The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Monday, December 27, 2010

NAAJA letter protesting SPJ planned action on Helen Thomas Award

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Letter sent to the board members and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists protesting their planned intention to terminate the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award

Dec. 12, 2010

Society of Professional Journalists
National Board of Directors

Dear Board members:

I am writing to urge the board not to take any action to terminate the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award. The purpose of the award was to recognize journalists who have dedicated their lives in the pursuit of the principles of professional journalism including accuracy, fairness and objectivity.

Helen Thomas has been an important role model for American Arabs who have and are pursuing journalism as a career choice. As you may know, there are so very few Americans of Arab heritage working in professional journalism. NAAJA maintains a census of American Arabs in Journalism and we have identified only about 300, with the majority employed in the ethnic media.

Being Arab in America is a challenge, far more so for Arabs than for any other ethnic group. The political realities of a Middle East conflict that has raged for more than a century weigh heavily on our community. While the majority of American Arabs seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict, it has been very contentious and has been the source of great anger, animosity and worse.

During her career as a journalist, Helen Thomas offered a special insight in to the issues that have made the Middle East conflict so radioactive for many in this country. As the Dean of the White House Press Corp, Helen Thomas often would ask the question that many in the media either did not think worthy or felt was too politically sensitive to address. It is a simple question but it has raised the volume in the already heated Arab-Israel debate. That question is, “Why is the United States insisting that inspections be made of Iran’s nuclear program, which seeks to build a nuclear bomb, and yet not insisting that Israel’s more than 250 nuclear weapons be inspected?”

It is politically incorrect. It may not be of importance to mainstream Americans, but it is important to American Arabs who believe there is a hypocrisy in American foreign policy and a failure on the part of the mainstream media to address these issues.

Tragically, I and other American Arabs in professional journalism believe that the mainstream media is afraid to ask these and other questions that deal with our coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a conflict that is so intrinsic to the day-to-day lives of all Americans. The Middle East dominates our news coverage, but it appears skewered and biased against the views of American Arabs. Americans do not understand basic concepts about the Middle East and mainstream journalism coverage has been broad-stroked and often filled with stereotypes.

I have never heard of a major mainstream journalist removed from his (or her) job for writing critically about or against Arabs.

Yet, many months ago, Helen Thomas was approached by a blogger – a Rabbi who has a controversial past, depicting in a YouTube video racist stereotypes of Mexican Americans. The Rabbi asked Helen Thomas about her views on Israel.

Here is the dialogue that took place.

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland ...
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.
Nesenoff: Where's the home?
Thomas: Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.
Nesenoff: So you're saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?

I want to point out that in the exchange the issue presented to Helen Thomas was about Israel, a foreign country. She wasn’t asked about “Jews.”

Yet, in almost every news media report of the incident, it was reported that Helen Thomas said that “Jews” should “get the Hell out of Palestine.”

She was denounced as anti-Semitic.

I am astounded how someone can argue that her response to a topic she did not initiate can be described as anti-Semitism.

Was her reference to “Germany” and “Poland” insensitive? Surely, if in fact the issue of the Holocaust had been addressed.

But regardless of the intent of the Rabbi, Helen Thomas’ response was specific to the questions she was asked.

The video did not immediately surface until many weeks later when an activist, and not a journalist, turned it in to an issue. The writer twisted the words, replaced the word “Israel” with the word “Jews.”

It became a story. And Helen Thomas was immediately fired by the Hearst Newspapers – the media insists she resigned, she insists that she was fired without anyone at the newspaper asking her to explain her remarks.

On Dec. 11, 2010, I was honored to be one of many speakers addressing a diversity workshop organized by, one of the country’s leading American Arab online news web sites., for full disclosure, and its publisher are members of the National Arab American Journalists Association.

More than 300 people attended the event. I addressed the issue of media bias. I challenged the failure of UNITY: Journalists of Color to include American Arabs as partners in the organization. I challenged the SPJ’s unilateral decision earlier this year to close the Arab Journalism Sector on the grounds that the blog and the site were being used to address political issues.

At the very end of the full day of workshops, with less than 100 people present, Helen Thomas, who is 91 years old and a frail 80 pounds and who can barely walk on her own without some assistance, spoke about what happened to her.

She spoke about the need for American Arabs to become more involved in journalism. She spoke about the failure of American Arabs to be as active as those who oppose their community agenda. She referred to them in one sentence as “Zionists.” Again, she never used the word “Jews.”

Here is her precise sentence in that context as she spoke to the attendees. I videotaped the speech and it is on my Morning Talk Radio Web Site at  Before you judge her, please listen to her words and read what she said.

“There are so many who want to denigrate us and we are put in a position to defend ourselves. That is horrible.”

(She then criticized American foreign policy and the war in Iraq.)

“The whole question of money involved in politics. We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There is no question about that. Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. It counts. For us to be called the militants, so forth, we are being pushed in to the wrong direction in every way. I hate the fact the Arabs who have given so much to this country are so maligned.”

Zionism is a political movement in this country and in other countries. You can say you disagree with her remarks. You can say you passionately and strongly disagree with her remarks. You can criticize her. But to act so rash as to accept the broadly and unfairly applied label that she is “anti-Semitic” is morally wrong.

Journalism is about accuracy. It is about fairness. It is about allowing a healthy and vibrant debate to ensue on every topic that consumes our society. This should be no different than any other debate. But, it is far from anti-Semitic. It is far from hate speech. Others may wish to twist her intentions. But the fact is this, despite her strong words of challenge to American foreign policy at press conferences, her belief that the Arabs are treated unfairly or that Israel’s government policies are wrong, she has never in her entire career uttered anything that could be close to being viewed as anti-Semitic.

It may be disliked by the Zionist Organization of America. It may be disliked by strong proponents of Israel inside and outside of the mainstream American media.

But to call her anti-Semitic is outrageous and wrong. It violates our fiduciary responsibilities in the trust of professional journalism.

To enter into this debate not by evaluating, debating or dissecting the controversy but by reacting would be a shameful act by the Board of the SPJ.

The Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award is an award that reflects 50 years of outstanding professional journalism.

To allow two events at the end of that career to so damage that entire lifetime achievement would be an injustice.

I would urge you to not terminate the award and to continue to offer it to those who will continue to view the receipt of that award as a great honor.

One day the Middle East conflict will be over and Arabs and Jews will, hopefully, become the friends they once were.

But in the meantime, professional journalists whose primary responsibility is to report the news and offer insight, not judgment, should in fact refrain from engaging in the debate as newsmakers and not risk compromising their sacred role as news observers and reporters.

Thank you
Ray Hanania
National Arab American Journalists Association
PO Box 2127
Orland Park, IL., 60462

Thursday, December 09, 2010

NAAJA condemns defamatory attacks by ADL head Abe Foxman, criticizes censorship at Huffington Post

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The National Arab American Journalists Association today condemned as defamatory a column authored by Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, which condemns Helen Thomas and calls for schools and institutions across America to cancel all awards that have been issued in her name.

NAAJA has also denounced Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post for its campaign of censorship against American Arabs, blocking and editing any comments they view that are too harsh against Israel.

"It's not a surprise that the Huffington Post is running the hateful call by Abe Foxman to destroy and intimidate Helen Thomas because she dared to challenge the influence of an political movement in America which champions the politics of a foreign nation," said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.

Click HERE to read Foxman's diatribe against Thomas.

"The bullying and intimidation against Helen Thomas from Foxman and other extremist American activists supporting Israel is reaching new heights of bigotry and racism," Hanania said.

"The Anti-Defamation League has a history of defaming Arabs and Muslims and using turning every debate and point of contention into a crisis of vengeance and fear mongering. The ADL's call will be heeded by organizations and educational institutions across America not for the principles that the ADL distorts regarding Thomas' comments, which challenge Zionism, but because many organizations and educational institutions cower and fear int he face of ADL bullying."

Hanania said that rather than contributing to a debate about the remarks that Helen Thomas has made challenging Zionism and its influence in this country, the Huffington Post has decided to allow Foxman and others to fear monger, serving as a mountain top from which anti-Arab and anti-Muslim activists like Abe Foxman can scream their fear mongering across America.

"Foxman's hateful assault will have an impact of many educational institutions that honor courageous journalism with awards named for Helen Thomas, whose journalism career spanned the administration of every President from Eisenhower to Obama," Hanania said.

Hanania said the organization was issuing this statement on Helen Thomas and her remarks which were made first to a video blogger with a questionable reputation, and then at a workshop held in Dearborn Michigan last week:

Helen Thomas’ remarks were twisted to mean something other than what she means. She has the right to challenge an identifiable political constituency in America that advocates for a foreign country.

Helen Thomas NEVER used the word Jews or Jew in any of her remarks and focused specifically on the political aspects of a very complex issue. To have some extremists in the American supporters of Israel twist and distort her remarks is a tragedy that reflects the continuing deteriorating situation of those who support Middle East Peace.

From the Detroit Free Press:
At the end of her speech, Thomas spoke about bias against Arabs and then recalled the words of a rabbi at Martin Luther King's 1963 civil rights march on Washington D.C., when he made his, I have a dream speech. Thomas said that the rabbi, who survived Nazi concentration camps, told the crowd "the greatest sin of all in the Nazi era was silence."
Rather than respond with vicious accusations against Helen Thomas, Americans should be allowed to debate, discuss and argue without fear of defamation or retribution issues that are important to all of us as Americans.

America prides itself on free speech, tolerance, the First Amendment and those inherent qualities of Americanism should not be compromised to advance a foreign-driven agenda. It is important that every organization understand the issues Helen Thomas has raised without fear of being slandered or defamed.

You cannot have true diversity without free speech and a tolerance for opposing and divergent views, and you cannot have diversity when individuals resort to using bullying and intimidation as a part of that discussion.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Helen Thomas challenges the Teflon protection of the extremist defenders of Israel's brutality

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Helen Thomas speaking to a gathering at the Diversity Conference hosted by Arab Detroit ( She is defiant and refuses to back down and challenges the cowardly government and media for not standing up to the pro-Israel extremists in this country.

Helen Thomas challenges the Teflon protection of the extremist defenders if Israel's brutality from Ray Hanania on Vimeo.

Video taped by Ray Hanania

NAAJA Arab journalists denounce Wayne State Uni move canceling Helen Thomas award

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Ray Hanania

American Arab Journalists denounce Wayne State University's cancellation
of Helen Thomas Award as a move to undermine Free Speech

Chicago, Il - The National Arab American Journalists Association Saturday denounced the decision to Wayne State University to terminate its annual Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award, calling the move a cowardly act surrendering to racist hate.

Wayne State University, which has a large American Arab student population located in the heart of the nation's largest American Arab community, took the action in the face of pressure from Pro-Israel hate organizations angry because Helen Thomas expressed an opinion criticizing the influence of Zionist American organizations on American Foreign Policy.

Thomas, the keynote speaker at a Diversity Conference hosted Dec. 3 by and attended by more than 300 participants, criticized those who attacked her for challenging Israel's actions in Palestine. She repeated her belief that the Zionist political movement in the United States "controls" the White House, the Congress and American foreign policy.

"The topic of Zionism is irrelevant to this debate. The real issue is free speech. Is America a nation of Free Speech or has our free speech been compromised by oftentimes vicious and hateful special interest organizations," said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.

"This is America and America is the nation that is supposed to be the country of Free Speech. Instead of cowering in the face of pressure and special interest lobbying groups, journalists especially and other mainstream organizations should allow an open and full public discussion of the issues, controversial or not."

Hanania said that American Arab journalists have come under intense pressure from their news organizations and from organizations across the country in the wake of Helen Thomas' public crucifixion.

Thomas denied she resigned from the Hearst media corporation and said she was "fired" for expressing her views. She called President Barack Obama and other mainstream journalists "who fear challenging Israel's influence" in this country "cowardly."

The Society of Professional Journalists this year closed down the American Arab Journalism section and blog specifically because American Arab journalists have expressed opinions that challenge the news media's failure to be objective on the issue of the Middle East. The decision by Wayne State University to cave to special-interest political pressure is a continuation of growing anti-Arab sentiment.

"Mainstream American journalism is being bullied and pressured into censoring pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian free speech. American Arabs have never said that the pro-Israel view should be silenced. We have only demanded that the mainstream American news media include our views equally and present them fairly. They have not done that. Helen Thomas is a perfect example of that lack of professionalism."

NAAJA has more than 250 members across the country working in mainstream American journalism positions and the ethnic media.

American Arab Journalists from across America will converge in Dearborn March 4 - 6, 2011 to participate in a national conference to address this and other topics. The conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency in
Dearborn. The web site is

"The voices of American Arabs will not be silenced in a country where we, too, have served our country valiantly in every war, in every military branch and in every public and government position that has been open to us. Wayne State University's actions ate shameful and undermine the very aspect that makes this country great, free speech," Hanania said.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Daley praises American Arabs saying they need not apologize for overseas violence

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Daley praises American Arabs saying they need not apologize for overseas violence
By Ray Hanania

Retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley told a gathering of Chicago Arabs that they need not apologize to anyone for the actions of extremists overseas during a speech celebrating American Arab heritage month.

Daley also said that he is planning three more overseas trips to the Arab World in the coming months, beginning with Casa Blanca and then to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Daley did not offer details on the trips but he praised American Arabs as equal members of America which he called “a nation of immigrants.”

About 300 American Arabs attended the reception, hosted Thursday by the Chicago Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs at the alHambra Restaurant on West Randolph Street.

“You do not need to apologize for no one. I will say it again. You do not need to apologize to no one for anything that may take place somewhere else in the world,” Daley said to applause. “That is unacceptable. Everyone is an immigrant and no one should be apologizing to anyone throughout the world. Your contributions have been very significant and are a part of the mosaic of our city.”

Daley defended the advisory council which each year hosts the Arabesque Festival, which is the only major public event celebrating Arab heritage in Chicago. The event is held every summer and attracts thousands of attendees showcasing Chicago’s rich Arab heritage and culture.

“I am always  asked, why do we have an advisory council on Arab affairs? It’s very simple. We are a city of immigrants. Our past, present, and future. We welcome immigrants from all across the world and we want them to come here. And we want to make sure they feel welcome. And that is the role of the Arab Advisory commission,” Daley said.

“We are a city of immigrants and we want them to feel at home here. That is important to our city because we are all immigrants.”

Daley said he was proud of the contributions Arabs have made to the city and to the country. And he said he intended to continue to strengthen outreach to the Arab world.

“I am proud of the Arab contributions to our city in business, professions, in family life, in their religious life. All aspects of their life enriches Chicago. We are truly a global city. But being a global city means we have to not just understand the language but the customs, histories and traditions and the gifts they have given to civilizations. That is why we have established a language programs in our area high schools. Because of a global city we want to give our children the advantage of learning languages. The traditions of the Arab World are important to us as a global city,” Daley said.

“We are the first city ever to have invited the mayors of the Arab cities from the middle east to the Richard J. Daley Forum. We held that many years ago and it made a strong statement.”

Daley, who has visited several Middle East countries during his 22 years in office including recently Amman, Jordan, said he was proud of the relationship that his office has made through the Sister Cities Program. The program brings business and community leaders in Chicago together with those in selected Sister Cities. Chicago ahs three in the Middle East, Amman, Jordan, in Casa Blanca, Morocco and in Petach Tikvah in Israel, which was the target of protests by some Arab activists who attended the reception.

Daley said the Sister Cities program is about “building relationships” and creating networking opportunities for “our young people.”

“I firmly believe there will be more and more immigrants and I want to make sure they are comfortable coming to the city of Chicago in the United States of America,” Daley said.

“We must understand that this part of the world, the Middle East, and this civilization’s history. They have given so much to our world that many people have forgotten what they have given to our civilization. The contributions the Arab World has given to our civilization and many times has been forgotten in history. History doesn’t begin in the last 10 or 12 or 14 years. History goes back to their contributions in arts, in sciences.”

After the event, the Jordan Sister Cities Program hosted a musical ensemble at the alHambra Restaurant.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, radio talk show host and author of “Arabs of Chicagoland” which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2005. He can be reached at

Helen Thomas is a hero slandered because of her fierce independence

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Helen Thomas is a hero. For more than 57 years, she has stood up to all forms of discrimination. First as a woman journalist in a man's world. Second as a fiercely objective journalist who questioned every President From Eisenhower to Obama with the same principles of justice, objectivity and balance. And Third, she is a hero because she has stood up to the onslaught of ugly name-calling from extremists in the American Jewish Community who are not happy kicking Palestinians out of Palestine, they want to kick them out of America, too.

Tonight, Thomas will receive among many honors the Dr. M.T. Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. The award was established in 1999 to honor the work of journalists who have stood up to hatred, fear mongering, defamation and slander because of their work. It is presented to journalists who have shown courage in speaking and writing the truth in the face of overwhelming public anger.

It is so easy for many mainstream American journalists to remain silent, rather than to expose the hypocrisies in American society, especially after the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001. It is easy because the hatred and racism against Arabs and Muslims in America has reached an unprecedented height. Arabs and Muslims are easy prey for racists and bigots because the American public is so uneducated about truth and accuracy and they are fed a constant stream of lies from the mainstream American media.

And those Arabs and Muslims who dare to challenge the lies in the coverage of the rights of the Palestinian people are even easier to target because on top of the bigots and racists who attack Arabs and Muslims, American Jews often also join in the assaults against morality and ethics.

You can read the blog called Elder of Ziyon, an often racistly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate site to see this hypocrisy at work. (Click here to read their most recent hateful post.)

On the one hand, the writer argues that Helen Thomas did not say that Jews should get out of the occupied territory, making the precision of the words their strongest case. And then they hypocritically violate principle, morality and even truth, arguing that Helen Thomas said that Jews should get out of Israel. The fact is Helen Thomas NEVER used the word "Jews." She was asked by a racist rabbi what Israelis should do and she said "Get the hell out of Palestine." 

The most outrageous example of bigotry and racist hate comes from Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America. His history of racism and bigotry is shameful. Klein could care less about the truth. He is more concerned with protecting a foreign country rather than defending Americans from bigotry and racism. Klein prefers to defend Israel and he hates Helen Thomas for the very reason she deserves to be honored tonight by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC, the National Arab American Journalists Association (

More than any other journalist, Helen Thomas was not afraid to challenge the hypocrisies and lies about Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims. She often asked the tough questions of Presidents exposing the hypocrisies of American Foreign policy that sacrificed truth and ethics for political bias towards one foreign country called Israel. And her colleagues, who rarely reported on her courageous challenges, shouted her down with their ugly silence and unprofessional and unjournalistic conduct.

NAAJA salutes Helen Thomas and American Arabs who refuse to be shouted down by bigots, demagogues and hatemongers like Morton Klein and others all because they have DARED to challenge the political polices of a foreign government, Israel.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NAAJA and Radio Baladi announce 2011 Journalism Conference in Dearborn

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Ray Hanania
Nov. 10, 2010                                                                                        
                                                                                                                           Laila alhusinni

NAAJA and Radio Baladi announce 2011 Journalism Conference in Dearborn

(Dearborn/Chicago) The National Arab American Journalists Association is partnering with Radio Baladi radio to host a journalism conference to explore the state of American Arab and Muslim news media and journalism 10 years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Titled “The Future of American Arab and Muslim Journalism 10 Years After September 11,” the conference will feature more than 14 panels and workshops exploring all aspects of American Arab/Muslim life and the state of journalism in the community.

Guest speakers will represent the ethnic Arab and Muslim media as well as Arabs and Muslims working in the mainstream American news media, and also mainstream American journalists whose beats cover Arab and Muslim issues. We will also showcase journalists working for Arab and Islamic World publications and media outlets at the three-day conference that will be held March 4 through 6, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, Michigan.

The journalism conference is the 6th hosted and organized by NAAJA, which has more than 300 networked members across the United States. Radio Baladi is a partner and broadcasts a simulcast live radio show in Chicago (WJJG AM 1530) and Detroit (WNZK AM 690) every Friday morning at 7 am (Chicago) 8 am (Detroit).

“How have the post-Sept. 11 events impacted the practices and effectiveness of the American Arab and Muslim American news media and what are the successes and the challenges they face is the purpose of the conference,” explained Ray Hanania, a veteran Chicago-based Palestinian American journalist and radio talk show host and national coordinator for NAAJA.

 “This is NAAJA’s 6th Conference and each event grows bigger and more effective. We anticipate that this will be our most successful and largest conference of all.”

Laila alhusinni, who hosts the Detroit-based radio show “Good Morning Michigan on WNZK radio, and co-hosts the weekly Radio Baladi program, said that Dearborn was chosen as the location for the conference for very specific reasons.

“Dearborn is recognized as the capitol of the American Arab community and also the Arab Muslim community in America,” alHusinni said.

“We wanted the conference to also be centrally located in the country so that we can facilitate participation from Arab, Muslim and non-Arab and non-Muslim journalists from across the country. The conference will also integrate the participation of major community organizations and businesses. They will have a major presence.”

Hanania and alhusinni said the conference has several goals they hope will be achieved when completed.

Strengthen communications among Arab and Muslim journalists in the ethnic, mainstream American and Middle East communities. “We have to communication with each other and establish professional networking in order to strengthen our mission to be professional journalists operating in the United States,” Hanania said.

Establish a scholarship fund to encourage young American Arabs and Muslims to pursue journalism as a professional career choice.

Assist the community to more effectively engage the media through workshops that will showcase strategies to be heard in the Arab and Muslim ethnic media, the Arab World media and also in the mainstream American media.

“This will include sessions addressing how to write an effective press release and then distribute it effectively,” Hanania said.

Hanania, alhusinni and 34 American Arab and Muslim organizations based on Dearborn agreed during a planning conference that the Arab and Muslims in American are denied equal access to journalism jobs and opportunities not only by the major mainstream media but also by the major professional mainstream American  journalism organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists, UNITY and others.

“We expect the hypocrisy from the uneducated public but we don’t expect it from organizations that claim to represent professional journalism.

More details on the conference can be obtained at or on the web site of Radio Baladi at


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Helen Thomas Recipient of the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award

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Helen Thomas Recipient of the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award

Washington, DC | | November 1, 2010 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is   proud to announce that the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award will be presented to Helen Thomas at ADC's November 18, 2010, Gala dinner in her honor. The National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) and the family of the late Arab American leader, Dr. Mohammad T. Mehdi, have selected Helen Thomas as this year's award recipient.

"The story of Helen Thomas, like my father's, is one of integrity, vision, boldness, and unflagging determination," said Anisa Mehdi, a Fulbright Scholar, documentary film producer, and Dr. Mehdi's eldest daughter. "Helen Thomas is a professional journalist who reported accurately, regardless of consequences, asked the tough questions, and applied principles of fairness -- not based on politics, race or religion, but on the merits of a story."
ADC National Board Chair, Dr. Safa Rifka, states, "It is befitting to have this award presented at the Gala celebrating the achievements and courage of Helen Thomas. Like Dr. Mehdi, Ms. Thomas is a courageous pioneer who is proud of her heritage and pursues the truth."

ADC President, Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, "No one deserves the Courage in Journalism award more than Helen Thomas. Helen's unwavering dedication to her work, love for her country, and courage in asking the tough questions that no other person dared ask, are a source of pride to all Americans. She broke the glass ceiling for all women and is a role model for all aspiring journalists."

Dr. Mehdi was a pioneer in American Arab journalism, publishing Action Newspaper in English in the 1970s and 1980s, and distributing it to communities around the country. Dr. Mehdi is often called "the father of the Arab movement in America."

The Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award was founded in 1999 by NAAJA and the family of Dr. Mehdi. This award honors those who display extraordinary courage in reporting on stories related to Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and the Middle East. 



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NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest grassroots Arab-American civil rights and civil liberties organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. ADC has a national network of chapters and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADCRI) is a Section 501(c)(3) educational affiliate. ADCRI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC and ADCRI celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Arabs and Arab-Americans.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Al Ahram Newspaper doctors photo to give President Mubarak enhanced status

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Imagine the egos of an Arab President. Egypt's President Husni Mubarak was hosting a meeting between American President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in a photo taken, Mubarak was walking on the left side behind everyone.

Now, Mubarak did not look like he was in bad health as has been reported by his many critics. He looked very healthy in fact.

But in the photo run in alAhram, the state-run newspaper often censored by the Egyptian government, Mubarak was "photo shopped" and repositioned to the front of the line of leaders on the red carpet.

BBC which reported the journalism manipulation could not get a response from Mubarak or Egypt, but anyone could easily conclude that Mubarak was concerned that he looked like he was walking "behind" the other leaders, including Israel, and they didn't want that. It is much like the controversy involving President Barack Obama bowing during a meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that has been a stalwart ally of the United States. Morons and extremists in America tried to interpret the bow as being something akin to subjugation of the United States by Saudi Arabia.

Many fanatics in America -- and there are many including in the mainstream news media -- wrote that it was insulting and that an American president should never -- NEVER -- bow to any foreign leader, especially to an Arab leader, kind of a racist suggestion that drives most of the reporting on Middle East issues.

Click HERE to read the story on Yahoo News.

-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, September 02, 2010

ADC to honor Helen Thomas Nov. 18 in Washington DC -- NAAJA 2010 Convention scheduled

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The National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) is proud to announce their 2010 Journalism Conventionw ill be held in Dearborn Nov. 12, 13 and 14. The conference will feature speakers from the Arab World Media and panel discussions addressing challenges facing American Arab journalism. Stay tuned here for details and registration information.

Visit for more information.

ALSO, NAAJA is proud to be a co-sponsor this year of the ADC Dinner honoring Helen Thomas Nov. 18 in Washington DC. Visit for details on the dinner event. This year's Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award will be announced at the ADC Dinner!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Obama administration shows respect to American Arab journalists

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Obama administration shows respect to American Arab journalists
By Ray Hanania

Although there is much to debate about the ability of President Barack Obama to bring peace to the Middle East, there is no doubt that he is doing more than any of his predecessors to recognize the importance of American Arab journalists.

In the nearly two years since his election, Obama has slowly and steadily opened the White House to access to Arab World and American Arab journalists, a group that has been missing in action in most past White House Middle East peace events.

Although American Arabs were invited to witness the historic signing of the now failed Oslo Peace Accords in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton, not invited were American Arab journalists.

Now, American Arab journalists are joining Arab World journalists in obtaining access to firsthand news from the White House, not only in coverage of Iraq but also in coverage of day-to-day news.

The White House has accepted an Arab journalist to be the pool reporter during the restoration of peace talks after a two-year lull between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Although the selection of Yasmeen Alamiri from the Saudi Press Agency to lead the press pool coverage of the Abbas-Netanyahu meeting, the news reports are, for the first time, those pool reports are being made available directly to the American Arab Press. (Read the pool reports at the American Arab News Wire at

Officials at the U.S. State Department have also reached out to the American Arab media to provide thought leaders from the U.S. Government to discuss American policy spin.

Mainstream American media might scoff at the idea of journalists celebrating being put on the government’s PR spin list, but the fact that the government feels it is important now, for the first time, to spin the American Arab media is a significant shift in U.S. Government strategy.

There are more than 103 American Arab newspapers and magazines in the United States today according to an inventory kept by the National Arab American Journalists Association ( There are nearly 300 American Arabs in professional journalism, with half working in the mainstream American media and the other half working in the ethnic American Arab media.

American Arabs in the mainstream media, though, are usually assigned to non-Middle Eastern beats and topics, a fact that contradicts the experience of other ethnic journalists like Hispanics and African Americans who are often tapped to cover their own ethnic communities.

American Arab journalists in the ethnic media specifically write about Middle Eastern topics, although as much as 75 percent of the writing is op-ed or opinion commentary content rather than objective news or enterprises feature writing.

These publications reach deeper into one of the most ignored ethnic constituencies in America, Arabs and Muslims, than any other mainstream publication. American Arabs and Muslims do subscribe to, read and watch mainstream American media. But when reporting comes to Middle East topics or Islamic topics, the level of skepticism is higher than the average American.

American Arab publications also have a strong connection to the Arab world media. More often today than a decade before, Arab World reporters and producers are seeking out American Arab journalists in both the ethnic and mainstream media to assist them in identifying sources and stories.

The internet has played a significant role in leveling the playing field between American Arab media and the mainstream American media. More and more, American Arab journalists are also being engaged as commentators on mainstream media panels, interview and news programs. They are being tapped and quoted as resources to round out mainstream media stories.

At some point, American Arab journalists will find their place alongside mainstream American journalists, and their impact in forcing a balanced coverage of Middle East and Islamic topics will continue to grow.

(Ray Hanania is the 2010 winner of the Sigma Delta Chi award from column writing and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in 2007. He hosts a weekday morning Chicago radio show and can be reached at

Monday, August 30, 2010

ADC Action Alert: Call and Thank the Voices of Tolerance and Unity Now!

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ADC Action Alert:  Call and Thank the Voices of Tolerance and Unity Now!
Washington, DC | | August 30, 2010 - In light of the recent attacks on the Arab and Muslim American communities, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to call and thank those who have stood up for tolerance and understanding, and against bigotry.  The below-listed individuals have recently stood for and reinforced American values by supporting the development of the Park51 Community Center in New York City. 
Click on the name(s) below to view their statement on this issue:  
Phone Number
(202) 224-2152
(202) 224-3753
(202) 224-5323
(202) 224-4242
(202) 224-5641
(202) 225-4755
(202) 225-5965
(202) 225-5635
(202) 225-7944
(202) 225-2831     
(202) 225-4011
(202) 225-5406
(850) 488-7146
(212) 639-9675
ADC recognizes, and thanks, the many other persons who have also stood for equality and justice, and rightfully have spoken against hatred, intolerance, fear-mongering and anti-Muslim sentiment occurring across our Nation.
ADC will continue to monitor the incidents of hate crimes and asks community members to continue to exercise extra caution and report any such incidents to appropriate authorities. Please see ADC’s special advisory by clicking here.  
Suggested Language:
I want to thank you for your comments on religious freedom and the Park51 Community Center.  At a time when many politicians are engaging in fear-mongering and scare tactics, your words reinforce that we are all entitled to the same American values, regardless of faith or ethnicity.  As the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) recently indicated, the rise of hate crimes and discrimination against Arab, Muslim and Southeast Asian Americans are on the rise, which is alarming.  It is through tolerance and understanding that we will unite and move past the hate crimes and violence.  This can be achieved through leadership such as yours. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ray Hanania released the following statement regarding Ikhras, the racist hate site:

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Ray Hanania released the following statement regarding Ikhras, the racist hate site:

Ikhras has been attacking me by publishing false quotes, taking sentences out of context and accusing me of being "anti-Muslim" even though I have spent my life defending Muslims because most Americans believe I am Muslim. They have made up false claims, few are creative or imaginative but driven by racist hatred and, I believe, because I am a Christian Palestinian who supports compromise and peace based on non-violence and the exchange of land. They would never write the same trash about a Muslim activist, which is an example of their vicious anti-Christian attitude that many Christian leaders and activists have shared with me.

They have launched this hate campaign because they can't handle the issues I address, so instead of addressing the issues, they attack me. It is typical of racist hate sites that can't deal with issues so they have to attack the individual.

Most people who have emailed me say that Ikhras is a ridiculous, typically extremist site that waste a lot of energy attacking other Palestinians, like KabobFest, because they have nothing positive to contribute to the fate of the Palestinian People or the cause of the Arab World. They are ignorant and uneducated, and most of all, like KabobFest, poor writers.

They distort facts because they can and because their small following of extremists celebrate racism and hatred. They use the suffering of the Palestinian People as a political football in order to achieve their agendas, and they don't care about helping the Palestinian Refugees at all.

I want the refugees to have better lives, Ikhras wants them to wallow in the hardship of the camps endlessly because it suits the political agenda of Ikhras.

I want to thank all of the people who have emailed me. Ikhras has served one purpose and that is to showcase the ignorance that exists in the Arab community, an ignorance that has been used before to stifle public debate, that is intolerant of thought engagement, and that has helped to both oppress the future of the Palestinian people while also enabling extremism and fanaticism that provides cover for Israel's oppression of our people.

I understand, though, because Ikhras represents the tragedy of a segment of the Palestinian people. Depressed, defeated, uneducated and incompetent, Ikhras focuses its energies on the only thing it can do, bash other Palestinians, the typical ailment of the victimization mentality of some small segments of the Palestinian people.

You can't understand or recognize hope until you see the ugly face of racism, hatred and defeatism which is what Ikhras represents. They are anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and even anti-Muslim. Pathetic.

-- The Maklooba Man