Friday, April 25, 2008

Kucinich -- one of few reasoned voices on 60th Anniversay of 1948 war

Please write Congressman Dennis KUCINICH a message of support at

Congressional Record, April 22, 2008, Page: H2522

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, today I join my colleagues in Congress in celebrating Israel's accomplishments over the past 60 years. I am happy to be co-sponsor of this congratulatory resolution. However, like many Israelis and Palestinians, I have concerns about Israel's future, its stability, its security and the prospect for peaceful coexistence for both Palestinians and Israelis. One of those concerns relates to the ongoing lack of resolution on the dispossession of Palestinian property and the dislocation of Palestinians after Independence. It must be remembered that about 700,000 Palestinians became exiled. Much Arab property was appropriated. And about 500 Arab villages were destroyed. On December 11, 1948, the United Nations passed Resolution 194, affording Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes in Israel, or to compensation for their property should they choose not to return. To this day, the mandate of U.N. Resolution 194 has not been fulfilled. Unfortunately, this failure remains as one of the most significant barriers to the realization of a two-state negotiated solution.

I am also concerned for those Palestinians who did not flee and who became Israeli citizens after Independence. According to the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, today there exist 20 Israeli laws which explicitly discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel, who constitute 20 percent of its population. In its 2005 Annual Report, the U.S. State Department said that ``[There is] institutionalized legal and societal discrimination against Israel's [Arab] Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens. The government does not provide Israeli Arabs with the same quality of education, housing, employment and social services as Jews.''

Finally, Israel has a right to security and a right to defend itself. Accordingly, I am concerned that the 40 year military occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem has been and continues to be brutal and unjust and undermines the security of Israel. It is a fact that the government of Israel continues to support the construction of settlements on Palestinian land, perpetuating the consequences of dispossession and exile. Additionally, I am concerned that the government of Israel has increased the number of checkpoints which destroy a viable Palestinian economy and a vibrant civil society. I am concerned that the Israeli government has erected a wall, often on Palestinian land, that divides Palestinians from Palestinians, rather than divide Israel from the West Bank. As stated by Judge Elaraby of the International Court of Justice in his 2004 Advisory Opinion on the legality of Israel's separation barrier, ``The fact that occupation is met by armed resistance cannot be used as a pretext to disregard fundamental human rights in the occupied territory.'' This conundrum of a dialectic of conflict further separates Israelis and Palestinians alike from hopes for peace.

H. Con. Res. 322 eloquently states the many reasons why I celebrate Israel's accomplishments and I sincerely wish it a bright future. I only wish to add that, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many Israelis and Palestinians as well, Israel's future will be bright only if it includes an open dialogue with Palestinians, a respect for human rights and international law, and a society built on coexistence and tolerance. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace with justice and I encourage the United States government to help Israel achieve that so the joy of future anniversaries will be unalloyed.

I support the resolution in the spirit of reconciliation to which we must all inevitably turn, to achieve peace and justice with our brothers and sisters from whom we may be estranged.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Arab American journalists criticize mainstream American media for selective coverage

Arab American journalists criticize mainstream American media for selective coverage

Group launches new Resource Web Site helps media reporting

April 21, 2008
Ray Hanania,

Chicago – The National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) has launched "Arab American Resource Web Page" to help mainstream journalists improve coverage of Arab American related issues.

Saying mainstream American news media have failed to adequately cover the Arab American community – contributing to American public confusion on important issues such as Arabs, Islam and terrorism –NAAJA identified the top five (5) topics Arab American journalists believe need more detailed attention.

"The mainstream American news media is selective about what it covers in the Arab American community, feeding confusion about facts and events that directly impact this country," said NAAJA coordinator and syndicated columnist Ray Hanania.

Hanania said topics will change periodically as the media improves its coverage.

The NAAJA web site is There is a link to the Resource Page on the upper left-hand corner of the web site.

Among the top issues, according to the web site, are:

1 - Celebrations on Israel’s 60th Anniversary miss or exclude Palestinian commemorations.

2 - Bigotry, racism and discrimination against Arab Americans. Every day, Arab Americans face discrimination but very few instances receive detailed media coverage.

3 – Inadequate coverage on Middle East Christians, especially since this week is celebrated by Orthodox Christians throughout the world and the Middle East as Easter.

4 – TBA (Still being decided)

5 - TBA (Still being decided)

"We are not asking the mainstream media to be pro-Arab. We are demanding that they be objective and fair in coverage of issues where we, as professional journalists, are more knowledgeable," Hanania said.

"We are asking mainstream newspapers, radio and TV news operations to be more professional by covering topics more comprehensively. We believe the media must give Arab Americans a voice and in doing so, help make American journalism more professional."

NAAJA is a partner of the Society of Professional Journalists and abides by the SPJ’s Code of Conduct. There are more than 250 Arab Americans working in mainstream journalism jobs or for the Arab ethnic media. There are 82 Arab American newspapers and magazines, 12 Arab American radio programs, and a dozen Arab American cable TV shows.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Churches for Middle East peace meets today on Palm Sunday April 20

Contact: Warren
[Washington, DC - April 18, 2008.] "The Annapolis peace process now underway deserves robust support from the U.S. Congress. The achievement of a two-state peace agreement will be an important step towards durable peace with security for Israel and will help build a positive future for all the people of the Holy Land, including the now rapidly declining Palestinian Christian community," said Warren Clark, Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).
That will be the message next week in Washington, DC at CMEP's annual advocacy conference with the theme, "Calming the Storm: Middle East Peacemaking in a Turbulent Time." CMEP represents a coalition of 22 U.S. national church and church- related organizations including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations. Church members and clergy from around the country will hear from high level Christian leaders, policy experts and government officials during two days of meetings, culminating in a Congressional Prayer Breakfast for Peace in the Holy Land at the start of a day of advocacy visits with Congressional Representatives, Senators and their staffs.
"We are pleased to host this important gathering," Clark said. "This is a crucial time for peacemaking in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Next week CMEP advocates will let their elected officials know that American Christians want them to work vigorously towards the peaceful solution that is supported by both Israeli and Palestinian governments and a majority of people on both sides of the conflict."
Major speakers at the conference will include: Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland; Gary Sick, Gulf 2000/Project; Ziad Asali, American Task Force on Palestine; Ori Nir, Americans for Peace Now; B. Todd Deatherage, U.S. State Department Office of Policy Planning; and Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center. Workshops will cover a range of topics such as Evangelical Peacemakers, with Chris Seiple from the Institute for Global Engagement; Palestinian Christians, with Dr. Bernard Sabella ; and Iran-Israel-US relations, with Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council.
The Congressional Prayer Breakfast will feature greetings from Representatives David Price (NC-4), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) and Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), a message from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and prayers and reflections from Rev. Daniel Coughlin, U.S. House of Representatives Chaplain, Bishop John Chane, Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Archbishop Vicken Aykayzian, Armenian Orthodox Church of America.
The full conference schedule is included below and available online. Some presentations are off the record. For questions or to pre-register, please contact Warren Clark at or call 202-543-1222.

Conference Agenda

Sunday, April 20
Location: Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, NE
3:00pm Registration opens
6:45-8:15pm Gathering and Opening Plenary Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaWarren Clark, CMEP Executive Director and Maureen Shea, Chair of the Board
8:15pm-9:15pm Reception
Monday, April 21
Location: Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, NE
9:00am-10:30am Plenary: Calming the Storm: Regional Conflicts, Challenges, Solutions Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland and The Brookings InstitutionGary Sick, Gulf/2000 Project
10:45am-11:45am Workshops - Session I
12:00-1:00pm Luncheon with Keynote - B. Todd Deatherage, US Department of State
1:00-2:00pm Plenary: Middle East Peacemaking in a Turbulent Time Ori NIr, Americans for Peace Now Ziad Asali, American Task Force on Palestine Philip Wilcox, Foundation for Middle East Peace
2:15-3:15pm Workshops - Session II
Special Event5:15pm Book Talk with Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson Center "The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace"
Tuesday, April 22: Lobby Day
8:30-9:30am Congressional Prayer Breakfast for Peace in the Holy Land
Greetings from Members of Congress: Rerp. David Price (NC-4)Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)
Prayers and Reflections: A message from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Rev. Daniel Coughlin, U.S. House of Representatives ChaplainBishop John Chane, Episcopal Diocese of WashingtonArchbishop Vicken Aykayzian, Armenian Orthodox Church of America
Location: US Capitol Building: House Capitol Room HC-5
Monday's Workshop Topics and Presenters
Evangelical PeacemakersChris Seiple, President of the Institute for Global EngagementPalestinian ChristiansDr. Bernard Sabella, Middle East Council of Churches and Member, Palestinian Legislative Council Sharing Jerusalem - Lara Friedman, Americans for Peace Now and Ir AmimIsraeli Political DynamicsMJ Rosenberg, Israel Policy ForumHumanitarian Update Thomas Neu, ANERAGrassroots OrganizingCMEP GAP Coordinators and Anna Rhee, CMEP Grassroots Program CoordinatorCongress and Israeli-Palestinian IssuesBill Harper, Chief of Staff - Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4) and Julie Schumacher Cohen, CMEP Legislative CoordinatorSyria-Israel Relations and US Role - Ambassador (ret) Theodore H. Kattouf, AMIDEASTIranTrita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American CouncilInterreligious InitiativesRon Young, Consultant for the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI)

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM).
Contributions to CMEP are tax deductible and can be made by check or online by secure, on-line credit card service.

Churches for Middle East Peace
Phone: 202-543-1222

Saturday, April 19, 2008

MidEast Youth launches new online TV network

After months of hard work, Mideast Youth, with the enormous help of ByteSense, finally launched Global Village TV (GVTV). I would especially like to thank Umar for making this opportunity for us much easier than it would've been without his help and guidance.

GVTV is a dynamic, educational platform, co-created by Baha'is and Muslims working hand in hand to cultivate an interfaith community.

For the past few months, we have been working diligently on this initiative, in hopes that it would contribute to improving and advancing serious interfaith.

We realized that in many forums, in the process of interfaith, the Baha'i Faith, Yezidi faith, and many other religions are left out. This community aims to change that.

Our Muslim Network for Baha'i Rights ( also recently translated the 1983 documentary of Baha'is being persecuted in Iran into Arabic, in order to make more people in the region aware of what many Baha'is have to go through. You can view it here.Please help us spread the word about GVTV, and view a brief video demonstration of this network here. The growth and success of this project relies on your support and participation!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Arab League Rep to address 3rd US-Arab Economic Forum

Secretary General of the Arab League Amr MoussaPraises the launch of the 3rd U.S.-Arab Economic Forum
His Excellency Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League announced his support for the launch of the 3rd biennial U.S.-Arab Economic Forum, to be held on May 7-9, in Washington D.C., U.S.A.
“As an active supporter of diplomacy in the Arab world, I am proud that the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum will provide the required platform for leaders from both the Arab world and the U.S. to interact, and build long-lasting relationships to foster peace, through economic partnerships,” said Mr. Moussa.
The Forum will be an opportunity for leaders in politics, business and the civil society from the Arab world and the U.S. to lay the foundation of appreciation for mutual collaboration in areas of shared interest.
“This is an excellent opportunity for leaders from both parts of the world to work together, to establish a common understanding that issues of a collective concern can be addressed and that shared economic prosperity can exist between different heritages, cultures, and peoples,” said Mr. Ahmad Chebbani, the Chairperson and CEO of the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum.
Certain key issues of the upcoming Forum will include promoting the role of women in business, enhancing cultural understandings of the Arab world with the West, bridging the gap in innovation: strengthening partnerships in science between the U.S. and the Arab World, increasing free trade and investment, and addressing the vacillating bias’ of media and media responsibility.
Mr. Moussa went on to say, “My hope is to see the building of relationships, to see that pluralism and expanding tolerance from one culture to another will allow two uniquely distinguished worlds to convene together, as one. The Arab League gives its support to the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum, and I congratulate Mr. Chebbani for his vision to build such unity.”
Mr. Chebbani stated, “I thank Excellency Moussa for his continued support of the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum, and I look forward to working with him, the Arab world and leaders in the U.S., to help foster dynamic economic relationships.”
In the past the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum has addressed issues regarding cultural sensitivities, developing economic partnerships beyond energy, building on technological innovation, and youth development and education.
The first U.S.-Arab Economic Forum held in Detroit, Michigan in 2003, brought together prominent leaders such as former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defense Force, Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa.
In 2006, the second U.S.-Arab Economic Forum in Houston, Texas, drew distinguished guests such as U.S. Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ms. Karen Hughes, Chairwoman of the Arab Women Council H.H. Sheikha Hissah Al Sabbah and Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation Rex Tillerson.
This year's attendees include: Foreign Minister the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia H.R.H. Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Chairman and President Export-Import Bank of the United States James Lambright and President and Kingdom of Bahrain Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. For a more comprehensive list of attendees, please visit our web site at:
For more information please contact:Michelle BonamyMedia DirectorU.S.-Arab Economic ForumMobile: 313-415-0500Office: 313-457-0291Fax: 313-457-0292Email: michelleb@usaef.ameeac.orgWebsite:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Iraqi Shi'ite militia slaughter Palestinians there

For immediate release
Media contacts: Ali Alarabi
Phone: 312-593-0575
Shia death squads murder Palestinians in Iraq.

Palestinians in Iraq are facing gradual extermination by Shias militants who are supported by Iran.Chicago

Palestinian Doctor Layla Ali Taha and her young daughter were brutally killed yesterday by Shia death squads in their apartment in the area of Zayounah, in Baghdad

Dr. Layla and her daughter were attacked and stabbed with knives until death , then their attackers burned their bodies and the entire apartment.This heinous crime comes as part of systematic extermination campaign of Palestinians by Shia death squads, who are supported by Iran, according to reports from Iraq.

Dr. Layla's and her young daughter charred remains will be brought to mosque for prayer and burial in the Baladiyat area tomorrow.

Palestinians in Iraq are facing more hardship and extreme danger because they are Palestinian Arabs and non Shia Iraqis. Palestinians who have been living in Iraq for over 60 years, since 1948,have never been allowed to own property, or have IDS, and have no Iraqi citizenship, or any other citizenship.

In the past 5 years, Palestinians were targeted by Shia militants and death squads for extermination and murder campaign designed to drive them off out of the country.

Thousands of Palestinians have fled Iraq thus far, many were taking by Latin American countries, as far as Chile and Brazil, and some European countries. Arab countries have refused to admit those refugees in their countries, thus, perhaps inadvertently,helping Israel in keeping the Palestinian refugees as far as possible from the Middle East.Palestinian in Iraq are living in mortal fear of being identified as Palestinians , and those who live outside the Palestinian ghetto, are being murdered when their neighbors identify them as Palestinians thus bringing Shia death squads to brutally kill them as in the case of Dr. Layla Taha.

Most of the remaining 14000 Palestinians who are trapped in Iraq are living in the Ghetto in the Baladiyat area in Baghdad , in addition to another 1000 Palestinian live in the city of Mousel.


Friday, April 04, 2008

H.R.H. Prince Saud Al-Faisal to Address 2008 U.S.-Arab Economic Forum

For Immediate Release:2 April 2008

H.R.H. Prince Saud Al-Faisal to Address 2008 U.S.-Arab Economic Forum

H.R.H. Prince Saud Al-Faisal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will address the 3rd annual U.S. Arab-Economic Forum, May 7-9, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

Appointed in 1975, Prince Saud is among the longest serving foreign ministers in the world and has been a prominent figure in the international community. Prince Saud has been a tireless advocate of stability and peace in the region, acting as a key mediator in recent talks between Palestinians and Israelis playing a leading role in negotiating regional disputes. Currently, he is also the Managing Director of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development.

Prior to becoming Foreign Minister, Prince Saud served as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and Member of the High Council of Petroleum. He received a B.Sc. in Economics from Princeton University in 1964.

H.R.H. Prince Saud Al-Faisal said in 2003 at the USAEF, “It is our hope that the turmoil our region has undergone in the past few years will be replaced by stability, prosperity, and peace. For this to happen, we must focus on finding solutions to the regions problems and improving the lives of its inhabitants. The United States can play a constructive role by providing leadership, talent and resources. And the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum can help shed light on the importance of trade and economic development not only in the region, but to American businesses as well.”

The U.S.-Arab Economic Forum, hosted by the American Middle East Economic Affairs Committee (AMEEAC) in cooperation with the League of Arab States, strives to enhance bilateral relations between the U.S. and Middle East. By bringing together top business, government, academic, and cultural leaders, the Forum acts as a catalyst for change and facilitates economic collaboration, cultural dialogue and innovation.

Past Forums have given U.S. and Arab leaders the opportunity to highlight their commitment to a shared civil society vision wherein diversity, tolerance, and the spirit of collaboration serve to create a better future for us all. This year’s forum will continue to promote this message with the theme “Open Markets and Open Societies”.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Playing politics with alleged abuses in war-linked contracts

Playing politics with alleged abuses in war-linked contracts
By Ray Hanania

As the public demands answers to why billions of dollars in war related contracts have been abused and mismanaged, the response from the Bush administration has been to target individual employees and ignore the clout heavy corporations themselves.

Several individual employees mostly tied to Halliburton and a sub-contractor, Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., (KBR), have been indicted, charged and convicted of corruption.

Halliburton and KBR, on the other hand, remain the Bush administrations most favored contractors, even though they have admitted to under-balling cost estimates and despite the unending circus of alleged corruption in their rank and file management. Why?

Halliburton was run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president. Many believe Cheney will benefit from the war profiteering from Halliburton’s success when Cheney retires from in January.

All of the corruption cases bristle with questions of political hypocrisy involving American foreign policy, double standards in selective prosecutions, and the apparently intentional snubbing of Federal Laws by the prosecutor.

Some of those charged appear to be political targets and scapegoats targeted to take pressure off Halliburton and KBR. If these cases are so important, why are they being handled out of the low-visibility courtrooms of Springfield, Illinois rather than on a high profile stage in Washington D.C.?

Later this month, one of the indictees will be brought to trial, not in Washington DC, but in Springfield. Jeff Mazon, a former KBR employee, is accused of defrauding the U.S. Government of $3.5 million.

The second indictee is Ali Hijazi, who legally is out of reach of American prosecution.

The Mazon and Hijazi indictments were politically timed, announced two days before the two year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. The indictments were announced March 17, 2005 by then U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller of the Central Illinois District. A Bush appointee, Miller joined a prestigious law firm a few months later and was replaced by Rodger Heaton.

Hijazi is a Lebanese citizen living in Kuwait. Although American law does not allow prosecutors even in downstate markets to prosecute foreign citizens living in foreign countries, Miller has refused to drop the indictment, as is common practice. The prosecution is a violation of Federal Law. There is no extradition agreement.

Three years later, Hijazi lives in a virtual imprisonment, according to filings by his Washington DC attorneys. Hijazi’s life and reputation have been nearly destroyed and his travel rights have been restricted.

There have been numerous examples of wasteful spending by employees of Halliburton, yet Halliburton continues to enjoy billions more in American military contracts. Headlines, like those generated by the case against Mazon and Hijazi, give the public the false impression that war related corruption is aggressively being pursued.

And there is so much more.

In other Halliburton/KBR related cases, many people have pled guilty and pointed fingers at others, including, allegedly, at individuals at First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting. But there hasn’t been followup.

First Kuwaiti has clout and was awarded the contract to build the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The embassy promises to be one of the most expensive ($592 million) and most fortified American embassy in the world.

In September 2007, the Associated Press reported the director of First Kuwaiti, Wadih al-Absi, also a manager for KBR, was named in grand jury testimony by another former KBR manager, Anthony J. Martin. Martin pled guilty in July to taking kickbacks in 2003 and is a witness against Mazon. Al-Absi has not been charged with any crimes and First Kuwaiti is continuing with the embassy contract.

Luck, not justice, spared First Kuwaiti.

According to the AP story, "Although the government has tried to keep First Kuwaiti's name out of public records related to Martin's case, details from his grand jury testimony were found by a defense lawyer, J. Scott Arthur of Orland Park, Ill., who included a summary in a six-page document filed last Friday in an unrelated federal court case in Rock Island, Ill. The AP downloaded a copy of the document from the court's Web site shortly before a judge ordered the document sealed and removed from the public record."

AP reported Martin told the grand jury he engaged in the kickback scheme with al-Absi. First Kuwaiti is not accused of any crimes and details of individuals involved in corruption remain under seal. Although several congressmen have already challenged millions of dollars in cost overruns in the project, First Kuwaiti officials told AP "Martin's allegations are ‘without merit’."

Some observers believe that politics is behind the embassy contract. Is the Bush Administration concerned about what Hijazi may or may not know about cost overruns and other criticism involving the new embassy?

We’ll never know these answers even if Mazon’s trial proceeds.

But what we will have are headlines that give the public the false impression that there is a serious focused effort by the Bush administration to reign in corruption and wasteful spending on war related contracts.

What we won’t have, though, is an end to the corruption. That may have to wait until Bush and Cheney finally leave office and a new prosecutor takes over.

But, can the American taxpayers afford it?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at