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ADC Michigan postpones annual banquet fearing protests
Officials of ADC Michigan announced late Tuesday they will postpone their annual banquet that was scheduled to be held this Friday (Dec. 13) at the Greenfield Manor following the news, published first in the Arab Daily News on Monday, that National Board Chairman Safa Rifka would be the keynote speaker.
The Arab Daily News reported exclusively on Monday that ADC National Board Chairman Safa Rifka will be the keynote speaker at the 34th ADC Michigan Annual Benefit Gala, held under the title “ADC Empowering the Margins.” Click to read the story.
ADC Michigan released the following email today:
Dear Supporters of ADC Michigan,
While expressing our highest appreciation for your generous support and loyal commitment to the ADC-Michigan, we regretfully inform you of the need to postpone the December 13th ADC-Michigan Gala originally scheduled to be held this coming Friday, December 13th.
We appreciate your responsive ways to our communications and underline our appreciation to your working with us throughout this period to have you also ensure holding a successful Gala, which is now postponed. Indeed, you have done your part, as we hope we have done ours, despite the circumstances necessitating the postponement.
As to your donations we have received, or you have already committed, please advise our office of your intent at 313-581-1604. 1) You are entitled, of course, to request a complete refund of amount donated, which will be honored in full. 2) We would also appreciate having you either consider your donation as a credit of your sponsorship to the Gala which will be held at a later date,3) or having it be considered a donation to the work and mission of ADC-Michigan.
Our ADC-Michigan staff and volunteers welcome both the new National President and the ADC-Michigan Director to carve a new path for the ADC and take its contribution to higher levels of performance. As a staff and volunteers, we have been collectively committed and have worked hard to help navigate the ADC-Michigan through a difficult transition period for the past few months. We also continued in the meantime, while focusing on the important work and services of the ADC, to work hard to ensure holding a successful Gala with sincerity and unwavering commitment.
Finally, thank you again for your sustained commitment and support.
The intended program included Emcees Ms. Nadera Nassif & Ms. Jida Kilai. Artist Ms.Yasmin Suri was to sing the National Anthem. ADC Gala Committee Remarks were to be offered by Dr. Ned Fawaz, the Host Committee Chairman. The ADC National Remarks were to be offered by ADC’s new National President, Samer Khalaf, who replaced Warren David. Khalaf left his current position of senior associate with the New York law firm of Barnes Iaccarino & Shepherd, LLP., specializing in union-side labor law and ERISA, to assume the new role. A tribute to the late American Arab journalist Helen Thomas was also scheduled. The Thomas dedication was to be followed by Rifka’s comments. Rifka is a master speaker. Many were hoping to hear him address the controversy that has shaken up Michigan’s ADC Chapter during the past year and the controversy that saw the ouster of longtime Michigan Director Imad Hamad.
But extremists who have been targeting ADC for the past three years, trying to break it, threatened to disrupt the evening with protests and to harass supporters. Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh, who was named as the new Director of ADC Michigan, replacing Imad Hamad, announced late Tuesday that the banquet would be cancelled because of the threatened protests.
The controversy involving unproven allegations of sexual harassment against Imad Hamad has been exploited by political extremists and fanatics including by groups like Ikhras, the anti-Arab hate site, and others. Rifka is expected to defend ADC which remains one of the most important American Arab organizations. Despite the personal attacks from the extremists, Rifka has stood firm and ADC has continued to battle bigotry and discrimination.
Sadly, Warren David was a victim of the growing controversy that ADC National has not been able to quell. In the past, rather than confronting the fanatics, several were invited to speak at ADC’s annual convention this past June.
“It’s a real tragedy,” one observer remarked asking not to be identified. “Warren David was a great local activist and I think the decision to cancel the Michigan banquet is in part due to his removal. But a large part has to do with the activists who are intent on destroying ADC not just in Michigan but nationally. It’s a shame that the majority of Arabs are afraid to speak out and silence the fanatics. The whole issue of sexual harassment was used by these extremists to break ADC. And several organizations, including one nationally engaged in American Arab politics, has been helping to bring it down.”
There has been no comment from ADC National. Inquiries to Dr. Rifka have gone unanswered. David has declined to comment, although his wife Amal David has issued some statements confirming his removal from ADC’s national office.
After The Arab Daily News reported on Monday regarding Rifka’s appearance at the Michigan event, some activists began a campaign to organize a protest there. The story of the banquet cancellation was reported Wednesday in the Detroit Free Press by award winning reporter Niraj Wariko.
(Ray Hanania is a former National board member of ADC and a longtime activist with the Chicago Chapter of ADC which was also targeted by extremist activists. Hanania is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News.)
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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