Friday, September 25, 2009

New Book by Hussein Ibish debunks myth of "one-state" agenda

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Scholar and media pundit Hussein Ibish, one of the nation's leading champions of Palestinian rights, has published a new book called  "What's Wrong with the One-State Agenda?" The book, available for only $10 from the American Task Force on Palestine and free as an eBook download, details why the "one-state" agenda is designed to prevent peace and undermine the Palestinian national drive to establish a national homeland and state in Palestine.
Ibish, who writes a popular web blog at, argues with reason and common-sense to expose the fraud of the "one-state agenda" which in its fundamental premise actually weakens the battle against the Israeli occupation. The one-state agenda essentially assumes that Jews, Christians and Muslims can go back to a 1920's scenario where everyone lives together as equals, assuming that Israelis -- who have refused to return land or dismantle settlements, will simply extend "equal rights" to non-Jewish citizens.
The one-state agenda actually negates the suffering of Palestinians under Israel's oppressive military rule and ignores the decades of discrimination against so-called Arab Israeli "citizens," pretending as if those denials of rights ever existed.
Ibish discusses his precedent-setting book which advances the only solution to the conflict, creating a "two-state solution," during an interview on my national radio show (Radio Baladi).
Ibish argues that the one-state agenda relies on a fallacy that a one-state reality already exists, and that Arab population growth threatens to impose a one-state reality on Israel. In fact, the population growth has not threatened Israel's anti-Arab policies at all and in fact are leading to a situation where issues of apartheid-like scenarios have become more and more common practice.
Ibish also discusses the powerful agenda that President Barack Obama is pursuing which has taken the push for a Palestinian state durther than any other American president. Obama's speech to the United Nations (and past speeches including the speech to the Muslim World) have put enormous pressure on Israel's government, which has resisted peace.
Of course, the Palestine-Israel conflict is troubled by years of pain and suffering and that pain and suffering has been exploited by activists who argue calls to continued conflict and non-solutions like the one-state agenda. It's difficult for some to accept the reality of the only choice left to them, two states -- the majority of Palestinians support the Two-State Solution, although the one-state activists continue to exploit the suffering and fan the flames of rejection.
Ibish's book re-sets the fundamentals of Palestinian reality and helps those who desire the creation of a Palestinian State to actually see the possibility of it being achieved. It definitively exposes the flaws in the one-state agenda argument, revealing am agenda that will only mean more and more suffering for Palestinians who have suffered more than any people deserve.
It's time to end the conflict and create two-states and allow Palestinians to begin the process of nation-building and national salvation. The only way to do that is through the Two-State Solution which has found a powerful advocate in President Barack Obama.
-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Classic Lebanese Cuisine by Kamal al-Faqih -- press release

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170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites

by Kamal Al-Faqih  

Take the trip of a lifetime, let the flavors of Lebanon be your guide …

The cuisine of Lebanon epitomizes the best of the Mediterranean diet, which is highly regarded for its positive health benefits.  It includes an abundance of vegetables, grains, fresh herbs and spices, poultry, meats, seafood and stews — creating meals that are full of robust and earthy flavors. Chef Kamal Al-Faqih invites readers to join him on a trip to his ancestral homeland and to taste the healthy flavorful foods of Lebanon.

CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE (Three Forks, September 2009, $24.95) features a dazzling collection of 170 recipes from appetizers and salads to side dishes, entrees and desserts. Readers will discover new flavors as Chef Kamal introduces these time-honored recipes steeped in the authenticity and ethos of the dishes he grew up with.  Accompanied by easy to follow step-by-step instructions, CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE makes Lebanese cooking accessible to everyone who seeks to prepare it for the first time or reproduce their favorite flavors and dishes. Chef Kamal ’s expert narrative and mouthwatering recipes will pave the way for the journey.

Inside, readers will find recipes including:
·    Pomegranate-Beef Crescents (Sambousik bi Lahmi)
·    Smoked Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)
·    Eggplant Salad (Salata Batanjan)
·    Cod Baked in Citrus Tahini (Tajen)
·    Jute Mallow and Garlic-Cilantro Stew with Lamb (Mloukhiyeh)
·    Lentil Soup with Ruby Swiss Chard and Lemon (Adas bi Hamood)
·    Semolina Pistachio Cookies (Mamoul bi Fistouk)

More than just recipes, the book features striking full-color photographs, and a section describing techniques such as rinsing and storing produce, handling filo dough, the recommended procedure for measuring flour, and more. The “pantry” section describes and defines ingredients, sauces, flavorings, oils, and spices. There is a section of suggested menus, which recommends combinations of recipes that you may want to consider when planning a cocktail party, brunch, afternoon luncheon, or dinner. Readers will also find information on how to prepare for a Lebanese feast before the guests arrive.

CLASSIC LEBANESE CUISINE is linked to Chef Kamal’s website,, where additional cooking techniques and demonstration videos aide readers in the preparation of these delicious dishes.  In addition, his recently-launched e-commerce site,, provides easy access to specialty ingredients for the pantry.

About the Author

Born in the United States as the son of a diplomat, Chef Kamal Al-Faqih was quickly introduced to Lebanese cuisine at his parent’s home in Washington D.C. where he would assist his mother in the kitchen as they prepared time-honored family recipes. His background and upbringing instilled in him a natural authenticity and palate for Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine. In 1986, the chef made his debut as the owner and head chef of the first exclusively Mediterranean catering company in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area (Med Catering). He has cooked for major American celebrities and foreign dignitaries alike, including Francis Ford Coppola, Angelica Houston, the Jordanian Royal family, and the White House. In addition to his professional catering business, from the early 1990s to the present, Chef Kamal has led a variety of cooking demonstrations across North America. From Georgetown University and the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. to dozens of private homes on the West Coast, Chef Kamal’s charm and natural skills in the kitchen has introduced hundreds of individuals to heart-healthy Mediterranean foods for both formal entertaining and casual dining.

by Kamal Al-Faqih
Three Forks
September 2009
Hardcover Original/$24.95
ISBN: 978-0762752782

A Country Called Amreeka by Alia Malek

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This is a phenomenal book that opens the door to understanding the American Arab experience. Very easy to read, funny, sad, well written.

Here is some more information on this book.

-- Ray Hanania

=== ====

“Infectiously readable. . . . This book gives us the faces behind the names, and tells the story of a community that both enriches and embraces the American fabric.  A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, and the people who inhabit it, are remarkable.”

—Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, author of A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life


One of the biggest issues facing America today is how to engage the people of the Middle East and Muslim World. President Obama made that clear to the world in his historic Cairo speech this past July. But how can we hope to foster cross-cultural peace overseas when we know so little of the Arab population in our own backyard?

Just as the recent award-winning National Geographic Entertainment film AMREEKA, by Cherien Dabis, blazed new ground in its depiction of a mother and son from the West Bank trying to assimilate in America, Syrian American civil rights attorney Alia Malek’s A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA:  Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press; October 6, 2009; $25.00) brings to captivating life true stories of a wide variety of Arab Americans from across the country, navigating the divide between their original heritage and their new world in the United States.

There are an estimated 3.5 million Arab Americans living in all 50 of the United States today. They are neighbors, classmates, voters, heroes, relatives, and friends.  Since 9/11, they have become the object of relentless scrutiny, yet little is understood about them. For example, current statistics show that most Arab Americans (75%) are NOT Muslims, and most Muslims in America (76%) are NOT Arab. In A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA,  Malek gives faces to the hard-to-pronounce names and tells the story of a community that has become essential for us to recognize, so that we better understand our own American history and how our society is evolving. 

Organized around a timeline of events that begins unexpectedly for most readers in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s, each chapter corresponds to one event and one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American.  Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan calls the book, “Infectiously readable, the profiles in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab-American today.”

In an interview about A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, Alia Malek can discuss not only the specifics of the Arab American narrative and place in American history but issues relevant to all Americans such as:

·         The “new America” of people with hyphenated-identities who saw themselves in President Obama and were essential in bringing him to power (and who applauded his choice of a wise Latina for the U.S. Supreme Court)
·         How race and ethnicity have evolved in American society in the last 100+ years and how demographic changes have re-defined who Americans are ethnically and racially   
·         The disproportional effect of the Arab Israeli conflict and the Palestinian struggle on Arab American lives
·         Ethnic profiling post-9/11
·         What it’s like for Arabic-speaking soldiers to fight for the U.S. in Iraq
·         The Arab American perspective on events such as the Birmingham church bombing in 1963, the 1973 Oil Embargo, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and of course 9/11
·         What it’s like to be shut out of the national narrative
·         Any current event in the world, from an Arab-American perspective
More Advance Praise for Alia Malek’s A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA
(Free Press; October 6, 2009)
Written with wit, compassion and insight, [A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA] is at once timeless, in its telling of immigrants in America, and unique, in its exploration of the diversity of the Arab-American community….a stirring story of humor, loss, love and triumph.”
 Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War

 “[A]superb snapshot of the Americans of Arab-speaking descent…. With a remarkable ability to capture her subjects' voices, Malek, a Syrian-American civil rights lawyer, sketches illuminating responses to her question: ‘What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab Americans?’….an excellent book, one certain to put right some of the wrongs it catalogues.”      —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review, Pick of the Week)

“What does American history look like for those stereotyped as oil rich sheiks or terrorists? Syrian American civil rights lawyer Malek tells us in a direct, open style…It works beautifully, because each chapter is based on her personal interview with one Arab American in a particular place, from an autoworker in Dearborn to a bellhop in Chicago, and with a focus on one political event…. An essential addition to the Booklist Core Collection: “The New Immigration Story.”       —Booklist

 "Alia Malek's impassioned and harrowing set of profiles of Arab-Americans gives vitality and resonance to a cause that is dear to my heart: fostering cross-cultural understanding and respect. Infectiously readable, the profiles in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab-American today. This book gives us the faces behind the names, and tells the story of a community that both enriches and embraces the American fabric. A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, and the Americans who inhabit it, are remarkable." —Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, author of A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life

A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA by Alia Malek is great reading for anyone who is interested in the hyphenated American immigrant.  The hopes and dreams of ordinary people who have come to the Land of Great Hope are beautifully depicted in her book.  The lives of the people she depicts are compelling for their struggles for a better life.  The book is engaging and enlightening, impossible to put down.”  —Helen Thomas, columnist for Hearst Newspapers

 “If you’re not an Arab-American, then it’s really imperative for you to read this fascinating book. You couldn’t ask for a more informative, engaging, and provocative introduction to millions of our fellow citizens. From football star to soldier, from gay activist to union leader, cheerleader, minister, Democrat, Republican, Christian, Muslim – Alia Malek brings the entire spectrum of Arab America to vivid, three-dimensional life.” —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist and Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry

 “Alia Malek's A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA is a unique, engaging portrayal of Arab American lives.  Malek deftly combines the genres of biography, history, memoir, and commentary to produce a story of Arab Americans that is nearly impossible to put down.  Malek takes the reader on multiple journeys, from the Arab World to the American heartland, all the while introducing us to lovable, quirky, diverse characters who all have in common a desire to find comfortable spaces in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA.  Malek does not romanticize or vilify Arab Americans.  She presents them in all their complex lifeways and worldviews.  The result is a book of great imagination and unusual depth.” 
—Steven Salaita, author of Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics and The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought

A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA by Alia Malek is a deeply engaging series of portraits of Arab American lives in a profoundly complicated time. Malek's compelling ability to imagine and construct perspectives and problems of a wide range of individuals feels intuitively masterful. This should be a textbook across the nation -- even the most reluctant readers will (hopefully) be enlarged, their stereotypes neutralized.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Inside Fallujah: The Unembedded Story" by Ahmed Mansour, al-Jazeera reporter

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"Inside Fallujah: The Unembedded Story" by Ahmed Mansour, al-Jazeera reporter
Live Branch Press, Interlink Publishing,
Softcover, 2009, 369 pages

For all the reasons that Americans rushed to war with Iraq, years following the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and for all the brutality of the insurgents and terrorists who migrated to Iraq to fight the March 19, 2003 invasion, none of that compares to the brutality of war crimes inflicted by the American forces in Iraq. And no single city or sequence of Iraq battles has come to symbolize more clearly the war crimes of the Bush administration that the events in Fallujah in 2004.

Ahmed Mansour, a journalist of impeccable credentials working for al-Jazeera Satellite Television -- which has been demonized in the pro-Iraq war propaganda fed to naive Americans stung by the devastation of the 9/11 terrorism and loss of nearly 3,000 American lives -- provides a firsthand account of the American war crimes committed not against terrorists, insurgents or even al-Qaeda disciples, but rather war crimes committed against the very civilian population the Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq "Civil Governor" J. Paul Bremer, and others leading two military assaults against the civilian Iraqi city of Fallujah. Fallujah sits 35 miles west of Baghdad along the Euphrates River.

The United States military was transformed into a lynch mob vigilante organization sent in to punish the 300,000 citizens of Fallujah in early 2004 when four paid mercenaries employed by Blackwater, since described as a terrorist organization whose members that routinely murdered civilians and plundered Iraqi resources. The four killers arrogantly drove through the city one morning only to been targeted by the growing anger of Fallujah residents who had witnessed war crime after war crime in the prior year by American forces.

The four mercenaries of Blackwater -- which has since changed its name to shake-off its terrorist past -- were, once killed, mutilated and dragged through the city's streets in expression of citizen anger that had mounted for more than one year. The citizens of Fallujah, like many other Iraqi cities, despised the former dictator Saddam Hussein who also brutalized their country. But to have foreign soldiers come in and commit worse crimes from the theft of Iraq's resources to the outright murder of men, women and children -- and the rape of many women -- provoked some Fallujans to vent against the dead mercenaries.

The image of the mercenaries being dragged through the streets after being killed on March 31, 2004 prompted the United States military and Bush administration to inflict an assault driven by vengeance. But the actions of the citizens of Fallujah i desecrating the killed mercenaries was a direct to the war crimes committed by Blackwater mercenaries and US Marines in Fallujah and throughout Iraq over the prior year. In fact, most of the atrocities committed against Iraqis were either swept under a bureaucratic occupation rug, denigrated as untrue without investigation, or, when soldiers were identified after months and even years of foot-dragging investigation, the punishment was usually a slap in the hand with the killers championed and cheered in the American media.

But there never was any consideration for the feelings or rights of the people of Iraq and especially for the citizens of Fallujah.

Ahmed Mansour was in Fallujah when American forces surrounded the city, began their military sweep of the city firing on anyone on the street from adults to children, killing hundreds. But the Fallujans fought back and handed the American soldiers a devastating and embarrassing military defeat.

American forces returned months later with a determination to kill anyone who remotely looked like a terrorist threat, quoting one American military officer: "If I see someone who looks like a martyr driving at high speed toward my unit, I will send him to Allah before he gets close," explained Lt. Col. Mike Ramos as he prepared to lead his soldiers into the punitive revenge assault to reclaim American "honor" and control over the city. The outrageous language and disrespect for Islam reflected in Ramos' incendiary comments only fueled the civilians who fought to defend themselves against American war crimes.

Ahmed Mansour, who was singled out for invective by Rumsfeld and the Bush administration for his detailed and factual reporting that exposed the lie of the American "salvation of Iraq," details not only the two battles, but puts the war in a context that is more complete that the pro-military propaganda narrative advanced by many in the embedded and obsequious mainstream American media; many American journalists turned their cameras and professional journalism away from American military war crimes to protect the military invasion/occupation or maybe their own integrity.

In the months before and years after, Mansour has documented countless cases of war crimes, looting, and violations of the International Rule of Law that were skirted to allow the anger of American soldiers to drive them to achieve any goal in the phony war against "al-Qaeda." Al-Qaeda eventually did come to iraq but only at the invitation of the Bush Administration.

It is a painful book to read as Mansour spares no detail in putting the significance of Fallajuh in proper historical context. It may be one of the most significant battles fought in the Iraq War and it played a significant role in denying victory to American forces which have been mired there now for more than 6 years with little to show for their efforts except a continually growing casualty count in terms of deaths, disabilities and costs.

Americans who might want to know the truth about Fallajuh should read this book. Although the stories are powerful and shameful -- as an American who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War -- but Mansour was careful to balance the stories and put them in proper context. There was evil on all sides, but in many instances, actions took place that were the result of human failing. Not everything was on par with the war crimes committed by al-Qaeda or the Bush administration in Iraq.

Truth is the only foundation that guarantees a nation's security. You cannot have security based on a lie. The threat of terrorism will always remain against the United States as long as the American public refuses to acknowledge the truth of Iraq -- President Bush lying about the Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Nuclear Arms and threats from Saddam Hussein, and cloaking the war crimes of some members of the U.S. Marines and the Blackwater terrorist mercenary organization. 

Behind the smiles and pride they exude, deep down many American soldiers know the shame of this war. But of all the battles, the 2004 assault on the civilians of Fallujah stands as the symbol of the immorality of the American invasion of Iraq. And yet, the actions of the civilians of Fallujah also stand as an icon to resistance against tyranny, demagoguery, and war crimes, the worst the world has seen in this new millennium since Sept. 11, 2001.

The real threat that Bush and many defenders of the war crimes in Iraq fear is the truth that Ahmed Mansour and al-Jazeera present to the world that may one day reach the shores of the United States population and free the American mind from its own self-imposed imprisonment.

If nothing else, Mansours book should be entered in as the first batch of evidence in a war crimes tribunal that should, under the rule of international law, be convened to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bremer and others who engaged in this outrage called the War in Iraq.

Ahmed Mansour represents the absolute finest in Middle East and Arab Journalism.

-- Ray Hanania