Mayor Emanuel guts the Human Relations commission

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Mayor Emanuel guts the Human Relations commission
By Ray Hanania — To help cut expenses, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cutting services. Too bad he doesn’t focus more on waste.

Emanuel is cutting 20 percent or $619,000 from the budget of Commission on Human Relations, the agency that fights bigotry and discrimination in the city.

That sounds like a lot but the Commission will have about $2.5 million remaining.

But while cutting funding may be justified to off-set the years of wasteful management of the city’s resources and to plug the endless shortfalls that plague Chicago’s poor taxpayers, Emanuel is also eliminating six of the agency’s advisory boards including African Affairs, Asian Affairs, Gay & Lesbian Affairs, Latino Affairs, Immigration and Refugee Affairs and Arab Affairs.

Most of these boards are volunteers. Each has a director that is paid. Why eliminate the voluntary boards when they cost nothing to maintain?

Some people believe the action is political. As a proud American Arab, I know that Mayor Emanuel has a personal problem with American Arabs. He is Israeli. He volunteered to help the Israeli military when he was younger, probably had an Israeli passport along with an American passport. And we all know Arabs and Israelis don’t get along.

I don’t mind that Mayor Emanuel served the Israeli military. I could care less, although American taxpayers give Israel about $3 billion a year in our money to help a foreign country support their failing economy.

But what I wonder is why didn’t Mayor Emanuel also volunteer to help the U.S. Military.

I did. I wasn’t alone. Many American Arabs in Chicagoland also served the United States in the military. Proudly, I might add.

But by consolidating the agencies and eliminating spending, Emanuel can gut the Arab Advisory Commission without anyone saying they were the only ones targeted.

Of all the groups targeted, the American Arabs need the assistance the most. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Arabs have become the targets of increased hate crimes and violence in Chicago, the suburbs and throughout the United States.

I’ve been called “unpatriotic” to my face, by “Americans” who, by the way, never served in the U.S. Military. (I served during the Vietnam War two years active duty and 10 years in the Illinois Air National Guard. I’m proud of that service.)

African Americans, Asians, Latinos and Gays and Lesbian communities have many official programs that provide social service support, millions in grants, jobs, healthcare and much more. But not American Arabs. We’re called “White” and the problems of “White” people are ignored by our governments.

It’s wrong. And when we ask for answers, the spineless Chicago City Hall media won’t ask the tough questions, questions I had no problem asking when I covered Chicago City Hall for 16 years.

Mayor Emanuel says he supports diversity and praises the rich ethnic diversity of this great city called Chicago. But he has a funny way of showing it.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at

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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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