ADC elects four activists to National Board
The national American Arab civil rights organization has elected four more leading activists to its national board, despite grumbling from extremists who have sought to destroy the group. ADC’s Michigan Director recently revealed activists in her state complained about the election process.
By Ray Hanania
ADC released this press release following their 36th Annual convention announcing the names of their new board members following elections held this week:
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is proud to announce the results of the 2016 ADC National Board of Directors elections. The ADC Membership elected Dr. Debbie Almontaser; Mr. Abed Awad, Esq.; Dr. Bishara A. Bahbah; and Mrs. Alma Khoury Korkor to the Board of Directors.
ADC congratulates the recently elected board members. ADC is pleased to welcome to the board Dr. Almontaser and Mr. Awad who have been elected for their first term. Dr. Almontaser is the first Yemeni American to serve on the board. We look forward to the future of ADC with the Board of Directors dedication. We know that the ADC community welcomes their leadership.
ADC conducts elections every year to fill positions on the Board of Directors. This year there were five candidates to fill four positions. ADC conducted elections from August 15, 2016 until September 15, 2016. ADC members in good standing were able to vote.
As a grassroots organization, we take pride in having our members elect our Board of Directors. Directors are elected to three (3) year terms. A maximum of one-third (1/3) of the Board is elected each year.
We invite you to learn more about the four Board Members elected this year.
The four new members are:
Dr. Debbie Almontaser, is the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. A 25-year veteran of the NYC Public School System, where she has taught, trained teachers, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity adviser. Dr. Almontaser is the Board President of the Muslim Community Network. Dr. Almontaser frequently lectures on Arab culture, Islam, cultural diversity, interfaith coalition building and youth leadership. Dr. Almontaser sits on the Public Advocate Tish James’ Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Task Force to Combat Hate. Dr. Almontaser is a published writer on Education and American Muslim issues. Dr. Almontaser served as a consultant to Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. Muslim American Series Project, Independent Production Fund’s Islam Project, and Islam Access Project Channel 13.
Mrs. Alma Khoury Korkor is an activist in the Arab-American community on a national and local level. She has been active with local political initiatives and is a co-founder of Ohio’s ADC chapter. She founded the Arab-American Community School in Ohio, where she taught Arabic, and has been a frequent guest speaker at schools and civic events on Arab-American issues. On a national level, she has played an active role in ADC’s Women’s Initiatives and participated in strategy discussions regarding that and other ADC national initiatives. She has served on the AAI’s National Leadership Council since 2005, and was the president of the national auxiliary of the National Arab American Medical Association from 2002-2004.
Dr. Bishara Bahbah was born and raised in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dr. Bahbah has been a managing director of the Washington, DC-based United Palestinian Appeal, Inc., an Associate Director of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s Institute for Social & Economic Policy in the Middle East, and a Senior Investment-Management Consultant for one of Wall Street’s four major firms. Dr. Bahbah was a founder and the first chairman of the board of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. He co-founded The Palestine Center and was its first direct. Since 2000, Dr. Bahbah has been a guest columnist with the Arizona Republic and, since 2012, with USA TODAY as well. He is an adjunct professor of Investment, Finance & Wealth Management at Al-Quds and Bethlehem Universities, a senior portfolio manager and wealth advisor at a major Wall Street Firm. Dr. Bahbah has also authored two books: Israel and Latin America: The Military Connection; and Wealth Management in Any Market: Timeless Strategies for Building Financial Security. He has authored over 150 publications and appeared on major international television shows.
Mr. Abed Awad, Esq. was born in New Jersey and raised in Palestine. He attended the Quakers’ Friends Boys School in Ramallah from second grade through eleventh grade. He returned to New Jersey in 1986 to complete his college education. In addition to his Masters in Near Middle East Studies, Mr. Awad obtained his Juris Doctorate. Mr. Awad is a founding partner of Awad & Khoury, LLP. His practice focuses on general civil litigation and business advice, including complex matrimonial law, commercial law, Islamic law and international law.
Current board members, including the four newly elected members, are:
Safa Rifka* – Chair, Washington, D.C.
Assad Jebara* – Vice Chair, New York, NY
Tawfiq Barqawi* – Treasurer, Philadelphia, PA
Doaa Taha* – Secretary, Washington, D.C.
Sam Hawatmeh*St. Louis, MO
Hon. Nick Rahall, Beckley, WV
Bishara Bahbah, Phoenix, AZ
Alma Korkor, Canton, OH
Yasir Shallal, Mclean, VA
Souhail Toubia, Los Angeles, CA
Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, Staten Island, NY
Sebra Corey, Miami, FL
Khaled Saffuri, Washington, D.C.
ADC completed its national convention in Washington D.C. this past week, with protests only from extremists and fanatics based in the Washington region and from Michigan.
Much of the criticism of ADC has been driven by partisan anger over American Arab criticism of the war in Syria where the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah and Iran have resulted in the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians. Some critics are angry with ADC’s alleged closeness with many Arab governments. Other critics are more racist and have attacked board members because their family members are Jewish.
Click here to read the recent story about Michigan ADC Director Fatina Abdrabboh navigating through criticism but organizing one of ADC’s strongest chapters. She acknowledged in a recent statement that she has received complaints and protests from a small handful of Michigan-based activists. Those activists are well known, though, and are among those who mounted a campaign to destroy ADC beginning in 2010.
The current board does not have representation from Michigan or Chicago, which at one time was the national organizations largest and most influential Chapter.
ADC is a civil rights organization committed to defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting their rich cultural heritage. It was founded by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk in 1980. Today, ADC is the largest Arab American grassroots organization in the U.S.
I participate in the founding meetings with Abourezk and Ayoub Talhami and other American Arabs when I served with Professor Ibrahim Abu Lughod as the spokesman for the Arab American Congress for Palestine during the 1970s. Abu Lughod was my mentor and recruited me to advocate for American Arab and Palestinian rights which has become a major part of my life.
ADC supports the human and civil rights of all people and opposes racism and bigotry in any form. It defines its goals today as:
- Defend and promote human rights, civil rights, and liberties of Arab Americans and other persons of Arab heritage.
- Combat stereotypes and discrimination against and affecting the Arab-American community in the United States.
- Serve as a public voice for the Arab American community in the United States on domestic and foreign policy issues.
- Educate the American public in order to promote greater understanding of Arab history and culture.
- Organize and mobilize the Arab American community in furtherance of the organization’s objectives.
ADC has always had a tough fight on its hands mainly because the majority of American Arabs are often silence or forced into silence by the small handful of extremists who plagued this community throughout the United States. The extremists are small but bully and intimidate many moderate American Arabs into silence.
And because the mainstream American news media discriminates against American Arabs, their daily activities and community events are not covered. This failure by the mainstream American news media empowers the extremists.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. A Palestinian American Christian, he is managing writer for The Arab Daily News which covers American Arab and Middle East issues often not covered by the Arab World news media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.)