An American Memorial Day

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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 or on Twitter at @RayHanania.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania 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, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania