Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ziad Asali is President of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), which he founded in 2003. From 1993-1994 he was President of the Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG), and he served as a Board of Directors member of the Council for the National Interest. From 1995 to 2003 he was Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem, which he co-founded. And from 2001 to 2003 he was President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC); he has been a member of ADC’s Chairman’s Council since 1982.
Asali received a B.S. degree from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1963, and an M.D. from AUB Medical School in 1967. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology at the Latter Day Saints Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, he went on to practice medicine in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem before returning to the U.S. in 1973. He remained affiliated with the Christian County Medical Clinic and St. Vincent Memorial Hospital in Illinois until he retired in 2000.
On December 11, 2001, Asali addressed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the subject of “employment discrimination in the aftermath of September 11.” He said that Arab Americans were the victims of a “highly disturbing pattern” of such injustices as unwarranted job terminations, hostile work environments, and ethnic slurs.
In May 2003 Asali sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, urging him to drop the government’s deportation case against eight persons — known as the L.A. 8 — who originally had been arrested in Los Angeles in 1987 for their association with the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In November 2004 Asali was a member of the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Yasser Arafat. In January 2005 he was a member of the U.S. delegation to observe the Palestinian Presidential elections. And a year later he was a delegate with the National Democratic Institute to monitor the Palestinian Legislative election.
Asali draws a moral equivalence between the violence of Palestinian suicide bombers and the anti-terrorism activities of the Israeli Defense Forces. Asserting that mutual compromise was the only reliable formula for peace, he wrote in December 2006:
“For the Israeli and Palestinian people, it is not enough to ask the ‘other’ to compromise. Each people must accept their painful share of the compromise. Modern Israel, dealing with the religious claim of zealot Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands, and which denies another nation the right to statehood on its own land, must confront its own demons. The metaphysical stake must be replaced by political and demographic realities. A historic negotiated compromise that results in a viable state of Palestine on land occupied in 1967, with mutually agreed borders and with Arab Jerusalem as its capital, is an Israeli imperative as it is a Palestinian need. It is Israel’s best guarantee to survive the new existential strategic threats and the ultimate guarantee for security and peace for both nations.
“And for Palestinians to achieve their freedom and viable state, they must repudiate Hamas’ regression to the olden days of rejection of Israel’s pre-1967 borders. They also must come to terms with the reality of Israel and with the fact that while refugees have rights that must be fully redressed — national rights, individual rights, property rights and even the right to an apology — 4 or 5 million Palestinian refugees are not going back to live in Israel. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are sufficiently powerful to achieve all their aims….”
Asali has criticized Palestinian terrorism as counterproductive to the ultimate goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state. In June 2007 he wrote:
“The right-wing Israelis have been aided greatly by the violent actions of Palestinian militants, by leftist nationalists in the past or Islamists more recently, to justify and maintain the occupation. Those Israelis who wanted to maintain the occupation, and to expropriate the land, could not think of better partners than violent Palestinian militants.”
Asali maintains that as a prerequisite for an Arab-Israeli peace, Israel “needs to release Palestinian tax money, remove all nonsecurity roadblocks and checkpoints and put an end to the humiliating encounters Palestinians are subjected to.”