The Tabboun: Personalities in the news, Top Stories of 2013
AMERICAN JAILED IN DUBAI OVER YOUTUBE VIDEO American Shezanne Cassim and four other men were sentenced to one year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for producing an online video on Youtube that satirized teenagers in Dubai. The youtube video is called “Satwa Comedy School.”Click here to view the online video. Cassim and the other defendants have been jailed since April awaiting trial which concluded this week with their conviction and fines of up to $3,000 or more. Comedians around the world have spoken out against the UAE Law. The 19-minute video parodiesDubai teens who embrace hip-hop culture. The term “Satwa G” was coined in the 1990s to describe teenagers and young people known to talk tougher than they really are. …
CALIFORNIA ARAB DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE LEADERSHIP The Arab American Democrats of California had its third annual holiday party December 3 to celebrate the group’s accomplishments in public office this year, and to review areas where members could improve their impact as the 2014 election season approaches. About 40 people attended.
ANN ARBOR STUDENTS SHOCKED WITH EVICTION NOTICE members of the BDS Movement in Ann Arbor stirred shock when they distributed 1,500 mock eviction notices to students on campus, saying their homes would be demolished without delay. The mock eviction notice warned: ”If you do not vacate the premises by 13 DECEMBER 6 PM, we reserve the right to demolish your premises without delay. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside. Charges for demolition will be applied to your student account.” The stunt was sponsored by the members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) whose members support the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) which targets Israel’s occupation and oppression against Palestinians. Israel frequently expels Palestinian homeowners and destroys their homes as a part of their campaign to reduce the non-Jewish population in the occupied territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
TOP ARAB AMERICAN EVENTS OF 2013 In the category of Top Stories of 2013, several captured the attention of Americans Arabs. The death of award winning White House Journalist Helen Thomas is seen as one of the top events of 2013 impacting the American Arab community. Thomas covered every American President from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. She was viciously slandered in 2010 after a video blogger ambushed her and twisted her words critical of Israel to make them appear anti-Semitic. The anti-Arab mainstream American newspaper, and the viciously anti-Arab Society of Professional Journalists, attacked Thomas and other American Arabs who defended her, shutting down the Arab American Journalism Section of the SPJ. Thomas was 92 when she passed away on July 20, 2013. … The second of the top stories of 2013 is the assault against ADC by a cabal of extremist activists who have falsely charged that the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is insensitive to the rights of women. Michigan DirectorImad Hamad was forced out of his job, and ADC President Warren David was forced to resign after some board members alleged he failed to properly represent ADC’s interests in the Hamad controversy. David was replaced by attorney Samer Khalaf. Hamad was replaced by Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh. Hamad had been re-accused of having sexually harassed women interns at ADC Michigan more than four years ago. The chief protagonist, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, asserted she had been sexually harassed 15 years before. Many accused the critics of engaging in a political campaign to undermine ADC because of the groups more liberal policies on Syria and Israel. The Annual ADC Michigan Banquet Dec. 13, was also cancelled at the last minute in the face of protests from a handful of extremists, ADC officials said.
ANOTHER OF THE TOP STORIES FOR 2013 involved American Jennifer Grout, 23, of Massachusetts, grabbed worldwide attention when she became a finalist in the popular Middle East reality competition “Arabs Got Talent.” Grout couldn’t converse in Arabic but was able to perform several popular and traditional Arabic songs with near perfection, including by singer Umm Kulthoum. … Farouk Shami, a Palestinian-American businessman and founder of the hair-care and spa products company, Farouk Systems, published his book “American by Choice.” He currently resides in Houston, Texas, where his company is based. … Greater Detroit region Attorney Susan Dabaja became the first Arab and Muslim American to be elected Dearborn City Council president. A total of four Arab Americans were elected to serve as Council members, giving American Arabs their first ever control of a municipality. … The Annual Arab International Festival was cancelled this year, held every summer.
ANOTHER OF THE TOP STORIES FOR 2013 involved the launch of AlJazeera America (AJAM) on American Cable TV. Aljazeera, the Qatar-based Arab Satellite News Channel has been fighting for more than decade to be allowed to broadcast to Americans, but only began broadcasting 24 hours day on August 20, 2013 after purchasing Currents TV from former Vice President Al Gore. The majority of its news reports are hosted by veteran American journalists.
AMERICAN ARABS DENOUNCED A SuperBowl Advertisement from Coca Cola entitled “Mirage.” American viewers on Youtube were asked to vote for the “winner” in a race through the desert. The Ad shows an Arab walking through a desert and he soon sees Cowboys, Las Vegas showgirls and a Motley Crew of people based on the apocalyptic “Mad Max” film who all race past him to reach a gigantic bottle of Coke. In the ad, Coke asks viewers to vote online on which characters should win the race to the refreshing Coca Cola bottle. The online site did not allow a vote for the Arab character. More than 100 million Americans viewed the commercial during the Super Bowl football Game on Feb. 3, 2013. Abed Ayoub, director of legal and policy affairs for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the commercial could harm Coke’s business with the Arab community. ”Coke should understand and respect their consumers and have a better understanding of the market they are sharing,” he said.
Send us your top 2013 American Arab stories to The Arab Daily News Editor.
Tabboun: Israelis seeking to defend Netanyahu’s Mandela snub
Many Israelis are irked over the fact that so much attention has been put on rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has been criticized roundly for deciding not to attend the memorial service in Soweto, South Africa for anti-Apartheid iconic leader Nelson Mandela. Israel sent a lower ranking delegation in the Prime Minister’s place, even though heads of states from 100 other countries including President Barack Obamaattended and spoke passionately about Mandela’s fight against racism.
The truth is Israel had been very close to the Apartheid Republic of South Africa which had imprisoned Mandela for 25 years for his armed struggle against the racist colony. And many compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa because of their discriminatory policies against non-Jews, Palestinian Christians and Muslims in the Occupied Territories.
But now to help the image struggling Netanyahu, many Israelis are asking why no one is criticizing Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, did not attend the memorial either. Of course, no one has ever compared Turkey to Apartheid South Africa the way they do with Israel.
Activists target products sold in US that are made in the Israeli occupied West Bank
The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine is urging followers to boycott SodaStream. Here is the release they put out:
Looking for some occupation-free holiday cheer? We’ll be singing alternative carols and educating consumers outside Target on the corner of State and Madison in Chicago. Why? Because SodaStream is produced in an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian land. We – and activists in 50 other cities -are raising our voices to ask Target and other retailers to take SodaStream off their shelves. We are also asking consumers not to buy SodaStream as a holiday gift – or any other time of the year.
SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomim, an Israeli settlement industrial park located in the West Bank. The land where the SodaStream factory is located was illegally confiscated by the Israeli military occupation authorities from Palestinian owners. SodaStream conceals that it is made in settlements by using the “Made in Israel” label.
Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace and violate international law. Since 1968, the US government has called on Israel to stop building and expanding settlements in the West Bank.
Hope to see you Saturday for an “occupation-free” holiday celebration.
You can support the effort by LIKING their Facebook Page. Click here to go there.
ADC is in shock over extremist assault
The biggest mistake ADC National has made is not standing up to the fanatics who have been bashing it now for more than three years. It was ADC National’s bad luck that during those three years, the sexual harassment charges surfaced in Michigan against Imad Hamad, who was the executive director of ADC’s largest and most effective and profitable chapter in the United States. Some believed ADC Michigan under Hamad was in fact more powerful than ADC National. But when Hamad came under attack from political foes, and was accused of sexually harassing women in the past (four years ago and 15 years ago — charges that raised questions about the motives behind the assaults), ADC National reacted with Arrogance.
The pummeling began in 2010 when Ray Hanania was named to the ADC National Board. Hanania, who had been active in Chicago since ADC’s founding in 1980, had declined national appointments in the past but was urged to help re-active Chicago’s sleepy chapter. That year, under Hanania’s leadership, ADC Chicago raised more than $25,000 at one fundraiser, more than the chapter had raised for the organizations in all of the past six years before. But Hanania became a target of the extremists because he has been a stalwart moderate voice urging reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. Most annoying to the fanatics is the fact that Hanania’s wife and son are Jewish. (Hanania’s mentor was Professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, whose wife also was Jewish.)
It was Hanania who nominated Warren David to become ADC’s new President.
After Hanania declined re-appointment to a second term, Safa Rifka, ADC National Board Chairman became the target of the fanatics. One of the most vocal critics happened to be a relative of Warren David and clearly the relationship was never sealed. David was fired Dec. 1 on orders from Rifka, according to David’s wife, activist Amal David.
After David’s firing, a small handful of extremists threatened to protest at ADC Michigan’s annual dinner banquet which was to be held this Friday, Dec. 13. Rather than standup to the fanatics, ADC decided to cancel the dinner, another major misstep on ADC National’s part. The cancellation of the dinner will cost ADC’s fundraising efforts significantly.
ADC is the most important organization defending the rights of American Arabs. It is the ONLY organization that battles anti-Arab discrimination, although the activists wanted to drag the organization into political battles and to become more virulently anti-Israel.
Another major factor is the divisions that exist in the American Arab community over the civil war in Syria. The most anti-Israel activists who oppose peace based on compromise, are diehard supporters of Syria’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who is an ally of Iran and Hezbollah. They wanted to silence the critics of Syria and use ADC as a foundation to strengthen ties with Syria. (Ironically, the original criticism of Rifka from the activists was that he had allegedly tried to censor a musician who planned to play a song some saw as being anti-Assad at an ADC convention a few years back.
The fanatics don’t care about ethics or hypocrisy. They have one goal. They want to be the loudest voices of hatred against Israel and in support of Assad. And they are willing to tear down any organization that tries to get int heir way. ADC National and its chapters were an obstacle. The cancellation of the dinner banquet is a blow to moderation and a sign that the fanatics are gaining ground in America.
AND FINALLY …
At the biggest event of the decade, the memorial service honoring the late Nelson Mandela held at FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, featured hundreds of the world’s most influential leaders speaking to hundreds of millions of viewers on television and cable broadcasts and online around the world. And next to the speaker was a man who turns out was a fake sign language professional who was making up hand gestures as speakers spoke. The sign language interpreter at the Mandela Memorial in Soweto was a fake. Broadcast to millions. Click here to view story from ABC
Here is the CNN Video. Amazing and disgraceful. The faker should be arrested and jailed for 25 years!
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The Tabboun: ADC Chairman Safa Rifka to address Michigan Banquet
MICHIGAN ADC NATIONAL GALA: ADC National Board Chairman Safa Rifka will be the keynote speaker at the 34thADC Michigan Annual Benefit Gala, held under the title “ADC Empowering the Margins.” The event will be held on Friday, December 13, 2013 at the Greenfield Manor, located at 4770 Greenfield Rd, Dearborn, Michigan. Emcees of the Evening include Ms. Nadera Nassif & Ms. Jida Kilai. The National Anthem will be sung by artist Ms. Yasmin Suri. ADC Gala Committee Remarks will be offered by Dr.Ned Fawaz, Host Committee Chairman. The ADC National Remarks will be offered by ADC’s new National PresidentSamer Khalaf, who replaced Warren David. There will be a tribute to the late American Arab journalist Helen Thomas, followed by Rifka’s comments. Rifka is a master speaker. It will be interesting to hear him address the controversy that has shaken up Michigan’s ADC Chapter during the past year and the controversy that saw the ouster of longtime Michigan Director Imad Hamad.
The controversy involving unproven allegations of sexual harassment against Imad Hamad has been exploited by political extremists and fanatics including by groups like Ikhras, the anti-Arab hate site, and others. Rifka is expected to defend ADC which remains one of the most important American Arab organizations. Despite the personal attacks from the extremists, Rifka has stood firm and ADC has continued to battle bigotry and discrimination.
ARABS GOT TALENT SURPRISE
Jennifer Grout shocked many int he Arab World after it was clear she couldn’t understand Arabic. But her singing quickly won over the judges, although in the final episode of the popular Middle East TV show, she only came in 3rd place, despite the exaggerated speculation from the mainstream American news media. The most interesting aspect of the story is that more was written about Grout by the mainstream American news media than about American Arabs in the United States. … Do a search on Google for American Arabs and the top stories are Jennifer Grout and the “Ugly Arab” mascot of the Coachella Valley High school outside of Los Angeles. A sad state of affairs for American Arabs.
MISCELLANEOUS NEWS ABOUT AMERICAN ARABS
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a visiting lecturer who discussed the struggles of being an Arab-American in a post-9/11 world was met with student support during his talk Thursday at MTSU. Moustafa Bayoumi, an author and professor of English at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, discussed his book, “How Does It Fell To Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America,” during a lecture that lasted for two hours in the State Farm Room of the Business and Aerospace Building at Middle Tennessee State University. Click here to read the story in the Daily News Journal. … the new online social media siteChatArabs.com is interesting but it has some kinks to work out. I tried registering but the English side of the system doesn’t work as well as the Arabic side of the system. Hopefully, they will sort it out. Read story. …