In Defense of the American Task Force on Palestine

[Editor’s note: The article below is a rebuttal to Joe Kaufman’s Frontpage article “The Terror and Crime of the American Task Force on Palestine,” which ran on January 29, 2010.]

“The Terror and Crime of the American Task Force on Palestine” posted by Joe Kaufman on January 29 was very wide of the mark.  Kaufman takes to task various government officials for participation in ATFP’s annual banquet.  I regretted having to turn down an invitation to that self-same affair because I was out of town.

Why my regret?  Because the ATFP is a breath of fresh air in the Arab-American community.  I think it is exactly what I and others in the pro-Israel community have been hoping for: an Arab or Palestinian advocacy group that offers no apologias for terrorists and genuinely wants to meet us half-way.

Kaufman makes much of the name Rashid Khalidi, and I share Kaufman’s distaste for the man.  But Khalidi’s name cannot be found on the ATFP web site.  (Whether he was involved in the past I do not know.)  I do know Ziad Asali, the president, and Hussein Ibish and Gheith al-Omari, the two staff members of ATFP.  I have had long conversations with each.  More important, I have been on Arabic satellite network talk shows multiple times with each of them—so I have heard what they had to say to Arab audiences.  They were always unequivocal about a two-state solution, and always with rhetorical “body language” that made it abundantly clear that they respected Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns.

Of course, various Arabs and other Palestinians over the years have mouthed the word “peace” quite disingenuously, most importantly and famously, Yassir Arafat.  Some Arab-American and Muslim-American groups have decried terrorism but defined the term or hedged it about in such ways as to fill me with skepticism about what they really meant.  (Just as the Organization of the Islamic Conference always resorts to a juvenile game of semantics, saying that it opposes “terrorism” but that, of course, blowing up babies and moms in pizzerias is not terrorism if done in the name of “resistance to occupation.”)

This disgusting double-talk is not what ATFP does.  When they say they oppose terrorism, when they say they want peace, they really mean it, which is apparent if you talk to them long and hard.  Of course, they are not Zionists.  They are a Palestinian group.  They are not on our side, but they sincerely want to make peace with us. If only there were more of their kind!  I wish we could help them, but of the embrace from our side would likely not help them build support in their community.  We can, however, do the minimum which is not to attack them falsely.

  • aspacia


    You have been duped. Deceit is generally part of Arab culture. Have your read or seen the PA, Hamas, and Hizzy video broadcasts to Arabs?

  • Grantman

    aspacia, I understand taqqia (or however you want to spell it) and I completely agree with your statement that deceit is generally a part of Arab culture. But did you not read what Joshua wrote above?

    Quote: "I have had long conversations with each. More important, I have been on Arabic satellite network talk shows multiple times with each of them—so I have heard what they had to say to Arab audiences. They were always unequivocal about a two-state solution, and always with rhetorical “body language” that made it abundantly clear that they respected Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns."

    Joshua was not talking about PA, Hamas, Hezb'allah, or others, but the ATFP. I don't know a whole lot about them but before we condemn them for what they're not, let's look at them with eyes open and accept that there actually may be honest opponents. They would be a breath of fresh air.

    If they truly support a two state solution, truly oppose terrorism – clearly, truly want peace, I'm all for it. Let's see what they do, not just what they say.

    • Arthur Cohn

      Hibish used vto be a ranting Palestinian Propagandist on the late,but highly lamented, Alan Keys TV program. He alway said everything was Israel's fault; that the Palestinians were always in theright.

  • Houyhnhnm

    'They are not on our side' ? Does that mean they don't want Israel to be a Jewish State ? If not our side, are they with the P.A or Hamas? Do they take the Saudi line? Clarification Please !!

  • AntiFascist18

    Sorry, Joshua, while I usually agree with you, it is you who is way off the mark here.

    You mention Hussein Ibish who has denigrated every pro-Israel organization in America, was actually defending, in his role as head of the Arab Anti-Defamation League that same Holy Land Foundation that was an adjunct of Hamas in America. Ibish did decry 9/11 but only in the typical "resentment" way most so-called "moderates" use to equate U.S. Foreign Policy and the Existence of Israel with the rise of Muslim resentment.

    I don't know about the others, but Ibish – and yes, the reprehensible Khalidi are enough for me. They are about as moderate as the late baby killing, AIDS ridden monster Arafat -whom Ibish also constantly defended and whom Khalidi served as his American agent was.

  • boston

    There is no substance in this article

  • CAIRwatch

    Attack them falsely? Did the author of this even read my article? Did he click on the hyperlinks, where I provided proof of everything that I said, including proof of Rashid Khalidi's past involvement in the ATFP? Obviously not.

    I stand by every word that I wrote. I researched every fact fully, before I did any typing.

    And by the way, Rashid Khalidi's name CAN BE FOUND on numerous sections of ATFP's site. It is more than apparent that Joshua Muravchik's article is filled with the falsehoods that he (falsely) accuses mine of having.

    I invite Muravchik to read my article and do the proper research, before he does any further "rebuttals." Just because Hussein Ibish says that ATFP is out for peace doesn't make it so.

    Joe Kaufman

  • Peachey

    What many find it difficult to comprehend is the intensity of the deceit at work by Muslim groups to present an open, friendly political atmosphere while working deligently and agressively to accomplish the exact opposite. This action is "holding out the flower of peace, while hiding the sword behind their backs ready to stab you when you reach for the flower with your empty sword hand." It is a long held strategy to offer peace for the purpose of re-grouping and re-arming, then to attack. It is not possible to change the inherrent evil within the pages of the Koran. Also, since there are no "Palestinian" people (this is a contrived, political term), there can be no Palestine. The term Palestine dates back to the Roman emperor Hadrian that changed the name of the land from Judea to Palestine to punish the Jews because they would not worship him. The arabs in the land are either Egyptians or Jordanians and since these countries do not want this tribe of arabs back, they "support" a Palestine. Politics are a funny thing. Invent a people, then proclaim them occupied within a country a country where they do not belong.

  • 080

    It is very much to the point how many members ATFP has. Check in with, the anti-defamation league on the conference in Lebanon calling for the destruction of Israel. There is a photo of the "conference". They have a lot of people there.

  • William James Ward

    Eye opener Peachey, well put. I hope at this late date in the existance of Israel
    and its people and the deplorable world wide anti Jewish push by Arab Oil,
    Iranean perversity and vile anti-semitism which is also anti-American that
    no one will fall for any group now being for what Yasser Arafat turned down.
    Somewhere in Israel there is a man who now is deciding the fate of most
    of the World as we know it and that decision will be the change of all things.
    I for one am sick to death of all of the lying, duplicity and evil of the situation
    facing Israelis. Peace would be wonderful but nothing points to it, harder
    times are ahead.