Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    An artist is auctioning on eBay a Wonder Woman doll he purchased and repainted to create an uncanny replica of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play the superhero in an upcoming 2017 spin-off film. Noel Cruz purchased a 19-inch action figure of the Batman v Superman star and replaced its plastic hair with a new wig, and added a material belt and Princess Diana’s lasso, according to the blog Io9, which first reported on Cruz’s work. He then painted the doll to make it look like the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group. “[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas knows how to read and speak “a little” Hebrew, she revealed in the Aug. 15 issue of Us Weekly. The 20-year-old gymnast, who told the magazine that her favorite book is the Bible, was featured in a spread about the USA gymnastics team — which was awarded the gold medal in the women’s all-around finals at the Olympics in Rio on Aug. 9. In her 2012 memoir, In Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, Douglas wrote that her […]

    Read more →
  • Features Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    JNS.org – Israeli water experts believe that by 2050, almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. What’s causing the shortfall is population growth, which leads to a greater demand for food, increased pollution and climate instability, according to Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) in the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In Israel’s Negev Desert, which has long been plagued […]

    Read more →