The Ferguson-Palestine Connection Grows

30 November 2014
Published in

By Dean Obeidallah

November 30, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri is over 6,000 miles from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet increasingly people are seeing similarities between the two. For example, shortly after the grand jury decision was announced Monday that the police officer who killed Michael Brown would not be indicted, the NFL’s Reggie Bush posted a photo on Instagram of a Palestinian man holding up a sign that read: “The Palestinian people know what mean to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity #Ferguson #justice.”  

Next to the photo, Bush added: “No matter who are you are, what color skin you have, where you live, we are in this together. This isn’t a Ferguson Problem, it’s a Global Problem... #JusticeforMike Brown.

In addition, one of the visible fixtures in the Ferguson protests has been Palestinian-American Bassem Masri who has been continuously live streaming the protests. That is until he was arrested a few days ago in connection with the protests. (He was released Saturday on bail.)

Social media has also been filled with Palestinians expressing solidarity for the Ferguson protesters and echoing their calls for justice. Some Palestinians even offered the Ferguson protesters tips on how to deal with the tear gas being shot at them based on their own experiences with the Israeli security forces.

Even on the Israeli side the similarities have been noted by some. For example, a “Times of Israel” op-ed penned by Robert Wilkes, a self described leader of the pro-Israel community in the United States, set forth what he viewed as “nine parallels between Palestine and Ferguson.” However, he saw the overlap of interests as being horribly negative.

For example, he wrote that US blacks and Palestinians “both wish to undermine the state’s moral authority by provoking violent reactions, then portraying themselves as victims of oppression.” He also opined, “both have perfectly wretched leaders. Black leaders in America are con artists and a disgrace,” going as far as calling them “race hustlers.”

Blacks being killed by the police in disproportionately high numbers is tragically nothing new. As Pro Publica recently noted, blacks age 15 to 19 have a 21 times greater change of being killed by the police than white teens. In fact the police have killed six African American teens since Michael Brown and that doesn’t even include Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed last week by the Cleveland police.

And more broadly, blacks of all ages are between three and four times more likely to be killed when they encounter the police than whites. Adding to the frustration is that it's rare that the police will be charged with a crime when they kill unarmed people. For example, between 2004 and 2008, Oakland police officers shot and killed 37 people, all black. And despite the fact that 40 percent of those killed were unarmed, not one police officer was charged with a crime.

In Israel, we see an unsettling similarity. As Sarit Michaeli, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B’tselem recently told a reporter for McClatchy, it’s “extremely rare” for charges to be brought against Israeli border police or soldiers for killing Palestinians.

Two recent cases in Israel have caused even greater outrage than usual because they were caught on video. The most recent incident occurred in early November in the Israeli town of Kfar Kani, which is home to mostly Arabs. Khair al-din Hamdan, a 22 year old “Israeli Arab” was seen in a surveillance video carrying what has been described as a knife, which he used to bang on the window of a parked Israeli police car.

After a few moments, the four Israeli officers exited the vehicle, causing Hamdan to turn and walk away quickly. As can be seen in the video, one Israeli police officer then shot Hamdan several times in the back. After the shooting, the police can be seen dragging Hamdan’s limp body in the street to the police vehicle. Hamdan died a short time later.  An investigation into the shooting is under way but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have publicly defended the killing of Hamdan.

And in May, two Palestinian teenagers were killed during protests when live bullets were shot at the protesters. Initially Israeli authorities denied that its forces had shot the bullets at issue. But a surveillance video was made public soon thereafter showing that one of the two teens was indeed shot by an Israeli border patrol officer.

Surprisingly, last week that border patrol officer was indicted for the killing of the one teen seen in the video. (But no charges were filled in the case of the other teen killed who was not depicted in the surveillance footage.) No doubt the video was the key.

Will the officer be convicted? Unlikely since per the Israeli paper Haaretz, in the past two years, 18 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli security forces and only one was convicted. In that case the Israeli officer was sentenced to just seven months of jail after being found guilty of killing an unarmed Palestinian.

And as the Israeli NGO Yesh Din has documented, that penalty is actually on the high end. Among the 18 members of the Israeli security forces convicted of wrongdoing in the killings of Palestinians since 2000, most received a few months in jail or even simply a suspended sentence. (The exception being an eight year prison sentence handed out to one Israeli but that was in connection with the wrongful killing of a British citizen, not a Palestinian.)

I truly wish I could say that in the future we will see less black and Palestinian teenagers die at the hands of the police in their respective countries. But I can’t with any certainty. Tragically these stories will continue until a fundamental change in police tactics is implemented. The question is how many innocent people have to die before that happens?

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Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast.  He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!"  You can follow Dean on Twitter

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Follow The Dean's Report on Twitter

Why Didn't We Believe Cosby's Accusers Sooner?

21 November 2014
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

November 21, 2014

The court of public opinion appears to have finally found Bill Cosby guilty of sexual misconduct.  I’m not saying that everyone believes every charge being leveled, but it seems clear that from social media, news coverage, etc., that most believe that Cosby did something horribly wrong with several women.

Even the entrainment industry that Cosby has made so much money for is cutting their ties to him-at least for now. NBC has pulled the plug on a sitcom they were developing to star Cosby. Netflix has shelved Cosby's new stand up special that was slated to premier next week. And Nick at Night has pulled reruns of “The Cosby Show” from its line up.

But here’s the thing: The allegations we are hearing now that Cosby drugged, molested or raped various women, for the most part, were revealed to the public years ago. Yet despite this information being known, NBC had no qualms entering into a new TV deal with Cosby, Netflix happily offered Cosby a brand new comedy special, and Nick at Nite still thought nothing of airing "Cosby Show" reruns. 

Plus fans were still buying tickets to his shows, including to a sold out show Thursday night, which surreally was a benefit for a women's organization. Adding to the bizarreness, while on stage, Cosby dedicated the show to his wife, yet he made no mention of the claims against him.

It’s not like the claims of these women against Cosby didn’t receive national media coverage. As quick refresher, there was Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, who alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia area mansion in 2004.

Despite the prosecutor’s decision not to indict Cosby, (It’s very challenging to secure a criminal conviction without more evidence than just one person’s word against another), Constand didn't simply go away. She filed a civil lawsuit in 2005 that included the claim that 13 other women, identified as “Jane Doe” to protect their identity, were prepared to testify at trial that Cosby had sexually assaulted them as well.  Cosby settled the case in 2006 by paying Constand an undisclosed amount.

Inspired by Constand, Barbara Bowman, one of 13 “Jane Does,” went public in 2006 with her claim that Cosby had drugged and raped her in the mid- 1980’s. Bowman's story, covered at the time by People magazine and the like, was that when she was an 18-year-old aspiring actress, Cosby had slipped drugs into her drink. The next thing she could recall was that she was undressed, wearing only a men’s white shirt and Cosby was in a robe.

Then there was Tamara Green, now an attorney, who came forward in 2005 after Constand went public with her claims. Green appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show” where she told Matt Lauer that Cosby attacked her in the 1970’s when she was an aspiring model. Green asserted that Cosby had put something in her drink and then tried to molest her.

And model, now reality show star Janice Dickinson, appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show in 2006 and said Cosby is “a bad guy, he's not a nice guy. He preys on women who just came out of rehab."  She refused to offer more details at the time, noting that she didn’t have the "shekels" of Cosby to fight a legal battle with him. (Dickinson finally revealed the details of the incident this week saying that in 1982 Cosby had drugged and raped her.)

Again all of these cases received national media coverage, however, there was no uproar like we see today.  

Is it because there was no social media back then? Was it because we liked Bill Cosby too much to believe he could commit such unthinkable acts?  

Or is it deeper? Is it because we live in a society where when three or even four women assert allegations of sexual misconduct it still is not sufficient to cause people to take the claims seriously? That’s likely why Dickinson and the numerous other women who have recently come forward to reveal similar incidents with Cosby didn’t go public until now. They, too, sensed that the public, media and entertainment industry could care less.

And maybe worse, these women felt that by taking on a beloved star like Cosby, they would be the ones attacked. We would hear them called gold-diggers, they would be “slut shamed” or asked why they didn’t fight back enough?

Even removing Cosby’s fame from this equation, many women have the same concerns causing them not reporting sexual attacks to the police. Yet still the number of women who have reported being sexually assaulted in the United States is simply staggering. The CDC reports that nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped or experienced a rape attempt at one time in their lives.

So next time you’re in a public place, look around for a moment and realize that it's likely that for every five women in that location, one has been sexually assaulted. That’s how jaw-droppingly high this number is.

It's unlikely that the women who suffered at the hands of Cosby will ever see true justice. But hopefully their stories will make us more believing when other women come forward in the future alleging sexual assault. Perhaps that will save some women – perhaps even your daughter or sister - from the same fate.

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Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast.  He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!"  You can follow Dean on Twitter

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GOP has to be feeling the heat today!

04 November 2014
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

November 4, 2014

Republican leaders must be starting to sweat.   True, they are the favorites to win many key races today.  But here’s the thing: All the Democrats have to do is NOT lose more than five US Senate seats and the media will cast the Republicans as the BIG losers of this election.

And I’m not just talking the liberal media.  Just a few days ago conservative writer and Fox news regular Charles Krauthammer told us that if the Republicans can't win the Senate this year, "maybe the Party ought to look for another country."  

Consequently, anything but securing control of the Senate will be deemed a failure by both the left and the right.  And lets be honest: The GOP couldn’t have asked for a better political climate than this year. 2014 is like perfect political storm for the GOP to the point where GOP Senate minority Mitch McConnell should be sizing up Harry Reid’s office to decide how he wants to decorate it.

Obama’s approval ratings are at historic lows.  The economy is sputtering. Obamacare is still generally unpopular. The Democrats have to defend 21 seats to the GOP’s 15, many in States that Mitt Romney won in 2012.  And Republicans have a fundraising edge with almost $2 billion raised.

But here’s the thing: The polls are still very close in key battleground states that the Republicans thought they would likely win such as in Georgia, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina.  In fact, I was in North Carolina last week, and as I mentioned in my article for The Daily Beast yesterday, early voting numbers and polling there indicates that the Democratic Senator Kay Hagan will likely win.  If that happens, the GOP’s dreams of controlling the Senate will have become that much tougher. 

If Republicans pick up 5 seats this year– one less than they need to control the Senate – can’t they pick up the other seat in 2016 you ask? Nope.  In 2016 the Republicans will be defending 22 Senate seats to the Democrats nine.

Odds are that in 2016 the GOP will lose, not gain Senate seats given those numbers. And making it even more challenging is that many of the Republican Senators up in 2016 are in traditionally Blue States such as Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Illinois’ Mark Kirk.  So after this election, the next real shot the GOP of taking the Senate is 2018, at best.

So if the GOP doesn’t prevail in its race for the Senate what happens next?  Finger pointing central!  You can likely say goodbye to Reince Priebus as RNC Chair. 

Plus you will see some really pissed off Republican Senators.  Ted Cruz for starters who stands to become a subcommittee chair if GOP takes control of the Senate. Plus Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have a shot at full committee chairs.  This will provide all three with greater media coverage and in turn helps them raise funds for their expected run for president come 2016.  Failing to pick up the Senate deprives them of this benefit.  (Conversely it would likely be a boost to Republican Governors like Chris Christie seeking the presidential nomination angering these Senators even more.)

There you have it.  While the Democrats might look like they are like George Clooney in the movie The Perfect Storm watching a huge wave about to crash into his ship, all the Democrats have to do is avoid drowning and they will have won. And for that reason alone, I would predict that Republican leaders might be sweating a little more right now than they want us to know.

___________________

Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast.  He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!"  You can follow Dean on Twitter

__________________

Follow The Dean's Report on Twitter


Anthony Weiner and Other Democrats in Sex Scandals Don’t Mention God

25 July 2013
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

July 25, 2013

(The Daily Beast) Not only is there a stark political divide between Democratic and Republican politicians on policy issues but also on sex scandals. What’s the difference, you ask? Simple: God.

No, I’m not saying Republican politicians claim that God told them to do it. Apparently, God only tells Republicans to run for president, not to cheat on their wives—at least not yet.  

But when politicians get caught in these scandals—truly one of the only activities that unites elected officials from both parties—Democrats tend to talk about “therapy” and letting down constituents, while Republicans talk about the big guy upstairs.

One need look no further than South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford and New York Democrat Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. Carlos Danger. And for those who fault the Democrat for using that alias when he was having racy online chats with women after he resigned from Congress in 2011, when you have a name like Weiner, Carlos Danger is actually a step up.

This week Weiner addressed the new revelations at a hastily called press conference. The New York City mayoral candidate didn’t invoke God or any other supernatural force but spoke of more earthbound issues, such as asking for forgiveness from his wife and “asking New Yorkers to also give me another chance.” His wife, Huma Abedin, then spoke of all the therapy that helped them cope with the stress of enduring her husband’s scandal(s).

To continue reading this article please click HERE to visit The Daily Beast.com

Edward Snowden, want my advice?

07 July 2013
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

July 5, 2013

(CNN) -- Edward Snowden, you need help! And I'm here for you. I enjoy offering people suggestions -- which you may even be aware of if you read my e-mails when you were working at the NSA.

I don't know where you thought you'd end up after disclosing classified documents detailing our government's surveillance program, but I doubt you thought you'd be roaming the halls of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport checking out the wide range of restaurants there-- the Russian cuisine at "Mama Rashas;" maybe the Burger King or the restaurant in Terminal D called, "Hippopotamus" -- which, I think you'll agree, is a horrible name for a place that serves food.

It must drive you crazy to know that the airport even offers a fear-of-flying treatment center for people afraid to fly while you are still begging for just a seat in coach. I know you grow bored browsing for hours at the duty-free shop, wishing you had a plane ticket so you could at least buy tax-free caviar or vodka.

So Edward, I want to propose some creative suggestions that you may find helpful

1. If you can't get out of airport, pitch a reality show about being stuck there. It could be an international version of "Project Runway" -- how to get on one. How hard could it be to get a Kardashian to sign on?

2. At this writing, you have applied for asylum in -- depending on whom you ask -- 21 countries. WikiLeaks claimed Friday that you have applied to six additional unidentified countries, and the Venezuelan president said that he was ready to take you,according to reports. Bolivia appears to be following suit. That would be a break, because with some of these other nations you clearly have no shot. It's not unlike when I was graduating high school with mediocre grades and applied to Harvard. Barring a clerical error, I was not getting in and I'd say it's the same for you. So say goodbye to countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain.

To continue reading please click HERE to visit CNN.com.

‘Rumsfeld’s Rules’ Review: Good Rules, Shame He Didn’t Follow Them

19 May 2013
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

May 19, 2013

(The Daily Beast) The Donald is back with a new book. Not Donald Trump, but the original cantankerous, ill-tempered Donald, who possibly has uttered the expression “You’re fired” with more glee than Trump. I’m speaking of Donald Rumsfeld—the man who served in several positions in the federal government, the most recent his “star turn” as secretary of defense under President George W. Bush.

Rumsfeld new book is titled Rumsfeld’s Rules, and it promises you “leadership lessons in business, politics, war, and life.” It’s sort of like Game of Thronesmeets The Secret.

In Rules, Rumsfeld offers numerous lessons to succeed in these various fields. But the No. 1 lesson I have gleaned from his book is: ignore your past and instead re-create yourself so you sound amazing. Rumsfeld has done just that by offering us rules to live by that paint him as a thoughtful, considerate person who is cross between Steve Jobs and Gandhi.

Not that I can blame Rumsfeld. Who would write a book highlighting their negative qualities or failings when offering suggestions for others to emulate?

Lets put it this way. If Jodi Arias wrote a book one day offering dating tips, I’m sure it would be filled with suggestions like “be a good listener,” “treat your partner as you want to be treated,” etc. It’s highly doubtful she would recommend you stab the person you are in a relationship with 29 times and then shoot them in the head.

To continue reading this article please click HERE to go to The Daily Beast.








Can We Forgive Paula Deen?

29 June 2013
Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

June 29, 2013

(CNN) -- Once a racist, always a racist? Will bigots always be bigots?

Or can people truly evolve over time for the better? And if they do, should we applaud their metamorphosis and welcome them back?

The easy answer -- as we are seeing with Paula Deen -- is to quickly label the person a racist for past insensitive remarks and cast her out to the fringes of society. But that's not the best answer for our nation.

I say this as a person who been called racist slurs on numerous occasions. I'm of Arab heritage. I have an inbox full of e-mails from people calling me things like "sand n----" or telling me "Go back to where you are from." (Which, I should note, is New Jersey).

I'm also a Muslim, and I don't even want to describe here the litany of hate-filled insults that have been directed at our community and myself. The worst part is that these slurs don't come just from ignorant bigots who can easily be dismissed, but often by elected officials and even religious leaders.

But I will say this -- if a person who had called me a "sand n----" later expressed remorse and sincerely explained that they now understand it was hateful and wrong, I wouldn't respond with: "Too bad, you're a bigot for life."

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't invite them over for dinner, either. However, I would cautiously applaud their change of heart and hope to see it evidenced by not just an apology, but by deeds as well.

And I would do this not just because they did the right thing by me, but also because they did the right thing by our society. They were evolving for the better and this in turn makes us a better nation.

To continue reading this article please click HERE to visit CNN.com 

Bigger threat: Edward Snowden or NSA? CNN Podcast "The Big Three"

17 June 2013
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- What do you think of Edward Snowden? By leaking classified documents to the media and revealing that the National Security Agency has been monitoring our phone and Internet usage, is he a traitor or a hero? Could he simply be a narcissist looking to get famous? Or do you not care about either him or the NSA surveillance programs?

Chris Cuomo, co-host of the new CNN morning show, "New Day," joined us to discuss the top issues in this week's episode of "The Big Three" podcast. (Be sure to tune in to "New Day," which premieres on Monday June 17 at 6 a.m. ET.)

I must note that while I disagreed with Cuomo's view on Snowden, as a fellow graduate of Fordham Law School, his logic and comedy chops were impeccable. It's something we share and that distinguishes me from my co-hosts Margaret Hoover and John Avlon. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.)

Back to Edward Snowden. A poll this week found that 31% of Americans consider him a patriot while 23% view him as a traitor. But a whopping 46% say they don't know. Is it because these 46% simply aren't following the story or because they have accepted government surveillance as the price for security?

As Cuomo pointed out, Americans have "matured" since 9/11 over the issue of government surveillance. Consequently, he believes that many do accept increased monitoring if it means that we can prevent another 9/11 or Boston Marathon bombing.

But to me, "we the people" have a right to know when our government is spying on us, especially when officials like James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, denied such a program existed when asked about it under oath by Congress just a few months ago. How else can we hold our government accountable if we aren't informed of its actions?

You can listen to this week's episode of CNN's podcast "The Big Three" on Soundcloud.com or iTunes.


No 'Avenger' in sight for America

24 May 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- America is in trouble. And we know it.

Just look at recent polls: 70% of Americans would describe the nation's economy as bad. Some 61% think our country is on the wrong track. Only 24% of Americans think the economy has actually improved in the past few years. And almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned about being able to pay for their housing.

We could use Captain Economy to help us create jobs. Plus we need Deficit-Reduction Man and Five-Percent-GDP-Growth-a-Year Dude. Or maybe we can just let The Hulk loose in Congress and tell him: "Hulk: Smash!"(I'm not sure how Hulk smashing Congress helps the economy, but I think most of us would pay to see it.)

But, alas, there's no superhero in no sight. There's only President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

I must admit that there was a time in 2008 that I thought Obama could have been a superhero, but I was wrong. We have seen his campaign theme morph in four years from "Yes We Can" to "It Could Be Worse."

To continue reading this article please click HERE to take you to CNN.com 

Click HERE to watch Dean Obeidallah on CNN discussing this article.

Sacha Cohen's Movie A Minstrel Show

13 May 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie, "The Dictator," is a modern-day minstrel show judging from the trailer and Cohen's comments promoting the film while dressed as the film's star, "Gen. Shabazz Aladeen," the leader of a fictitious Arab country.

Cohen, who is not of Arab heritage, plays this Arab character while sporting a long fake beard and speaking in a strong Arabic accent, which would be fine, except the character is showcasing the worst stereotypes of Arabs.

For example, at a news conference in New York City this week promoting his film, Cohen exclaimed: "Welcome devils of the Zionist media and death to the West." He then joked about liking TV shows that showed Arab terrorists killing Americans and admiring fashion designer John Galliano for hating the Jews.

To me, this is essentially the same as white performers in blackface portraying black people in buffoonish negative stereotypes for the enjoyment of white America.

To continue reading please click HERE to visit CNN.com.


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