Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Arab American Almanac, the most comprehensive reference on Arab Americans
By Ray Hanania
One of the pioneers of American Arab journalism is Joseph Haeik who is a member of the Arab Journalism Society in Los Angeles and also a founder of the Arab American Historical Foundation. He is publisher of the immensely popular “News Circle Magazine” one of the most professionally written publications in the community and founded in 1972. His most important work, however is the publication of the Arab American Almanac, a detailed compilation of American Arab achievements, leaders and achievers.
This month, Haiek released the 6th Edition of the Arab American Almanac and it far exceeds the heights he has already reached from his previous five editions.
The Arab American Almanac, published by The News Circle Publishing House (www.Arab-American-Affairs.net), offers a detailed history of every aspect of Arabs in America compiled in 608 tightly packed and informative pages. The writing is compelling and accurate, built upon more than a half century of professional writing and journalism.
The book offers a list of the most important books written about Arab and Middle East topics. It offers endless lists including one detailing the achievements of American Arabs in Hollywood and film, in government and politics, and in business.
It provides a comprehensive listing of the most important American Arab organizations in the country with thumbnail histories that put the existence of Arabs in America in full perspective. It lists Arabs in the military and includes stories of Arabs in America that give a context to their existence in a way most other books about the community have failed to achieve.
You cannot understand the depth and substance of the Arabs in America without this Almanac and it is essential to any research or future documentation of American Arabs and their role in American society.
This is an important work of literature. It is mandatory for research on American Arabs. Every American organization and scholar should have a copy on their shelves in order to add depth to the shallow understanding that many Americans have of the rich culture of the Arab World and people and the contributions of Arabs to America’s greatness.
This is not a dissertation nor a political argument over issues of Middle East conflict, but rather a fair, complete and accurate account of who American Arabs were, are and will continue to be.
Arab American Almanac, 6th Edition
Arab American Historical Foundation
PO Box 291159
Los Angeles, CA 90029
For more information
- Ray Hanania
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
The lynching of American Arab journalist Helen Thomas
By Ray Hanania
Helen Thomas has survived attacks from every president of the United States, from Eisenhower to Obama, but alas, the champion of Middle East truth could not stand up to this country’s fanatically pro-Israeli media and movement.
It was an amazing display of what Israel and its power players consider important in this world.
They didn’t hesitate to destroy Thomas’ outstanding career in journalism over a few exaggerated comments she made – Abe Foxman the bigoted head of the Anti-Defamation League celebrated in total rapture when he heard the news that Thomas had resigned.
I mean, she’ll turn 90 years old in August.
Yet the same legion of verbal stone-throwers who pilloried Thomas remained defiant in the face of criticism of Israel’s military murder of nine civilians aboard several boats in international waters that were trying to bring food and medicine to the 1.5 million besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s defenders like Elliott Abrams have tossed in the word “Lynch mob” to define criticism of Israel over the Gaza flotilla massacre. But the truth is the phrase is more appropriate for what has happened to Helen Thomas. It is supporters of Israel who are doing the lynching, this time stringing up an 89 year old little old lady on a tree of hypocrisy under which Israel can do no wrong and on the basis of words of criticism of Israel that have been wildly distorted and taken out of context.
And Helen Thomas’ comments were clearly taken out of context and distorted into an ugly mass of anti-Semitism.
What perfect timing, 11 days after the fact in the eye of a storm of criticism over Israel’s killing of nine civilians including one American whose death drew hardly a whimper of shock from other Americans or the mainstream news media. Not even as much as a whimper of indignation from the American Congress or media that screams when someone criticizes Israel as they line up to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from AIPAC related PACs,
Truth is on the side of Helen Thomas, and here is what she said. The “interview” took place on May 27 at a Jewish Heritage Celebration at the White House – I wonder how many Palestinian Heritage Celebrations the White House has hosted over the years?
Thomas was approached by an active anti-Palestinian Rabbi and blogger who asked, “Any comment on Israel? We’re asking everyone today.”
The blogger didn’t ask, “What do you think of Jews?” as most news media falsely reported. The question was specifically about “Israel,” a sovereign nation that apparently can do no wrong.
Thomas responded forcefully but with a laugh: “Get the hell out of Palestine.”
Was that the comment of someone saying the “Jews” should go back to where they came from as was reported falsely and repeatedly by the mainstream and pro-Israel media? No. She never used that word.
Helen Thomas said what many believe, that Israel should get the hell out of Palestine, and that means the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Yes, the West Bank that Israel occupies and the Gaza Strip that Israel imprisons.
The comment from Thomas elicits a laugh from the Rabbi, although the media ignored his laughter and instead perniciously characterizes Thomas’ response as “cackling.” The Rabbi then jokingly or sarcastically follows up with a leading comment and question:
“Oooh! Any better comments on Israel?” The blogger laughs and so does another woman whose voice is heard in the background.
Helen Thomas then says, “Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. Not Germany. Not Poland.”
“So where should they go,” the Rabbi, who knows exactly where he is leading the witness asks.
“Go home,” Thomas replies.
“Where’s home?” The Rabbi asks.
Knowing he has a good story at this point, the Rabbi changes the context from “Israel” to “Jews.” He says, “So you’re saying the Jews should go home to Poland and Germany?”
Quite a change from what she said. But Thomas, who is walking out of a White House reception past a gaggle of reporters and bloggers, casually brushes off the insertion of a word she did not use, and repeats what she said to the original question.
“Go home to Poland. Germany and America and everywhere else.”
Who is Helen Thomas talking about? Strip away the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred that exists in the mainstream American media, and the bullying policies that critics of Israel must face, and any fair person would say she was speaking about the settlers who live in the lands occupied by Israel in 1967, like the Gaza Strip, which was the context in which the discussion began.
But that’s not what Israel and their pro-Israel activists enjoy.
Americans are not allowed to have an open debate about Israel in this country. If you do, watch out. The lynch mob is waiting.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
Friday, June 04, 2010
By Ray Hanania
U.S. Attorney Eric Holder told the opening meeting of the 30th Annual American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington D.C. Friday that “the prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority” of the Obama administration.
Yet for nearly one year, the Justice Department has not acted to intervene in one of the most heinous hate crimes against a Palestinian American tourist, Husien Shehada, shot and killed last year on South Beach by a Miami police officer with a history of problems.
Police had responded on June 14, 2009 to a 911 call from a caller who said he saw a suspect carrying an AK 47 under his shirt. But when Miami officer Adam Tavss confronted Shehada, no weapon was produced and he had his hands raised in the air and was being compliant. Tavss shot Shehada three times in chest, after, according to his attorney, Shehada had pleaded with the officer several times.
Tavss was suspended but was returned to duty days later after he was “cleared” by an internal probe. Hours after returning to duty, Tavss was involved in another shooting in which a suspected was reported to have hijacked a taxi cab at gunpoint. Tavss is suspected as the possible shooter but police have never identified which officer fired the bullet that killed the African American cab driver.
Tavss has had a history of brutality complaints that were dismissed by police but he was eventually fired when police discovered he was running a marijuana grow in a home.
The Shehada’s filed a civil suit against the Miami Police and Officer Tavss. The police have refused to release their records on the case, and the attorney for the Shehada family, John Contini, a criminal lawyer based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, said he was hopeful that Holder’s office would intervene.
That request was repeated by Contini on Friday after Holder delivered his remarks and then departed the ADC luncheon at the Marriott Wardman Hotel at the start of the weekend convention. But Contini, who was honored by ADC at the luncheon, handed over his materials to one of Holder’s deputies who was seated next to him.
Holder made no mention of the case but Contini offered details of what he called a “frightening event.”
Contini accused Miami officials of a cover-up and called on the U.S. Attorney to intervene.
“When this case was first brought to me I have to admit that I reacted with the same kind of racism and bigotry than many Americans react with when they hear an Arab or Muslim name like Husien,” Contini confessed. “I am ashamed of that but after looking at the case I am more ashamed of what was done to Husien Shehada, who was on vacation in South Beach with his brother, and what the City of Miami is doing today.”
With American Arabs angered by the recent Israeli assault on a flotilla of ships carrying food and aid to the 1.5 million besieged residents of the Gaza Strip, and with President Obama consumed by the international uproar and call for an investigation in to Israel’s assault which resulted in the killing of 9 activists including one America, Holder focused instead on the fight against profiling and hate crimes.
“The Justice Department’s commitment to civil rights has not been stronger,” Holder insisted. “Racial profiling is wrong. It can leave a lasting scar on communities and individuals. And it is quite simply, bad policing whatever city, whatever state.”
Holder revealed that he had been the victim of racial profiling when he was in college, calling it a humiliating experience.
Holder said that heart wrenching stories of misguided racial profiling continue. “The Justice Department will not stand idly by as the discrimination by the few unfairly tarnishes the outstanding work being done by so many. Nor will we stand idly by as isolated law enforcement departments engage in discriminatory practices of any kind. Our nation is better than that.”
Contini said he was moved by Holder’s speech but he said that like American Arabs, he is also waiting to see the administration put their muscle behind their promises.
“We haven’t seen anything yet but I am hopeful,” Contini said.
“The era of us versus them that some have experienced must end. Together we can make sure that era does end. … Regardless of our faith and regardless of our background, we are all Americans,” Holder said.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)