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War between extremists and moderates spills over onto ADC
Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American elected to the Michigan Legislature, sent an explosive letter on May 31 to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s premier Arab civil rights group, that accused its Michigan Director, Imad Hamad, of sexually harassing her 15 years ago. Tlaib said she did not complain then because of embarrassment, but decided to go public now after seeing a picture of Hamad on his Facebook page with new female interns. Tlaib worked at ADC at the time.
The accusation is sensational and shocking, especially in a culture that is sluggish in acknowledging that discrimination exists against women in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Tlaib charged that Hamad had been disciplined by ADC for similar alleged conduct in 2007, and also revealed that another woman had been victimized in 2011. In fact in 2007, ADC national did an exhaustive review of the allegations and found that there was not enough evidence to substantiate any charges.
Hamad has strongly and unequivocally denied the accusations. But the accusers and some community leaders did not wait to hear his response. And they also chose not to take it to court for legal action, which raises some concerns about the substance of the charges.
The accusers brought in the controversial head of a New York-based Islamic organization that has been on the cutting edge of extremist political rhetoric attacking moderates in the Arab community, and they demanded that Hamad be fired from the ADC. They did not want to wait for anyone to examine the evidence.
Why did Tlaib allow herself to be used in a political fashion at a press conference organized by Hamad’s rivals? So many activists have been trying to undermine ADC and shift the resources to their own religious groups.
There is a right way and a wrong way to address these issues. What is happening to Hamad is the public rape of his integrity by extremists and cowardly activists driven by selfish agendas. Inappropriate behavior is not the same as physical violence or sexual contact.
Supporters of Hamad believe the fanatics are engaged in an all-out war against Arab moderates because they insist on secular and non-religious activism and resist placing a religious stamp on “saving Palestine.” They also have targeted American Arabs who support compromise with Israel. They hate moderates who urge crackdowns on Arab and religious extremists who enable the violence in the Middle East and in America.
There is a battle taking place today in America between moderate and extremist Arabs, dividing secular non-religious activists from the growing religious activists who have hijacked secular causes like Palestine and made them Islamic issues. ADC is a secular, non-religious organization. To the religious extremists in the Arab community, that is a crime in and of itself. They have been battling ADC for years. They did it in 2010 in Chicago.
Although inappropriate behavior is serious, this controversy smacks of something more. It is about power. The extremists know that by destroying the moderate leadership they can become stronger. The extremists will lie and defame anyone who does not support their radicalized political agenda, which is broad. They hate Jews, they hate Christians, and they hate secular Muslims.
Most of all, they hate Arabs who support compromise with Israel. The extremists know that if the conflict with Israel is resolved, and Palestine becomes a state, the extremists will lose their power base and their reason for existence. The fanatics rely on lies to destroy their enemies because they have no concept of truth. Their extremism prevents them from using the system of justice to achieve the proper results.
Maybe Hamad is guilty, but maybe he is not. Hamad must be allowed to face his accusers and respond in a court of law, not at the hands of a mob of people who want to be judge, jury and executioner. That’s not justice. Hamad should not be persecuted, humiliated and punished on the basis of accusations that have a political tinge.
If we permit Hamad to be punished without giving him a chance to defend himself, then in reality we undermine many of our own causes, such as the cause of Palestine. How can we point fingers at others, like the government of Israel which often punishes Palestinians outside of the judicial system? If, as the activists claim, this issue is important, let’s open the books and include the political lynchings the extremists commit every day, destroying people’s character with lies and politically motivated falsehoods.
Let’s also examine the sexual harassment of women in the Arab world, and civil rights violations in the Muslim and Arab worlds. But that’s not what the fanatics want. This isn’t about justice. It’s about power and the extremists are willing to burn down the house to get it.
- Land is the issue in Israel-Palestine conflict (rayhanania.com)
- Rep Tlaib says she was sexually harassed (wxyz.com)
- Extremist groups ground Detroit’s Arab Festival (rayhanania.com)
- Sexual Harassment Allegations Levied Against Director Of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Hamad responds to harassment allegations (wxyz.com)
- ADC responds to sexual harassment complaint
- Article by the Arab newspaper where one of the alleged victims works
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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.
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
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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