Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ADC Continues to Call for the Termination of National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS)

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ADC Continues to Call for the Termination of NSEERS

Washington, DC | June 29, 2010 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today submitted detailed comments in response to the May 5, 2010 Notice, Published in the Federal Register (FR), Vol. 75, No. 86 (75 FR 24721) pertaining to the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS).   In its comments, ADC unequivocally reaffirmed its long standing position that NSEERS must be terminated and that NSEERS-related regulations be repealed. You can read ADC's comments by clicking here.

Implemented after 9/11 as a counterterrorism tool, and built on a discriminatory structure targeting non-immigrants from Arab, Muslim and South Asian countries, NSEERS has not only been ineffective for counterterrorism purposes, but also has had a negative impact on governmental outreach efforts with these communities. The actual practical utility of the program has been called into question, and is scheduled to be audited by the Office of Inspector General within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before the end of 2010. The program also continues to burden both DHS and the registrants with unnecessary and extra costs.

Eight years after the implementation of the program, governmental information on NSEERS continues to be shockingly inaccurate, as evidenced in the May 5, 2010, Notice.  ADC calls on the Obama Administration to end the shame of NSEERS, shift away from policies solely based on national origin and religious profiling tactics, and provide relief for well-intentioned individuals adversely affected by the program.

More Information about ADC's Advocacy on NSEERS:

To read about general developments on NSEERS, please see the report on NSEERS issued last year by ADC and the Center for Immigrants' Rights at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law.  ADC also has developed a blog the Race Matters Blog or "EndNSEERS" blog; and the Revised Annual Performance plan of the Office of Inspector General discussing its plan for auditing NSEERS by the end of 2010 (pages 56-57).

Legal problems related to NSEERS?  ADC Legal Department offers Pro Bono Assistance

If you have legal problems as a result of NSEERS, please do not hesitate to contact the ADC Legal Department for pro bono assistance.  You can reach the ADC Legal Department by e-mailing legal@adc.org, or calling 202-244-2990.


Contact: legal@adc.org

NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI 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-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.


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Oval Office

2:33 P.M. EDT

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, everybody.  I want to welcome His Majesty King Abdullah to the White House, and I’m very pleased to be able to return the extraordinary hospitality that he showed me and my delegation when we visited Saudi Arabia and when we visited His Majesty’s farm.

     Since that historic meeting that took place 65 years ago between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and His Majesty’s father, King Abdul-Aziz, we have had a strong and strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

     I always value His Majesty’s wisdom and insights, and we have had a very productive session speaking about a whole range of issues that relate to both relations between our two countries but also issues of prosperity and security around the globe.

     We talked about our joint interest and work together in combating violent extremism.  And we talked about a range of strategic issues, including issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Iran and its attempts to develop nuclear weapons capacity.  We discussed the Middle East peace process and the importance of moving forward in a significant and bold way in securing a Palestinian homeland that can live side by side with a secure and prosperous Israeli state.

     As representatives of two G20 countries, we also continued the conversation that took place this weekend about how the Saudi government and the United States government can work with our other partners around the world to keep the economic recovery going and to help bring about the strong economic growth that’s necessary to put people back to work.

     And we will continue to work together to expand the people-to-people contacts, the educational programs, the commercial ties, the business people who are working together in both countries so that not only do our governments remain strong partners but our people are continually enriching both countries.

     On behalf of the American people, welcome.  We appreciate your friendship.  And we appreciate your good counsel and look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen the strong bonds between our two countries.

     KING ABDULLAH:  (As translated.)  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  I believe you have covered everything and left nothing out in terms of our conversation.

     Mr. President, I would like to share with you the views that I have been hearing about you from other -- from around the world.  You are an honorable man and you are a good man.  And I don’t say this in order to compliment you -- I say this because this is the truth as I hear it from people around the world.

     And I would like to say to the friendly American people that the American people are friends of Saudi Arabia and its people, and they are friends of the Arab and Muslim people, and they are also friends of humanity.

     Mr. President, I would like to point to the historic ties of friendship between our two nations that began with the meeting that you pointed to, the meeting between the late King Abdul-Aziz and the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Over the past seven decades, the relationship has grown stronger and broader and deeper, and we appreciate all that you personally have done to further broaden and deepen and strengthen this relationship.  And I hope that you will be able to continue to work with us on improving this relationship for many more years.

     Thank you, Mr. President, for a productive meeting.  I want to also thank our friends, the American people.  And I also would like to thank our friends here in the media.  May God spare us from all of the bad things they can do to us.  (Laughter.)  And may God bless us with all the positive things they can do for us and for humanity.
     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, that is an excellent prayer.  Thank you.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arab American Almanac, the most comprehensive reference on Arab Americans

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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

Email:  newscircle@yahoo.com
For more information

- Ray Hanania

Thursday, June 17, 2010

U.S. students will travel to Jordan for Gen. Tommy Franks-hosted international debate

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June 17, 2010
Contact: Houda Elyazgi

U.S. students will travel to Jordan for Gen. Tommy Franks-hosted international debate
Students will spend time with general and debate Middle East peace

OKLAHOMA CITY – This year’s Four Star Debate program promises to be an international learning experience of a lifetime for top high school students. Twenty-four U.S. students will pair up with 24 Jordanian and Middle Eastern students at King’s Academy near Amman, Jordan to debate whether the United States should support a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. The camp will be held from July 1 – 10 and will include a visit from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The students will debate the topic based on the principles that Israel and Palestine are two sovereign states, whose borders and security are recognized by the countries in the region; and that they provide economic liberalization, protect minority rights and cease violence.

Four Star Debate: Developing Leaders with General Tommy Franks is hosted by the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and the Academy of Leadership & Liberty at Oklahoma Christian University (OC).

In addition to sharpening debate and leadership skills and learning from top policy experts from across the globe, students will interact with world-renowned leaders, including Franks, the four-star general who commanded American and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Our goal is to ensure a brighter tomorrow by bringing the best and brightest students together to learn leadership skills and debate key issues,” Franks said. “This year, we have the opportunity to add an international dimension to help the students explore a complex issue and learn first-hand from students and speakers with differing backgrounds and perspectives.”

During the camp, students will be trained in strategic thinking, planning, communication and teamwork. Participants receive practical training in the art of persuasion, gain in-depth knowledge of the debate issue, gather valuable team experiences and develop relationships with other up-and-coming leaders. Students will use the knowledge and skills they learn and apply them in a free-style team debate.

Each U.S. student will be paired as a debate partner with a student from King’s Academy, allowing students to wrestle with one of the most complex challenges that have faced global leaders for decades. While in Jordan, the students will take excursions to Wadi Rum and Petra to experience Jordanian culture and scenery first-hand.

In addition to Franks, students have the opportunity to interact with high-profile leaders, including Dr. John C. Goodman, NCPA president, and Dr. Mike O’Neal, OC president, who will teach them about leading large organizations with many competing interests.

Students will also receive training from NCPA’s professional policy analysts, debate coaches and university debate students. Leadership development and communications training will be provided by OC’s nationally recognized faculty, staff and academy contributors.

For more information, please visit http://fourstardebate.ncpa.org/.

About the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum
The goal of the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum is to tell compelling stories of leadership, introduce historical topics in each exhibit, and to encourage study and debate concerning the leadership traits illustrated by the story. It is located in Hobart, Okla. For more information, visit www.tommyfranksmuseum.org.

About the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA)
With offices in Dallas and Washington, D.C., the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. For more information, visit www.ncpa.org

Academy of Leadership & Liberty
The Academy of Leadership & Liberty at Oklahoma Christian University exists to uphold, teach, and strengthen the values that promote liberty, free enterprise, and servant leadership. To accomplish that mission, the Academy seeks to inspire leaders of character, vision, and courage while equipping them with the values that have a profound and lasting impact on individuals, families, communities, and nations. Guided by faith and the principles of servant leadership, character, and social justice, the Academy is committed to perpetuating the values and freedoms endowed by our Creator and empowered by the founding wisdom of our democracy. For more information, visit http://www.oc.edu/academy/.

About King’s Academy
Established in 2007, King’s Academy is a private, not-for-profit, co-educational boarding and day high school (grades 9 to 12) in Madaba, Jordan. The school, which integrates the New England boarding school experience in the historical and intellectual context of the Middle East, follows an English-language, Advanced Placement curriculum. The dynamic curriculum includes an integrated co-curricular program of athletics, activities and community service, and students live in a nurturing residential environment that allows them to flourish personally and intellectually. King’s Academy is situated 30 minutes from Amman on a 144-acre (575-dunum) site and is comprised of 23 buildings and state-of-the-art facilities. For more information, visit http://www.kingsacademy.edu.jo.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adalah, Al-Haq, and the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem press conference Thursday June 17, 2010

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16 June 2010

Dear Sir/Madam:

Adalah, Al-Haq, and the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem would like to invite you to a Press Conference on Thursday 17 June 2010 at 2:00 pm in Watan Studios. 

The Press Conference will address urgent developments which are not only violating Palestinian human rights but severely threatening our ability to continue to campaign to end such violations. 

Of immediate concern is the situation whereby following their release from Israeli prisons, the ID cards of four Jerusalemite PLC members, Mohammed Imran Totah, Ahmad Mohammad Attoun, Khaled Abu Araffah, & Mohammed Abu Teir, were revoked. Having denied these Parliamentarians their residency rights in Jerusalem, Israel has ordered their forced transfer from Jerusalem no later than early July 2010.

This action takes place in the context of the entry into force in the West Bank of Military Orders 1649 & 1650 which effectively legislates for the forcible transfer, deportation, and imprisonment of any Palestinian from the West Bank, a legislative act that consolidates Israel’s annexationist policy of cutting Jerusalem off from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Of further concern is the targeting of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Palestinian political and social activists that are citizens of Israel are increasingly being subjected to far-reaching violations of their basic human rights by means of detention, censorship, denial of fair trial rights, travel bans, as well as criminal prosecutions for treason and related crimes aimed at revoking their citizenship.


Adalah, Al-Haq, Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem  

Friday, June 11, 2010


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"ZADE is a Jordanian musician of outstanding ability, whose creations
have delighted the people of our nation... In these troubled days,
ZADE represents the young seeking to bring peace and understanding to
our troubled region and the world."
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

NEW YORK- 30-year-old classically trained composer, pianist and producer ZADE is on a mission to spread his message of peace and tolerance in 2010. He has been called "Jordan's leading cultural ambassador” by the Washington Times and his “One Night in Jordan: A Concert for Peace” is airing on public television stations nationwide this spring featuring 100 musicians from 40 nations. Check local listings for air times.
Watch the trailer here: http://www.zade.com/
Filmed in Jordan at one of the largest remaining Roman Amphitheatres, the special comprises some of the world’s finest musicians: London’s renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Voices Choir, virtuoso violinists Karen Briggs (Soul II Soul, Wynton Marsalis), Grammy winner Charlie Bisharat (Elton John, Black-Eyed Peas), Ramon Stagnaro on Spanish guitar (Josh Groban, Shakira) and world music woodwind maestro Pedro Eustache (Paul McCartney and Don Henley). A live CD and DVD of the performance is also available now on ZD Records (distributed by EMI) and the first leg of a U.S. tour will follow this June.
ZADE has won over audiences ranging from Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama to former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth II with his epic, cinematic music blending east and west. He draws inspiration from the anthems of the great film composers, Jordan’s natural beauty and the efforts of the late King Hussein of Jordan to make peace in the Middle East.
America’s love affair with the “piano prodigy” (People) began in the wake of September 11th when ZADE began a humble grassroots effort to create a better understanding of his culture in the West. "Terrorists have hijacked my religion," ZADE declared in 2001, and from there he launched a national four-year tour, performing an average of 200 nights a year at churches, synagogues, schools, community centers and homes, using his music to launch an ongoing dialogue to combat world polarization.  As the LA Times noted, “For ZADE, making music and advocating world peace go hand in hand.”

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ADC Commends and Supports Calls in Congress for an Independent Inquiry into Israel's Attack on the Aid Flotilla to the Gaza Strip

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ADC Commends and Supports Calls in Congress for an Independent Inquiry into Israel's Attack on the Aid Flotilla to the Gaza Strip

Washington, DC | June 10, 2010 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) commends and supports calls by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, for an independent inquiry into the Israeli commando raid on the aid flotilla destined to Gaza.  "There should be an impartial inquiry to determine exactly what took place," Feinstein said in a statement following the flotilla attack, which occurred in international waters about 80 miles from Gaza's coast. Please contact Sen. Feinstein's office and thank her for her efforts in calling for an independent inquiry. Please email your Members of Congress and ask them to support an independent inquiry into the May 31, 2010, killings of the civilian humanitarians onboard.

Contact the White House and ask the President to support an independent inquiry into the deaths of the peace activists on the flotilla and demand an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza.


Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to protest the Israeli action against the flotilla, support an independent inquiry, and demand an immediate end to the siege of Gaza. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

ADC applauds Helen Thomas for her legendary service,

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ADC Thanks Ms. Helen Thomas for Legendary Service 

Washington, DC | June 9, 2010 | www.adc.org |  Helen Thomas, 89, Dean of the White House Press Corp, and lauded as a "Pioneer Journalist" and Trailblazer for female journalists," apologized for her May 27, 2010, response when she was asked "Any comments on Israel...?" and she responded "Tell them to get the [] out of Palestine." Upon further prodding, Ms. Thomas stated that "Remember these people are occupied and it's their land..." and those who are the occupiers should "...go home" to "Poland, Germany...And America and everywhere else."

In her apology, Ms. Thomas wrote:  "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.  They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.  May that day come soon."

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) thanks Ms. Thomas for her legendary service, and acknowledges Ms. Thomas' apology.  ADC believes that Ms. Thomas should be judged on her "50-plus years of probing journalism, and not on a 30-second sound bite," as stated by Mr. Zool Zulkowitz, who represents American Jews defending Ms. Thomas.  Mr. Zulkowitz further said that, "We are clear what Helen Thomas meant to say, which is that Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine..." And, as Mr. Paul Jay wrote: "Not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism...Helen Thomas' isn't."

As President Obama recognized in his historic address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have endured the pain of dislocation for more than 60 years.  "Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable ..."

It is our hope that other journalists would rise in Ms. Thomas' place and espouse her courage in asking the hard questions.  As Ms. Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote yesterday in the Washington Post: "...isn't there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?"   We certainly hope so.  We also hope that we will continue to celebrate Ms. Thomas' lifetime of courageous, frontline journalism; and that she will not be intimidated by the recent hateful accusations or deterred from her insightful questioning and reporting.  

Contact: Sara Najjar-Wilson, President 

NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI 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-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The lynching of American Arab journalist Helen Thomas

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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.

“Poland. Germany.”

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.)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Lone Voice of Moderate Islam Now Speaks Several Languages

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A Lone Voice of Moderate Islam Now Speaks Several Languages
Egypt’s Azhari TV, a Response to Obama's Overture, Aims for Global Audience

Cairo, Egypt, 6 June, 2010 – Azhari TV, the education and entertainment satellite channel created to promote moderate Islam in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cairo in June 2009, has announced that it will now be available in English, French, Urdu and Pashto in addition to its original Arabic-language programming, thus extending its reach to hundreds of millions of additional viewers worldwide. Coming on the one-year anniversary of Obama’s speech, entitled “A New Beginning,” at Cairo University, Azhari TV’s expansion represents a fulfillment of the vision for a dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding between peoples.

Operating on a new channel, Azhari TV 2, the dub of the original content on the Arabic-language channel into four additional languages will enable the station to reach homes from Europe to Asia , spreading its message of reason and tolerance.  The channel aims to serve as a direct counterweight to more confrontational and aggressive interpretations of Islam that have proliferated in the last several years and exacerbated the turmoil that has plagued much of the Muslim world.

Azhari TV, which is named for and closely affiliated with Al Azhar, Islam’s oldest and most venerable institution and seat of learning, was the first tangible response by the Muslim world to President Obama’s call for greater understanding between religions and recognition of Islam’s peaceful roots. Programming includes news programs, cartoons for children, dramatic series, lectures, and call-in shows.  The channel’s content is developed by religious scholars educated at al-Azhar, including the popular and charismatic Sheikh Khaled El Gendy.  Mahmoud Sa’ad, long one of the Arab world’s most distinguished television presenters, heads the channel.

"There is a wide open market for religious moderation on the airwaves," said Sheikh El Gendy.  "We are competing with voices of intolerance for the attention and loyalty of young people. We believe we have the better product. And clearly our message is resonating.”

Sheikh El Gendy hosts a live call-in program in which viewers struggling with interpretations of Islam and their applications in modern life seek guidance. The program, Azhari TV’s most popular, is regularly flooded with calls from young people uncertain about how to reconcile conflicting interpretations of the Quran.

Despite its wild popularity among its young and growing audience, Azhari TV has on occasion aroused violent opposition.  “Those who misinterpret Islam for selfish purposes often see us as a threat,” said Sheikh El Gendy. “We have been threatened with death due to our programming as well as our social action.  As Muslims, we must get away from this trend toward violence."

Azhari TV received widespread attention when the channel took out full page advertisements in newspapers across Egypt in the wake of the murder of Coptic Christians by Islamic radicals in January 2010.  Unfortunately, not all of it was positive—shortly thereafter, on February 9, 2010, Azhari studios received a bomb threat, and the channel’s executives and presenters have personally received threats to their safety.  “These threats serve as a vivid reminder that we are up against extremist elements who oppose our emphasis on dialogue and understanding between peoples of different faiths and cultures,” explained Sheikh El Gendy.

The new channel, Azhari 2, will be available on prime news tiers on Hotbird, Asiasat, and Nilesat, giving it a reach of more than 325 million households in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is aimed at exposing new audiences to the "true face of Islam" as a force for peace and understanding. 

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Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's 30th Anniversary National Convention

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Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's 30th Anniversary National Convention

WASHINGTONJune 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following are remarks as prepared for delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's 30th Anniversary National Convention:
Thank you, Dr. [Safa] Rifka, for your kind words and for this tremendous honor. I am grateful to you, and to ADC's Board and staff members, for this wonderful award. And I appreciate this opportunity to speak to all of you, at the start of this milestone convention, about the Justice Department's commitment to promoting tolerance, safety, peace, and opportunity.
I especially want to thank Sara Najjar-Wilson, your extraordinary president, for her leadership of ADC - and her partnership with the Department of Justice. Let me also thank and congratulate the other awardees here this afternoon on their achievements, advocacy efforts, pro bono work, and lifetimes of service, both to Arab-American communities and to the cause of justice.
But, above all, I want to congratulate all of you - on your 30th anniversary, which deserves a round of applause. For three decades, you have advanced the promise of civil rights for all Americans. You have educated and enlightened citizens of all nationalities, backgrounds and faiths. And you have promoted the basic principles of dignity that define the best of this country - and bring out the best in our communities.
It's a special honor to be part of this anniversary and to continue one of our nation's most important conversations - the crucial, ongoing dialogue between law enforcement and members of the Arab-American community. Advancing and strengthening this dialogue is a top priority for my Department. And it's a top priority for the Obama administration.
I would have been happy to speak to you any day of the year, but I admit that I'm especially pleased to have been scheduled today - June 4th. Exactly one year ago, in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama addressed the Arab and Muslim world in a landmark speech that, in elegant and heartfelt terms, captured the importance of our discussion today.
"America," he said, "holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities and our God."
But, he added, "so long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
President Obama may have been addressing another region of the world, but his words are as much a guide for America's diverse communities, today, as they were for diverse communities around the globe, last year. To the extent that relationships between Arab-Americans and non-Arab Americans are defined by differences, those who sow hatred rather than peace will, no doubt, prevail. But as everyone here knows, we cannot - and we will not - allow that to happen.
Since becoming Attorney General last February, I have heard from Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans who say they feel uneasy about their relationship with the United States government. I've spoken to Arab-Americans who feel that they have not been afforded the full rights - or, just as important, the full responsibilities - of their citizenship. They tell me that, too often, it feels like "us versus them."
That is intolerable. And it is inconsistent with what America is all about. In this nation, our many faiths, origins and appearances must bind together, not break us apart. In this nation, the document that sets forth the supreme law of the land - our Constitution - is meant to empower, not exclude. And in this nation, security and liberty are - at their best - partners, not enemies, in ensuring safety and opportunity for all.
The communities we serve must see that the federal government is really committed to the impartial and aggressive enforcement of our nation's laws. And these communities must also know that we will do all we can to enforce the laws that protect our civil rights with the same vigor that we enforce the laws that protect our public safety. These are not, as I've often said, mutually exclusive goals. This Justice Department will do both.
Under my leadership, that is the commitment of the Justice Department, and of every U.S. Attorney. It is also my personal pledge to each of you. But what, exactly, have we done to assure the equal enforcement of our nation's laws?
First, we have restored the department's Civil Rights Division to its rightful place as the conscience of the nation and our country's preeminent civil rights law enforcement agency. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, who is with us today and who will be speaking to you tomorrow, has made it a priority to transform the Civil Rights Division to tackle the civil rights challenges of the 21st century. Over the last year, the Division has made substantial and meaningful progress towards bringing the promise of equal opportunity to all Americans, and I look forward to building on this work.
But it's not enough to say that the Division will simply be more active. The real question is: To what end will it dedicate its resources and energy? So long as I am Attorney General, the answer is simple. We will dedicate our resources and energy to enforcing the law neutrally and fairly and to working to provide all Americans with an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. That is what civil rights enforcement is all about.
Among the Civil Rights Division's many goals - ensuring fair housing and lending, disability rights, educational opportunity and more - there is one issue, in particular, that I know is of particular importance to many of you: combating hate crimes.
For this Administration - and for today's Department of Justice - the prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority. We are employing the new tools afforded to us by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 to address and eliminate hate-fueled crimes around the nation. And we are working to train attorneys and law enforcement officers in its aggressive enforcement. Already, we have several investigations open under the new law. And I want you all to know that we are currently working with local law enforcement to investigate the recent pipe bomb attack on a Florida mosque. This case is a top concern for the FBI.
But prosecuting hate crimes isn't all that we're doing. The department is also committed to ensuring religious freedom, a foundational promise of our democracy. As many of you know, over the last year, we worked to encourage the state of Oregon to repeal a long-standing law, initially passed nearly a hundred years ago to bar catholic nuns from teaching at public schools. The law was reaffirmed as recently as 2009, and effectively forced some Muslim and Sikh women to choose between their careers and their faiths by preventing the wearing of religious garb in the classroom. Following a letter from our Civil Rights Division, the Oregon legislature and governor acted to repeal the law in April.
The bottom line is that the Justice Department's commitment to civil rights has never been stronger. I'd like to mention one aspect of that commitment in particular. The Civil Rights Division now holds regular meetings at Main Justice that bring together Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian community leaders with various federal agencies and DOJ leaders. And it has prompted the Department's engagement in a critical effort, through both prosecution and collaboration with local law enforcement, to end racial profiling in the United States, once and for all.
As many of you know, the Department's current Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, issued in 2003, has been the subject of some criticism. I'm committed to ensuring that department policy allows us to perform our core law enforcement and national security responsibilities with legitimacy, accountability and transparency. That's why, last fall, I initiated an internal review to evaluate the 2003 Guidance and to recommend any changes that may be warranted. But, today, I want to be clear about something: 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.
Years ago, as a college student, I was driving from New York to Washington when an officer stopped me. He said he wanted to search my car for weapons, and he asked me to open the trunk of the car. I hadn't done anything wrong. I hadn't done anything that might have aroused suspicion. And, though it's been years since that day, I can still remember how humiliated - and how angry - I felt as I opened the trunk of my car. But my story is not unique. Nor does it represent a worst-case scenario. We've all seen heart-wrenching stories of misguided racial profiling, in the past few months alone.
But we must always remember that virtually all of our nation's law enforcement officers serve their communities honorably - and risk their personal safety - every day. Their work improves all of our lives. And the Justice Department will not stand idly by as discrimination by a 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 policing of any kind. Our nation is better than that.
Third, and finally, in addition to prosecution, we have made an historic commitment to prevention through outreach -by building mutual trust; by keeping lines of communication open; and by meaningfully engaging the communities we serve. In addition to the Civil Rights Division's efforts, many other Justice Department components have launched promising initiatives. The FBI often holds conference calls with local community leaders, and each district office employs a Community Outreach Specialist to engage the whole community through town hall meetings, public speaking, youth initiatives and Citizens' Academies. Likewise, the FBI's new Specialized Community Outreach Team, or SCOT, is working to strengthen engagement between the FBI's field offices and communities of every ethnic background.
Other components of DOJ are also engaged in outreach efforts to the Arab-American community. The Department's Community Relations Service responds to tension and conflicts related to allegations of disparate and discriminatory treatment faced by Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities across the country. The Office of Justice Programs has sponsored events that emphasize community engagement. And U.S. Attorneys across the country are actively engaging Arab and Muslim communities to confront the challenges of the 21st Century together.
This is only a snapshot of our efforts, and we are working constantly to improve them and to build stronger relationships with the communities we serve. Our efforts are currently being reviewed and coordinated by the Arab/Muslim Engagement Advisory Group, which I established last year. I launched the advisory group with the goal of protecting our common security while preserving the values that we all share. The same values and patriotism that guide ADC's work also inspires countless Arab-Americans. Let us not forget, it was a Muslim-American man who first alerted the New York police to a smoking car in Times Square. And his vigilance likely helped to save lives. He did his part to avert tragedy, just as millions of other Arab-Americans are doing their parts and proudly fulfilling the responsibilities of citizenship.
The contributions of Arab-Americans have helped to build this nation into what it is today. They have served as police officers, teachers, and civic leaders, strengthening their local communities and their country. We must remember this. And we must also, I believe, remember the wisdom of the engraving on a statue that sits next to the Department of Justice, in front of the National Archives. It reads, "What is past is prologue."
Our past reminds us that we are a nation of immigrants. Our past reminds us that when we band together across the traditional divisions of identity and background, we can advance sounder policies and promote safer communities. And our past reminds us that if we are to aspire together, then we must start working together. We have no other choice.
The era of "us versus them" that some of you have experienced must end. At long last, it is ending. Together, we can make sure it's replaced by a new era - an era that recognizes the truth reflected in this organization's name - that regardless of our faiths, regardless of our backgrounds, we are all Americans.
I am grateful to this Committee - and to all of you - for your three decades of work, advocacy, and, above all, partnership in helping to bring us to this point in our history. And I am looking forward to our continued collaboration in pursuit of a more perfect union and a more peaceful existence for all Americans.
Thank you.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Friday, June 04, 2010

US Attorney vows to protect American Arabs as indecision continues on critical anti-Arab hate crime

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US Attorney vows to protect American Arabs as indecision continues on critical anti-Arab hate crime
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.)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Opinion Makers: Debate, Discussion and Analysis on the Israeli assault on the Flotilla of boats seeking the break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip

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Columnists Ali Younes and Ray Hanania discuss and debate the controversy surrounding the Israeli assault on the flotilla of boats seeking to bring food and medicine to the 1.5 million besieged civilians living in the Israeli occupied Gaza Strip which resulted in the murder of nine civilians killed by Israeli storm troopers who dropped in on the boats in the dead of night from attack helicopters.

The world is calling for an independent investigation but Israel insists on conducting the investigation themselves. View this episode of the weekly online video program "The Opinion Makers" at:


Or get more information at the web site



AL JAZEERA ANNOUNCES NEW NEWSROOM STRUCTURE Restructuring of newsroom to focus on heightened news excellence and integration between TV and online news

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Restructuring of newsroom to focus on heightened news excellence and integration between TV and online news

Doha, Qatar - June 2, 2010:  Al Jazeera Network announced today a new newsroom structure designed to continue to build quality in it news operations. The new structure will change the organization and method of work in the newsroom in what Al Jazeera has termed as the “Multiplatform Multimedia Newsroom”.  The Network has also commissioned a team of specialists to survey the latest developments in newsroom management with a focus on the interplay and relationship between the TV news and the Internet.

Elaborating on the new structure, Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al Jazeera Network stated, “The new structure of the newsrooms aims to bring a higher level of coordination between the Arabic and English channels as well as capitalizing on the synergies between the various departments in the network.  The changes are designed to help us manage our growth in a more efficient fashion while at the same time bringing a new level of excellence in our news coverage.”

In accordance with the new structure the Network announced several changes and new appointments in Al Jazeera Channel’s senior management. Mr. Ahmed Al-Sheikh, who served as Chief Editor of Al Jazeera Channel for nearly six years has been appointed as Media Advisor to the Chairman of the Al Jazeera Network, Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani.  The Network has also appointed Mr. Ayman Gaballah, the former Deputy Chief Editor of Al Jazeera Channel, as the Managing Director of Al Jazeera Mubasher.  Similar to C-Span, Al Jazeera Mubasher is the first 24-hour live news and events channel in the Arab world focusing on uncut televised broadcasts of regional and international events as well as breaking news. Mr. Gaballah’s appointment will further extend and develop Mubasher’s breadth and scope and will expand the coverage of key events and activities across the Arab world.
Dr. Mostefa Souag, has been appointed as the Director of News for Al Jazeera Channel.  Previously, Dr. Souag served as the Adviser to the Chairman of Al Jazeera Network, Al Jazeera's Editorial Bureau Chief in London, as well as serving as the Director of Al Jazeera's Center for Studies. Mr. Souag will be assisted by four managers for increased coordination of the newsroom.

These will include the Head of Input who will supervise the respective departments responsible for planning, Al Jazeera’s correspondents, and newsgathering. Mr. Mohammed Dawood who has been appointed to this position, was previously the Managing Editor of Al Jazeera Net, and has a range of experience in the press, e-news agencies as well as his part-time status as a trainer at the Al Jazeera’s Training and Development Center.

Mr. Hassan Shweiki, has been appointed as the Head of Output.  Mr. Shweiki will be responsible for excellence in Al Jazeera’s news output through managing output staff and the different departments and units for news production as well as enhancing cooperation and consultation between Al Jazeera’s Doha headquarters and Al Jazeera’s international and regional bureaus.

The previous Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera Net, Mr. Mohammed Al Mokhtar, has been appointed to serve as Manager of Web Content.  Mr. Mokhtar will work with his team on the coordination between Al Jazeera’s television news and online services and assure their functional interaction.

Mr. Ramzan Al Naimi has been appointed to be the Manager of the Creative Department.  This new department has been established with an aim to give more attention to the different aspects of on-air promotion and graphics and their direct contribution to the screen.

These changes are part of Al Jazeera’s ongoing commitment to bringing excellence in news production and increasing access to its content for audiences across the world.


About Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera started out more than thirteen years ago as the first independent Arabic news channel in the world dedicated to providing comprehensive television news and live debate for the Arab world. Al Jazeera was formally named the Al Jazeera Network in March 2006, transforming its operation into an international media corporation.  The Al Jazeera Network now consists of the flagship Al Jazeera Satellite (Arabic) channel, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary, Al Jazeera Sport, Al Jazeera.net (the English and Arabic web sites), the Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center, the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live), and Al Jazeera Mobile.
You can visit our websites at: www.aljazeera.net or www.aljazeera.net/english

For further information please contact:
Christina Aivaliotis
Tel: +974 489 2555