« The Mill of Blackmail! | Main | Aref Dying? »

June 30, 2006



This shameful act on the part of the ADC,is maybe due to the fact that former Congresswoman Mary Rose relation with Buthiena and the regime.She was invited to Syria for the flop,expatriot confrence in syria,and maybe even won by some financial rewards.Who knows? Judging from her past ,we know she likes money.

Philip I

Ammar, your indignance and anger are absolutely understandable. However, I would say that no one should be prevented from expressing their views.

People make up their minds whether a speaker is lying, telling half-truths or defending a despotic regime. As you report in your post, someone asked Buthaina a question and her answer simply revealed nothing but hypocracy and spin. No one can fool all the people all of the time.

There's a new post on viarecta.blogspot.com : "Gaza by candlelight"


Again Ammar,

What I "love" about the ADC, most of our intellectuals, and other Arab NGOs is that they are peddling the same snake-oil as the regimes they criticize.

And they don't even know it. This is how sick the culture is. We are very far from any improvement.


Philip, your post is close to what I am talking about. Buthaina is free to say whatever she wants (in the US of course not in Syria).

But the ADC does not have to sponsor her, or her venue, and look associated with her.


Ms Shabaan is a naif, enough said.

(Maybe she should have been reminded that she was justifying the imprisonment of those that disgree with the policy of the Syrian regime in a country where the driver of OBL brought a law suit against the President of the Republic and won!!!!


I have few things to say about dr. Shabaan.

1) True, her articles on Asharq alawsat are frustrating in their repeating the same message week after week ... Palestine and iraq are being raped byt he Israelis and the Americans, and the Arab press is not concentrating enough on these stories.

Actually those articles are more than frustrating, they are also dangerous. She get too close to making the younger readers hate Americans, and maybe even christians and Jews in the process. Not something you can later undo easily.

2) We met her in Canada last year. Almost everyone liked her. She was really good. Our MP met with her and told us that teh Canadian officials who met her in Ottawa all liked her as well. Our MP actually told us: "Buthaina should be the prime minister of Syria, she is THAT good"

3) I heard from one my friends (a journalist) that the BBC's Tim sebastian really wants to have Buthaina as a guest on his Doha debates. He said that she was brilliant after her appearance on the BBC's Hard Talk.

Now my input:

While I agree that Buthaina's inflamatory articles are dangerous, I have to say that overall, her performance in that post has been very good. Good enough for the ADC to be as happy as the BBC's Tim Sebastian or Canadian Officials in Ottawa to see her.

And a more general question for Ammar:

Why do you get very upset at the part of Bashar or Buthaina's interviews which are abviously political spin? Bush does it , his spokesman does it all the time, Mubarak does it, Tony Blair does it ... politicians are not supposed to be 100% "honest". If Ghassan cherbel from Alhayat asked Bahsar 100 questions, he is not obliged to show his cards by allways giving the real honest answer ... why not put him publicly under a lie detector instead?

It is understandable if you analyze the parts where you feel he did not want to answer the question directly, but I don't understand it when you find his lack of total honesty to be so uniquely objectionable.


one clarification, I make an exception to that part about detaining the secular intellectuals. All their answers where not acceptable because this whole thing is not acceptable because it is not about foreign policy but instead it is totally under their control.

George Ajjan

The ADC is a mainstream Arab-American organization. I attend their events on a regular basis. Many Americans of Syrian descent are members and participants in ADC. I have seem them publicly honored for making large contributions to the ADC.

As a mainstream organization, the ADC broadly respresents the consensus of Arab-Americans on both foreign policy and domestic policy. I understand where Ammar is coming from, but any realistic observer would conclude that his views fall outside the mainstream Arab-American or Syrian-American view, both with respect to civil rights for Arab-Americans, and the desire for regime change in Syria.



And I stand too oustide the Arab and expat mainstream, though perphaps in a different way from Ammar.

The Arab mainstream, and the expat mainsteam are going NOWHERE fast. When something fails you try something else.

If I have not convinced you, have fun at your next useless ADC cocktail, and enjoy it while they milk your checkbook.


Alex, you're doing the usual Arab "yes but" routine (at best).

Buthaina is defending a criminal loathesome regime to many, at least in the US.

If you want associate with her, directly or indirectly, don't be expecting respect from those you are trying to sway.



Indeed I am for the "yes but" approach to most issues. Not all, as you can see I am totally against statements that lead to hate, even for the Americans or the jews.

But If Tim Sebastian respects Buthaina, I hope you can excuse my "yes but" approach.

The Middle East can not afford anymore the absolute stands of "she is defending a criminal regime" type. The regime is not more criminal than other regimes ... do you want to boycott all "regimes"?

George Ajjan

Mr. Wales,

Speaking of "expecting respect from those you are trying to sway", this was my point to Ammar. If he is seeking support from Arab-Americans or Americans of Syrian descent to accomplish his objectives, which it seems that he is, then it's probably unwise to broadside a mainstream organziation respected as one of the 2 major advocates of their interests in the American political landscape (the AAI being the other).


advocates of their interests

Mr. Ajjan, "their" interests do not include "mine". As a matter of fact I view ADC and similar groups actions as harmful to me, the community, and the US at large.

If ADC are going to put people like Buthaina Shaaban forth, then I don't respect them. And I would urge anyone listening not to respect them either.

Why the hell did these people come over here, if not to ESCAPE the likes of Buthaina Chaaban and her ugly ideology? She's OK because she knows 2 words of English and wears a skirt???

I view the ADC as peddling the ideas that wrecked the ME and made many of us leave to come here. The last thing I want is for those failed ideas to follow me over here. I am sorry you don't see that and keep giving them support.

Zenobia of the East and West

It seems to me that nothing would be accomplished by simply convincing big organizations like the ADC to shun such Syrian officials from visiting or speaking. This would only prevent any engagement at all and the potential opportunity to engage these influencial people would be lost entirely. Philip I is correct that exposure is still productive no matter what because there is at least the possibility for hypocricy or their bias to be revealed and critiqued.

The central point seems to be how the ADC should be behaving and engaging with these officials.
I agree with George (and of course Alex) that to make a wholesale attack on ADC's attitude doesn't take into account their mainstream position or the "broad consensus" they represent. However,this doesn't mean that this mainstream stance couldn't be challenged, of course.

It seems reasonable to suggest that the ADC could act less like they are pandering to their guest and more like they are impartial. The venue could actively support contrasting views or speakers. It doesn't seem like the conference in question was devoid of this character completely, as you say that a journalist was present who was able to confront Shabaan with her contradictions. Maybe in the end, SHE was the one who looked hypocritical and defensive, after all.

If you think that what the ADC should be doing is challenging more, questioning more, and taking a part in a controversial debate, then, by all means, YOU should put the challenge to them first..........

why don't you send them your complaint.........


George, by criticizing the ADC, I mean exactly to criticize the Arab-American consensus.

Alex, I don’t give a damn about foreign officials liking or not liking Bouthaina. Bouthaina represents the Syrian regime and has been defending its policies as loudly and vociferously and energetically as she can. Anyone who endorses her endorses the Syrian regime. So, if Tim Sebastian or Canadian Officials in Ottawa want to endorse the Syrian regime, they are free to do so, but we are also free to remind people about the realities involved in their endorsement.

Also, Alex, you misunderstand my point, my main anger is not aimed against Bouthaina, but against ADC as a rights organization. I started out by saying: “the Arab expatriate communities in the US demonstrated how duplicitous they, too, could be,” then I proceeded to explain the situation with ADC as an example of this duplicity. So, yes, I am quite aware that the problem is the problem with mainstream Arab-American and mainstream Arab culture in general, and I am quite aware that I stand outside of it, and I am very happy about that. I have never been comfortable with hypocrisy, a quality lies at the heart of contemporary mainstream Arab culture.

For a rights organization to invite someone like Bouthaina Shaaban at the height of a regime crackdown against all activists and dissidents is very questionable to say the least, I would say even duplicitous. By doing so, the ADC has justified and defended the crackdown against Michel Kilo and Radwan Ziyadeh and all the others. I said that I can understand that an organization like ADC must have to deal with regimes at many occasions, but, there are right and wrong times for that, and right and wrong regimes even. And a rights organization like the ADC has to go sometimes against the mainstream consensus in order to show some moral backbone and justify its presence, rights organization should stand by certain principles not what the mainstream wants and desires.

If they wanted to, they could have invited someone from the very stream of thought that the Syrian regime is currently busy cracking down against to create some balance on that podium. But no, Shaaban had already cancelled an appearance at the Syrian American Congress because of a move like that, and the ADC would prefer someone like Bouthaina Shaabna to show up, someone with a greater name-recognition, who gives a damn about rights and principles?

Well, they got what they wanted. Hope they enjoy the donations.

Zenobia, the journalist was not on the podium, but among the paid guests. As for sending them my complaints, well, I am told that a few people at ADC do read my blog, so, they are getting the message.

As for the idea of exposing the hypocrisy of our officials, I don’t think it really works. Most people have relatives and family members and business interests in the original homeland and that prevents them from challenging the officials, be they an ambassador or a visiting minister. These officials actually end playing up an intimidating role. They come here and they speak defiantly to spread mainly more fear among the expatriates not understanding of their policies. So, those who invite them here, help them achieve ther goals. And you wonder why the majority of Arab expatriates are apolitical?

As for George trying to say that it is wrong strategy to criticize the mainstream Arab organizations, I kindly disagree, my aim is to tap into the other side of the equation. It is about time we had some dissent here as well. I am here now, and I want an institution that represents me and my interest, ADC and AAI don't cut it for me.


Alex, Zenobia,

Slice any way you want. Alex maybe you want to compromise on politics over in there in the ME.

But if you call yourself ADC in the US, anti-discrimination, and then invite/sponsor/whatever a full-fledged member of a regime DISCRIMINATING against Kurds, JAILING people like Kilo, and BLOWING up Lebanese politicians,

DON'T come lecturing me (worse have Buthaina lecture) on Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, or discrimination in the US. They look like the hypocrites that they are.

PS What fucking discrimination? OBL's driver won his court case vs Bush. Bad, bad, fascist Amrika!! Hearty, har, har har and then some.


OOps, sorry for the redundancy Ammar, posted at the same time. ;)

Zenobia of the East and West


Why wait for some suppose persons to look at your blog, why not just send your argument and complaint directly to the source - right into the eye of the storm, if you will..
What prevents you from doing that?

On top of that, AAI is busy priding themselves all the time on trying to point out hypocricy going on here, so why don't you send THEM your critique directly.
I don't think George said you shouldn't criticize the mainstream arab organizations...... I think he said you shouldn't "broadside" them, meaning alienate. I assume he meant that instead of just bitching and writing them off as horrible, you should be more diplomatic.
I actually, don't think you need to be more diplomatic in your thinking. I understand what you are saying (especially after your clarifications in your rebutal about how difficult it is to sit back and hope that the disingenuousness will be readily clear or that anyone will be able to challenge in these forums). Ok, but still, you could be more effective in your intervention, don't you think. So that perhaps someone might actually listen to you.
Make your appeal directly. Or in addition, ADC or AAI, should allow comment...somewhere in there news... shouldn't they?? At minimum, you should be able to comment somewhere on there sites or news outlets that ADC didn't allow any opposition persons or alternative speakers to attend such events.

Zenobia of the East and West

Ok, another comment, not relevant to your main point really, but still...bothering to me..... is your insertion of this:

For despite all the stereotypes that exist about them in popular imagination and in the media and despite the acts of terror being perpetuated in their name, no matter how partially, they were never subjected to the kind of practical discrimination that other minority groups in this country have had to deal with, so far.

What basis do you have to say this? I am not sure what you exactly meant by "practical discrimination", but assuming I understand you, I think you are way off....

my uncles who were of another generation - totally- from you- experienced plenty of vicious types of descrimination. I don't think you have a concept of the experience of what the period prior to 1960's would have been like. And today, I think you might have a different picture if you talked to the guy running the gas station in North Carolina.
Of course there are some differences I think due to sheer numbers. Mexican immigrants have a very public experience of descrimination in the US, for example, and more of a collective identity in say, California and South West.

Josey Wales,
What the hell does the court case of Hamdan have to do with showing that there is no descrimination in America!.... total logical fallacy.
The Supreme Court decision reveals the beauty of our legal system (at times).
However, (not only was this not a descrimination case) just because a single case can makes its way all the way to the Supreme Court and reaffirm certain key foundations and principles of our aspirations for life here, does not negate the fact that hundered and hundreds of little people get screwed everyday, treated like shit, and generally have NO access to the legal system in a meaningful way. Most descrimination is de facto, not de jure, and nobody ever rectifies the wrongs legally speaking.



I understand better your point. I agree that at this time, after they arrested the dissidents it is not totally suitable for the ADC, given the nature of that organization, to be too nice to a representative of the Syrian regime.

JW, please remember that as an admirer of the American judicial system, I do not jump to my own emotional conclusions just because I want them to be true... remember "innocent until proven guilty?"

remember how everyone is always sure the Syrian regime did it?

If you like democracy, please accept that most Syrians are in the center. Just like you are convinced that you know everything, I am convinced that given today's chaos in the Middle East, there is no way to claim we know anything (well, almost) ... and we are convinced the Syrian regime is "bad" ... just like most of the names we hear in the opposition and just like most of the politicians around them... most Lebanese politicians, most Iraqi politicians, Egyptians, Saudis ... Israelis.

Going back to what you told me earlier:

If you want associate with her, directly or indirectly, don't be expecting respect from those you are trying to sway.

Believe me, I got more more positive feedback and new friends than I could handle ... from Ivy League universities, from American think tanks, from top western journalists, from many wonderful Israeli and Turkish scholars ... the only doubt I am getting is from those who hate the Syrian regime day and night... only in Syria and Lebanon.

The world is bigger than your favorite few news and analysis sources you might have picked to trust.

And by the way, Ammar (and Rime)are not in the group I am disappointed with ... he has been abviously a big help in our Think Tank.

ghassan karam

Discrimination in all its forms is an ugly despicable pracice that must never be condoned. Yet it is vitally important to make a distinction between individual acts of discrimination and societal collective ones. I have no doubt that some individuals of an Arab origin have been subjected to some special discriminatory treatment at one time or another by certain individuals.But I am equally certain that members of all groups are discriminated against at one time or another by some members of a different group that either feels threatened or just does not like a certain socisl, economic or political ideology.( One can find cases of discrimination against blacks, Japanese, Latinos, women, gays, jews, blondes, tall people, short people, old people...)My point is that in a society of laws statutes can and do offer protection against misconduct and abuse. One will never be able to eliminate unacceptable kinds of personal behaviour but we can offer the potential victim legal protection. I have never seen any and I am not aware of any cases where the US law has failed to offer protection for people of Arab descent. Actually whenevr I have asked for any specific examples of said discrimination the best that I got in response were the Hollywood stereotypes in movies. Even then I sort of shrug these unpleasant stereotypes because it was real action in the Middle East that gave rise to them and they were not created in a vacuum. I have no doubt that once peace reigns in the Arab world and violence stops then Hollywood would cease to depict Arabs as terrorists and violence loving people.
Ms Shabaan is to be judged by the principles that she espouces and is willing to devote her energies to promote. These ideas, Baath regime, represenr nothing less than the most vile example of disrespect for human rightsand for the democratic process. As a result I believe that it is the duty of all decent freedom loving individuals to boycott her appearances and show the courage to speak truth to power. Yes, the emperor has no cloths and Ms shabaan supports willingly dictatorship , violenceand discrimination. For what does it mean to deny the right to think but the vilest form of discrimination.
Believ it or not the example regarding the driver of OBL and the US adminstration is relevant. A society of law and order will offer equal rights and protections to all even its most vicious perceived enemies that are in jail. These jailed individuals had the right and the opportunity to file a law suit and win aginst the government of the United States. This is civil society and equal protection at its finest. Contrast this with Ms Shabaan who justifies holding people in jail for nothing more than having signed a petition or written an article. It is a disgrace when thepromoters of tyranny and abuse are to be accepted and even promoted just because they happen to be intelligent or witty. That is not any different that justifying fascism because they made the trains run on time.

George Ajjan


I am unclear as to what your final objective is.

Is it to influence behind-the-scenes decision makers in the American politcal landscape through direct engagement?

If so, there are many influential people in Washington whom would love your views. However, associating yourself with them would encumber you with crippling political baggage in the minds of Syrians. On that basis, it would also make you a liability to your NSF colleagues.

Or is it to influence elected decision makers in the American politcal landscape indirectly by raising the profile of the Syrian regime's flaws so that American public embraces your cause?

If so, then you will be in direct competition with the Arab-American mainstream groups like AAI/ADC who "don't cut it". I humbly suggest that they have activist numbers, personal relationships, and organizational infrastructure supporting them that will make their agendas difficult to defeat.

Zenobia of the East and West

Frankly, I am not going to argue about how good or bad the record of the US is regarding descrimination. I think that if it was important or relevant to the debate, I could easily make a counter argument that the fact that America has a superior legal system that attempt to provide equal protection under the law for all citizen (and that this is sometime dramatically exemplified by such achievements as the Hamdan case) does not in any way accurately mirror the REAL LIVED experience of most immigrants to this country. yes, it is true, AS I already ACKNOWLEGED, that descrimination at this point, is not DE JURE, not written into the law, IT IS PRACTICED by yes, INDIVIDUALS.
but all of this is irrelavent to the main point.
as i see it ...you want to argue this:

America is superior in its laws and practices regarding descrimination, minority experience, freedom of speech, and the legal protections of its citizens.......
the INFERIOR and bad syrian officials....who have none of this orientation or respect for these principles and who represent a leadership who violates the rights of its citizens......should NOT BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK AT OR VISIT... american institutions ... (especially ones whose purpose for existence has to do with preserving civil rights).
OK i get your point.
I may even agree with it, in the sense that there is a big problem with this happening without comment or confrontation.
However, it seems that this is the REALITY of what IS happening, and to my mind the question is HOW should one address it.
For one thing, that doesn't actually solve the problem of the substantives concerns being talked about or confronted.

Just to be hyperbolic about it. If Hitler HAD been invited to come and speak in America.... maybe he should have been allowed to come. It seems to me... people would have been a lot more informed about what he stood for than otherwise.
Just because you agree to hear what a fascist says.....doesn't mean you agree with him/her!

and finally, Please don't make those bullshit arguments about stereotypes being based in REALITY, SO THEREFORE THEY ARE JUSTIFIED.
argggg!!!!!!!! I HATE THAT.
We HAD that argument on this blog already... (maybe you missed it).
In sum: there is no such thing as a stereotype =reality... by DEFINITION.... it is a DISTORTION.. of reality.
LISTEN: if someone said the stereotype of black people that they are LAZY AND OVERSEXED is ok to promulgate or should not be protested because after all there is some EVIDENCE... AFTER ALL ... percentage wise they dominate the welfare roles....and they have too many babies.... would you allow this BULLSHIT ????? NO, YOU WOULDN'T.
Accordingly, the fact that the middle east produces...."terrorists" does not make it ok....that hollywood or anyone else in america....reduces... the imagery of arab ... 95% of the time...to some violent characters...
IT IS A DISTORTION OF REALITY... that is a hundred times more complex..... about WHO AND WHAT...the middle east is comprised of.



First, as a centrist who usually enjoy the attack and counter attach on this blog, this time some speakers here forgot that there are thousands of people who will die outside their country for being dissidents, it is outrageous to hear people defending the Immigration Minister in the country where these people came running from her, because either here of death there. If a western country wants to punish someone they will send there, under the watch of ADC and when ADC talk they criticize this country not his birthplace, funny isn’t. Putting Mr. Kilo in prison in Syria it is like putting one thousand columnists in USA prison, for just writing one article.
Second, ADC is great organization sure, but they should think different in this age not like 40 years ago, the political geographic has changed. Human rights should be on their agenda not only here but everywhere especially in their homelands.
Third, Zenobia, I used to wait for your comment because used to be the right one, however, this time it wan not what I wished to hear. Those dissidents inside Syrian and outside Syria wants only to speak and write as you have done on this comment without being taking to prison. If the American walked 10 miles in the road to human rights, in Syria they are preventing any from thinking about that.
Thanks Ammar, you are on the right track.


Zenobia, you say: “Most discrimination is de facto, not de jure.” Good point.

Ghassan Karam, you say: “Ms Shabaan is to be judged by the principles that she espouses and is willing to devote her energies to promote.” Another good point.

George, you say: “I am unclear as to what your final objective is.” Actually, my final objective at this stage, is the downfall of the Syria regime before it brings about the disintegration of the state. To achieve this, I need to work on all levels, knowing that a lot of Syrians won’t like it, and finding ways to deal with the dislike. I have very strong view about certain issues and I cannot be “diplomatic” about that, even as I dabble in politics. There is more than one way of making myself and my cause continually relevant than by appealing to popular tastes.

Alex, I am quite aware of Bouthaina’s “popularity” in diplomatic circles, but I am also quite aware of her hypocrisy and her duplicity in some of the regime’s heinous and idiotic policies, and I cannot excuse that just because some in the diplomatic circles are taken by her strong female presence, which tends to take a lot of people by surprise considering what the stereotypes they have about Arab women, and her reiteration of leftist ideas and condemnations of US policies. Bouthaina’s is smart personal diplomacy deployed in the service of a corrupt and authoritarian regime. As a Syrian citizen, I simply cannot afford to ignore that.

PS. Thanks Anonymous, and thanks Zenobia, too, for keeping me on toes.

The comments to this entry are closed.