Arab lonvention - ti e Lowlite ed•-•
By GARY SIEGEL
Liam Rogers to push for a lobbying organization in the
Arab-Americans from at "balanced" Mideast policy. country.
The NAAA, according to
The sena to r' talked at
least 14 states and Washing-
ton, D.C. gathered in Detroit Dr. Tanous, is the only Arab- greatest length on the con-
Friday and Saturday to at- American organization with vention's possible benefits for
tend the first annual conven- a solely political thrust. Ma- Arab-Americans. He said:
tion of the National Associa- jor objectives of the group
"We have a time, here, to
tion of Arab - Americans are to provide moral, finan- put aside differences of reli-
cial and political support to gion, village, country. Amer-
About 85 Americans of Americans of Arabic heri- icans with Arab backgrounds
Arab ancestry took part in tage who seek political of- should come together. We
the low-keyed event at which fice, and to seek a more must be proud of our Arab
speakers, including Sen. "balanced" U.S. policy in ancestry. Mathematics, as-
James Abourezk (D. S.D.), the Middle East.
tronomy, medicine and other
"We want a fair, equita- sciences originated in Arab
urged justice for all parties
in the Middle East, empha- ble U.S. policy for all na- nations. We have one of the
sized the contributions of tions," Dr. Tanous said. "We oldest civilizations in the
Arabs throughout history and don't condone the destruction world.
the world, and praised the of Israel—or any Arab na-
"Every country in the
effectiveness of lobbying ef- tion. We seek peace and jus- world has Arab leaders in
forts by Jewish groups in the tice for Jews and Arabs.
business and most other
"They have existed in fields.
The main business of the
"In the United States,
convention, which took place can do it now."
(Arab - Americans) Michael
Saturday, was an explana-
DeBakey is a top heart sur-
tion of the history of the been instrumental in the geon and Ralph Nader is a
NAAA and the aims and ob- mailing of thousands of let- great public servant. There
jectives of the group, and ters in support or condemna- are thousands of other exam-
tion of the positions of news- ples.
the election of officers.
paper writers, television
"But what are we going to
The Washington - based commentators and govern-
NAAA held its convention at ment officials. He said state- do with this situation? Out
the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel. ments critical of U.S. policy of this can grow strength,
Dignitaries and guests in-
the Mid East made by
"Much of the talent of
cluded Abdallah Salah, am- in
CBS reporter Robert Pier-
bassador from Jordan to the pont and Sen. J. William Ful- Arab-speaking people in the
U.S.; Dr. Clovis Maksoud, bright (D. Ark.) received United States is being wast-
ed. We can't get together.
writer, lecturer and editor
large support from the Arab- Remember the words of Kah-
from Lebanon; counselors American community.
lil Gibran (Arab philoso-
from the embassies of Ku-
Minor George, an NAAA
wait and Lebanon; and rep- member from Cleveland, pher):
" 'Seek counsel from one
resentatives from the Arab
roused the audience when he another. The wisdom of the
Information Center in the
told of what he envisioned many is your protection
for the young organization.
against enemies.' "
Host city coordinator Ed-
"A political organization, a
In an interview after his
ward Deeb, a Detroit busi- lobby, is what I want," he
nessman, told delegates his said. "I want a national or- speech, Abourezk said he did
version of why the NAAA ganization with national not know if Soviet ;Union
membership. Maybe regional Communist Party chief Leo-
nid Brezhnev's figures on
"There was and is a need offices when we're sl
for such an organization to enough. I'm talking - )tit Jewish emigration from
express on all governmental sending letters to the ,_.ht Russia recently given to
members of the U.S. Senate
levels the concerns of Arab- people in Washington.
Foreign Relations Committee
Americans. An American or-
"Let's flex our muscles were distortions, as Sen.
ganization of Arab descend- and use our numbers. We're
ants must put forth our best a little late, but not too late. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.)
efforts, especially in terms of Let our goal be all Ameri- has charged.
Abourezk was asked if he
the Mideast situation."
cans of Arab descent work-
Dr. Peter S. Tanous, presi- ing and planning together." ever spoke before a Jewish
dent of the NAAA, said the
While delivering kind
"Almost. I was invited to
idea for the formation of the words for American Jews,
organization was born in Dr. Maksoud gave the harsh- speak at Yeshiva University
early 1912, when some Arab- est attack on Israel among in New York City at a fund-
Americans were concerned the speakers at the conven- raising dinner. I accepted
and was looking forward to
with the "drifting away of tion.
the U.S. from Arab nations,
Sen. Abourezk, the only
"Sometime after my ac-
and the lack of political ac- United States senator of Arab
tion by Americans of Arab ancestry, received a warm, ceptance, the dinner chair-
descent was very evident." standing ovation as he ap- man and others apparently
"We're here because we peared -before the organiza- heard of a speech I had made
on the Senate floor about the
have an affection for our tion's luncheon session.
Abourzek said Watergate Middle East situation. The
homeland in the Middle
East," Dr. Tanous said to is an all-consuming issue in university then called and
asked me to make a state-
the delegates, who came to the capital. "Before I left
Detroit from Connecticut and Washington this morning I ment at the dinner endorsing
New Hampshire to West Vir- saw a driver with one of and calling for direct talks
those 'Don't blame me, I between Israel and her neigh-
ginia and Tennessee.
"Last year, Israeli raids voted for McGovern' bumper
"I thought, eventually, the
into Lebanon and other Arab
Middle East situation would
nations became common- find that too unusual.
"Except Vice President probably have to result in
place and condoned. Small
was driving the car." face-to-face talks. But I was
protests by Arab-Americans
Abourezk gave a brief, but not going to further a propa-
had little effect on the drift-
ganda war and simply say
ing American policy. The wide-ranging speech. He de- what my audience wanted to
founders of the NAAA con-
cluded that Arab-Americans cal system, praised the ac-
He said the dinner chaii. -
should form for the discus- complishments of Arabs and
Arab -Americans, expressed man called him a few days
sion of our concerns."
his respect for American before the scheduled dinner,
Dr. Tanous led a group of Jewry, attacked United after New York Jews and
NAAA members to discuss States government policy on Yeshiva students had threat-
the Israeli air strikes into Indians, and urged an end to ened- to boycott the affair
Lebanon with Joseph Sisco, private financing of federal because of the senator's Mid-
assistant secretary of state political campaigns:
dle East position.
for Near-Eastern and South
"I asked the chairman how
"America is greatly ad-
Asian Affairs, and Harold mired in other countries be- things were going," Abour-
Saunders, assistant to Dr. cause they are unable to ezk said. "He told me of the
Henry Kissinger on Mideast clean up unfortunate situa- impending boycott. I asked
tions like we can."
him if he thought I still
"Sisco and Saunders agreed
The South Dakota senator should come. Of course, he
on the desirability of a group said he has great respect for didn't think I should.
such as ours and indicated Jews in the United States
"I did not."
they would cooperate with because "they believe they
Each of the temporary of-
us," Dr. Tanous said.
have a common cause 'and ficers of the NAAA retained
they make that cause work." his position as a result of
"Our voice was heard."
The NAAA also -has met He said American Jews have the organization's elections.
with Secretary of State Wil- organized the most powerful Dr. Tanous was elected pres-
20 Friday, July 6, 1973
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Edmond Howar, a member
of the board of the Islamic
Center in Washington, is vice
president. Treasurer is Dr.
William T. Driebe, an X-ray
physician; and secretary is
Dr. Tanous ended his
speech with his perception
of the status of the NAAA
and its future:
"We don't act in a vacuum.
We advise all Arab embas-
sies, congressmen and sena-
tors about us. Ambassadors
and charges d'affaires know
"We seek a balanced U.S.
policy in the Mideast.
"We accept no gifts from
foreign countries and embas-
sies. We need money beyond
what we have to support
Arab - American candidates
for public office."
Dr. Tanous said the NAAA
does not seek to absorb other
but wants to put forth a
single voice from the Arab-
American community to
speak on public affairs.
"Let us designate the corn-
ing year as a year of unity,"
"The NAAA is neither pro-
Israel nor pro-Arab. We are
"We're not radicals. We
guerrillas. If Arabs do some-
thing wrong, we condemn it.
We don't condone any type
He said a balanced ap-
proach to the Middle East
situation would eliminate the
"preponderance of support
for Israel" by the United
Israel's military overkill
is unwarranted," he said.
"We sent letters to Sens.
Jackson, Fulbright and Mc-
Govern protesting the money
wasted by Israel on her dis-
play of military might during
Israel's 25th anniversary pa-
earlier this year.
"That money could have
been spent on Palestinian
refugees. Many Israelis had
the same concern and said
"After Israel's air raids
into Beirut, the United States
press failed to play up the
story as it should have. Leba-
non's been at peace with Is-
rael since 1947. The Israeli
incursions violated the UN
Dr. Tanous said the NAAA
supports the rights of Soviet
Jews to immigrate to Israel,
but that Israel precludes
Arab refugees from return-
ing to Israel. This situation
partly is responsible for the
"imbalance," according to
"Sen. Jackson speaks on
behalf of the rights of Rus-
sian Jews but not on the
rights of Palestinian refu-
gees," he said. "We urge
Sen. Jackson to be more
He said a fusion of Israeli
technology with Arab man-
power and natural resources
can be a great benefit to all
peoples and nations in the
"Israel and her neighbors
need more dialogue between
them. Let us sit down and
talk. The time is ripe for
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