted in the killing of an Israeli police officer and the murder of his four year old daughter. Kuntar was captured and served 30 years for the killings. Hezbollah returned the bodies of two Israelis killed during the July 2006 confrontation that spark the 34-day Israeli-Lebanon war, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. What are the moral issues involved and is there an issue of hypocrisy in criticism of Arabs for killing civilians while there is silence when Israel kills Arab civilians? And, Alarabi and Hanania discuss the recent war crimes indictment by the International Criminal Court of Sundanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the hypocrisy of singling out Arabs while excluding Israel and even Americans from I.C.C. prosecutions. The two discuss the issues involved in Sudan and Darfur where al-Bashir has been accused of supporting genocide, while supporters accuse pro-Western groups of inciting a vicious campaign of terrorism. You can read columns on both subjects by Hanania and Alarabi at web site. 22 Minutes.

Go to or visit iTunes and download the podcasts to your iPod.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tunisians issues pushed with French President

Paris, 10 July 2008
For immediate release

Press Freedom Groups Raise Tunisian Concerns With French President

A coalition of international press freedom organisations has asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy not to underestimate human rights violations in Tunisia as he seeks to create a Union for the Mediterranean at a summit meeting in Paris on Sunday, 13 July.

The World Association of Newspapers and 17 press freedom organisation wrote to Mr Sarkozy on Thursday to express their “extreme concern” over “the Tunisian authorities' tendency to resort to censorship, intimidation and violence.”

“It seems essential that the French government does not underestimate the seriousness of the human rights violations in Tunisia,” said members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange’s Tunisia Monitoring Group, in the letter to Mr Sarkozy, who will preside over a meeting in Paris on Sunday to establish the Union for the Mediterranean.

“It is furthermore essential that France adopts and promotes a policy in accordance with the values of the Republic, by inviting the Tunisian authorities to respect their international human rights obligations, specifically those in favour of freedom of expression and the press.”

Members of the Tunisia Monitoring Group include: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (Egypt); ARTICLE 19 (United Kingdom); Canadian Journalists for Free Expression; Cartoonists Rights Network International (United States); Egyptian Organization for Human Rights; Index on Censorship (United Kingdom); International Federation of Journalists; International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; International Press Institute; International Publishers' Association; Journaliste en danger (Democratic Republic of Congo); Maharat Foundation (Lebanon); Media Institute of Southern Africa; Norwegian PEN; World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters; World Association of Newspapers; World Press Freedom Committee; and theWriters in Prison Committee of International PEN.

The full letter can be read at article17627.html

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

UNITY: Journalists of Color discriminate against one color

Click image to display larger image

UNITY: Journalists of Color claim they support diversity, except when it is in their own backyard.

Ray Hanania's World comic strip
July 7, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A typical letter on the Bonnie Bernstein controversy

Here is a typical exchange, one involving a reasonable question, that I thought i owuld share (removing the name of the sender). I've received a lot of email, much of it anger from people trying to fight the Arab-Israeli conflict. And few reasoned emails like this one:

Hello Mr. Hanania. I just read your story about Bonnie Bernstein's offensive comments on the Mike and Mike show. I read that apology in a story aboutthe incident on AOL News. I am quite surprised that you found that apology acceptable. It seems Ms. Bernstein was only sorry that she mixed politics andsports but not really sorry about what she said. She had made another comment about the recent Don Imus controversy on that same show in which she said shedidn't care about the Imus story. I guess the people who do care about such things do not register in her little world. to me that's sad because itmeans when these issues arise in sports as they often do she will have very little insight to offer. Anyway, that is my take on the whole situation. For what it's worth. Sincerely ...

Hi … actually when I reviewed her comments and the context in which it was made, I concluded (after talking to several NAAJA members) that she did not intentionally slam Palestinians … she DID use a stereotype … we thought her apology was not as strong as it could have been but we felt as weak as it was, it still covered the real concern that her comment addressed.Bonnie is not a racist promoting a racist view of Palestinians … given her past (I have not seen anything suggesting she has used racial stereotypes in the past) and given the context of the discussion, and being that we are journalists, we felt the apology in and of itself was acceptable.Now, had it been that she was blasting Palestinians as a people for raising their kids to be suicide bombers, and arguing that point, we might have responded much differently. This was on the line, and we prefer to give people without a past the benefit of the doubt …Now, racists like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter are a different breed. Bernstein isn't in that category in my opinion thank you for writing and best regards

Ray Hanania# # #

Monday, June 30, 2008

Point to Point Podcast Interview with Michael Lloyd editor of ALO Hayati Magazine

Now available on Point to Point Podcasting
June 30, 2008: Interview with Michael Lloyd editor in chief of ALO Hayati Magazine on Arab American and Middle East publishing, magazines, news media, journalism. Background on ALO Hayati, www.ALOMagazine.comits goals, successes, challenges and what the publication looks for in terms of submissions. Listen to the PodCast online now?

Point to Point offers several genres of interviews: Arab American issues and journalism; mainstream American politics.

Ray Hanania

Saturday, June 28, 2008

what is real bigotry and racism

This week, Bonnie Bernstein , a well known sports reporter, made a casual reference comparing NBA hopefuls to Palestinians who push their children to be suicide bombers. She was on a popular ESPN talk show broadcast I Chicago called "Mike and Mike."

NAAJA protested after receiving many complaints, demanding an apology.

Bernstein, ESPN, and the producers of Mike and Mike apologized.

NAAJA accepted the apologies, yet still, many people continued to criticize Bernstein, Some demanding Bernstein did not properly apologize.

Some argued Bernstein should have apologized for the stereotype, insisting that she ackowledge it is not true.

Here are the facts:

BB did not argue that Palestinians raise their children to be suicide bombers. She DID reference the stereotype in an unrelated discussion, citing something she said she read in the New York Times -- clearly a disreputable source when it comes to Middle East issues.

There are two kinds of racism: the first is when people assert, argoe and claim a stereotype is true. This happens all the time; the second is when someone innocently constructs a racist comment, uiing a stereotype naively.

I do not believe BB intentionally made the commentt as an attack against Palestinians. I think she did cross the line, though. Stereotypes are never appropriate, whether you are a bigot or a caring person who slips.

BB has no history of racist comments -- like Sean Hannity or Anne Coulter or Glenn Beck ...

Bernstein apologized for referencing the stereotype. It was carefully constructed so she clearly knew she was walking a fine line. She did apologize but never went the extra mile to acknowledge how much hurt the stereotype inflicted. It would have mitigated the problem to acknowledge the stupidity of the stereotype. You don,t paint an entire people because of the actions of a few.

Bernstein is also controversial and the debate is embroiled in other sports issues beyond the Palestinian comments.

When you confront stereotypes, you must be fair yourself. I'm satisfied she did the minimal thing needed. Couald she have said more. But that is not NAAJA's responsibility to make reporters more caring or human. We asked only that she address and apologize for using the stereotype.

Ray Hanania

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update on ESPN and Bonnie Bernstein

UPDATE: The National Arab American Journalists Association ( has accepted Bonnie Bernstein's apology, and the apology of the producers of the Mike & Mike show and ESPN, who all acknowledged that the reference to the Palestinian suicide bombers was out of context and inappropriate. In fairness to Ms. Bernstein, while she referenced the stereotype, we are satisfied she was not advocating it. Her error was to use the stereotype to make another, unrelated point. We recognize that as an example of "innocent construction" and believe that Ms. Bernstein did not intend to defame all Palestinians. She did not hesitate to acknowledge the inappropriateness of the comparison.

# # #

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ESPN Guest apologizes for inappropriate comments


ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein acknowledged that a comment made referencing Palestinian suicide bombers (below) was inappropriate and they took immediate action to correct it by apologizing. I think the Arab American community has a right to protest such remarks, but we also have an obligation to acknowledge when someone in the media does the right thing and clearly both ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein have done the right thing in this instance and they deserve our respect.

Ray Hanania
NAAJA Coordinator

Email to ESPN Producer/Bernstein

Hi Scott

The National Arab American Journalists Association believes your apologya nd Dr. Bernstein's apology are genuine and sincere and we have immediately removed you from the Watch List and because of your prompt attention to incidents like this, we have placed both on our Honor List which reflects journalists or media who make an extra effort to clarify remarks and display sensitivity.

Thank you for your attention.

I know you recognize how painful these things can be but also how important it is to listen to your audience and respond to their concerns. I think your response and Dr. Bernstein's response were very responsive and respectful and complete.

Ray Hanania
on behalf of NAAJA


From: ESPN Morning Show [] Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:31 PM

The comments made this morning by Bonnie Bernstein were inappropriate. We expressed that to Bonnie who has since apologized for her remarks. Please feel free to click on the link below to access Ms. Bernstein's apology.


Producer, "Mike & Mike in the Morning" ESPN Radio & ESPN 2 ESPN Plaza Bristol, CT 06010 860-884-5355 612-816-3057 (cell)


NAAJA has acted on a complaint involving an ESPN radio show syndicated through Chicago called "Mike and Mike" in which a guest slammed Palestinians as raising their children to be suicide bombers. I guess every Palestinian is in the same boat in the eyes of the guest, which is what racism and stereotyping is all about, generallizing in a derogatory manner against another people, especially if someone has an interest in such racism.

NAAJA issued a letter asking that the host acknowledge the racism. Below is the information including one of many protest emails from NAAJA members in Chicago, information about the show and hosts and guest and also the letter NAAJA sent by email several hours after the incident.

Ray Hanania

Mike & Mike in the Morning
Host(s): Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg
Weekdays 5:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.E-mail:

One of several email complaints received
This morning at 8:15 a.m. Chicago time, I was shocked to hear an analogy by Dr. Bonnie Bernstein on how NBA hopefuls are programmed to "just make it to the NBA." Her analogy pointed to how Palestinian children are programmed to be suicide bombers was disgusting!!!! She claims she read it so I guess she expects that your listening audience will buy it. Dr. Bernstein seems to suggest that because people enjoy sports they are ignorant to the happenings in the world they live in.

Her assumption does not give her the right to assume sports fans can be "programmed" to think that a people, namely in this case Palestinians, is synonymous with suicide bombing and terrorism. She is out of line. Does she even understand the situation in the Middle East? Mike and Mike's silence when she said it spoke volumes too. People listen and enjoy sports as an escape. That woman is a hatemongerer with a personal agenda. Had she have been talking about any other ethnicity, it would be equally shameful and ESPN should never have her on again and should make a public statement on the radio saying that her comment was inappropriate and apologize if it offended anyone!!!

I am personally offended as an American of Palestinian heritage that works with Jewish Americans and Israeli's to help foster peace and reconciliation between the two people, I am sickened. Mike and Mike should offer a comment immediately. I am not hopeful that Dr. Bernstein will retract her statement but it would be nice. SSChicago

=================== ===========

ESPN Radio Network
545 Middle St
Bristol, CT 06010

Roberts, Jim Affiliate Relations Executive Director (972) 776-4613 (860) 766-2213
Walsh, John Executive Vice President (860) 766-2323 (860) 766-2213
Goralski, Keith Operations Director (860) 766-2000 (860) 766-2213
Generic email:

Background on the GUEST
Bonnie Bernstein
ABC Sports
c/o Bonnie Bernstein
47 W. 66th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10023

With 15 years in broadcasting, Bonnie Bernstein is one of the most recognizable and highly respected journalists in her field. As a reporter and host for ABC Sports and ESPN, she has a wide range of responsibilities. During the college football season, she serves as the sideline reporter for the Brad Nessler/Bob Griese/Paul McGuire announce team on ABC and hosts "Countdown to the Heisman". She is also part of the hosting rotation for "NFL Live" and "Jim Rome is Burning" and has covered Major League Baseball for the Network. Additionally, Bernstein covers the NFL for CBS/Westwood One Radio.

NAAJA Letter sent Wednesday 10:32 AM by email
Hi Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg:

This morning, Dr. Bonnie Bernstein, a veteran sports reporter and radio reporter, made a very racist comparison between NBA players and Palestinians who raise their children to become suicide bombers. I am writing on behalf of the National Arab American Journalists Association asking that you address the issue.

I think it was very inappropriate for Bonnie to use that racial stereotype of Palestinians as an example to back up her comments that NBA hopefuls "are programmed" to make it in the NBA the way Palestinian children are "programmed" to become suicide bombers ...

I don't need to explain that suicide bombers are not a race or ethnicity, or that there are 7 million Palestinians and have been only 50 suicide bombers over the past 15 years, or that suicide bombers come from all walks of life (in the film Pearl Harbor, the character of Jimmy Doolitle said that if his plane ran out of gas while bombing Tokyo and couldn't make it back to the states during World War II, he would simply crash his plane into a Japanese building -- making him, a typical American, a suicide bomber, too) ...

It is not about being politically correct. If you wanted to have a discussion about suicide bombers in the Middle East and Iraq and their ethnicity and the act of terrorism, you could probably fill five hours easily on radio. But that wasn't the point of Bonnie's comments, but rather a gratuitous slam against Palestinians.

I know you guys are pros when it comes to sports and I would hope you might make mention that the comparison was inappropriate and in fact is racist. In this day and age of understanding how easily minorities and ethnic groups are defamed by casual racist comments and especially how easily it happens on radio -- Don Imus is a good example -- we should try our best to be respectful.

I think Bonnie should address the issue also.

Thanks and best regards
Ray Hanania
PO Box 2127
Orland Park, IL., 60462

cc: Jim Roberts, ESPN, Affiliates Relations Exec. Dir
John Walsh, ESPN Exec. VP
Keith Goralski, ESPN, Operations Manager

Ray Hanania
Ray's Political Cartoons

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scinece journalism head sees need for better relations between Arab and American journalists

Newswise — Dr. Nadia El-Awady, president of the Arab Science Journalists Association, sees an opportunity to build valuable relationships between science journalists in the Middle East and those in developed nations. Her remarks appear in the latest edition of Conversations ( – an online discussion focused on the transforming impact of science. Conversations is a project of the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF).

In her interview, which can be found online at, Dr. El-Awady states that there is a need for Arab science journalists to gain skills from established journalists in the West. In exchange, she says, science journalists in the Middle East can offer valuable insight into covering science in the developing world.

“When Napoleon Bonaparte was here in Egypt, he started one of the first journals in the world that covered science in Egypt. Since then, the change in coverage hasn’t been very large,” says Dr. el-Awady. “Science journalism in the United States is much more advanced than it is in the Arab world, so we are hoping that through this kind of partnership we’ll learn some of the skills of being good science journalists.”

The major challenges that Dr. El-Awady sees in Arab science journalism are access to information and the lack of a focus on local research.

She hopes that through partnership programs, Western journalists can help to address these issues and develop a sense of what it takes to cover science in a developing world context.

Conversations is a monthly exploration of the top issues of our time through the lens of science.

Conversations features diverse panels including authors, policymakers, scientists, journalists and those who work on the front lines of major challenges. Dr. el-Awady’s interview appears in the latest edition focusing on the role of science in U.S.-Middle East relations.

About CRDFCRDF is a nonprofit organization authorized by the U.S. Congress and established in 1995 by the National Science Foundation. This unique public-private partnership promotes international scientific and technical collaboration through grants, technical resources, and training.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The State of Arab American Journalism, presentation to the Community Media Workshop, Chicago June 12, 2008

Community Media Workshop
Co-sponsored by the National Arab American Journalists Association
Thursday June 11, 2008
Ray Hanania …. The Ethnic News Media

I was asked to give you some details about myself first:

I got into journalism in the 1970s wielding a sledge-hammer, determined to break the door down on the mainstream news media’s hypocrisies involving the inadequate and lacking coverage of Arabs in America. We were news when we were bad. We were off the radar screen when we were good.

That’s why people keep asking me, "Why don’t you people denounce Osama Bin Laden?" My people? I’m from Chicago’s "Sout Side," if you didn’t recognize the accent. To many Americans, Arab Americans are just not American enough and there isn’t anything we can do to ever satisfy the growing racism and bigotry that exists in this country.

I covered City Hall 17 years from Daley (75) to Daley (92). And because journalism isn’t controversial enough, I created my own news … moved on a bit to the other side …the dark side … of public relations and media strategy … and learned what it was like to be in the "glass fishbowl." I think every journalist, especially political reporters and columnist, really should experience that. It really does give you a fuller perspective on the "Good Stawwy" as my friend and colleague the late Harry Golden Jr., used to bark in his Brooklyn Accent.

I got into Ethnic Media, up to my nose. I realized that the Arab American community – my community whether some of my editors liked it or not – usually not – was not engaged in the media very successfully.

I got back into journalism after a whirlwind sabbatical in media relations and community activism, right after Sept. 11, 2001, and I’ve since written three books ("I’m Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America" – a humor book; "Arabs of Chicagoland," now a mandatory FBI manual; and "The Catastrophe: How extremists have hijacked the Palestinian Cause").

I have one book online called "Midnight Flight: Chicago’s Racial Heritage and White Flight" that is available off my web page

I manage several news and column web sites: The Arab, and The Orland And, I publish the National Arab American Times Newspaper, 64,000 newspapers in 48 states (

I write about politics, and fun, for the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper ( and for newspapers around the country and the world.

I host a weekly radio show on WCEV "Chicago’s Ethnic Voice," which is on sabatical too, pending a new major advertising sponsor. I’ll talk about later. And, I host a weekly TV show on Comcast Cable Channel 19, where I push what some viewers call "my Arab agenda" but also delve into other regional and national stories.

And, as if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I perform standup comedy with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour

I’ve also won my share of Journalism Awards, including three SPJ Lisagor Awards, and was named "Best Ethnic American Journalist" in Nov. 2006 by the New American Media. Doesn’t get me any work, though. Just a lot of abuse.

You can go to my web site at to link to any and all of my journalism, comedy and writing endeavors.

Being an ethnic journalist

The first thing you should know about being an "ethnic" is that it is a very undefined phenomena.

Being ethnic is about how you view yourself and how others view you. I didn’t realize how ethnic I really was until I started to look for a job.

Over the years, ethnicity is kind of imposed on you. You think it is fine, some people don’t. You also discover that the label "ethnic" brings along a lot of baggage, too. A lot of people just don’t like you.

Now, most of my freelance work involves the ethnic media, a long way from covering Chicago’s City Hall for 17 years from Daley to Daley, where my ethnicity was acknowledged, often in the pejorative.

Overview of the Arab American Community

We Americans mix up ethnicity and race a lot. And when you are Arab American, add to that mix religion. It’s amazing how few people, including in journalism, distinguish between Arab and Muslim.

There are 7 million Muslims in the United States – we think because the government really doesn’t want to count us – by the way, the census is both a means of empowerment and a means of oppression. If they count you, you can become more powerful. If they refuse to count you or come up with special categories to count you, they can suppress your community’s voice. It’s what I like to cite as the subtle oppression of American Democracy, the unfree part we pretend doesn’t exist.

Of those 7 million Muslims, only 22 percent are Arab. The majority of Muslims are Black Muslims, about 36 percent.

There are 4.5 million Arabs in the United States, the majority are actually Christian, not Muslim at all. But you wouldn’t know that from the American public. A woman came up to me after Sept. 11, 2001 and said, "I can’t believe you abandoned your Christian faith to become an Arab."

Chicago has about 250,000 Arab Americans, the majority from Palestine. Much of which you will recognize is Israel today.

They are divided into two major groups: Those in jail and those not. Actually, there are two large settlements, the largest on the Southwest Side and Suburbs from the 13th Ward all the way southwest to Orland Park, where I live. Everyone thinks we’re Muslim, as I said, but the majority of those Arabs are Christian Palestinian and Lebanese Christians, and a easily identifiable Muslim warren in Bridgeview.

Again, ethnicity isn’t about what you are, but what people think you are. They see someone wearing a Hijab, a head covering that we used to call a Babushka in the 60s, and an entire community is defined.

Most of Arab Americans are wealthy. Most were professionals who could afford to leave their countries to come to this country. Some came as a result of conflict and oppression as refugees.

They’re doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business people. There are only about 250 Arab Americans in journalism. Sounds like a lot but it isn’t. Half are in the mainstream media – Hoda Kotbe, Jim Avila -- and the other half are in the ethnic media.

More about the Arab American ethnic news media.

Arab American media is at the forefront of social justice It is a fact that an ethnic community’s "health" and empowerment is reflected by the health and professionalism of its ethnic media. In that measure, the Arab American community is ailing. The Ethnic American media is at the forefront of the fight for justice, Democracy and free speech in this country. We are the front-line fighting for social change and fairness, and improving the livelihood of all Americans. But we have many challenges.

We have about 83 Arab newspapers and magazines, 12 radio shows including some mainstream like my own that are ethnic by default, and about a dozen cable TV programs. You can go to the web page of the National Arab American Journalists Association ( to get more information on those newspapers and their geographical location around the country.

About 125 people working for the 83 publications and a handful of radio and TV means we don’t have big staffs. In fact, only a few are really media in a professional sense, run by "journalists" as opposed to business people or activists.

Most of our Arab ethnic media reporting focuses on Middle East politics. There is a reason for that. The mainstream news media doesn’t cover the Middle East fairly or objectively. They’re biased and some columnists and reporters will openly boast that they are biased – it improves their careers.

Other mainstream journalists and talk show hosts will show their biased based on the absence of Arab guests on their shows when they address Middle East topics.

Only a few of the Arab American media focus on non-Middle Eastern political issues, like the growing social challenges Arab Americans face like all other Americans.

We have many great ethnic newspapers, besides my own, the National Arab American Times, of course, and the two newspapers in Chicago, The Arab Horizon and the Future News. They include The Arab News in Detroit, the Independent Monitor and the Beirut Times in California, and Aramica News in New Jersey/New York, and al-Nashra in Washington D.C. These are only a few. Some of the leading magazines include Islamica Magazine, Azizah Magazine, the Arab American Business Magazine, and the News Circle Magazine

But, we are American. And still, we are constantly under siege.

Most of the publications are in Arabic but there is a trend to publish more and more in English. We had 7 newspapers in Chicago before Sept. 11. After, only two survived, and one, that I published, closed months later. The survivor was thrown out by her printer who said he didn’t like her English articles about the Middle East, so she found a new printer and published only in Arabic for a while.

Today, we have two major Arab American newspapers in Chicago, the Future News and the Arab Horizon that do both Arabic and English and fill the void intentionally missed by the mainstream news media.

Unlike other Ethnic media in America, we have difficulty in distributing our publications. Many mainstream, non-Arab stores and business refuse to distribute our newspapers, although you will find Hispanic, Asian and African American media, for example, in many retail stores that are of other ethnic origins or are owned by Caucasian business owners.

We have a divide in our media. Many of our newspapers are published and run by political activists with an agenda that is not journalism. Many others are run by business owners in insurance, real estate and law who are seeking to promote their business endeavors or are championing causes. Journalism is a sidelight, rather than a main profession -- although they are dedicated to the cause of journalism.

So, as a result, about 75 percent of the news published in our newspapers is focused on the Middle East conflict. Only 20 percent of the publications, according to a recent survey of newspapers, include features or news that is unrelated to the Middle East conflict. Some newspapers are all driven by opinion columns.

Although Arab Americans are the target of aggressive anti-Arab campaigns by the Bush-Cheney administration, about 35 percent of our advertising – major advertising, comes from government agencies such as the U.S. Military, the FBI and the CIA. About 65 percent of the remaining ads are local businesses. Nearly 25 percent of the purchased advertising goes uncollected, and remains outstanding. The remainder come from service industries targeting Arab and Muslim consumers, such as money wire transfers and cellular and long distance telephone companies.

Only a few Arab American publications actually make a profit.

While other ethnic media can really on a steady stream of community support, most Arab American ethnic publications do not get direct support beyond some advertising. For example, few of the Arab American organizations, with the exception of a handful based in Washington D.C., produce and distribute press releases. Without press releases, the burden on the Arab American ethnic journalists is tripled as a steady flow of press releases is a necessity, indicating a community that engages and recognizes the importance of the Arab American ethnic media.

The absence of a public relations industry in the Arab American community reflects the lack of respect Arab Americans have for their own community press.

WCEV – the show is temporarily off the air because we found that many mainstream advertisers won’t advertise on a radio station that is filled with ethnic voices … it was amazing how many advertisers complained because the shows on the station were ethnic … Polish, Irish, Italian … it isn’t just about being Arab American … many Americans hate the "hyphen" but they are the ones who hyphenate us …

Challenges just being an Arab let alone an ethnic publisher

When people come up to me and call me a terrorist lover, I like to point out I served during the Vietnam War, my brother was a Marine and my dad and uncle served more than four years each in World War II. I ask if they served. They usually say no. And I wonder, what’s stopping them? I offer to walk them to the recruiter so they can channel their hatred in the right direction, against usually innocent prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights held at Guantanamo. You can beat, torture and even kill them, and no one will care.

But we feel we are constantly under attack in this country, including way before Sept. 11, 2001. And it’s justified. When I was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1975, the FBI immediately opened an investigation into my life. Two years. Because I was "Arab."

Yet the Arab American community is both an asset and a resource for this country, and they are a market.

You know, if the mainstream media had done its job in covering our community, they would have been all over the Tony Rezko story long before it broke. They would have had actual video footage of Rezko and Gov. Blagojevich hugging and shaking hands at community award ceremonies. Instead of stealing the picture of Rezko from my book Arabs of Chicagoland and using that without attribution until Rezko finally appeared in court.

Most of the 83 publications are regional papers, which means they are published in one city, saturate that city but try their best to extend beyond their borders. Working with a national food distributor, though, I’ve managed to break that barrier publishing 65,000 copies of my newspaper (80 percent English and 20 percent Arabic language – the National Arab American Times) to Middle Eastern grocery stores in all 48 states. It took me a long time to find an Arab store in Wyoming.

Given the state of the world today and the real threat we face from terrorists and extremists in the Middle East, and the Muslim World, Americans owe it to themselves to learn more about Arab Americans and Muslims. And, to understand there is a difference.

My biggest critics not only are mainstream Americans, but also from extremist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has attacked me because of my criticism of Islamic extremism, which is a real and genuine threat in this country and in this city that mainstream Muslim groups do not fully denounce – they denounce the vague threat of terrorism and the extremists and the clearly identified leaders of the foreign terrorist organizations, but they fail to denounce the extremists among them that makes that foreign terrorism possible.

But Americans wouldn’t know any of this because Americans can’t tell the difference between Arabs and Muslims. It’s so much easier to cover us as a "stereotype" than as an ethnic community.

And I might conclude by reiterating that we Arab American journalists face real challenges not just from the lack of education in the American public but also the lack of education and professional practices by the mainstream media.

The very people who should be supporting us either ignore us or are so busy fighting their own battles, they can’t see or hear us as "comrades in struggle."

The non-Arab and non-Muslim ethnic media doesn’t support us enough. One community that does support us is the Asian American community because of the large number of Muslims (non-Arab Muslims) in their countries.

Instead of supporting us, they are shutting us out, or ignoring us, or not responding to our obvious needs.

Next month, UNITY: Journalists of Color will be hold their quadrennial Convention right here in Chicago. For the past three years, we’ve been asking, as Arab Americans, to participate, and they have refused us … thanks to the Asian American Journalists Association, we will have one panel on Arab American issues, that includes many non-Arabs on it … but it is a shame when the very ethnic and minority media of Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are so insecure about themselves, they are afraid to open the door to Arab American journalists who are also of color.

Part of the problem is the Arab American professional journalism community itself. Although viewed and stereotyped by outsiders as a monolithic, negative presence in America, the Arab American community sees itself as a coalition of division. We don’t work together. We don’t support each other. We permit the politics of the Middle East interfere in our organizational needs. We don’t come together because Lebanese and Palestinians don’t get along, or Syrians and Egyptians don’t get along, and more often than not, Muslims and Christian Arabs do not work together. In fact, while the Christian Arab community is larger than the Muslim Arab community, the Muslim Arab community empowerment is driven by non-Arab Muslims who have a huge influence in America but that also have priorities that do not match the priorities of the Arab community.

We want to protest UNITY, rather than support it, but when minorities are discriminated against by other minorities, not even a protest can make a difference.

One day UNITY will open its doors and recognize that the path now being taken by Arab Americans is one they took years before in their own fights for equality. You can’t be equal if you find excuses to treat other unequally.

To borrow a malapropism from the great late Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, and adapt it into our own challenges, "We Arab American journalists are not here to cause dis-UNITY at UNITY this summer … we’re here to preserve dis-UNITY."

That’s my sout-side ethnicity coming out …


Ray Hanania