The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

American Journalist Jared Malsin detained one week and deported

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20 January 2010
For immediate release

For the first time in a week, journalist Jared Malsin was allowed to use his mobile phone on Wednesday morning to inform Ma'an that he was being placed onto an El Al flight to New York.

He sounded shaken and confused. He said he did not know why he was not being flown to Prague, where he was expected to be sent, saying only that flying there "would create problems." He said he was in an armored vehicle that was transporting him to the airport gate.

On Tuesday, Tel Aviv District Judge Kobi Vardi ordered that a hearing be scheduled to consider the Israeli Ministry of the Interior's decision to deport the journalist. Following the call, lawyer Castro Daoud went to the airport detention facility where Malsin has been kept for the past week to deliver the news.

At about 2:30 pm, Daoud left the detention center and filed a motion requesting that Jared be permitted to leave the country while the hearing and case proceed in his absence. As the Attorney General's Office insisted that Malsin not be permitted to attend his hearing, Daoud argued that it was no longer necessary to keep him confined to his cell in the detention center.

At about 4:30pm, staff from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv notified Malsin’s parents in the US state of New Hampshire that he would be on the next flight to Prague, even though Justice Vardi had not ruled on Daoud’s motion to let Malsin travel and still pursue the case.

At about 7:30pm, Daoud expressed shock after he received notification that a motion was signed by Malsin requesting his deportation challenge be annulled. Justice Vardi has closed the case on Malsin’s deportation order one week after it was filed.

Ma’an is deeply concerned that there was no lawyer present when Malsin apparently filed this independent motion, which was sent from the Ministry of the Interior and not his legal representative, who had just left. It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge after his first major success.

Without jumping to conclusions, Ma’an wants to be sure these events did not take place under duress, and is consequently concerned that Malsin’s lawyer and parents were prevented from reaching him during the 24 hours before the deportation to clarify what happened between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

See the following for more information:

On the reaction of international press associations:
On Jared’s fight to overturn the deportation order:
On the timeline of Jared’s detention and questioning:

For further inquiries, please contact:

George Hale (English)
              +972(0)52.785-4907         +972(0)52.785-4907
Raed Othman (Arabic)
              +972(0)59.925-8705         +972(0)59.925-8705
Nasser Lahham (Hebrew)
              +972(0)59.925-8704         +972(0)59.925-8704

For the most updated version of this news release, click here:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Arab Journalists suffer oppression because Arab Journalism groups fail to work together

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Arab journalists suffer oppression because Arab Journalism groups fail to work together

By Ray Hanania

Jared Malsin, an English editor at the Maan News Agency in Bethlehem, was arrested and jailed by Israeli border police this week for the high crime of "criticizing Israel." The journalist is sitting in a jail cell awaiting a kangaroo court hearing before an Israeli judge. And there is nothing Arab Journalists can do about it, mainly because they spend more time fighting among themselves than they do networking and creating one, single, strong voice.

Maan, which is constantly under siege from israeli authorities and operating under Israel's brutal repression of palestinian voices in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, is fighting to spread the word and get support.

But the challenge they face is not of their own doing. The problem has to do with the fact that most journalism associations, especially those organized by Arabs, do not work together. Maybe it's rivalry. Maybe it's politics. Maybe it's about jealousy. Maybe it's just that the presidents-for-life at the various groups just don't like each other.

And who suffers? Journalists like Jared Malsin.

In the United States, Arabs have 10 journalism associations. None of them will work together. Almost all of them insist on being "the" organization, when in fact none of them are really anything of significance.

Working together or networking doesn't mean an organization has to lose its identity nor lose it's influence. It CAN mean just linking together the way we link pages on the Internet. But that means showcasing another organization and American Arab organizations -- not just the Arab journalism groups -- don't like to do that.

Maybe it is a cultural thing?

Because the same thing happens in the Middle East.

Arab World Journalists are arrogant and look down on American Arab journalists, even though journalism in the United States, despite the political bias towards Israel, is more professional and more powerful than anything written in the Middle East. In fact, much of the arrogance has to do with a cultural flaw in the world of Arab journalists. If you don't speak and write in Arabic, you are NOT an Arab! That's the corrupted attitude of how Arab World journalism operates.

The truth is that the Arab World media that writes only in Arabic is doing the Arab people, and especially the Palestinian people, a huge disservice. In fact, it might be a moral crime. The Western audience doesn't read, hear or understand anything published in the Arab World media in Arabic and therefore the Arab World media in Arabic is not influential and marginalized.

But they are legends in their own minds, of course.

How do we change that?

1 - All Arab journalism organizations in the Middle East and in the West such as the United States, should network together. Put aside their differences -- Journalism is NOT about politics or activism, but about professional journalism principles of objectivity.

2 - The Arab World media should expand their operations to include mirror English web sites and even sections in their all-Arabic pages with English translations.

3 - Arab American and Western Arab groups should insure they also provide both English and Arabic sections.

Setting aside politics is going to be tough because Arab World journalism did not arise out of the need for free speech, but rather out of the long term activism to fight political oppression in places like Israel and also in other Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

In the meantime, everyday an Arab journalist like Jared Malsin is detained, harassed and intimidated by Israel or another government agency including in the Arab World.

And until Arab Journalists decide to set aside their political rivalries and focus first and foremost on professional journalism reporting in both Arabic and English, Jared Malsin won't be the last.

Click to Read the National Arab American Journalism Association release on Maslin.

Click to read the recent update by Maan (Ma'an) News Agency's update on Maslin.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, January 10, 2010

When life becomes frivolous -- challenges facing Palestinians in the occupation

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When life becomes frivolous
By Ray Hanania
The Jerusalem Post Newspaper

I read recently that a group of Palestinians decided they were going to host the first-ever Miss Palestine contest. But it was quickly scuttled when religious and secular extremists decided it wasn't good for the country.

The argument, repeated often in interviews, held that it was somehow wrong for Palestinians to engage in such "frivolity" when there were more serious issues like the tragedy of the occupation and the suffering of the economic collapse associated with the occupation.

A similar pageant is held in Haifa, but when the idea was brought to Ramallah, the supposedly bustling cosmopolitan heart of Palestinian society, the "governor" decided to cancel it because the event "coincided with the first anniversary of the Israeli attack against Hamas in the Gaza Strip."

Other Palestinian leaders said it was canceled because it was simply inappropriate to celebrate when so many are suffering.

That kind of thinking is exactly why Palestinians have been losing over the years. They embrace the psychology of the victim rather than exercising the will of the victor.

It's simple. When you surrender to tragedy you live the life of a victim. You become the victim. You become the hostage of suffering, and your life begins to reflect a life without will.

And that explains why there is so little hope in Palestine.

I entered stand-up comedy after September 11, 2001 specifically because I know that the most powerful response to tragedy and suffering is to spit in its face, to tell tragedy, terrorism, violence and suffering that you will not simply lie down and surrender without a fight.

And the best way to fight is to be human and to exercise the power of humanity through a resistance to tragedy.

Humor, not anger, is the answer to hatred. Humor and being human is the answer to suffering and tragedy, and even to the loss of life.

The reality is that the human spirit of the Palestinians cannot surrender to the suffering of the Israeli occupation or to the continued conflict that seems never-ending. To surrender and to allow the suffering to consume our lives means that we have given up the hope of being human beings and living full lives.

IN FACT, the answer to the occupation is to not stop being human, and to do the very things that tragedy and oppression throw at you.

The Palestine beauty pageant would have been a powerful statement to the world that Palestinians will not surrender to the occupation nor allow the suffering to dictate how they live their lives.

It also would have been a powerful statement to themselves to energize their inner spirit and allow them to find strength just when strength is needed most.

At the most tragic moment, when a family member dies, sadness is the appropriate response to respect the dead. But the most appropriate response for those who survive and are left holding the tragedy of the person's death is to give the spirit a boost, to allow them to overcome the hardships of suffering. Humor is often found in the aftermath of burials and wakes because humor helps the survivors to survive.

Underlying this conflict in human survival for Palestinians is the steady rise of the religious fanatics who bring the lowest common denominator of life, subservience to zealotry, as their answer to tragedy and suffering. In reality, they want you to continue suffering because it helps them disguise their inability to be true leaders.

In fact, when a society "suffers" and embraces victimization, false prophets with little talent or leadership ability can rise more quickly to control the population.

Instead of focusing on the failings of the leaders, embracing the tragedy makes it easier for the failed leaders to avoid accountability.

The pageant would have been a declaration that Palestinians are a people who can rise above the challenges that oppress people, not just in Palestine but throughout the Middle East, where living as an oppressed victim seems to be a way of life.

And that's no joke.

The writer is a Palestinian American satirist and peace activist. He can be reached at

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ray Hanania interviewed by satire web site criticizing fanatics

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Here's the link to Ray Hanania's interview on the satire site taking on extremists and fanatics in the American Arab community at "KabobFest."