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Extremists Hoda Mitwally and Yaman Salahi viciousy attack moderates
By Ray Hanania — Activists Hoda Mitwally and Yaman Salahi don’t claim to be journalists. They are partisan activists so it’s not surprising they can’t get their facts right and they rely on inaccurate information to express the typical kind of vile personal attacks that have undermined the Palestinian and the Arab cause over the year.
The two activists published a poison-penned assault on truth on alJazeera’s English language web site. Their main target is the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) which has been accused by activists of trying to censor entertainer Malek Jandali who was invited and paid to perform at ADC’s convention banquet. When the ADC Board Chairman, Safa Rifka, tried to contact Jandali to ask him about a song that many asserted was a protest against the Syrian Government, Jandali’s manager turned the query into a false claim of censorship. In fact, neither writer bothered to contact ADC to get any facts. Why would you need facts when defamation of a community by targeting accomplished leaders like Rifka is so much easier?
In other words, in some extremist quarters of the Arab community, Arabs are permitted to rally for Democracy and free speech but they are not allowed to practice it. Those who dare to ask any questions that are considered unpopular are pilloried and personally attack.
The two writers personally attacked me, writing that I am notorious for my “vile and obnoxious attacks on Palestine solidarity activists.” Of course, they couldn’t cite one sentence of such “vile and obnoxious” attacks against Palestine solidarity activists, unless of course calling out some of their leaders as self-serving hypocrites qualifies. The two writers must be fans of the anti-Arab hate sites, Ikhras and KabobFest which are notorious for attacking Palestinians and Arabs who support compromise based on two-states with Israel. That’s the real crime. And the fact that my wife is a Jew makes them even more incensed with hatred and bitterness that has aromas of the anti-Semitism that is common among some of the Palestinian fanatics.
The writers claim that ADC needs to do a better job, but neither has ever worked for the organization. In my 30-plus years as an activist with ADC, I don’t recall ever seeing them. But like many ignorant young people who are driven by emotion and the slander that constitutes their activism, they find it easier to attack other Arabs and Palestinians with whom they disagree than to present a credible plan to save Palestine, or even Syria.
Last year, ADC National battled more than 7,000 claims of discrimination, bringing almost 70 percent of them to a positive resolve. But the positive defense of American Arabs is not the concern of Mitwally or Salahi. They are concerned about anger, hatred and the failure that has crowned the activism they so fiercely embrace. Yes, their activism has helped bring Palestine to defeat. Rhetoric of hatred may make Palestinians feel good in the face of Israeli brutality, but it does nothing to ease the suffering or the loses of land and identity that continue to plague the Palestinian causes. Because their movement has been a failure, it is easier for them to detract from their failures by launching vicious assaults against American Arabs who have been fighting for Arab rights in a real way, producing results like beating down bigotry, a goal that is not as valuable to them as calling Israel names. It’s so easy to call Israel names and throw around the “apartheid” word. It feeds the emotions of the Palestinian community they live to exploit. Without that suffering, they would have nothing to show for their failed activism.
It’s a trend in the segments of failed American Arab activism to pretend that they are leading by defaming people, something they actually have picked up and learned from the despots and dictators whom they claim they oppose. Yes, the tyrants in the Middle East have muzzled truth by imposing an atmosphere of threats based on defamation on the public. Anyone who dares to speak the truth is vilified as being “vile and obnoxious.” It works, too, keeping the people focused on hating Israel, and Jews, rather than on the very failures of the Arab regimes. These activists use the same tactics targeting Palestinians who marry Jews, or Arabs who advocate for compromise and common sense, or worse the sin of “reason.”
But Mitwally and Salahi are characteristic of a new breed of haters in the Arab community, haters who have as much disdain for the injustices that they have come to accept through their failed activism as they do for the Arabs who call them out as extremists and fanatics; these failed extremists have no strategic agenda outside of vilification and defamation of their own.
If ADC fails, it is in part because of the failure of the larger American Arab community to speak out against these loud mouthed boors who know how to destroy but have no concept or talent to build, preserve or succeed. It’s much like William Golding’s popular 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies.” The inbred mentality of irrational hatred dance around the bonfire of Palestine’s vanities believing that hatred is the achievement and forgetting that the real goal is the salvation of Palestine, a salvation that becomes more and more remote as these spear-throwing fanatics dance around the embers of the real vile and obnoxious trademark of their achievement, hatred.
Their name-calling columns and screaming aspersions fan the flames of the dissatisfied masses of Arabs who have lived and died in an atmosphere of oppression and leadership failures. And when you call the extremists out as losers, people who have done nothing in their lives except tear things down, they call you “vile and obnoxious.”
I don’t mind being attacked by pathetic and cowardly writers like Mitwally and Salahi, two no talent activists who relish in a world of specious arguments and arguments that lack facts. Their puerile assaults only help to strengthen the line between them, the symbols of failure, and those in the moderate American Arab community who see through the lies of the extremists and the haters, and who know that the real challenge to Palestine is the repugnancy of the fanatics who make Israel’s extremism so easy to achieve.
Mitwally and Salahi make it easy for Israel’s fanatics, like Avigdor Lieberman and the settlers they claim to loathe to be the vicious people they are. They make it easy for Palestine to lose at the United Nations, in the court of public opinion and in the reality of the squalor of the Palestinian refugee camps where generations of Palestinians are bred so the Mitwallys and Salahis of the world can profit through self-aggrandizing rhetoric that plays to their “Lord of the Flies” choir.
The Israeli Wall may imprison our people, but Mitwally and Salahi provide the weak moral character and self-hatred that serves as the mortar that makes the Wall so ominous over Palestine’s future.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
This post has already been read 141 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com