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Warren David fired from ADC as group reels in turmoil
Updated 8:15 pm CST
Warren David was fired this week as president the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is one of the most influential grassroots Arab organizations in the country. David was one of ADC’s best qualified leaders, someone who better understood the role American Arabs need to play in this country.
I was proud to nominate Warren David to the position when I served on the ADC National Board in 2011.
ADC issued this brief statement:
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | November 26, 2013 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee announces that Mr. Warren David is no longer employed by ADC as of the 26th of November, 2013. ADC thanks Mr. David for assuming the position of president when he did, and wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Warren David declined to comment. But his wife, Amal David issued the following statement:
“Warren was fired last Monday by Safa Rifka, chairman of the board. He was delivered a letter by two board members Tawfiq Barkawi and Doa’a Taha and a lawyer representing ADC’s outside legal counsel. The reason given was due to persistent unsatisfactory performance,” Amal David said in an email.
“The real reason was Rifka’s retaliation against Warren because of the Board’s controversial decision regarding the sexual abuse case of Imad Hamad.”
The position was originally budgeted at $100,000 a year plus benefits.
David departs leaving ADC in political and community turmoil. The once prominent civil rights organization has been dragged into a series of controversies that have weakened its once proud role as the most influential organization in the American Arab community.
For the past decade, ADC has been under siege, but the most vicious attacks began after protestors challenged Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad on Jan. 26, 2011. Assad’s forces murdered a teenager and then began killing civilians.
When ADC appeared to censor Syrian pianist Malek Jandali in April 2011, reportedly asking him not to perform a song at the June 2011 Convention which some saw as a statement on the uprising in Syria against the Assad administration, it came under widespread attack. ADC denied the charge and later reached an undisclosed agreement with Jandali.
Several organizations including the Arab American Institute criticized ADC over the Jandali affair, even though AAI has also been the target of criticism for its “President-for-Life” practices and criticism of its leadership. I was not a part of the decision regarding Jandali when I was on the National ADC Board. But I also openly opposed the Syrian oppression by the Assad regime.
David was appointed President of ADC at the June 2011 convention and it was expected to help stabilize the group, which had been facing serious financial challenges and rivalries from other organizations including AAI.
But, that same year, the extremists began a campaign targeting me and others on the ADC board with personal attacks.
And more importantly this year, several women including State Rep. Rashida Tlaib revived allegations from 2007 that Imad Hamad, the director of the Michigan Chapter, ADC’s largest chapter, engaged in sexual harassment. Hamad has denied the allegations and a review by ADC national concluded there is not enough evidence to support the accusations. Tlaib said she had been sexually harassed 15 years earlier in 1999, but never said anything publicly until now.
Tlaib sent a letter to ADC detailing her accusations and David, probably under pressure from the board, declined to take a position on it at the time telling the Detroit Free Press he had not had time to digest Tlaib’s letter. (Click to read the letter.) Click to read ADC’s response to Tlaib.
Critics have accused the women, all former ADC interns, of being part of a political campaign to force a change in ADC’s leadership, singling out Chairman Safa Rifka and his board allies. Tlaib’s allies have said that sexual harassment has been ongoing at ADC and the review was a “whitewash.”
David was appointed president of ADC in early 2011 on the nomination made by me when I served as a member of the ADC National Board. I served one year on the ADC board but declined re-appointment explaining I did not have the time to attend national board meetings.
I have been the target of racists, haters and critics who have singled me out because of my criticism of Syria’s President, because I support peace with Israel, and because my wife is Jewish and some of the critics can’t stand that fact.
One of my critics is Warren David’s nephew, Will Youmans, who penned a venomous attack against ADC that was published by al-Jazeera. Ironically, some of Youmans’ criticism of ADC are legitimate, but I question some of his motives and his associations with other political fanatics including those who have attacked me. (Click to read the column by Youmans and others). The column may have had a role in the ADC National Board’s decision to fire Warren David.
Ironically, the reasons for the criticism sometimes contradict, suggesting that the extremists don’t really care about the issues they exploit in their assault against ADC. Jandali was described as a critic of the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown on the Syrian people. Many of the people backing the women who made the sexual harassment claims are also allied with activists who have spoken out in defense of Assad, Hezbollah and Iran.
The fanatics who defend Bashar al-Assad are doing so because Assad is a puppet of the Iranians and an uncompromising foe of Israel. They reject any peace or compromise with Israel, as do the Iranians and they have targeted anyone who has dared to promote compromise.
I have been a member of ADC since it’s founding in 1980 and I served in many community positions both with ADC in Chicago, ADC National and with the AAI. I received three awards from ADC National and the Chicago Chapter for my journalism and writings. In 1995, I was elected National President of the Palestinian American Congress. I have consistently advocated compromise on all issues to achieve a Palestine State side-by-side with Israel.
The fanatics hate Israel, hate Jews and oppose any compromise because they will lose their jobs if the Israel-Palestine conflict is resolved. The fanatics thrive on conflict and will even destroy their own community institutions to prevent peace or the loss of their allies like Assad or Iran.
You cannot look at the turmoil at ADC and the critics without considering these facts that have divided the Arab community nationally. ADC has become the focal point of these internal divisions.
David was apparently fired because he reportedly questioned ADC’s failure to act more forcefully on the sexual harassment charges. He declined to comment for this story.
Here is the release that was posted on Arab Detroit on June 2011 announcing his appointment. Arab Detroit was founded by Warren David. When David became ADC President, his wife Amal became the publisher of Arab Detroit:
Arab Detroit founder and publisher Warren David has been named the incoming national president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). David will succeed outgoing president Sara Najjar-Wilson on June 30, 2011. Dr. Amal David will assume operations at Arab Detroit, effective July 1, 2011.
In assuming leadership of ADC, David said, “It is an honor for me to accept the leadership of the only Arab American organization in the U.S. which defends civil rights and preserves the cultural heritage of Arab Americans.” David thanked outgoing president Sara Najjar-Wilson saying, “She has worked tirelessly for almost two years and we are grateful for her service and dedication to ADC.”
A third-generation Arab American, Warren David has been a life-long activist in Michigan’s Arab American community. He is the founder and publisher of Arab Detroit (www.arabdetroit.com). He is also an executive producer of the Detroit Public Television series, “Arab American Stories,” which will be dissemniated locally and nationally in January 2012.
David is a co-producer of the ” Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans Diversity Workshop,” which has trained more than 1,500 educators, corporate employees, government officials, and media personnel about the image of the Arab and Arab American. He was the executive producer of the award winning NPR radio series, “Arabesque: Insights into Arab Culture” and was the recipient of a Gold Medal from the International Radio Festival of New York.
He and his wife, Dr. Amal David, have two daughters, Zayna (Salloum) and Ameera.
ADC is a civil rights organization committed to defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting their rich cultural heritage. ADC, which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest Arab-American grassroots organization in the United States.
Arab Detroit was founded in May 2007 with the purpose of promoting an accurate image about the Arab American community and the Arab world. Arab Detroit is a leading provider of digital media featuring events, news, food, organizations, music, and arts in the Arab American community. David Communications is a multi-cultural public relations, marketing and advertising firm with specialization in the Arab American market.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Managing Editor of The Arab Daily News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his website at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
Chronology of fanatic attacks against ADC:
Chronology of controversy and lies against ADC
The extremist critics of ADC use the Big Lie to pressure moderates and good people out of leadership in the American Arab community. The controversy at ADC is a reflection of this continued strategy by the fanatics.
Here is a chronology of the attacks and vicious lies, and the sequence of events, to help you understand the real motives in the assault against ADC.
ADC Chronology of Controversy
Rashida Tlaib says she was sexually harassed by Imad Hamad, but says nothing to anyone until 15 years later.
Sexual harassment complaints were filed by eight women against Imad Hamad. ADC conducts an internal investigation. Imad Hamad was required to take a sexual harassment course.
Rana Abbas, who was deputy director under Imad Hamad, leaves ADC Michigan after joining it in 2000, later claiming she was one of the women sexually harassed by Hamad in 2007
Chicago ADC Board member Ray Hanania is nominated by the Chicago ADC Chapter to serve as the official representative on the ADC National Board.
ADC National Convention
Two extremists confront Ray Hanania at the ADC asking if his wife is really Jewish and threatening to protest his appointment to the national board because of his opinion that the Palestinian Right of Return should be compromised as a par of a final peace with Israel.
Will Youmans, Ikhras and KabobFest call for Hanania’s resignation. Hanania alleges the fanatics oppose his moderation and support of peace with Israel.
Critics accuse ADC National of seeking to censor Malek Jandali and prevent him from performing a song he wrote in 2011 “Watani Ana” that some considered critical of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad
Ray Hanania nominates Warren David, the longtime publisher of “Arab Detroit,” as National ADC Board Chairman
ADC National Convention
ADC issues statement to clarify Jandali controversy. Read statement.
Ray Hanania declines reappointment to the ADC Board, citing the costs of travel to and from Washington DC, and the manner in which the board makes decisions.
The Arab American Institute and Jim Zogby issue a statement denouncing ADC for allegedly censoring Jandali “The silencing of Mr. Jandali has unfairly harmed and cast a pall on the hard work done by ADC’s staff to make this convention a success. It also hurts ADC’s members who look to this organization for leadership as the country’s largest Arab American civil rights organization.” Read AAI attack on ADC.
Trying to stem the public criticism, ADC plays a recording of Malek Jandali’s song at the convention. Jandali filed a copyright violation lawsuit claiming the song was played without his permission.
Extremist activists Hoda Mitwally and Yaman Salahi publish a vicious attack in Aljazeera English libeling ADC, Safa Rifka and Ray Hanania, and complaining of Hanania’s criticism “against Palestinian solidarity activists.” Read their attack column.
Warren David is officially named National President of ADC. His salary is reportedly over $100,000. His appointment was approved by the board in June.
ADC issues apology to Malek Jandali for playing his song without his permission and reportedly pays Jandali’s legal bills.
ADC National Convention
Rashida Tlaib, based in Greater Detroit, sends letter to ADC’s National President, Warren David, claiming she and other women were sexually harassed by Imad Hamad — she in 1997 and the others in 2007 demanding that action be taken. The delay in making the claims leads many to believe the attacks against Hamad are driven by politics. Click to read letter.
ADC publishes a press releases claiming they investigated and responded to the sexual harassment charges. Read release.
ADC Communications Director Raed Jarrar is fired by ADC. Read Alarabiya Story.
Several Female staff members of ADC’s national office go on strike in protest of what they believe is the failure of ADC to act on the sexual harassment charges and in response to Jarrar’s dismissal.
The Female staff members quit ADC.
Will Youmans, Warren David’s nephew, and Khaled A. Beydoun, publish a vicious attack against ADC and Safa Rifka in alJazeera. (Youmans is the nephew of David’s wife Amal.) Read the column.
Extremist activists at George Washington University protest at an ADC hosted Women’s Initiative Concert at Lisner Auditorium that featured the 2013 Arab Idol winners, denouncing ADC.
Imad Hamad resigns from ADC. Read Detroit Free Press article.
Fatina Abdrabboh, 32, a Dearborn attorney is named as Hamad’s successor.
ADC president Warren David is fired by ADC National Board Chairma Safa Rifka. ADC spokesman says David failed to represent the official policies of ADC.
ADC National names attorney Samer Khalaf as Warren David’s successor.
The Arab Daily News reports that Safa Rifka will be the keynote speaker at ADC Michigan’s annual fundraiser to be held Dec. 13, angering anti-ADC activists. Anti-ADC activists announce they will protest at the banquet.
ADC Michigan announces it is canceling its annual Fundraiser set for Dec. 13 in Dearborn. Read article in Detroit Free Press.
An analysis column by Al-Arabiya. Click to read
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Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. And, he writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers.
He also writes for the online websites including TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions.In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States. He has a daughter from a prior marriage, Haifa.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com