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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel boycotting Chicago Arabs?
By Ray Hanania — Ask Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel if he has a problem with “Arabs” and he’d probably grimace and have you arrested. Well, we know that won’t happen. Not that you wouldn’t be arrested by the mayor for asking such a question but that Mayor Emanuel would never find himself in a position where American Arabs in Chicago would be able to ask him anything.
You see, if you haven’t noticed, Mayor Emanuel, the self-professed champion of “diversity” in Chicago, has done a great job of keeping Arabs away from his administration.
Emanuel is Israeli and his father was a member of the notorious Irgun, which the British and most historians correctly describe as a terrorist organization. He also volunteered while in Israel to work for the IDF, Israel’s military, though through indirect intermediaries Emanuel has pushed back that he didn’t wear an Israeli uniform or carry a gun, and his service mainly involved working on military vehicles.
That could happen!
Last week, in a low-key, unannounced event, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held an “Iftar” for Chicago’s Muslim community on Wednesday August 24th. He spoke about his first 100 days in office as mayor at the evening event honoring Ramadan, an important Muslim religious holiday. (Iftar refers to when Muslims break their fast during the Month of Ramadan.)
The Muslim religion is a lot like Christianity and Judaism. There are a lot of different kinds of Muslims.
There are about 7 million Muslims in the United States, but only about 22 percent are Arab Muslims. The majority are Black Muslims or members of the Nation of Islam, 38 percent. The remainder are Asian and Pakistani Muslims. Chicago has a large population of Muslims who are Pakistani, Asian and Arab.
The problem was only four Arabs were invited to Mayor Emanuel’s Iftar event.
Most of the attendees were Muslims of non-Arab background, Pakistani and Asian.
Because Americans are so uneducated about the Middle East and things like Muslims, Iraq, Sept. 11th terrorism and other things related, they wouldn’t know that the event did not involve many Arabs.
Emanuel didn’t publicize the event much, either. He kept it kind of low key. It didn’t get any major media coverage that I can find although an Indian blogger mentioned it while writing about her love life on her blog MyDatingReality.com.
Cheryl Corely at WBEZ Radio did a piece on Emanuel’s first 100 days, which was actually Tuesday August 23rd, not the 24th. There was no mention of meeting with Muslims there.
I went to the Mayor’s official Chicago web page where there is a big picture of a lot of people with Emanuel (but no Arab faces) to see if maybe the Mayor issued a press release on his Iftar dinner and meeting with Muslims and non-Arabs. But I couldn’t find anything.
In fact, there are no press releases that were released between August 23 and August 26 on the official web site of the City of Chicago or Mayor Emanuel.
The section listing on his Speeches includes his campaign blather but ends with his inauguration speech on May 16, 2011.
I even searched his web page, the one paid for by taxpayers to promote Mayor Emanuel’s work for “diversity.” Using the keyword “Muslim” I clicked the return key and the answer that came back: “No match found.”
No match found on the entire Emanuel City of Chicago site.
When Emanuel was inaugurated, he had Christian and Muslim and a Jewish religious leaders address the gathering. The Muslim he chose to speak was Kareem Irfan, my longtime friend and a great Muslim leader in Chicagoland. Irfan did a great job representing Muslims.
But everyone knows that not all Muslims are Arabs. This isn’t about criticizing Muslims, by the way. It is about what Emanuel insists is one of his priorities, “diversity.” He says he wants Chicago to reflect the melting pot that it is. So why are no Arabs involved? Why no meetings with any Arabs? Why the blackout when it comes to Chicago’s Arabs?
I have to say that former Mayor Richard M. Daley, after 22 years in office, finally did come around to open his doors to the Chicago Arab community. I often criticized Daley for not doing as much as he could. We have many Arabs working for the City of Chicago but the numbers are far below our proportions as city residents.
I never thought I’d say I miss Mayor Daley — though he was a good friend of mine who I met while covering Chicago City Hall for 16 years as a reporter. Daley could have done more but Emanuel is showing us that Daley did far more than Emanuel has done.
In fact, I wonder. Is Emanuel afraid of Chicago’s Arab community? Maybe we might ask a question that is embarrassing to him or something? We’ll be good Arabs, Mayor. Anyway, even if an Arab asked an embarrassing question like, “Why did you serve in the Israeli military but not the American military (where thousands of American Arabs like myself did in fact serve — me during the Vietnam War)?” The fact is the anti-Arab Chicago media wouldn’t report it.
If hatred rises in the forest of Chicago and no media covers it, is it really hatred?
That’s an old expression that if people pretend something doesn’t exist, maybe it will go away.
Maybe that’s what Mayor Rahm “Diversity” Emanuel wants.
That won’t happen, Mayor. Even if the news media doesn’t want to do its job.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former City Hall reporter and president and CEO of Urban Strategies Group media relations.)
This post has already been read 171 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