Monday, February 12, 2007


By Rafael Martínez Alequín

A few weeks ago, city council members were “gifted” with a tour to Israel. Included in the trip were City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and eleven council members, plus staff. The Jewish Community Relation Council sponsored the trip. The council’s press office stated that the Jewish Community office paid the cost of the visit.

A look at the Council press release shows names of Council members, who are seeking higher office in 2009, when their term expires. If we used our imagination, Council member David Weprin and his colleagues could distribute political flyers stating that while visiting Israel, a rocket exploded a mile away from Mayor Moyal's office in Sderot. This could make Weprin the best candidate for City Comptroller in 2009. Christine Quinn who contemplates a run for mayor, could campaign in a flack jacket detailing the dangers here and abroad.

The all expense paid trip is puzzling since few Israelis vote in New York City elections. Nonetheless, one can only see it as a goodwill gesture on both parts. One could only wonder if they also ventured beyond the green line, which divides Arab neighborhoods from Jewish neighborhoods. Considering the large population of voting Muslims in New York City, it would have been a positive political move. The Muslim population here is unique. It encompasses, people from Bosnia, Serbia, Africa, Pakistan, and the Philippines. A virtual potpourri of cultures that these politicos often tout and make token appearances at their festivals. The demonization of the Arab community deserves a study in counterpoint. Not only do Arabs not “All look alike”, but they do not all think alike either. Perhaps the travel time of the City council members would be better served by mending fences. They might want to enlist the aid of the following Arab Americans. They include, Paul Anka, Donna Shalala, Frank Zappa, John Sununu, Congressman Darell Issa, Ralph Nader, Senator Spencer Abraham, Tiny Tim (aka Herbert Khoury), Doug Flutie, football player, Michael Nouri, actor, Christa McAuliffe, astronaut, Senator George Mitchell, Jack Hanna, Zoologist and Steven Jobs founder of Apple Computer.

The list goes on and so does the disregard for the Arab community here and abroad. The Arab/Israeli community struggles to be heard every day. Not every voice is correct. But still, we must listen. There is great potential in this land. Remember.....Jesus was a Palestinian.
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