Chicago Mayor Emanuel planning to erase the Arab Advisory Commission

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Chicago Mayor Emanuel planning to erase the Arab Advisory Commission
By Ray Hanania — We saw all the signs coming. First during his election, he refused to meet with Chicagoland American Arab leaders, including the ass-kissers who hugged Mayor Daley during his really unproductive to Arab administration (Daley gave the Arab community the minimum but some community leaders benefited so they did everything to keep us quiet).

But at least Daley did something, even if it was mostly for those few who did much for him while he did nothing of real substance for the Arab Community.

Now comes Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is angry because American Arabs dared to ask the single most troubling question facing our new mayor: how is it that Rahm Emanuel served (in any capacity) with the Israeli Defense Forces but never served in any capacity whatsoever in the US Military? Emanuel doesn’t want that issue to be a topic of discussion.

So what has happened in the past nine months?

There was no Arabesque Festival this year. The volunteers who worked for the Advisory Council did their best but with no support from Emanuel.

Emanuel has tapped many Muslims but no Arabs to work in his circle. At a recent Ramadan Iftar event, only four American Arabs were present among hundreds of non-Arab Muslims.

There is an Arab Heritage “meet and greet” next month but it will be chilled. Sources I know at City Hall have told me he plans to avoid the event, although this column and the push back may force him to at least show face and pretend he cares about us.

How do I know that? Because Emanuel has circumvented the Arab community by reaching out to the Muslim community, which is mostly non-Arab Pakistani and Asian. Good for them, but bad for Chicago Arabs.

What can we do about it?

Well, the American Arab community is so dysfunctional, probably nothing. The extremists have the microphone even though they represent barely a small percentage of our community. The moderates have been very successful and don’t wan tto get involved and risk anything.

The anti-Arab news media, especially the Chicago Sun-Times, will portray the move to “merge” the Arab Advisory commission along with four other commissions into one “equity” commission as a brilliant move by Chicago Prime Minister Rahm Emanuel.

And I will bet next year, Emanuel renames Michigan Avenue in honor of Ariel Sharon, or some other major Israeli figure. Lovely!

This guy hates Arabs and it is our fault for doing nothing.

The activists who pushed Gery Chico in the mayoral election did so selfishly, as they always do, for their own benefit, just as they swarmed around Gov. Pat Quinn like flies. If Chico won, they would have been rewarded big time with jobs for themselves and the false image that something was being done to help American Arabs.

Miguel Del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun were the only candidates who reached out to all the Arabs, but they could not get enough support because of financially challenged campaigns. Emanuel was the winner even before the election so it really didn’t matter who we voted to elected as an Arab community. He would have won in any scenario.

We should protest, but what’s the point of doing that when we can’t stand up the constant slapdowns of Arab Americans by the Chicago Sun-Times which is wheezing on its last legs – the newspaper only has a circulation of 200,000 papers. Most of those newspapers are sold by Arab American grocery stores.

And if we can’t respond to the Sun-Times hatred, we certainly are in no position to respond to Mayor Emanuel.

My suggestion, if we’re not good at being proactive, then at least don’t patronize Mayor Emanuel. Refuse to go to what will surely be the last Arab American Heritage “reception” at City Hall. Standup for your rights and reject the bread crumbs. Bread crumbs are for prisoners, although maybe we are all prisoners of apathy.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist. Reach him at

This post has already been read 51 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

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 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 and (Illinois News Network at

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,, 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.

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