Washington Scene: TV "ARABS"
F O U A D, J A M E S, A N D C L O V I S
"He has criticized the Secretary of State... and I think that is wrong!"
James Zogby; CNN 8/27
[MER - Washington - 10/10):
When the American mass media needs to flash "Arab" on the screen pretending to
some kind of semblance of "balance", they know whom to call on. These are the
faces, names and "Arab" identifications one sees on the screen politely
commenting these days about "terrorism" and "peace process". These are
the tried and true, always politically correct, "tamed" and controlled Arab
Americans. Largely despised by the Arab American grassroots -- the more you know them the
more you loath them -- they are always ready, waiting and willing to play the TV Arabs
At the top of this list is Fouad Ajami, an academic cum "analyst" of southern
Lebanese and Iranian ancestry. The darling at CBS and of Dan Rather -- where he has earned
his widespread infamy -- Fouad actually got his start as an Arab protégé of the
For the past two decades Ajami has been pushed forward, very well paid in the process,
by a number of major Zionist publishers in Washington eager to promote this
intellectualized Uncle Tomish Arab -- most especially Martin Peretz at The New Republic
and Morton Zuckerman at U.S. News & World Report. To make this easy to understand,
think of Fouad this way: Justice Clarence Thomas is to the American black community as
Professor Fouad Ajami is to the American Arab community. Need more be said?
Then there is James Zogby, a kind of public relations guy put in place by the
conservative Arab regimes, most especially the Saudis, to misrepresent Arab Americans as
badly as the regimes do their own people. True, in the way he craftily expresses his views
Zogby is one step up from Ajami. But actually Zogby is both more dangerous and more
misrepresentative, for after his name flashes the association: "Arab American
Institute". Ajami, to his miserable credit, doesn't publicly claim to represent Arab
Americans. Zogby does!
Indeed, Zogby is the darling of the Saudis and their many cut-out organizations. Among
other things they feature James weekly on their cable TV system, "Arab Network of
America", ANA, which they use unashamedly to propagandize Arab Americans, just as
they use Middle East Broadcasting in Europe as well as a number of print
publications,including MEI in the UK and Washington Report in the US.
True enough, there is little grass-roots reality to this "AAI" concoction
other than a few dozen of the most right-wing Arab American businessmen who are closely
aligned with the Arab regimes and who are continually rewarded by them for their efforts.
But Americans don't know any better. Most actually think Zogby and his cabal are for real.
Overall, what a disgraceful situation for those of Arab and Muslim ancestry.
Additionally, when it comes to Zogby, there are the long-present rumors, difficult if
not impossible to completely confirm, that Zogby and friends have for a long time had
under the table relations not only with major players in the Israeli-Jewish lobby, but
also with the CIA. Indeed, Ghossan Zogby was the first CIA station chief in Lebanon back
in the 1960s, and some in the know believe that the Zogby family has had very shady
connections of various kinds for a very long time. It should also be remembered that when
Bill Clinton was first elected, quickly proceeding to appoint the most Israeli-connected
personalities ever to key positions in his Administration, it was none other than Jim
Zogby who publicly came forward to compliment Clinton for his "great" and
"even-handedness" appointments. Hard to believe...but true!
And then there is the granddaddy of them all. And since he has been around the longest
and has allowed, indeed aided, this dastardly situation to develop in order to promote his
own fortunes, in a sense he's the worst of all. In a way "Dr. Clovis" Maksoud
can be compared to "Dr. Ruth" -- he's always got something verbosely interesting
to say for anyone who will listen; but one has to always wonder, as with Dr. Ruth, if he
really knows very much about what is is constantly gabbing about.
Largely a creature of another of those pathetically co-opted institutions, the Arab
League, Clovis masquerades these days as an academic at American University, where he
helps bring them money from the arms and oil bazaars of the Arab elite -- including that
of international swindler Adnan Khashoggi whose name prominently adorns the huge building
near Clovis' tailor-made and well-financed "Institute".
But in reality Clovis is also at heart a political hack, in his case a kind of
bombastic baffonish rhetorical entertainer who in Washington for decades now has long
served the regimes as a kind of "enforcer" keeping everyone else of Arab
background either in line or excluded from the party.
Bottom Line: Maksoud is a very big talking and a very small doer who shifts in the
political winds in whatever ways will most feather his own nest. Those who know Clovis
best listen to him least; while those who know him least are oftentimes impressed with his
rhetorical gab, unaware how hollow and without substance Clovis' rhetorical flourishes
always prove to be as well as how unbelievably hypocritical and self-serving Clovis always
The larger importance of Clovis in Washington, where he has been since the 1970s, is
that he and a few other Arab Ambassadors have grandfathered the entire despicable
situation that today exists in the U.S. capital among "official" Arab Americans.
He and his friends gave birth to the current crop of impotent and incestuous Arab-American
organizations. And these days they preside over it all making sure everyone toes the line,
speaking the assigned lines at the right time and in the right places.
There are other "tamed" and subsidized Arabs around; this list is hardly
There's Khalil Jahshan, who for many years now has bled dry the "National
Association of Arab Americans" (NAAA) of both funds and credibility. Jahshan gives
the others a run for the most self-serving award; but he's not important enough to be
elevated to the big leagues.
There's Hassan Rahman, now-a-days "Ambassador" of the Palestinians. Rahman
has nothing of credit to his name other than years of loyalty to Yasser Arafat and
considerable money he's managed to squirrel away that belongs not to him but to the
Palestinian people. A protégé of Clovis, Rahman is so oily he makes some of the others
look good at times.
And there are many junior players of the Uncle Tomish variety. Some like Ray Hanania,
home-base Chicago, do alot of the grunt and dirty work for the big boys. Others,
right-wing business types like Elias Aburdene, busy themselves with joint-venture deals
with the Israelis claiming (grossly deceitfully) that they are helping the Palestinian
cause. With many millions made available by the Americans and the Saudis to promote the
"peace process" (i.e., U.S. and Israeli policies and interests) in a great
variety of ways, the list of persons close to the quisling and collaborator categories has
grown considerably in recent years.
And there is the tragic case of Osama Siblani, publisher of the "Arab American
News" in Dearborn, Michigan, the largest center of Arab Americans in the US. Like
small publishers in the Middle East who are either co-opted or frightened into submission
by the "client regimes" that control their people -- let's not call it govern or
even rule -- so too with once aspiring journalists like Siblani. In danger of total
failure and bankruptcy after years of attempting something worthwhile, Siblani sold out in
the years after the Gulf War and rather than pursuing his goal of publishing a serious and
respectable national Arab American weekly he today publishes a small, local, mediocre rag
which features columns from non other than Zogby and Jahshan.
Indeed, Zogby especially is extra busy these days posting his by-lined weekly column
far and wide -- paying and cajoling his way following the lead of his Saudi sponsors.
Along with Muslim allies he has helped set up in Washington in recent years, most
especially the American Muslim Council (AMC) and its founder Abdulrahman Alamoudi, in the
past year Zogby and friends have even managed to infiltrate and corrupt groups like the
Muslim Student Association (MSA).
All of these "Arab spokesman" have a few things in common:
They are all tamed, politically correct, and working in one way or another for, or
with, various Arab regimes and/or the Jewish/Israeli lobby, however under the table.
They are all rhetorically gifted, but like a beautiful woman they trade on that gift
selling themselves to those buying mouths rather than bodies (not that a great deal of the
body buying isn't going on as well...but that's a totally different story).
They are all extraordinarily self-serving, exceedingly hypocritical, and very much
tuned-in to the prostrate ways of contemporary Washington where three things rule when it
comes to the Middle East -- the power of the Israeli/Jewish lobby, the money of the Saudi
and other Gulf regimes, and the terrible corruption of the media brought about by the