Aref Assaf and the Scandal of Arab Leaders Silent on Syria’s Slaughter

July 25, 2012 6:26 pm 0 comments

Aref Assaf.

While Aref Assaf, President of the Arab American Forum in Paterson, New Jersey, might be forgiven for condemning my daughter’s service in the Israeli army, nothing can explain his defense of Congressman Bill Pascrell’s silence on the mass slaughter of Arabs in Syria (NJ Jewish Standard, 20 July, 2012 ). It is shocking that a man who purports to be an Arab leader can say that thousands of Arab children being shot in the head by Bashar Assad’s butchers does not matter to him or Arab Americans as much as domestic issues. Assaf should either repudiate his comments or resign his position.

And just think of the hypocrisy. Assaf says that Israel killed his young brother in the 1967 war. I am very sorry for the tragic loss of a precious life as it sounds like he was the innocent casualty of a large Middle East conflict initiated by Israel’s c whose stated intention it was to wipe Israel off the map. Whatever our differences, my heart goes out to Assaf and his family for this sorrowful death. Every child’s life is of infinite value, Arab and Jew alike. And this is exactly why we have to hold mass murderers in the Middle East accountable.

Yet, Saddam Hussein killed more Arabs than any man who ever lived — 800,000 by the New York Times own account (January, 2003). Pascrell voted against the removal of Saddam, which would have left him in power to kill thousands more Arabs. Yet Pascrell remains a hero to Assaf.

But Assaf’s defense of Pascrell’s refusal to give one speech from the floor of the House condemning the wholesale murder of approximately 30,000 Arabs in Syria should make us question whether his criticisms of Israel are motivated by a desire to stand up for Arab life or simple hatred for the Jewish state.

It isn’t as if Congressman Pascrell hasn’t had the opportunity to address the slaughter in Syria. Over the past few years, Pascrell has found the time to sponsor legislation on recycling plastic, to reduce tax on pickled pepper, and to commend New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur with an official Congressional proclamation. But in all that time, he has not found even a moment to address, from the floor of the most powerful assemblage of elected representatives on earth, the bombings of Arab civilians under Gaddafi in Libya, the murder of unarmed protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, or the murderous Assad regime for killing tens of thousands in Syria.

About ten years ago a friend of mine named David Suissa showed me a campaign he wished to launch called Free the 400 Million, which focused on the liberation of Arab masses from the tyranny under which they lived throughout the Middle East. Suissa’s idea presaged the breakout of freedom in Arab lands that we now call the Arab spring. As someone who believes that America is the light of freedom to the world, I was greatly inspired by his idea and started writing columns and participating in debates aimed at highlighting the oppression of Arabs under unelected dictatorships throughout the Middle East.

In the midst of this campaign, as providence would have it, Muamar Gaddafi tried to move into the home immediately next door to me in Englewood, New Jersey. I brought together, on my front lawn, Governor Jon Corzine, Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Congressman Steve Rothman – all Democrats – to push the murderer out of our midst. We succeeded and the tyrant was prevented from crossing the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey from his Ambassador’s residence at the United Nations. Congressman Bill Pascrell, representing one of the largest Arab American populations in the country, was noticeably absent.

Pascrell, who signed the Gaza 54 letter falsely accusing Israel of denying essential food and medicine to Palestinians in Gaza, is hailed by Arab leaders like Aref Assaf for championing the Arab cause. But you are not Pro-Arab simply because you condemn Israel. You are Pro-Arab when you advocate that the 400 million Arabs of the Middle East enjoy the same political freedoms and human rights that we enjoy here in the United States.

During the Democratic primary Assaf famously said of Pascrell’s opponent, Jewish Congressman Steve Rothman and his many pro-Israel supporters, “Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9… As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s.”

Assaf’s ugly use of the “Israel firsters” slur, a borderline anti-Semitic allegation that falsely accuses American Jews of being unpatriotic, was roundly condemned. Pascrell, however, chose not to distance himself from Arab supporters making the false charge.

Assaf also wrote to the Newark Start Ledger in 2004, “I am truly troubled by your support for the Israeli apartheid barrier,” though the whole purpose of Israel’s wall is to stop suicide bombers from blowing up innocent civilians — Arab and Israeli alike.

That Assaf is not concerned about Jewish life is lamentable and does not in any way accord with the noble values of Islam. But the fact that he is not even concerned with Arab life is truly remarkable. He is a misguided leader, more interested in delegitimizing Israel than saving Arabs. Aref Assaf should resign.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach served as Rabbi to the students of the University of Oxford from 1988-1999 where he brought together many Jewish and Islamic students from around the world. The author of many books, he recently published “Kosher Jesus.” He is now the Republican nominee for Congress from New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District. His website is www.shmuleyforcongress.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.