Established on November 29, 2003 in Washington, DC by a nationwide group of activists, the National Council of Arab Americans (NCAA) is a consortium of grassroots organizations professing a desire to help Arab Americans assert their “national presence as a community from coast to coast.” “Our belonging in the United States," says NCAA, "can only be complete if our Arab heritage, culture, and identity are fully respected and cherished.” Viewing the U.S. as a nation rife with discrimination against ethnic minorities, NCAA calls for an end to the "collective criminalization of Arab Americans and Muslims," and fights for what it considers the currently unprotected “civil rights and liberties” of that demographic. NCAA currently has chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, New York, Sacramento, and San Diego.
Asserting that “We are unequivocal in our rejection of war,” the Council's 2003 anti-war manifesto calls for America's immediate, unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, and exhorts the U.S. to renounce its "militarism and colonial expansions." Any suggestion that Western nations may sometimes have a right to intervene in Middle Eastern affairs is anathema to NCAA, which issued a pre-Iraq War declaration that read: "Regardless of the source, the notion that the people of Iraq 'need some form of Western intervention,' even if temporary, to secure their very own stability is overtly racist and a real threat to civilization."
The NCAA's 2003 manifesto is also decidedly hostile to Israel -- advocating the suspension of all forms of economic, political, and military support for that nation, and demanding that Palestinians be granted a full "right of return" without further delay. Moreover, NCAA has allied itself with International ANSWER to campaign against the construction of the Israeli security fence in the West Bank, which they dub an "Apartheid Wall." NCAA's Chairman and National Coordinator is the radical Palestinian activist Elias Rashmawi.
The National Council of Arab Americans currently oversees the following projects:
Legal Defense Project: This consists of a Legal Assistance Program “aimed at networking attorneys with those in need of legal consultation”; a Legal Hotline that provides information in Arabic and English “on immigration policies and procedures that may directly affect the Arab-American community”; a Volunteer Legal Advice program where participating attorneys make themselves available for free initial consultations with Arab American clients; a Civil Rights Defense Project “to safeguard and promote the civil rights of the more than 1.2 million Arab Americans living in the United States”; and a Nationwide Speakers Bureau “devoted to bringing civil rights issues faced by Arab Americans to the fore.”
Al-Kitab Educational Project: This program promotes education about Arabs and Arab Americans on the K-12 academic levels. This is done through textbooks, curricula, and educational materials. The program also sponsors seminars for Arab American parents.
Arab American History Project: “Under the supervision of an experienced committee of academics and community activist, 100 students across the country will engage in documenting the experience of 100 personalities representing the cumulative experience of our people in the US.”
Other speakers that evening included the following:
(a) Eriko Nagai (of the counter-recruitment group Campus Anti-War Network) said that both race and class played a major role in determining the fate of people in post-Katrina New Orleans.
(b) Annie Zirin (artist, schoolteacher, and International Socialist Organization member) made a similar charge.
(c) Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner said, "We need to acknowledge the obscenity that America is. We need to acknowledge that [in the eyes of] people around the world ... we are obscene, we are a joke ..."
(d) Brown University’s socialist professor of English Literature William Keach urged the crowd to confront the "war criminals in the Oval Office."
(e) NCAA member Naseer Aruri alleged that the existence of Israel, coupled with U.S. support for the Jewish state, had created the "so-called terrorists" of the Muslim world. Aruri castigated the Bush administration for denying terrorist suspects their "human rights," housing them in "gulags," and allegedly creating many more terrorists than had existed before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
On August 12, 2006, NCAA participated in a large-scale protest against “the U.S.-Israeli assault” on “Lebanon and Palestine” -- a reference to Israel’s then-raging war against Hezbollah and Hamas, organizations that had recently initiated a two-front attack on Israel by kidnapping and murdering a number of Israeli soldiers, and then had perpetuated the conflict by firing thousands of rockets into the midst of Israeli cities. The protesters chanted, “Occupation is a crime, from Lebanon to Palestine!” Other participating organizations included Al-Awda, the Alliance for Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front(FMLN) of El Salvador, the Green Party, International ANSWER, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Korean Americans for Peace, the Muslim American Society, the National Lawyers Guild, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Project Islamic Hope, and Women in Black.