Saturday, March 15, 2008

Being attacked by CAIR member for denouncing Hamas as a terrorist organization -- again

It's not unusual for an extremist to attack my views. I'm a Christian Arab who has frequently denounced Hamas as a terrorist organization, and they don't like that. Although there are many good people working and volunteering at CAIR, I was surpsrised to see an attack against me from someone who works at CAIR and who signed the attack with CAIR's name. The writer was responding to a column I wrote on the need not to give up on peace in the face of terrorism from Hamas and violence from Israel's government:

"I was surprised to read in the column by Ray Hanania, "Don't let violence
sabotage efforts toward peace," that Christians, Muslims and Jews have "never
lived together in peace."

"I'm sure that most of your readers, and probably the author too, can
attest to the fact that this is not true. I can appreciate the theme of the
column. But, as it reads, that one inaccurate statement defeats the entire

"I expect more from the Daily Herald than to allow such naïve
generalizations to be printed. A little in-depth reporting might have shown that
peace between Christians, Muslims and Jews is not a high-minded ideal, but a
process that is going on right now in our city, as well as all over the world.
The hundreds of thousands of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Chicago area
are a daily living testament to this.
Luke Willson,
Communication Intern CAIR-Chicago

Of course, Luke Willson did not read the column, otherwise he would have noted that my comment "Christians, Muslims and Jews have never lived in peace" is a direct reference to the conflict in Palestine before 1948, and not a statement, as he implies so wrongly, that it is about Christian, Muslim and Jewish relations in general.

Here is the link to the column:

Here is the exact quote from the column, that Willson distorts, intentionally I suspect:

"Extremist Palestinians like Hamas, and extremist Israelis like the settlers and
other groups in between, all want the entire land of Israel and Palestine for
themselves. Palestinian extremists do not want to acknowledge Israel's right to
exist because they believe in the so-called "one-state solution" which would
revert the land to its pre-1948 days when Christians, Muslims and Jews
presumably lived together in peace. Of course, they are delusional because
Christians, Muslims and Jews have never lived together in peace."

Willson takes the quote out of context to make his unfair attack, which is intended, of course, to intimidate the Daily Herald to drop a Christian Arab journalist from writing a column and replacing him with a Muslim American columnist, preferably one that implies he has the stamp of approval from CAIR.

The conflict in Palestine began long before 1948 and Christians, Muslims and Jews have not lived in peace at all. Right after the end of World War I and the British Mandate began, Christians, Muslims and Jews began fighting in Palestine, culminating in riots against Jewish immigration by Muslims and Christians in the 1920s ... but before that, the Muslim Ottoman Empire persecuted Christians and Jews living in their domains for hundreds of years in Palestine, killing those that refused to live as "subjected peoples." Meaning, they live in the Ottoman Empire as "guests," not as equal citizens. It was a common habit of the Ottoman's to take the children of Christians and Jews and force them to serve in a special military force created.

But I think Mr. Willson's comments have more to do with my constant hammering of Hamas as a terrorist organization, which Muslims rarely denounce -- a failing that exposes the writer's hypocrisy.

The attack comes from an intern at the CAIR Chicago office in the "communications department" -- a Cair official said that the views don't represent the organization. But, CAIR rarely writes letters supporting my views, and that only reinforces my argument about poor relations, at least between Christian Arabs and some Muslims.

People like Willson should spend more time practicing what they preach. Normally the group would censure the remarks like these by others, but from one of its "interns" who not only expressed a personal view but did so using the name of the organization itself in his signature? We'll see.

Ray Hanania

1 comment:

Luke Willson said...

Dear Mr. Hanania:

Please do not take my response to your column as an attack. I don't want you to be fired. (And I do not support Hamas). I wrote the response as part of my responsibilities as an intern at CAIR-Chicago.
It sounded to me like the statement in question referred to Christians, Muslims and Jews worldwide, not just those in Palestine. Since we both agree that these people can live together in peace, then you can see that it would be a distressing generalization.
After reading the piece over a few times, I still think that the language is too vague, something that could be cleared up if you had added "in Palestine" to the end of the sentence in question.
It's just two words, so perhaps I responded too aggressively. And I'm sorry that I said that one phrase defeated the entire purpose, because you are absolutely right that the only response to violence is compromise and peace.
The piece was well-written and well-motivated. But, you have a lot of power as a columnist and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that it's important to be accurate.


Luke Willson