none.gif (43 bytes)
June 2000 - Current Index   Complete Index  This Month     MiddleEast.Orgmer_header02.gif (882 bytes)     6/19
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
      If YOU Don't Get MER, YOU Just Don't Get It! 
 To receive MER regularly email to INFOMER@MiddleEast.Org


MER FLASHBACK, 2 Years Ago -  Washington Scene:


   "Don't Eat those Bagels!"

   "Edward Said is our 'baby'"

            "Screaming Hala Maksoud"

 MER - Washington - 10 June 1998:

 What happens in the Middle East is greatly affected by what happens,
 and doesn't happen, in Washington. After all, Washington is the capital of
 the modern-day American Empire and home to the Israeli/Jewish lobby
 whose ability to twist and manipulate affairs relating to the Middle East
 has never been greater.

 And consequently the interaction of government, lobbying organizations,
 p.r. firms, and organizations of various types in Washington is of growing
 importance; hence MER's emphasis on the "Washington Scene" in addition to
 the Middle East. This emphasis has been further stimulated of late by the
 censorship and attempts to cast aspersions about MER coming both from the
 Zionist organizations as well as Arab-affiliated "client organizations",
 among them the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) which
 holds its annual conference in Washington this weekend.

 Quite a few Arab-Americans come to the convention since they have nothing
 else to bring them together -- but as one of those attending writes to MER
 "I was an ADC intern...and I agree that the organization is fairly useless as a
 political entity. I basically go to the convention to see my Arab buddies that
 I only see at conventions".

 The sad and tragic reality is that at this critical time in the history of the
 Middle East the Israeli/Jewish lobby has never been more powerful; the
 Arab "lobby" never more politically corrupt and deceptively misleading.

 The following article is from a Palestinian graduate student who recently
 worked with ADC but was told to take a hike after appearing on the weekly
 MER-TV program to oppose U.S. and Israeli policies in the Middle East.

 One note of caution. Everything that MER does it does in the open for all
 to consider and debate. Not so with ADC which has a long history of
 behind-the-scenes deceptions and self-serving duplicitous rumor-mongering.
 So please don't hesitate to get in touch with anything that comes to your
 attention regarding these matters; we'll continue to do what we can to
 let you know the "realities" of what is going on, and if you prefer
 anonymity just let us know...of course we understand.



             By Omar Qourah*

 "DON'T EAT THAT BAGEL!" the baffled secretary was interrupted while
 creaming her bagel with cheese by a scream from a lady who works at
 the Washington National Office of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
 Committee (ADC).

 "Its Jewish food" she insisted.

 Shocked and surprised at the remark, I ventured to say that bagels have
 actually originated in a Muslim province in China and were introduced to
 Europe through the commercial routes of the Silk Road in the Middle
 Ages. I added that this is a good example that cultures are hybrid. She
 looked at me in deep disbelief and kept silent. However, the same
 exchange occurred again several times in the next two weeks. The lady
 also frowned at me when I asked her if she had watched the previous
 day's episode of the popular TV series "Seinfeld".

 At first, screaming seemed to be the norm in that office. In the same
 week, while chatting with a new intern in the office about issues facing
 Arab Americans, the screams of ADC National President Dr. Hala
 Maksoud at one of the senior ADC staff in the conference room
 interrupted us and caused us to look at each other in utter surprise. A
 journalist who was waiting to meet with the media director also tuned in.
 The hollering went on for half an hour. I tried to engage the visitor by
 talking to her, trying to distract her attention from the screams coming
 from the conference room. I later found out that the legal director of the
 office was forced to resign after all the screaming because she publicly
 supported a letter sent to the president of ADC calling for more
 democracy in running the organization in addition to financial
 accountability. The letter which was signed by 21 local chapter
 presidents and ADC activists all over the country also called the ADC
 annual convention "tasteless" and designed for the well-heeled, famous
 Arabs and for the Ambassadors and their friends.

 Three months ago my uncle called me to tell me that a position has
 opened up at the ADC and that it would be a good idea to work there on
 the side while going to school. Fine I said. I have not really gotten involved
 with Arab Americans organizations before and I thought that this could be
 a rewarding experience now that I live nearby and attend American
 University.  I got employed working twenty hours a week as an
 administrative assistant.

 Since my field of studies is management information systems, I quickly
 realized that the office could use serious help. In addition, interns and
 workers complained about the outdated phone system and how a basic
 voice mail system could save everyone time. I expressed disbelief at the
 fact the media director's computer lacked Internet access. The office's fax
 machine frequently had a waiting line and broke down often. There was
 terrible lack of good office management. The slogan of the Office was: "I
 have no idea."

 Maybe by the mediocre standards of many of the Arab world's institutions
 and organizations the ADC National office would pass fine. But this is an
 organization that claims to be involved in everything from standing up to
 AIPAC (the Israeli/Jewish lobby) to fighting discrimination against and
 stereotyping of Arab Americans. It always claims to be the "largest
 grass-roots Arab American organization." Reality, however, is sadly

 One of the most important tasks at the ADC National Office I found out is
 monitoring the daily press for any possible mention of the ADC. Never
 mind the Bantustanization of Palestine. Never mind the sanctions killing
 Iraq. Never mind the seething frustrations throughout the Middle East.
 "We want to know what they say about us," I was told; and that seemed
 the most important thing of all.

 Whenever there was a positive mention of the ADC in the press, clips of
 the article would quickly be faxed to supporters around the country. The
 Middle East, I realized, could be going up in flames as far as they are
 concerned, but at the top of the ADC's concerns was any mention of

 The major project that the ADC was involved in while I worked there were
 the Quilt (Lihaf or sharshaf in Arabic), a large blanket consisting of
 interwoven 418 panels displaying Palestinian embroidery each
 representing a Palestinian village destroyed by the Israelis in the process
 of creating Israel fifty years ago.

 The quilt is currently touring the country travelling from one city to
 another. It is scheduled for display at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC
 on June 14. Amazing as it may sound, this Quilt campaign was
 supposed to counter Israel's extensive and widespread celebrations of
 fifty years of its founding! The Quilt project, we are told, is important
 because it represents the combined efforts of a dozen or so Arab and
 Palestinian-American organizations and associations. In fact, what it
 really represents is the lowest common denominator that these
 do-little-too-late groups were able to agree on.

 Even with all these efforts, and all these organizations, I heard that only a
 handful of people bothered to attend the kick-off rally in New York City
 last month outside the U.N. There is no serious plan to follow up on any
 of this, no real "50th anniversary" agenda, and certainly no realization of
 the gravity of what is happening in today's Middle East. A related project
 was selling T-shirts and buttons to the different ADC chapters around the
 country -- not much success here either.

 All this while Israel's anniversary celebrations included various TV
 specials and documentaries, and art performances in the J. F. Kennedy
 for the Performing Arts.

 When Mid-East Realities (WWW.MiddleEast.Org) published a short and
 factual article about "The Quilt," an article which honestly spoke up about
 this whole farce ("The Arabs - More Impotent and Co-opted than Ever"), I
 read the article and went to work the next day trying to hold back my
 laugher (and disgust) about all this. Shortly, someone called in about the
 article telling them they "have been attacked"! The office erupted in
 frenzy, and then someone from Dr. Jim Zogby's office (Arab American
 Institute) called in eager to have the article sent to them too.

 The eruption caused by that one little e-mail reminded me of my days of
 living in Lebanon when the sirens warning of Israeli bombing sparked a
 desperate search for shelter. When people at ADC found out that I
 regularly read MER, know well MER publisher Mark Bruzonsky, and even
 assisted a couple of times in producing the cable TV show (which never
 mentioned ADC), they approached me as if I was doing something
 surreptitious and awful. Nothing of the sort actually. I told them there was
 nothing secret here, that I had even interviewed the ADC Media Director,
 Sam Husseini, for MER-TV, months ago back in February outside the
 White House, along with Mark Bruzonsky. And then I was glad to be
 asked to appear on another MER program that was highly critical of U.S.
 and Israeli policies. The program is shown weekly on cable in
 Washington -- and its actually quite good; far better than anything ADC is
 doing about these subjects.

 Even so, the reaction from senior ADC people was pretty much like the
 bagel - you are "associating with the Jews" they insisted, apparently
 referring to Mark Bruzonsky being Jewish, even though many Arabs and
 Palestinians eagerly follow and strongly support MER. The organizing
 director then told me, that MER "aims at undermining Arab American
 achievements" and cited an example a Palestinian organization called
 ROOTS from many years ago that "failed because MER spread rumors
 about it."

 After this I found out that ROOTS really failed because of all-too-typical
 incompetence and corruption; and that MER didn't even exist when Roots
 did. Back when Roots was in Washington I now know large amounts of
 money was sent by Arafat to Washington for that organization as well as
 for two publications, "Jerusalem Report" and "The Return". These large
 sums, totalling into the millions of dollars, accomplished very little and
 everything they supported isn't even in existence now and few even
 remember. Furthermore, I now have learned, these two publications were
 those of Ramonda Al-Tawil, Yasser Arafat's mother-in-law, and her family
 members, who I am told got considerable sums of money sent to them
 and much of it was used by her and her family for such personal things
 as homes in Washington and Paris. Back in Palestine we had always
 heard rumors about these kinds of things; now in Washington I'm finding
 out most of them were true.

 What was further despicable about what I found out at ADC is the use of
 prominent intellectuals such as Prof. Edward Said to prop-up ticket sales
 for the annual convention, and little else. One day I heard the chairperson
 of the ADC board of directors refer to Prof. Said as their "Baby". She
 added they knew how to get him to do whatever they wanted him to. The
 ADC did not seem to pay attention to the fact that Said's views about the
 "Peace Process" need to be heard by as many people as possible; for
 they spent little effort toward this goal and I never heard them discussing
 it. Rather, just as with the monitoring of the press mostly for mentions of
 ADC, really educating and mobilizing the American public is an
 afterthought at best. What matters is that people come to the annual
 convention, support ADC, and follow whatever ADC tells them to do.
 Others convention speakers too were invited on the basis of how
 supportive and on-board they were, not how effective or truthful.

 One week before the convention, after I had worked long and hard calling
 people all over the country to come to the convention and received the
 praise of all of my supervisers for my energy and hard work, I was
 abruptly told that my services were no longer needed. Right then and
 there I decided to write something and send it to MER, as MER had been
 quite right about these things all along. When I asked if I would get to
 attend the convention as an ADC employee since I had worked so hard to
 register people I was told flatly by the blond, blue-eyed president of ADC,
 Dr. Hala Maksoud: "With all honesty, No, because you work with MER."

 At least she was honest this one time. Not much different it seems about
 the Arab-American organizations in Washington and the regimes we
 suffer from in the Middle East.

 Meanwhile, "Don't Eat The Bagels!", and cheers for "the Quilt".

          The author, Omar Qourah, can be reached at

Copyright © Mid-East Realities & The Committee On The Middle East.
All rights reserved.  POBox 18367 - Washington, DC 20036.    MER@MiddleEast.Org
Phone (202) 362-5266           Fax (202) 362-6965         http://www.MiddleEast.Org