Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Questions and answers about Justice Against sponsors of Terrorism Act

JASTA has passed and there are many questions as to the law. Below are responses to common questions on the law:

*What is JASTA? JASTA is a federal statute that was passed by Congress this year.  It is an acronym for Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. It allows the families of victims of terror attacks on US soil to sue sponsors of the terrorist acts. The language of the law does not mention the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by name but it is known that the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks lobbied for this law and that those who introduced the law in Congress introduced it to allow these families to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. It is important to note that the US government has asserted time and time again that Saudi Arabia had no involvement in the attacks. In fact, al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that had declared war on Saudi Arabia for its alliance with the US.

*Was JASTA a big bill like the PATRIOT Act? Is it possible that not all members of Congress actually read it? JASTA is only 4 pages long. It is an amendment of a previous law that has been amended more than one time over the years.  The law it amended is the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) of 1976.

*Why was this law passed now? Three reasons: Lobbying by the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, a sympathetic Congress during an election year and the fact that Saudi Arabia is a country that has been demonized in the media and by, among others, pro- Iran and pro- Israel groups in the US.  Lawyers say the question is more important than the answer. The issue was framed as are you with Saudi Arabia or with the victims of the 9/11 attacks. It is an election year and no one wanted to take the side of Saudi Arabia.

*How did it pass despite the President’s veto? President Obama vetoed the bill. However, the Congress had enough votes to easily override that veto. That was the only veto override in the 8 years of Obama’s presidency.

*Was Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell correct in blaming Obama for the passage of the law? Yes. Definitely, President Obama bears much of the blame. Compare the efforts of the Obama administration on the Iran deal with how little effort was expended on countering JASTA. In 2015, Senator McConnell said that Obama has caused “a genuine meltdown of American foreign policy across the board.” Obama’s failure on an issue of such magnitude is inexcusable. I see it as Obama passively settling scores with Saudi Arabia and the Republicans.

*Why did President Obama not do enough to stop JASTA from becoming law?
Two reasons. First, he does not care for Saudi Arabia. His advisers on the Middle East, if they have sympathies, they are for Israel and Iran. Saudi Arabia is not popular with him or with his inner circle that includes many Iranian Americans and Israel supporters.  His Atlantic interview reveals that he is more antagonistic to Arab Gulf countries than he says in public statements. Second, he wanted the Republicans in Congress to look stupid and he succeeded at that. One can fairly say Obama abdicated his duties on that issue.

*American citizens have sued Iran many times over the years and won major judgements, how is the case of Saudi Arabia different?  The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) of 1976 allows Americans to sue a country only when the US government, the executive branch, has labelled that country as a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran is a senior ranking member of a handful of countries that the executive branch has classified as terrorism sponsors, with ample hard evidence to support that labelling. Saudi Arabia has never been on the list and it is extremely unlikely to be added to that list because it does not target Americans. In fact, for decades the US has been the guarantor of Saudi Arabia’s security. Therefore, the only way that Saudi Arabia could be sued is with congressional intervention.

*Has JASTA been used to sue Saudi Arabia? Yes. A case was filed by Stephanie Ross Desimone on September 30 of this year in the DC district court. The evidence is circumstantial and flimsy. It is based on who knew who and who called who. Basically, guilt by association. They are reaching. Compare that case to the cases filed by the victims of Iranian supported terror attacks. In the Iran cases the evidence is ironclad of Iranian culpability. Even the recent case filed by Iranian American Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian against Iran and its Revolutionary Guards under the FSIA lays allegations that clearly and unequivocally show the responsibility of the Iranian government for “unlawful acts of terrorism, torture, hostage taking and other torts.” If you read the case filed by Rezaian  against Iran and the case filed by Desimone  against Saudi Arabia together, it becomes crystal clear how frivolous the case against Saudi Arabia is.
*What are the challenges Saudi Arabia faces with the law? The law is a gold mine for the tort bar. Saudi Arabia is facing the possibility of numerous lawsuits. Lawsuits open the door for intrusive discovery- requesting documents, deposing people, etc. No country in the world would accept that. When Iran was sued, the plaintiffs won default judgments because Iran refused to participate in the process. I expect that Saudi Arabia is going to refuse to participate in the proceedings.
*If the plaintiffs won the lawsuits by default would they be able to seize the Saudi embassy, its bank accounts, etc.? No. In civil lawsuits generally there is an issue with collection. You can win the biggest award in the world but if the defendant is collection proof, it is a pyrrhic victory. Assets of diplomatic missions are immune from attachment and execution. The plaintiffs however would be able to reach property that is used for commercial purposes in the US. And Saudi Arabia has major investments in the US that would qualify as such.

*Do you see these assets seized to satisfy future judgments against the US? Unlikely. I expect the president, most likely the next president and the congress to get together to clean this mess. There are foreign policy consequences to ceding American foreign policy to the tort bar. No responsible government would do that. The case of Iran is useful on the collection issue. Even though millions of dollars of judgments were entered against Iran over the years, the plaintiffs were not able to collect a dime from the Iranian assets in the US. Iranian assets were frozen by the executive branch. Only after the Iran deal the plaintiffs were able to collect. And not from the frozen assets. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Osama Siblani validates “fear and loathing”: Posting and liking sectarian bigotry, hatred and incitement

Bigotry and incitement, Osama style

The Likes of Osama

Osama Siblani validates “fear and loathing”:
Posting and liking sectarian bigotry, hatred and incitement

Fear of the “arrogant bully”
I interviewed a number of people who raised important issues as to the 19th district court primary election.  The people I interviewed, from different national and faith groups, did not want to be named. They were concerned that Osama would use his paper to attack them. I was surprised at the level of fear and loathing directed towards Osama and his paper.  My interviewees did not need the headache of an open fight with Osama and his paper.  I thought their fear was exaggerated. He is, after all, a publisher of a paper not the leader of a gang.

Sectarianism is the last refuge of the scoundrel
Osama’s response to my column appearing on my blog and in the Forum and Link was having one of his sectarian writers attack me in his paper. Osama’s writer, who has very limited English language skills, falsely claimed that I wrote that Sunnis do not like Osama because he is a Shiite. This is obviously an outrageous lie but is consistent with the sectarian line of the Arabic-language section of Osama’s paper. This is what I had actually written
When the lie appeared in Osama’s paper, I wrote a response on my blog exposing the lie. This is what I wrote

Osama goes ape sectarian on me
In response to my blog exposing the lies, in a Facebook entry, that same writer in Osama’s paper imported the worst feature of Middle Eastern politics and journalism today. He unleashed a full- fledged sectarian attack on me that  violated all rules of ethics, morality and the law.  He called me “Ihsan ISIS Alkhatib” and accused me of being a member of the “Ashraf Rifi and Naim Abbas group.” Ashraf Rifi is a Sunni Lebanese retired general from the Internal Security and a minister in the cabinet of Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Minister Rifi is a vocal critic of the Shiite group Hizbullah and is hated by the supporters of the group. Naim Abbas is a man accused of terror attacks in Lebanon.  Osama’s writer also called me a name- ‘whore”- the same vulgar word that Osama himself used to attack journalist Afaf Ahmad. Afaf Ahmad is a  Lebanese Shiite Muslim, just like Osama and his writer who attacked me. Ms Ahmad received a pile of abuses, even threats, for criticizing Osama and his paper.

A well- founded fear: 
Fear of a bully and his thugs, not of a publisher and his writers

Osama’s writer who attacked me claimed that I had made up the interviews because I did not name the interviewed. The people I interviewed wanted to stay anonymous and I respected their wishes. I thought that their fear of Osama and his paper was excessive. Now that I have been the subject of a vile sectarian attack that violates al norms of decency and the law as well, I completely understand their concerns.

Publish, post, like

Osama Siblani claims that he is not responsible for the sectarianism of his writers since only the editorial represents the position of the paper. But he chooses the writers and he publishes what they write.  And, as to the vile attack on me, it was posted on his Facebook page, he kept it and he liked it. He endorsed and approved the immoral, unethical and illegal attack.

Osama Siblani: Unfit to play the Arab community interlocutor role

What is troubling about the fading Osama phenomenon is that the US government and other governments deal with him as if he were an honest interlocutor who represents all Arab Americans of all backgrounds. The government allows him to choose who participates in meetings of importance to all community members. His parochialism and his sectarianism make him unfit to play that role.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Intellectual Dishonesty and Sectarian Incitement at the “Arab American” News: More of the Same

The Arab American News false and misleading in reference to my writing
Journalist Afaf Ahmad, Divaa, spared no time responding to Osama's falsities

I write a regular column for the Detroit based Forum and Link. On a visit to Dearborn, I was struck by community drama over the 19th district judicial primary elections.  Curious to know the reasons, I spoke with a number of people of different backgrounds. I used these interviews in an entry on my blog. The same appeared in the Forum and Link of August 11, 2016.

There were a number of themes in the interviews, These themes include:

1.   There is community- wide frustration with Osama Siblani and his paper. Osama uses his paper as the “National Inquirer” and the community is sick and tired of that.

2.   Osama’s years of activism have gotten to his head and made him think that he “made the community,””he is the dean of the community,” “he is the community,” “he speaks for the community and “he decides who from the community can speak.”

3.   Osama is dictatorial, immoral and unethical. After promoting attorney Dabaja for city council, he turned around and stabbed her in the back by using his paper to magnify a smear campaign against her.

4.   There is a new generation that refuses to be led the way Osama led previous generations. This is a generation that has achieved much success educationally and professionally. They are not the generation of low education, first generation, small business owners that largely deferred to Osama’s diktat.

5.   Osama’s attack on Susan Dabaja is sexist since he was trying to bring her, the wife, down for the previous mistakes of her husband.

6.   The sexism theme also came up with the Osama- journalist Divaa Afaf Ahmad saga. Afaf, unlike Osama, is a professional journalist. She took Osama head on over issues of public concerns. On Facebook, Osama called Afaf a “whore” instead of responding to her criticism and concerns. 

7.   Osama and his paper divide the community and the paper over and again has been used to settle scores with Osama’s real and perceived enemies.

8.   Osama is seen by many Sunnis as a sectarian and divisive. The sectarianism and division is "rampant" in his Arabic-language section. He presents two faces- one to the English- speaking public and another for the Arabic- speaking reader.

In response to the interviews, Osama had one of his writers write the following in the Arabic language section of the paper dated 8/12/2016:

“Ihsan Alkhatib wrote a column full of racism, sectarianism and hatred. Alkhatib wrote that the Sunnis hate Osama because he is Shiite.” The translation is mine.

One is entitled to their opinion, but not to their facts. The complaint one hears in Detroit is that Osama’s paper, especially the Arabic section, is full of sectarian incitement and that Osama has evolved or devolved into a sectarian divisive figure. More than one my interviewees stated that because many Sunnis see Osama as a divisive and sectarian figure, they voted against him by voting for the candidate that he was going against. 

They say the proof is in the pudding. The fact that Osama’s paper, irresponsibly and unethically, misrepresented what I wrote, proves that the sense that Osama Siblani and his paper are sectarian and divisive is indeed right.

Below is the excerpt from the column that Osama’s paper misrepresented:

Interview # 3:

Osama is really disliked by many Sunnis and many of those who are not Lebanese. They believe he has evolved into a parochial Shiite Lebanese activist and they reject him. The fact that he, in effect, took ownership of the Bazzi nomination, hurt Bazzi with those who are not Shiites and/or not Lebanese.

But both candidates are Shiites, Lebanese and are from families that are from Bint Jbail? Yes, and both are great women and great lawyers. It is a question of who is supporting whom. Due to who is pushing the candidacy, Dabaja is the whole community candidate and Bazzi, due to no fault of her own, became the “Osama candidate.” And Osama is seen by many as a divisive figure. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances.

Interview # 4

-How do you see the 19th district primary election? Bottom line is that you have the Shiites divided between Bazzi and Dabaja. And the Sunnis solidly behind Dabaja because they don’t like Osama and his politics which they see as Lebanese sectarian and divisive. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances. 

These two excerpts prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Osama's paper callously misrepresented my writing. The intellectual dishonesty and sectarian incitement at the “Arab American” News has to stop. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fear and loathing in Dearborn: The Osama phenomenon

Osama Siblani promoting the Abbbie Bazzi candidacy

Osama Siblani is a very interesting phenomenon. He is the publisher of a community newspaper and a longtime community activist. Anyone who gets involved in matters of public concern expects to be the object of criticism. Even American presidents get all kinds of criticism- fair and unfair.  In a democracy, we all understand that the freedom of expression is sacrosanct.

In the Middle East, people have a lot of opinions. However, in most Middle Eastern countries people are afraid to express themselves for fear of the government and those who have connections. In the US, on the other hand, there is the First Amendment. There is freedom of speech. People are free to express themselves.

I spoke with a Dearborn Arab American about the phenomenon of Osama Siblani and his paper. I have written a column in the Forum and Link based on interviews with Arab Americans regarding the 19th district elections and people did not want to go on the record criticizing Osama Siblani. Why would people, in the United States, be afraid of expressing themselves?

To unravel this mystery, I spoke with a longtime Arab American resident of Dearborn, a man familiar with its politics:

-How do you explain the Osama Siblani phenomenon? 
What makes people reluctant to go on record with their opinions? What we have in this city is “irhab fitri,” terrorism of the mind. Criticism has consequences. Here you have people who left the Middle East to escape repression. But they are fearful to express themselves. Why? Is it because they think Osama is too cozy with the US government? Has connections in Lebanon and can hurt people? Cause them problems when they travel to Lebanon? I am not sure. Maybe a combination of factors.

- But what can he do? He is merely a publisher of a paper?
 In a way people are justified in their concerns. He uses his paper to go after his enemies, real and imagined. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. It is a small community. He would use negative information savagely, and immorally. You yourself have seen it. People talk at length but refuse to go on record.

- You say the US government has helped create this phenomenon. How? There is a reign of terror. Osama’s perceived coziness with US government officials feeds into the fear that people have. US government officials meet with him and take pictures with him, treat him as the representative of the whole community and in return this creates the fear that you see.
This is a serious phenomenon. It is very unhealthy. All those who, by default or by design, helped create this phenomenon are responsible for the monster created. This should not continue. It is unhealthy and undemocratic. By the end of the day, there are more questions than answers.

-But what can Osama do. He has a paper, but there are other community papers?
 Look what happened with journalist Afaf Ahmad. Siblani called her a “whore.” Can you believe that? Who needs that kind of name calling? She is a mother and a member of the community and a man her father’s age calls her a name! Not only that. People associated with him or inspired by him start attacking her in the most despicable way. Why?

-Why do you think Osama acts the way he does? 
It has gotten to his head. He thinks he is greater than anyone else- greater than all these historical personalities that people talk about. He is unwilling to take criticism. Osama and his paper extol the virtues of the first amendment and the freedom of speech. If Osama believes in freedom of speech then he should accept criticism? He does not accept criticism. He reacts to valid criticism and good advice the same way he would react to being called a name? Truly a bizarre phenomenon. Unhealthy and undemocratic.

- Is there widespread unhappiness with Osama or is it Dearborn politics and he is part of that? 
It is widespread. You could be sitting with 20-30 people. You would experience firsthand the kind of dislike, even animosity and hate this man has from many people. But they are afraid to be quoted. What is this man going to do? He is not a gang leader. He is not the dictator of a Middle Eastern country? Still you see people want to avoid being entangled with him.

-I am interested in your pointing out a US government role in creating this phenomenon. The US government officials meet with him and with others in the community. Not only him, why is he special? 
When the issue of the FBI planes over Detroit came up, they met with him in his paper’s building, on his roof, in a friendly atmosphere. Who picked who could attend this meeting? This coziness has contributed to the fear. In a sense, the government has taken sides in inter-community politics. And that is not good. They need to be mindful of perceptions.
The interesting part is that he was asked how you choose those who represent the community or are leaders of the Arab American community. Osama said that he decides who represents the community. There is a perception that the US has a hand in placing Arab dictators in power in the Middle East. With Osama there is the perception that the US government is doing the same thing in the Detroit area too. This is unhealthy and undemocratic.

-But others have regularly met with officials. All over the country Arab and Muslim American activists are meeting with the government? 

What confuses the Dearborn community is his perceived coziness with the US government officials when put together with his public pronouncements. Osama brags about being a Hizbullah supporter. For example, on Facebook, one person accused him of being a Hizbullah supporter. Osama responded that he is indeed a Hizbullah supporter. The sense that people have is that if one says they support Hizbullah, the FBI would be knocking on their door the same day or the next day. People are at a loss. He is the only person in the community who does that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Understanding the 19th district court primary election

Osama Siblani, Abbie Bazzi's image in the background

Susan Dabaja celebrating her primary victory

Understanding the 19th district court primary election
A milestone or just another community drama that shall pass?*
Judicial elections are usually low key events. Due to the nature of the position itself and the fact that the race is nonpartisan, one does not see the drama and negativity experienced in other races. The 19th district court primary race of 2016 will be remembered for the drama that unfolded in Arab Dearborn.
It was not the Arab American community, as would usually happen, being attacked by outsiders. It was a divided community exchanging accusations. But when all is said and done, what is truly remarkable is that a longtime activist, Osama Siblani, and his paper the Arab American News/Sada al Watan, were at the very center of the drama and the object of derision and anger. To understand what happened, I spoke with a number of Arab Americans who are familiar with Dearborn politics to get their insights into what happened.  Most of the interviews were held before the primary election day.

Interview # 1:
-What do you think happened?
It is Osama Siblani and his paper. Had it not been for Osama, it would have remained a simple contest where you would expect some tensions between the Bazzis and their supporters and the Dabaja family and their supporters. Just like in the old country. Because of Osama and his paper things went out of hand. And, by the way, both Bazzi and Dabaj are wonderful women. It is the men, especially Siblani, that made this into the mess it is. The two candidates were above it and out of the dirty games played.
-What was the issue? Susan Dabaja wants to run for judge and Osama and his Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC), a group perceived as a collection of Osama’s buddies who rubber stamp Osama’s wishes, wanted Bazzi. They told Dabaja to get out of the race, she did not. Then the smearing campaign began. And Osama used his paper, a paper that is supposedly a community paper, to spread the rumors questioning her “fitness” for office. Dabaja was a top law student, is a well-respected attorney and is the city council president. Osama himself supported her when she ran for city council. People saw hypocrisy and they were angry with Osama for trying to destroy the very same person he had promoted not too long ago. It was seen as dictatorial, immoral and unethical.
- How did people in the community react to Osama’s campaign? The Bazzi family want to vote for someone from their family which is understandable. It is the Dabaja family that was upset that Osama is playing a key role in spreading a nasty campaign that would have been very limited had he not used his paper to magnify the effect. 
- Why was Dabaja’s husband dragged into the fight? Dabaja’s husband made a mistake and he paid for it. Susan is not his mother. It is sexist to hold a woman accountable for the past actions of her husband. Susan is not a weak candidate because of her husband. She is a young smart Arab American woman who aspired to be a judge, which is her right.  The attack campaign was unjustified. Had it not been for Osama and his paper, there would be community tensions but not the ugliness that was there for all to see.
- What was Dabaja’s husband issue? At one time, many in the community thought it would be smart and a quick way to make money to bring tobacco from low tobacco tax states to Michigan which is a high tax state and pocket the difference in price.  They were discovered and paid a price. Many of them took plea bargains to avoid prison. Some left the country. It is believed that the reason we have so many informants in the community is due to that period with some defendants agreeing to become informants in return for a plea. As to Dabaja’s husband, it is believed that he made a mistake and paid for it. Had he become an informant, probably he would have gotten a better deal and not gone to prison. Contrary to Osama and his paper attacking Bazzi’s husband for his mistake, in fact many in the community respect him for facing the consequences of his actions rather than becoming an informant.
- How do you think this incident would affect Osama and his paper? I don’t think people will forget. I think it is time for Osama to retire.  He calls himself the “dean” of the Arab community. There is a new generation that does not accept Middle Eastern style dictatorship.
-Why have people’s wrath centered on Osama and his paper? People are just fed up with Osama using his paper as the National Inquirer. People are sick of that. His years of activism have gotten to his head. He thinks he is “the community,” that he “made” the community. There were also those nasty robo calls. And we all know that Tarek Beydoun is the one in the community who knows how to do that. And Tarek is in Osama’s clique. This is the talk you hear in Dearborn.

Interview # 2
-What do you think of the 19th district elections? I am not involved in Dearborn politics and have no agenda. The three candidates are good.  
- Why do you think it was heated? You have a person who is deeply involved in politics and is the publisher of a paper. I don’t think you can be the publisher of a newspaper that claims to represent a whole community and routinely use this paper to take sides dividing the community. In addition, you use this paper to settle scores. What kind of community paper is that?
-Are there long term consequences to what happened in the primary? Osama has done this over and over again. People forget. I am not sure this time it will be different.

Interview # 3
-What do you think of the primary election? This primary election is important for the community. We need to go beyond sectarianism. Dabaja is the candidate that is appealing to all segments of the community- all sects and all national groups. Bazzi is a great person but she was “burnt” by Osama Siblani and his clique. Osama is really disliked by many Sunnis and many of those who are not Lebanese. They believe he has evolved into a parochial Shiite Lebanese activist and they reject him. The fact that he, in effect, took ownership of the Bazzi nomination, hurt Bazzi with those who are not Shiites and/or not Lebanese.
-But both candidates are Shiites, Lebanese and are from families that are from Bint Jbail? Yes, and both are great women and great lawyers. It is a question of who is supporting whom. Due to who is pushing the candidacy, Dabaja is the whole community candidate and Bazzi, due to no fault of her own, became the “Osama candidate.” And Osama is seen by many as a divisive figure. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances.

Interview # 4
-How do you see the 19th district primary election? Bottom line is that you have the Shiites divided between Bazzi and Dabaja. And the Sunnis solidly behind Dabaja because they don’t like Osama and his politics which they see as Lebanese sectarian and divisive. Osama hurt Bazzi’s chances.
-Who has better chances, Bazzi or Dabaja? Dabaja does.  She will benefit from what I call the “sympathy vote.” Osama and his paper have wronged her and there will be people voting for her because of the unfairness and nastiness she faced.

* Article will appear in the Forum and Link of 8/11/2016.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Imad Hamad's column in the Detroit News: Defending the human rights of police officers

Imad Hamad with current and former law enforcement officials

My good friend Imad Hamad, Executive Director of the American Human Rights Council, wrote an excellent column on the American national conversation on policing:

The latest wave of police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota is another painful reminder of a crisis in policing. The police are tasked with protecting the public, but we are now witnessing attacks on the police.
The police find themselves, as one official noted, of having to be friendly and approachable while watching out for their own safety from certain members of the public.
We at the American Human Rights Council (AHRC) have always advocated for effective engagement and partnership between the police and their respective communities. Shooting of police officers — public servants who put their lives on the line to protect all of us — present clear evidence that something is seriously wrong and we need to move without delay to address the crisis.
The conversation about the police and communities has devolved into a conflict-ridden shouting match. What has not been emphasized is that everybody involved is a human being and should not be reduced to a specific role or function. A suspect is a human being and a police officer is also a human being. As human beings, they are entitled to human rights, foremost of which is the right to life. Human lives must be valued, saved, and protected. Demonizing a person or a group and dehumanizing them, wittingly or unwittingly, creates an environment where crimes such as the ones we witnessed in Dallas and Baton Rouge can happen.
We need to abandon the “us vs. them” frame. We all are humans and we are all entitled to human rights regardless of gender, faith, race, color, nationality, profession, and position. The recent alarming trend of targeting and shooting police officers, our brothers and sisters in humanity, is unequivocally condemned. The police force is not our enemy. All lives matter. Police are an integral part of civil society. Officers are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters our fellow citizens and most importantly, our brothers and sisters in humanity.
Imad Hamad, executive director
American Human Rights Council

Sunday, May 15, 2016

AHRC Mourns the Passing Away of H. E. Dr. Clovis Maksoud

Dr. Maksoud and AHRC Executive Director Imad Hamad

A great Arab American passed away today. Dr. Clovis Maksoud leaves a great legacy. Below is the press release issued by AHRC, a human rights organization of whcih he was the honorary chair:
The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) expresses its profound grief for the passing away of H.E. Ambassador, Dr. Clovis Maksoud. Dr. Maksoud died earlier this morning. The death of Dr. Maksoud  is a great loss to the Arab American community, the Arab World and, indeed, the whole world. Dr. Maksoud’s legacy and contributions to humanity will live on and continue to inspire us for years to come.
 The death of Dr. Maksoud brings back the painful memory of the passing away of his wife, Dr. Hala Salam-Maksoud, a great activist and a wonderful human being. The “Maksouds’ era” was one of the greatest and most consequential eras in the history of the Arab- American community. The Maksouds were brilliant organizers, thinkers, scholars, loyal friends, and genuine fighters on behalf of social justice, equality and the advancement of human dignity and human rights. Dr. Clovis Maksoud was a giant in his scholarship and his courage. He spoke truth to power and dared to speak up and refused to compromise his principles for any form of expediency.
 Dr. Maksoud’s death coincided today with May 15, the day of commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe or “Al Nakba”.  Dr. Maksoud cared greatly about Palestine and saw it as the core issue for the Arab nation. He had deep love, commitment and dedication to Palestine and its people. He spent a lifetime defending Palestine and Palestinian rights at different forums and in different capacities. Dr. Maksoud died a sad man due to the ongoing tragedy of Palestine and the bloodshed and chaos in the Arab world. He worked tirelessly for decades to make the Arab world a better place for the Arab people of all backgrounds.
  AHRC joins the Arab American community, the human rights community,  Lebanon, the whole Arab World and the international community in mourning the death of Dr. Maksoud. No words can express our profound sadness today. AHRC-USA pays its farewell to its National Honorary Chairman who was a true inspiration to AHRC and its team to move forward and to live up to the challenges facing our common humanity. On behalf of the entire AHRC –USA team, we express our sincere condolences to the Maksoud family and to his friends and admires all over the world.
  “This is a personal loss for me and a true sad day for AHRC and all of us who have known and worked with Dr. Maksoud” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “No words can express our sadness. Dr. Clovis was a personal friend and my mentor. No words can express my grief for the loss of such a great true leader and a wonderful mentor.” “The Maksouds, Clovis and Hala, were my friends and mentors who introduced me to the world of activism and social change and inspired me to serve our common humanity,” continued Hamad. “The Maksouds are irreplaceable and they will be sorely missed,” said Hamad.
 “Indeed, today is a very sad day for us. We lost an eminent scholar and a true fighter for justice,” said Dr. Opada Alzohaili, AHRC President. “We honor Dr. Maksoud’s legacy by continuing to do the work he did- advancing a culture of respect of the human rights of everyone,” continued Dr. Alzohaili.
 CLOVIS MAKSOUD- 1926 – 2016
             Dr. Clovis Maksoud, former diplomat, professor, editor, writer, and humanistic thinker, died May 15, 2016, at Washington Hospital Center, in Washington DC, as a result of severe cerebral hemorrhage. His life journey took him from the U.S., to the Middle-East, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
In 1918, at the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the Levant fell under French and British mandates. Throughout the Arab World resistance to the foreign occupation stimulated the birth of new national movements. A wave of fresh Arab ideals rushed through the schools, colleges and universities of Aleppo, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem. It is during this unprecedented surge in democratic and social aspirations that Clovis Maksoud was born in 1926, in Oklahoma, to American Lebanese parents.

At the start of World War II in 1939, he was a student at Beirut’s renowned Chouwaifat high school where a group of passionate teachers nurtured his nascent ideals. When Clovis Maksoud enrolled in 1944 at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon was on its way to gain its independence from France. AUB was at the time widely viewed as the cauldron of liberal Arab ideas. During his years at AUB he was greatly influenced by the forward-thinking intellect and pan-Arab ideals of Professor Constantine Zuraik. During that time World War II’s ripples shook the Middle East, tore up Palestine, and destroyed the area’s intertwined political and historical fabric.
After graduating from AUB in 1948, he traveled to study law in the United States where he received his J.D. from George Washington University. In 1951, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas introduced him to Rosemary Curry. They were married in 1951 and had one child, Elizabeth.
Upon Clovis Maksoud’s return to Lebanon in the mid-1950s he became actively involved in democratic and social reforms. The aftermath of 1956 Suez War greatly marked him. It anchored his political commitment and made him an enthusiastic advocate of Arab unity and a vigorous defender of Palestinian rights.
His writings and pan-Arab ideals led to his nomination in 1961 as Ambassador of the Arab League to India and South East Asia. For the duration of his term, Clovis Maksoud played a pivotal role in establishing closer relations between India and the Arab World. In response to the growing tensions of the Cold War, India stood as an outspoken advocate of the interests of the non-aligned countries and showed its unequivocal support of Arab causes and Palestinian rights.