The largest Arab-American grassroots organization in the United States, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) was founded in 1980 by James Zogby and former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, as a non-religious civil-rights group that could serve as a counterweight to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish entity. Abourezk continues to serve ADC as a member of its national board of directors.
ADC’s stated mission is to “protec[t] [the] civil rights and civil liberties of Arab Americans”; “oppos[e] racism and bigotry in any form”; “preserv[e] Arab American cultural heritage”; “combat stereotypes and discrimination against … the Arab-American community”; “serve as a public voice for the Arab American community … on domestic and foreign policy issues”; “educate the American public in order to promote greater understanding of Arab history and culture”; and “organize and mobilize the Arab American community in furtherance of the organization’s objectives.”
But in fact, ADC has a long history of backing political extremism in a variety of forms. According to Insight magazine: “Throughout the 1980s, [ADC] lent its name to political-support campaigns for Soviet-backed guerrilla organizations around the world from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] to Marxist revolutionaries in Latin America.”
In 1994, then-ADC president Hamzi Moghrabi said: “I will not call [Hamas] a terrorist organization. I mean, I know many people in Hamas. They are very respectable … I don’t believe Hamas … is a violent organization.” Two years later, Moghrabi’s successor, Hala Maksoud, said: “I find it shocking that [one] would include Hezbollah in … [an] inventory of Middle East ‘terrorist’ groups.” In 2000, new ADC president Hussein Ibish characterized Hezbollah as “a disciplined and responsible liberation force” whose members “conducted themselves in an exemplary manner.” Prior to 9/11, ADC ran ads for the Hamas-linked Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in its publication ADC Times. And more than once, ADC co-founder James Abourezk has referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “resistance fighters”; in 2007 Abourezk stated that the U.S. government had designated those groups as terrorist organizations “at the request of Israel.”
Until September 11, 2001, ADC focused mostly on initiating legal actions in defense of Palestinian advocates, and it frequently allied itself with leftist groups in campaigns opposing American support for Israel. But after the start of the U.S. war on terror, a perceptible shift occurred in the Committee’s orientation and activities. Suddenly it became a strident voice protesting what it said were plans by the Bush administration to curtail the civil liberties of Arab Americans, and depicted all anti-terrorism efforts by the Justice and Treasury Departments as unfair persecution based on ethnic discrimination.
Just as ADC’s domestic civil-rights posture shifted dramatically after 9/11, so did its positions on foreign affairs. For example, before September 11th the Committee had never seriously concerned itself with the suffering of Muslims in the Balkans or Chechnya. But during America’s interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, ADC became outspoken in painting these military operations as conspiratorial intrigues controlled by Israel. To register its opposition to America’s foreign wars, ADC joined the United for Peace and Justice and Win Without War anti-war coalitions. The Committee also became a leading defender of Palestinian “martyrdom” campaigns inside Israel; of Saudi Arabia, whose role in funding Wahhabism had recently come under scrutiny; and of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime, which it characterized as innocent of terrorist associations. (Such topics had little or nothing to do with discrimination against Arab Americans.) Further, ADC began to speak in the name of Islam, even though its original constituency was mainly Christian.
When University of South Florida professor Sami-Al Arian was being investigated on terrorism-related charges in 2002, ADC’s Hussein Ibish depicted the FBI inquiry as “a political witch hunt, a vendetta, and a kind of very, very ugly post-9/11 McCarthyism.”
Also in the post-9/11 era, ADC began striving to create the false impression that America was in the grips of an anti-Muslim hate-crime epidemic. Toward that end, the Committee commonly included false or dubious anecdotes and grossly exaggerated claims in its writings about alleged hate crimes. To view some examples of such falsehoods, click here. “To further pad the hate crimes report,” wrote columnist Michelle Malkin in 2003, ADC “suggests that every expression of support for law enforcement profiling, every analysis of how the Muslim terrorist network has infiltrated American universities, mosques, prisons and charities, and every condemnation of radical Islam, qualifies as ‘defamation’ that leads to widespread anti-Muslim crimes.”
The Georgia and San Francisco chapters of ADC were signatories to a February 20, 2002 document condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. The document accused the U.S. government of rounding up and incarcerating large numbers of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrants without cause.
In June 2003, President George W. Bush declared the first ever comprehensive prohibition of the use of “generalized stereotypes” based on race or ethnicity by federal and local law enforcement agencies. But because the president’s pledge came with the caveat that the ban would not cover the use of race and ethnicity to combat potential terror attacks, ADC issued a press release claiming that the new guidelines were “problematic for Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities.”
Also in 2003, ADC was a co-plaintiff in the first major legal challenge to a section of the PATRIOT Act specifically Section 215, which allowed for government access to such information as medical, educational, and library records pursuant to a terrorism investigation.
Around that same time, ADC endorsed the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, which tried to persuade city councils across the United States to pass resolutions of noncompliance with the provisions of the PATRIOT Act. ADC also endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, which was designed to roll back, in the name of protecting civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Further, ADC was a signatory to a May 20, 2004 “Joint Muslims/Arab-American Statement on Israeli Violence in Gaza,” which “strongly condemn[ed]” Israel’s “indiscriminate killings of innocent Palestinians, including many children,” and its “demolition of Palestinian homes.”
In 2005, the multibillionaire Saudi Prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal, donated $2.6 million toward the purchase of ADC’s new national headquarters in Washington, DC. On May 8, 2008, the Prince was a special guest at the inauguration of those headquarters.
In a 2006 interview with CounterPunch, James Abourezk lamented: “Racism against people of Arab descent is getting worse, the fires of which are being fanned by the President and by Congress and the media. We continually hear about ‘radical Islamists’ performing acts of terrorism, but did we ever hear Adolf Hitler called a ‘Christian terrorist,’ or a ‘Christian Dictator?’ Or did anyone ever refer to Timothy McVeigh as a ‘Christian terrorist’?” “Terrorism does not exist in a vacuum,” Abourezk added. “It does not come from thin air. It is a result of people who believe that their lives cannot be improved by occupation and that there is nothing left for them to do except to commit acts of terrorism.”
In 2007, ADC condemned the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW)” campaign, whose purpose was to inform American college students about the dangerous objectives and beliefs of radical Islamists. The Committee sent letters to the presidents of all the colleges that were slated to host IFAW events, urging them to censor the speakers in advance or to cancel the scheduled activities. According to ADC’s then-president, Mary Rose Oakar, “these planned activities seek not to increase awareness, tolerance, and understanding, but instead promote intolerance, fear, and bigotry.”
In January 2012, ADC petitioned the Minority Business Development Agency to classify Arab-Americans as a “socially and economically disadvantaged group,” a special status that would make it much easier for Arab-American business owners to qualify for taxpayer-funded benefits and special privileges from the Commerce Department. By ADC’s own admission, this status would “create a presumption of eligibility” for Arab-Americans, “thereby eliminating the need for amassing and producing evidence of social and economic disadvantage” by individual business owners seeking government aid.
In 2012 as well, ADC formed a national partnership with the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to conduct voter-registration drives and get-out-the-vote drives in key swing states, most notably Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia.
In March 2016, ADC demanded that the FBI cancel the launch of its controversial “Shared Responsibility Committee” program, which sought to “enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and other community members to intervene with people the FBI thinks are in danger of radicalizing.” ADC complained that this initiative “raises numerous civil rights and civil liberties concerns” and “is problematic as it continues to target Arabs and Muslims, and turns our religious leaders, mental health professionals, teachers and dedicated community members into informants for the FBI.”
That same year, ADC voiced its objection to the “Don’t Be a Puppet” website which the FBI had recently set up to teach people about past atrocities like the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, in hopes of persuading them to reject extremism in all its forms. As The Clarion Project notes: “Following pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the site was altered to remove all references to Islamism or Islamic extremism. The terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers, for example, are listed simply as ‘Al-Qaeda extremists.’” “The site talks about extremism in general rather than Islamist extremism in particular,” adds Clarion. But such efforts to avoid singling out Muslims were insufficient for ADC, which joined the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of School Administrators in telling FBI Director James Comey that they were “deeply troubled” by the new website, which, in their opinion, unfairly stigmatized members of the Islamic faith.
ADC contends that profiling, discrimination, and hate crimes against Arab Americans and Muslims have become so widespread in post-9/11 America, that those groups can rightfully be considered “among the secondary victims of the attacks.” “Our community is becoming increasingly vulnerable,” adds ADC, to “hate crimes [and] discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality or religion.”
One of ADC’s foremost objectives is to convince a new generation of young Arab Americans that the United States largely holds them in low regard. Lamenting that “popular culture aimed at children is replete with negative images of Arab women … and Arab men,” the Committee “works with schools, teachers and Arab-American parents across the country to combat discrimination and tensions in school and ensure that the curriculum does not perpetuate stereotypes or misinformation about the Arab world or Islam.” Noting also that “American textbooks are often Eurocentric, while Arab points of view regarding such issues as the nationalization of resources or the Arab-Israeli conflict are presented inadequately or not at all,” ADC exhorts school teachers and administrators to “include Arab Americans and the Arab world in your multicultural curriculum”; to “teach students to appreciate the Arab world – one of the great cultures when Europe was still a backward, under-developed region on the periphery of world civilization”; to have students “write letters of concern about anti-Arab incidents and media stereotyping”; to “recognize Ramadan and other Muslim holidays”; and to “arrange the state and school testing schedule to avoid Islamic holidays.”
ADC’s contempt for the United States is paralleled by its antipathy for Israel, which it has long accused of perpetrating “war crimes,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide” throughout the course of its “brutal and unending occupation of Palestinian territories which is the cause of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict.” In an effort “to create international pressure on Israel to abide by international law, and end the occupation of Palestine,” ADC supports the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Since 1981, an ADC subsidiary known as the ADC Research Institute (ADCRI) has sponsored a wide range of programs that use research studies, publications, seminars, and conferences to: (a) “train Arab Americans in the exercise of their constitutional rights as citizens”; (b) “promote a better understanding of the rich Arab cultural heritage”; and (c) “document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media and government agencies.” One of ADCRI’s major initiatives is its “Reaching the Teachers” campaign, which provides lesson plans, background articles, fact sheets, bibliographies, and other resources to help “activists and teachers” alert students to the dangers of anti-Arab stereotypes and discrimination. One particularly noteworthy ADC educational resource is a Fact Sheet that completely whitewashes the violence and intolerance that pervade Islamic teachings, Sharia Law, and jihadism.
Over the years, ADC and its Research Institute have received funding from the Agape Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, and the Public Welfare Foundation, among others. ADC has also received Saudi funding through third parties such as mosques and charitable organizations.
For additional information on ADC, click here.
 Alwaleed had made headlines after 9/11 when his $10 million donation to the World Trade Center fund was accompanied by a press statement in which he suggested that the recent Al-Qaeda attacks were a response to the fact that the U.S. was supporting Israel while “our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of the Israelis” – a statement that prompted then-New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani to return Alwaleed’s money. Over the years, Alwaleed has also donated $500,000 to the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (2002); $27 million to a Saudi telethon in support of the violent Palestinian Intifada against Israel (2002); $20 million to create a Shariah Law Studies program at Harvard University (2005); and $20 million to establish a “Muslim-Christian Understanding” program headed by Professor John Esposito at Georgetown University (2005).