American Arab Journalists denounce Wayne State University’s cancellation of Helen Thomas Award as a move to undermine Free Speech

Chicago, Il – The National Arab American Journalists Association Saturday denounced the decision to Wayne State University to terminate its annual Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award, calling the move a cowardly act surrendering to racist hate.
Wayne State University, which has a large American Arab student population located in the heart of the nation’s largest American Arab community, took the action in the face of pressure from Pro-Israel hate organizations angry because Helen Thomas expressed an opinion criticizing the influence of Zionist American organizations on American Foreign Policy.
Thomas, the keynote speaker at a Diversity Conference hosted Dec. 3 by ArabDetroit.com and attended by more than 300 participants, criticized those who attacked her for challenging Israel’s actions in Palestine. She repeated her belief that the Zionist political movement in the United States “controls” the White House, the Congress and American foreign policy.
“The topic of Zionism is irrelevant to this debate. The real issue is free speech. Is America a nation of Free Speech or has our free speech been compromised by oftentimes vicious and hateful special interest organizations,” said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.
“This is America and America is the nation that is supposed to be the country of Free Speech. Instead of cowering in the face of pressure and special interest lobbying groups, journalists especially and other mainstream organizations should allow an open and full public discussion of the issues, controversial or not.”
Hanania said that American Arab journalists have come under intense pressure from their news organizations and from organizations across the country in the wake of Helen Thomas’ public crucifixion.
Thomas denied she resigned from the Hearst media corporation and said she was “fired” for expressing her views. She called President Barack Obama and other mainstream journalists “who fear challenging Israel’s influence” in this country “cowardly.”
The Society of Professional Journalists this year closed down the American Arab Journalism section and blog specifically because American Arab journalists have expressed opinions that challenge the news media’s failure to be objective on the issue of the Middle East. The decision by Wayne State University to cave to special-interest political pressure is a continuation of growing anti-Arab sentiment.
“Mainstream American journalism is being bullied and pressured into censoring pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian free speech. American Arabs have never said that the pro-Israel view should be silenced. We have only demanded that the mainstream American news media include our views equally and present them fairly. They have not done that. Helen Thomas is a perfect example of that lack of professionalism.”
NAAJA has more than 250 members across the country working in mainstream American journalism positions and the ethnic media.
American Arab Journalists from across America will converge in Dearborn March 4 – 6, 2011 to participate in a national conference to address this and other topics. The conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency in
Dearborn. The web site is www.NAAJA-US.com.
“The voices of American Arabs will not be silenced in a country where we, too, have served our country valiantly in every war, in every military branch and in every public and government position that has been open to us. Wayne State University’s actions ate shameful and undermine the very aspect that makes this country great, free speech,” Hanania said.…

Daley praises American Arabs saying they need not apologize for overseas violence

Retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley told a gathering of Chicago Arabs that they need not apologize to anyone for the actions of extremists overseas during a speech celebrating American Arab heritage month.

Daley also said that he is planning three more overseas trips to the Arab World in the coming months, beginning with Casa Blanca and then to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Daley did not offer details on the trips but he praised American Arabs as equal members of America which he called “a nation of immigrants.”

About 300 American Arabs attended the reception, hosted Thursday by the Chicago Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs at the alHambra Restaurant on West Randolph Street.

“You do not need to apologize for no one. I will say it again. You do not need to apologize to no one for anything that may take place somewhere else in the world,” Daley said to applause. “That is unacceptable. Everyone is an immigrant and no one should be apologizing to anyone throughout the world. Your contributions have been very significant and are a part of the mosaic of our city.”

Daley defended the advisory council which each year hosts the Arabesque Festival, which is the only major public event celebrating Arab heritage in Chicago. The event is held every summer and attracts thousands of attendees showcasing Chicago’s rich Arab heritage and culture.

“I am always  asked, why do we have an advisory council on Arab affairs? It’s very simple. We are a city of immigrants. Our past, present, and future. We welcome immigrants from all across the world and we want them to come here. And we want to make sure they feel welcome. And that is the role of the Arab Advisory commission,” Daley said.

“We are a city of immigrants and we want them to feel at home here. That is important to our city because we are all immigrants.”

Daley said he was proud of the contributions Arabs have made to the city and to the country. And he said he intended to continue to strengthen outreach to the Arab world.

“I am proud of the Arab contributions to our city in business, professions, in family life, in their religious life. All aspects of their life enriches Chicago. We are truly a global city. But being a global city means we have to not just understand the language but the customs, histories and traditions and the gifts they have given to civilizations. That is why we have established a language programs in our area high schools. Because of a global city we want to give our children the advantage of learning languages. The traditions of the Arab World are important to us as a global city,” Daley said.

“We are the first city ever to have invited the mayors of the Arab cities from the middle east to the Richard J. Daley Forum. We held that many years ago and it made a strong statement.”

Daley, who has visited several Middle East countries during his 22 years in office including recently Amman, Jordan, said he was proud of the relationship that his office has made through the Sister Cities Program. The program brings business and community leaders in Chicago together with those in selected Sister Cities. Chicago ahs three in the Middle East, Amman, Jordan, in Casa Blanca, Morocco and in Petach Tikvah in Israel, which was the target of protests by some Arab activists who attended the reception.

Daley said the Sister Cities program is about “building relationships” and creating networking opportunities for “our young people.”

“I firmly believe there will be more and more immigrants and I want to make sure they are comfortable coming to the city of Chicago in the United States of America,” Daley said.

“We must understand that this part of the world, the Middle East, and this civilization’s history. They have given so much to our world that many people have forgotten what they have given to our civilization. The contributions the Arab World has given to our civilization and many times has been forgotten in history. History doesn’t begin in the last 10 or 12 or 14 years. History goes back to their contributions in arts, in sciences.”

After the event, the Jordan Sister Cities Program hosted a musical ensemble at the alHambra Restaurant.…

Helen Thomas is a Hero Slandered because of her fierce Independence Bookmark and Share

Helen Thomas is a hero. For more than 57 years, she has stood up to all forms of discrimination. First as a woman journalist in a man’s world. Second as a fiercely objective journalist who questioned every President From Eisenhower to Obama with the same principles of justice, objectivity and balance. And Third, she is a hero because she has stood up to the onslaught of ugly name-calling from extremists in the American Jewish Community who are not happy kicking Palestinians out of Palestine, they want to kick them out of America, too.
Tonight, Thomas will receive among many honors the Dr. M.T. Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. The award was established in 1999 to honor the work of journalists who have stood up to hatred, fear mongering, defamation and slander because of their work. It is presented to journalists who have shown courage in speaking and writing the truth in the face of overwhelming public anger.
It is so easy for many mainstream American journalists to remain silent, rather than to expose the hypocrisies in American society, especially after the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001. It is easy because the hatred and racism against Arabs and Muslims in America has reached an unprecedented height. Arabs and Muslims are easy prey for racists and bigots because the American public is so uneducated about truth and accuracy and they are fed a constant stream of lies from the mainstream American media.
And those Arabs and Muslims who dare to challenge the lies in the coverage of the rights of the Palestinian people are even easier to target because on top of the bigots and racists who attack Arabs and Muslims, American Jews often also join in the assaults against morality and ethics.
On the one hand, the writer argues that Helen Thomas did not say that Jews should get out of the occupied territory, making the precision of the words their strongest case. And then they hypocritically violate principle, morality and even truth, arguing that Helen Thomas said that Jews should get out of Israel. The fact is Helen Thomas NEVER used the word “Jews.” She was asked by a racist rabbi what Israelis should do and she said “Get the hell out of Palestine.”
The most outrageous example of bigotry and racist hate comes from Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America. His history of racism and bigotry is shameful. Klein could care less about the truth. He is more concerned with protecting a foreign country rather than defending Americans from bigotry and racism. Klein prefers to defend Israel and he hates Helen Thomas for the very reason she deserves to be honored tonight by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC, www.ADC.org)and the National Arab American Journalists Association
More than any other journalist, Helen Thomas was not afraid to challenge the hypocrisies and lies about Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims. She often asked the tough questions of Presidents exposing the hypocrisies of American Foreign policy that sacrificed truth and ethics for political bias towards one foreign country called Israel. And her colleagues, who rarely reported on her courageous challenges, shouted her down with their ugly silence and unprofessional and unjournalistic conduct.
NAAJA salutes Helen Thomas and American Arabs who refuse to be shouted down by bigots, demagogues and hatemongers like Morton Klein and others all because they have DARED to challenge the political polices of a foreign government, Israel.…

NAAJA and Radio Baladi announce 2011 Journalism Conference in Dearborn

The National Arab American Journalists Association is partnering with Radio Baladi radio to host a journalism conference to explore the state of American Arab and Muslim news media and journalism 10 years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Titled “The Future of American Arab and Muslim Journalism 10 Years After September 11,” the conference will feature more than 14 panels and workshops exploring all aspects of American Arab/Muslim life and the state of journalism in the community.

Guest speakers will represent the ethnic Arab and Muslim media as well as Arabs and Muslims working in the mainstream American news media, and also mainstream American journalists whose beats cover Arab and Muslim issues. We will also showcase journalists working for Arab and Islamic World publications and media outlets at the three-day conference that will be held March 4 through 6, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, Michigan.

The journalism conference is the 6th hosted and organized by NAAJA, which has more than 300 networked members across the United States. Radio Baladi is a partner and broadcasts a simulcast live radio show in Chicago (WJJG AM 1530) and Detroit (WNZK AM 690) every Friday morning at 7 am (Chicago) 8 am (Detroit).

“How have the post-Sept. 11 events impacted the practices and effectiveness of the American Arab and Muslim American news media and what are the successes and the challenges they face is the purpose of the conference,” explained Ray Hanania, a veteran Chicago-based Palestinian American journalist and radio talk show host and national coordinator for NAAJA.

“This is NAAJA’s 6th Conference and each event grows bigger and more effective. We anticipate that this will be our most successful and largest conference of all.”

Laila alhusinni, who hosts the Detroit-based radio show “Good Morning Michigan on WNZK radio, and co-hosts the weekly Radio Baladi program, said that Dearborn was chosen as the location for the conference for very specific reasons.

“Dearborn is recognized as the capitol of the American Arab community and also the Arab Muslim community in America,” alHusinni said.

“We wanted the conference to also be centrally located in the country so that we can facilitate participation from Arab, Muslim and non-Arab and non-Muslim journalists from across the country. The conference will also integrate the participation of major community organizations and businesses. They will have a major presence.”

Hanania and alhusinni said the conference has several goals they hope will be achieved when completed.

Strengthen communications among Arab and Muslim journalists in the ethnic, mainstream American and Middle East communities. “We have to communication with each other and establish professional networking in order to strengthen our mission to be professional journalists operating in the United States,” Hanania said.

Establish a scholarship fund to encourage young American Arabs and Muslims to pursue journalism as a professional career choice.

Assist the community to more effectively engage the media through workshops that will showcase strategies to be heard in the Arab and Muslim ethnic media, the Arab World media and also in the mainstream American media.

“This will include sessions addressing how to write an effective press release and then distribute it effectively,” Hanania said.

Hanania, alhusinni and 34 American Arab and Muslim organizations based on Dearborn agreed during a planning conference that the Arab and Muslims in American are denied equal access to journalism jobs and opportunities not only by the major mainstream media but also by the major professional mainstream American  journalism organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists, UNITY and others.

“We expect the hypocrisy from the uneducated public but we don’t expect it from organizations that claim to represent professional journalism.…

Helen Thomas Recipient of the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award

 

Washington, DC | www.adc.org | November 1, 2010 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is   proud to announce that the 2010 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award will be presented to Helen Thomas at ADC’s November 18, 2010, Gala dinner in her honor. The National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) and the family of the late Arab American leader, Dr. Mohammad T. Mehdi, have selected Helen Thomas as this year’s award recipient.
“The story of Helen Thomas, like my father’s, is one of integrity, vision, boldness, and unflagging determination,” said Anisa Mehdi, a Fulbright Scholar, documentary film producer, and Dr. Mehdi’s eldest daughter. “Helen Thomas is a professional journalist who reported accurately, regardless of consequences, asked the tough questions, and applied principles of fairness — not based on politics, race or religion, but on the merits of a story.”
ADC National Board Chair, Dr. Safa Rifka, states, “It is befitting to have this award presented at the Gala celebrating the achievements and courage of Helen Thomas. Like Dr. Mehdi, Ms. Thomas is a courageous pioneer who is proud of her heritage and pursues the truth.”
ADC President, Sara Najjar-Wilson, stated that, “No one deserves the Courage in Journalism award more than Helen Thomas. Helen’s unwavering dedication to her work, love for her country, and courage in asking the tough questions that no other person dared ask, are a source of pride to all Americans. She broke the glass ceiling for all women and is a role model for all aspiring journalists.”
Dr. Mehdi was a pioneer in American Arab journalism, publishing Action Newspaper in English in the 1970s and 1980s, and distributing it to communities around the country. Dr. Mehdi is often called “the father of the Arab movement in America.”
The Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award was founded in 1999 by NAAJA and the family of Dr. Mehdi. This award honors those who display extraordinary courage in reporting on stories related to Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and the Middle East.