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An American Memorial Day
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald, Friday May 24, 2013
My dad, George, and his brother, Moses (Moussa), enlisted in military service right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
They wanted to serve together, but the military didn’t let them. Dad went into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) with the 5th Army in Europe and Moses was dispatched to fight on a battleship somewhere in the Pacific. The recruiters thought it cute that maybe “Moses” would be able to part the seas for an American victory.
At least, they didn’t change the names of these two immigrants as was often done at Ellis Island where Farid became Fred, Mohammed became Mike and Assad became Ass.
Nothing was as monumentally disappointing for these two patriotic Americans than to see American Foreign policy so manipulated by outside special interests. With the help of the United States after my dad and uncle fought to defeat the Nazis, the United States decided to take their original homeland, Palestine, and give it to Jewish immigrants from Europe.
The United States was very anti-Semitic in the 1940s, even after the war and disclosures of the Nazi campaign to murder more than 6 million Jews. They didn’t want Jewish immigrants coming to this country, so sending them to an Arab country seemed like a bright idea.
My father never got over the betrayal of seeing Israel created as a result in part of his efforts to free the Jews, free Europe by defeating the Nazis. When Israel was created as a “Jewish State,” his family was forced at gunpoint to flee their own homes by the Jewish militia, the Haganah, which became Israel’s new army.
My uncles and aunts and their children lived in West Jerusalem, which was taken by military force by the new State of Israel, violating the proposed UN Resolution which proposed a “partition” of Palestine and making Jerusalem an International City.
Israel would have none of that and fought hard to takeover all of Jerusalem. The Arabs, through some miracle, managed to hold on to East Jerusalem, until Israel against initiated a war in 1967 falsely claiming the Arabs were planning to destroy them.
This all happened before I was born so I can only relate what I have heard over the years. My dad and uncle had four other brothers and two sisters. One of the brothers, Yusef (Joseph) drowned in the Jerusalem quarry when no one would help him. Jews thought he was an Arab. Arabs thought he was a Jew. That tragedy in 1926 convinced my dad to leave Palestine to join Moses in Chicago, the land of the free where the streets were paved in Gold and later, as he would learn, a lot of media BS and hypocrisy.
The remaining brothers were Khamis, Edward and Farid, and two sisters Ellen and Eleanore, plus my Grandmother, Christina. After the Israelis stole their homes and lands in West Jerusalem, they were forced to flee to Jordan where they lived with their children in a refugee camp.
Sometime around 1956, they came to Chicago where they built their homes and became patriotic Americans.
But they still never forgot where they came from, or why.
So for me, Memorial Day is not only a time to remember their service, but to also remember why.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com or on Twitter at @RayHanania.)
This post has already been read 98 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
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