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April 1998
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Washington Scene:


"The ADC Convention Program is designed to suit diplomats and well-known Arabs and is tasteless."

--21 ADC "Chapter Presidents" in letter demanding
changes recently sent to ADC in Washington

MER - Washington - 4/29/98:

Each year the largest gathering of Arab Americans in Washington is held under the auspices of what is called the "American-Arab Anti-Discrimination" Committee. The ADC Convention always pretends to be more than the largely self-serving social and fund-raising event it is; just as ADC pretends to have at least some political significance in Washington as at least a partial counter to the infamous "Israeli/Jewish" lobby. But sad as it is -- after all these decades of such misery, chaos, and bloodshed in the Middle East -- ADC's annual get together is a most incestuous affair with the well-healed and well-controlled Arab-American elite handing out awards to friends and relatives, banqueting with each other and the usually unknowing grassroots, and haflaing with each other in public and private -- while having no significant or lasting impact on the major issues of the day.

Last year it was the 30th anniversary of the historic Six-Day war, which of course lead to today's Palestinian predicament and established Israel as the dominant military power in the region. As MER reported at the time the ADCers terribly embarrassed themselves by doing nothing other than holding a panel of Arab Ambassadors who bored everyone with their platitudes and excuses (which of course everyone had heard an infinitum for so long). And then, when the stifled grassroots rose to speak and attempted to challenge the whole convention's organization and approach, they were quickly cut off and even the tape of the proceedings was censored.

It's deja vu over at ADC; but many of the newcomers aren't aware of all that has gone on before. ADC is in crisis once again, this time with former Arab League Ambassador Clovis Maksoud's wife -- Hala -- at the helm representing that incestuous little group that has always had control, has never dared to make ADC significant, and has always let the Arab Ambassadors and the client-regimes they represent run the show.

ADC Founder, former Senator James Abourezk, was right when he urged the Board some years ago to simply disband ADC and be done with it. But he was overruled by the Washington crowd, ever eager to be President of this and Chairman of that; and in fact they started giving him more awards to keep him coming back as well.

Not that a major Arab American group isn't needed in Washington -- MUCH the opposite. But what's needed is a serious, independent, sophisticated, fighting, organization; not a whimpy, co-opted, amateurish, frightened one.


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