Shock and horror: Ibish was on a radio show!

I see that the some of the more alert denizens of the Arab-American blogosphere have discovered, one month later, that I engaged in a well-publicized radio program with Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles on Middle East peace. The only thing surprising about their outrage is how long it took them to find out about it.

Naturally, the program raised the ire of As’ad AbuKhalil of the California Hezbollah Support Network, who as usual accuses me of working for Muhammad Dahlan (of all people!) I have never met or in any way communicated with Dahlan, with whom I have no connection whatsoever. To apply his own twisted “logic,” AbuKhalil has apparently been personally tasked by Hassan Nasrallah to speak for all sectarian Lebanese Shiites. AbuKhalil himself engaged in a colloquy with an Israeli diplomat in San Francisco recently, which was a virtual textbook of pointlessly obnoxious, completely counterproductive and puerile self-gratification. Clearly, this individual imagines himself to be the drum major in some sort of grand Arab march to oblivion, although the ranks behind him are entirely a figment of his own imagination.

Angry complaints also came from the Hamas Fan Club at the University of Chicago, also known as Ali Abunimah, who twittered, “Who asked ATFP’s Hussein Ibish (not-Palestinian) to ‘negotiate’ for Palestinians & surrender their rights?” This nonsense about “surrendering rights” aside, I work for and with all-Palestinian leadership and Board of Directors of ATFP, if he hasn’t figured that out already. Of course, the fact that I am Lebanese by both birth and dual citizenship never bothered Abunimah during the many years in which we collaborated and co-authored in opposition to the occupation and in support of Palestinian independence (a position he has now completely abandoned, in favor of, as he puts it, a “go Bibi!” pro-Netanyahu approach). Now that we disagree, my background is suddenly not only relevant, but disqualifying. Contrary to claims made in some of these tweets, I have never “passed myself off as a Palestinian,” even if some journalists have made this mistake, although I’m proud to work for a Palestinian-American organization. Indeed, I remember firmly demurring several years ago when the late Hisham Sharabi, at a formal meeting he was hosting, referred to me as “an honorary Palestinian.” I told him and the entire group present that in my view this is a meaningless expression, but that it is my honor to serve the dual and compatible causes of Palestinian national rights and peace in the Middle East.

And where would Larry and Moe be without Curly? On cue, and with their usual sophistication and maturity, the scintillating intellectuals at Kabobfest chimed in with this epic fail. This, of course, is the same blog that has in recent weeks denounced the arrest warrant issued against the president of Sudan for massive war crimes in Darfur, rushed to the defense of a Somali pirate and lauded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lamentable speech at the UN racism conference in Geneva.

It might be argued that if one is to have critics, it is best that they are slightly unhinged, so such preposterous blog postings and tweets do no harm whatsoever to me personally. However, the attitudes and sentiments that they promote reflect precisely how and why the Arab-American community has so effectively and for so long marginalized and defeated itself. We know precisely what this idiotic approach produces: nothing. Clearly it is high time for something more serious and more effective, and that is a theme that will no doubt become a regular feature of future postings this site.