- Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network
See also: Arab American Action Network
A first-generation Palestinian American whose parents were born near Jerusalem, Hatem Abudayyeh is the executive director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network. He is also a member of the Palestine Solidarity Group of Chicago, an organization that sends activists from the United States on “educational delegations” to the Palestinian territories, where they are indoctrinated with anti-Israel propaganda.
Since the early 2000s, Abudayyeh has spoken and written extensively against Israeli policies in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon. In 2002 he was quoted as having referred to Israel as part of “Palestine,” and as having called for Israel's permanent destruction: “We don’t advocate kicking the Jews out of Palestine. We want a dissolution of the concept of a Zionist state.” Abudayyeh typically refers to Israel's 1948 creation as Al Nakba (Arabic for “The Catastrophe”). He also asserts that the Palestinian “right of return” – which would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state – is “inseparable” from the “liberation” of what he calls “historic Palestine.”
Abudayyeh has strongly opposed precautions taken by the FBI and other federal agencies to guard against possible terrorist activity in the post-9/11 era. In a 2003 interview, he lamented that “draconian measures” -- most notably the USA PATRIOT Act -- “and indiscriminate detentions and deportations” had “destabilized and criminalized Arab communities across the United States”; that there had been “an astonishing 50 percent drop in the U.S. government's acceptance of visitors' visa applications from Arab and Muslim countries”; and that America had seen a spate of “racist attacks on mosques and churches … as well as dozens of incidents of physical attacks on Arab[s] and Muslim[s] … especially against females who wear the traditional Muslim headdress, the hijab.”
Condemning “U.S. imperialism and its goals of hegemony over the Arab world and beyond,” Abudayyeh said in that same 2003 interview: “The same [American capitalist] system that oppresses workers and poor people in this country has been doing the same in the Arab world, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, draining those regions' natural and human resources to profit multi-national corporations and the American ruling class.” He impugned “the historical racial profiling and anti-immigrant policies of the U.S. government” that had long afflicted “the oppressed nationalities of this country.” And he defended the Global Relief Foundation -- a charity that had been shut down by the U.S. Treasury Department for funneling money to terrorist groups -- and its imprisoned co-founder, Rabih Haddad.
In 2003 as well, Abudayyeh said that “increased surveillance, workplace discrimination, and harassment by law enforcement” had “reinforced a climate of fear, hatred and racial profiling that tears families apart.” “The U.S. government,” he added, “criminalizes our [Muslim] communities under the pretext of homeland security and foreign policy interests.”
When Israel responded militarily to a surprise raid against one of its northern border posts by the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah in July 2006, Abudayyeh condemned the “long history” of “brutal invasions” by the “racist” Israeli government “and its military killing machine.” By contrast, he said that Hezbollah represented “the Lebanese resistance” that was “bravely fighting back” against Israeli abuses. Accusing Israel of “causing a massive humanitarian crisis” in Lebanon, Abudayyeh charged that the United States was “encouraging Israeli aggression” because America’s “imperialist interests are safeguarded by the proxy Israeli state.” “The U.S. is directly waging war and occupying Iraq, the eastern front of the Arab world,” Abuddayeh elaborated, “and Israel provides the control and domination of the western front. This is the relationship between Israel and the U.S., and this is why we must transform American society and systems of oppression while supporting the national liberation struggles of the Palestinians and others throughout the world.”
Also in 2006, Abuddayeh denounced “the U.S.’s naked aggression, war, imperialism and occupation,” adding: “The U.S. and Israel will continue to describe Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations as ‘terrorists,’ but the real terrorists are the governments and military forces of the U.S. and Israel.”
At a March 14, 2009 rally in Chicago, Abudayyeh declared that Operation Cast Lead -- a military campaign by which Israel had recently responded to a relentless barrage of rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas terrorists in Gaza -- “wasn’t a war between Hamas and Israel,” but rather, was a war of “aggression” by Israel “against the Palestinian people.” In an article which he wrote around that same time, Abudayyeh defended “the Palestinian resistance to Israel’s offensive” as “a legitimate response to an illegal military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.” He also praised the fighting prowess of “strong and unified” allies such as “Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, [and] Fatah.” Asserting that “the Gaza War has established that Israel is not indomitable,” Abudayyeh lauded these groups for their success in repelling what he depicted as Israel's ongoing effort to impose “apartheid and occupation on the Palestinian people.”
The FBI raided Abudayyeh’s home in September 2010, looking for evidence of funding links between him and Hamas.
At an Occupy Chicago protest in October 2011, Abudayyeh openly praised “the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement” against “the criminal pariah state” of Israel. Because of “the intifada in Palestine,” he said gleefully, the “Palestinian people” would ultimately “win their freedom and independence from Israel and from the United States.”
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