THIRD WORLD ALLIANCES: ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISTS IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIESI, 1967–1973
This article examines the Organization of Arab Students’ pro-Palestinian activism on American university campuses in the five years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It explores how Arab and Arab American students translated Arab transnationalist politics into the American protest arena and argues that the Organization of Arab Students consciously designed strategies to gain visibility, legitimacy, and support among anti-imperialist, anti-racist Americans whom they imagined as natural allies. The article seeks to weave the story of Arab American activism into the broader narrative about American civil rights and anti-imperialist activism in the 1960s and 1970s.
Two months after the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967, the Organization of Arab Students (OAS), a student association with chapters at most major US universities, held its annual convention on the MIT campus.1 While most of the meeting was dedicated to dissecting the impact of Israel’s victory in the war and promoting a program for revived Palestinian resistance, Arab and Arab American students in attendance also devoted attention to concurrent struggles by oppressed peoples in the United States and around the world. In particular, OAS leaders expressed their support for the African American civil rights organization SNCC—the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—which was being excoriated in the press that summer because it had taken a strong stance in favor of Palestine.
In July 1967, SNCC ran an article in its newsletter that championed Palestinian liberation. Over the prior two years, the organization had been moving in a nationalist and internationalist direction as its members increasingly framed the African American movement as part of a global, third world struggle for human rights. The article on Palestine, which borrowed heavily from an Arab League pamphlet, was strongly critical of Israel as well as of US support for Israel. It immediately generated a firestorm of protest and outrage from Jewish American and moderate African American groups, a controversy that was covered in the mainstream media.2 SNCC leaders subsequently held a press conference at which they reiterated their censure of Zionism while denying that their position was anti-Semitic.3 OAS leaders came to SNCC’s defense, agreeing that the organization was being unfairly accused of anti-Semitism. Further signaling its solidarity with SNCC and similar civil rights groups, the OAS proceeded to pass a resolution at its 1967 convention that identified “the underlying similarities between the continuing struggle of the Palestinian Arabs in Occupied Palestine against Zionist invasion and exploitation, and the ever-increasing resistance of the Afro-Americans in the United States to a power structure of inequality.”4
As part of a larger project to weave the story of Arab American activism into the broader narrative about American civil rights and anti-imperialist activism in the 1960s and 1970s, in this article I examine activist Arab Americans’ construction of “third world” alliances during that period by focusing on the Organization of Arab Students’ activism on American college campuses. While recognizing the early-twentieth-century precedent for Arab Americans’ perception of solidarity with other colonized and oppressed peoples, I focus on the 1967 War’s galvanizing impact on the politicization of many Arab and Arab American college students.5 Almost coincidentally, that war occurred in the midst of a pivotal moment in the radicalization of global liberation movements, from escalations of anti-war and Black Power movements in the United States to Che Guevara’s and the Vietnamese National Liberation Front’s revolutionary activities in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Fueled by decolonization movements after World War II and taking shape in the non-alignment movement that confronted the Cold War environment of the 1950s, “Third Worldism” intensified in the late 1960s and became an instrumental organizing force among oppositional groups on American campuses.6
Politically conscious Arab and Arab American students connected their advocacy of Palestinian resistance to the activist style and ideologies practiced by other global and American anti-imperialist and anti-racist struggles prominent in the New Left movement of the period. This formulation paralleled the Palestinian fedayeen groups’ simultaneous forging of alliances with third world revolutionary groups, a development that Paul Thomas Chamberlin has closely examined in his book The Global Offensive.7 I am interested in how Arab and Arab American students translated Arab transnationalist politics into the American protest arena, and I examine their strategies for gaining visibility, legitimacy, and support.
Most studies of Third World organizing in the American protest arena during the late 1960s have not recognized that Arab and Arab American students were part of the anti-colonial consciousness-raising occurring on many college campuses. This absence from the literature is partially explained by the small number of those students, but it also derives from a tendency among scholars who write about American leftist and ethno-racial minority movements to ignore or discount pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli political advocacy. Nearly all historical studies of American social and political movements of that period screen out the existence of Arab Americans and the Palestinian cause. Usually, the only Arab American who appears in historical accounts of the 1960s is Sirhan Sirhan (the Palestinian American who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy), and American historians normally omit a contextual discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict when covering the assassination or global conflicts. Ethnic Studies literature about that period dutifully examines African American, Latino American, Asian American, and Native American activism, inscribing those four groups as the ethno-racial categories requiring analysis and comparison. In her book Soul Power, subtitled “the making of the US Third World Left,” Cynthia Young “analyzes the ideas, art forms, and cultural rituals of a group of African Americans, Latino/as, Asian Americans, and Anglos who, inspired by events in the decolonizing world, saw their own plight in global terms.” Young does not, however, include the Arab-Israeli conflict as part of the global struggle that contributed to this emerging Third World perspective, nor does she consider Arab Americans as one of the groups also experiencing this awakening.8 Laura Pulido’s important book Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles exclusively focuses on the same ethno-racial groups as Young, with fleeting recognition of Arab Americans’ existence in L.A. during that period.9 Several studies have examined African Americans’ relationships with Arabs in the Arab World, but they generally neglect consideration of African Americans’ interaction with Arab Americans, rarely acknowledging that people of Arab origin lived in the United States and that some of them were active in US organizations and mosques that advocated positions on Palestine shared by many African Americans.10
While Arab Americans constituted a small population and their activism was admittedly not as prominent as the activism of these other Third World groups in the United States, their nearly complete omission from studies aimed at capturing the histories of marginalized communities is striking. Most of the print sources I examine here are available in major university archives, cataloged alongside well-mined collections from similar Third World student groups, but they have not been incorporated into scholarship about “movement” networks of the era.11 Moreover, many Arab American activists from the period are still around and available to tell their stories–and yet their stories have not been told and integrated into mainstream histories of 1960s activism. The problematic absence of Arab Americans from most Ethnic Studies and history accounts of American minorities has been noted by several Arab American Studies scholars.12 Though Arab Americans’ demography does partly contribute to their invisibility in scholarship, it also stems from Americans’ general antipathies toward Arabs, an attitude which is linked to discomfort with, if not outright opposition to, Arabs’ and Arab Americans’ advocacy of Palestine and hostility to Israel. This article aims to begin filling in some of these silences and overcoming these disinclinations by integrating Arab Americans into the larger narrative of American and global progressive activism in the 1960s and 1970s.
THE OAS AS A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION BEFORE 1967
The Organization of Arab Students was formed in 1952 and held its first convention that year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, chaired by Kamal A. Shair, a student at Yale University. The OAS was primarily a foreign student organization, and the vast majority of its members were temporarily in North America as college students. It is important to recognize, however, that some OAS students intended to remain in the US and began to identify increasingly as Arab Americans, while a few OAS students were from Arab American families. Thus, when I refer to the “Arab students” of the OAS, I am referencing a mixed composition of mostly Arab along with a few Arab American students. The confluence of these two groups in this student organization fostered the cross-fertilization of ideas and the production of a transnationalist Arab American identity, particularly in the climate after the 1967 war.13
Focused on Arab World developments, the OAS developed close ties to, and received funding from, several Arab governments. According to Yvonne Haddad, “The campus OAS chapters were utilized by the Egyptian government to recruit supporters for Arab nationalism from among Arab students at various American universities,” with the aim of preparing the students for leadership roles “they would undertake upon their return to their respective countries.”14 In the 1950s, most Arab students in the United States had come from wealthy backgrounds, and their studies were financed with petrodollar funds. They were almost exclusively young men studying in technical fields and finance. Over the next decade, however, both American institutions and Arab nations offered more scholarship funds to Arab students, creating greater access to an American university education. Most of the Arab students remained men, but some women also traveled to the US for schooling; indeed, a few OAS chapters were led by Arab women students.15
As an explicitly political organization, its orientation was almost exclusively toward addressing Arab World problems by advocating a range of progressive solutions, including advocacy of economic planning and unity among the Arab states, educational development, land reform, and commitment to constitutional rights. By the mid-1950s the OAS developed the emblem “One Arab Nation” to represent its overriding commitment to pan-Arab political unity and its support for Gamal Abdel Nasser. But the proceedings of the first convention emphasized that the primary crisis the students sought to confront was the subjugation of Palestine, which OAS leaders declared was “the most important single problem in the minds of Arabs everywhere, overshadowing any other problem.” The only resolutions receiving unanimous approval, the chairman emphasized in his report, were those regarding Palestine. These Palestinian resolutions called for communicating the realities of the Palestinian situation to Americans and pressuring the United Nations to ameliorate the refugee problem and prevent Israeli settlement on Arab lands.16
A decade after its founding, active chapters of the OAS existed on most major American university campuses and served both social and political purposes. In the early 1960s, the organization claimed a membership of 5,000 students. Headquartered in New York City, the national office of the organization interacted with other foreign student organizations, such as the Pakistani Students Association, the Iranian Students Association, and the Pan-African Students Union, and in 1960 it joined the African Students Union in demonstrations supporting Algerian independence and protesting France for testing an atomic weapon in Algeria. In the early 1960s, many of the OAS chapters across the country sponsored events to publicize the struggle for Algerian independence, such as the University of Chicago chapter that held Algerian Night at the Conrad Hilton Hotel and the MIT chapter that hosted a speaker from the Algerian Front of National Liberation. Many chapters also planned events involving speakers, films, and exhibits to mark U.A.R. Day and Palestine Day. Often, their guest speakers were representatives of the Arab Information Center, the propaganda arm of the League of Arab States. The students themselves gave lectures on their campuses and to local civic groups and churches, such as the Louisiana State University chapter whose members made forty-five presentations in 1960. As further expression of its political project, the OAS occasionally staged public protests at events boosting Israel, such as when Arab students picketed a visit to New York City by Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in 1960, and picketed an Israeli bond dinner in Los Angeles in 1964.17
The OAS also engaged in outreach through its publications. Initially, the OAS newsletter was printed in Arabic, but as time went on the leaders decided to publish it in English “in order to acquaint our American friends who are interested in our activities.” The University of Indiana OAS was one chapter that published its own newsletter, which it described as “designed to acquaint the neighboring community with the Arab world.”18 Throughout most of the 1960s the OAS also published an academic journal, The Arab Journal, that featured articles by scholars at American universities, Arab government officials, socialist Jews, and its own members on Arab economic development, US-Arab relations, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Though it did not have the reach or impact of the Association of Arab American University Graduates’ journal Arab Studies Quarterly, which originated in the 1970s, The Arab Journal provided an important venue for scholarship on the Arab World from a progressive standpoint.19 Some Zionist leaders were apprehensive about the organized Arab students, especially about their publications and outreach, and sought to discredit them. At a 1964 meeting in New York City, the head of the Israel Public Affairs Committee charged that Arab students sponsored by the American Friends of the Middle East and the Arab Information Center were disseminating propaganda and indoctrinating “professors and fellow students against Israel.” In contrast, he stated, his committee’s information campaign sought only to circulate “factual information on events in Israel and the Middle East.”20
THE RADICALIZING IMPACT OF THE 1967 WAR ON OAS ACTIVISM
Thus, by 1967, the OAS already possessed fifteen years of political activism on behalf of Palestinian and Arab nationalism in the United States. Nevertheless, the June War proved a defining moment for OAS members as it did for most Arabs throughout the diaspora. As Evelyn Shakir points out, for Arabs and Arab Americans who were college students in the 1960s, the war “coincided more or less with their coming of age,” when many of them were formulating political views on American and world events. According to Hatem Hussaini, who was a member of OAS at that time, the student organization reacted to the Arabs’ defeat not with demoralization but with heightened political radicalism. The OAS took the lead among Arab American organizations whose “main interest was to strengthen the revolutionary and popular movements in the Arab world and to assist them in mobilizing the masses to defeat Israeli aggression,” Hussaini recalls. OAS members met for three intensive days in July 1967 and emerged with a set of “detailed proposals for Arab political and economic action” which it dispatched to leaders of many Arab states.21
This radicalization and sense of urgency closely matched, and was influenced by, the formation of the Association of Arab American University Graduates (AAUG) later that year. Led by intellectuals and professionals such as Ibrahim Abu-Lughod and Abdeen Jabara, the AAUG fostered solidarities with non-Arab leftists in the US and globally. The AAUG’s positioning in these revolutionary networks was most visible in the speakers it invited to its annual conventions, such as Ania Francos, Krishna Menon, Noam Chomsky, and Stokely Carmichael, along with its yearly resolutions declaring support for revolutionary movements around the world.22 The OAS and the AAUG shared a similar membership: largely foreign born, but inclusive of second- and third-generation Arab Americans, and principally intellectuals and professionals (or training to become so). Together these activist organizations were creating a transnational, activist, increasingly Arab American identity built upon a leftist, non-sectarian political orientation that championed Palestinian revolution. In the late 1960s and 1970s, they often worked together to stage events on American campuses, with AAUG scholars usually serving as speakers at OAS teach-ins on Palestine.
Even more consequential for the students’ radicalization was the intensification of the Palestinian resistance movement. At their convention held at MIT in August 1967, OAS members resolved that “Restoration of Palestine to the Arab homeland is the foremost goal of the Arab Nation” and called for “Arab Unity” in support of “Liberation War.” Support for the resistance was at the center of the OAS’s activism after 1967, and out of the fedayeen groups, the OAS most closely associated with al-Fatah. Fatah leaders sent frequent communications to OAS members, some of which were disseminated in OAS literature handed out on American college campuses. In 1968, Fatah issued an official message to the OAS convention, held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After expounding the necessity for revolutionary armed struggle and touting the fedayeen as the vanguards of the progressive forces in the Arab world, the message called on the Arab students in the United States to support the Palestinian revolution by ensuring Arab unity for the cause. “Brothers,” the message proclaimed, “your responsibility here is no less than that of your brothers who bear arms on the field of battle in the occupied land. The revolution is a complexity of complementary efforts . . . You bear a responsibility that your brothers back home cannot bear and vice versa.”23 The identification with the Palestinian resistance continued to solidify with the arrival at US universities of more Palestinian students who had been living in the environment of the struggle and who brought a nationalist political consciousness and heightened criticism of western powers.24
Although support for the Palestinian resistance was foremost for OAS activists, they were keenly aware of and invested in other revolutionary movements which were reaching a fever pitch in the late 1960s, and the Arab students strategically situated their political cause among them. Tellingly, at its 1967 convention, where it declared support for SNCC’s newsletter article on Palestine, the OAS’s first set of resolutions announced its solidarity with African Americans, the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, and liberation movements in Africa, before the students turned to their resolutions about Palestinian independence and Arab unity. Further resolutions called on Arab states to recognize the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of Korea, and expressed gratitude to the Soviet Union “and other friendly Socialist states which supported the Arab position and resolutely denounced the conspiracies of imperialism and Zionism against revolutionary Arab governments.” The opening statement from the 1967 convention pronounced the students’ mode of analysis: “Our battle is an inseparable part of the imperialistic design being executed against the dynamic revolutionary forces in the Third World.”25
Not surprisingly, the links between Palestinian resistance groups and the OAS, along with the organization’s statements of support for third world communist and socialist regimes, attracted the attention of US government officials and the suspicion of some American Zionists. In their preoccupation with the Arab point of view infiltrating the United States, these Zionists and their government supporters zeroed in on Arab students as constituting the most apparent threat.
The prominent American Jewish organization the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent members to infiltrate the OAS’s 1969 convention at Ohio State University. The ADL members, who pretended to be local media journalists during the convention and used the code names Buckeye, Adam, and Eve in their intelligence reports to the ADL, reported with alarm that:
The political activity of the Arab students in the United States will increase significantly in the coming school year (1969–70) with increasing effectiveness. They are beginning to display a much greater understanding of how to present their arguments to the various levels of the American public (church groups, new left, lower middle class, etc.); and any successes are certain to increase their confidence and, hence, their activity. The situation, however, is by no means hopeless if the proper action is taken immediately. One thing is certain, the threat on the campuses and in the churches can no longer be ignored but must be confronted directly. Otherwise, we will lose by default because the Arabs are making rapid gains in several areas.26
Also in 1969, Congressman Gerald Ford (R-MI) delivered a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in which he branded Arab students as radical agitators and potential terrorists, prompting Arnold Foster, General Counsel of the Anti-Defamation League, to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times supporting Ford’s allegations. Charging that the OAS functioned as “the PLO’s transmission belt,” Forster declared that the OAS “has been the source of a constant stream of anti-Israel and thinly-veiled anti-Semitic propaganda and . . . has participated in extremist revolutionary activities here with financial aid from Arab governments.” The pro-Zionist Near East Report, based in Washington DC, issued warnings about Arab propaganda on American college campuses and claimed that fedayeen were operating in the United States, hidden among Arab students.27
Responding to tips from Zionist groups, both the FBI and the CIA looked into alleged associations between Arab students and Palestinian guerrillas. The CIA did trace money from Arab states to Arab students in the US, but the agency found no illegal activities and reported to the Nixon White House that the threat was negligible.28 The FBI had been conducting surveillance of the OAS since at least 1968 and issued a classified report in June 1970 detailing the interactions between the student organization and Palestinian revolutionary groups, especially Fatah. According to the FBI’s intelligence gathering, OAS members had traveled to the Middle East to meet with Fatah representatives, and Fatah leaders visited the United States on OAS-sponsored fund-raising and propaganda tours. Information included in the report revealed that the FBI had agents or informants present at the OAS’s annual conventions, teach-ins, and fund-raising events, and provided detailed accounts of internal dissension among OAS leaders. The Bureau also investigated the funding that OAS received from the League of Arab States. Although the federal government was clearly keeping a watchful eye on the OAS’s communications with groups the FBI deemed terrorist, the report did state: “There has been no information developed . . . which would establish that terrorist acts have been committed here by any of the Fedayeen groups,” and like the CIA investigation, the FBI found no evidence of actionable law-breaking. However, the report’s authors predicted that the fedayeen would continue to cultivate support among Arabs in the United States through its ties to the OAS, which they implied could escalate into a more threatening situation.29
CAMPUS ACTIVISM AS PART OF THE THIRD WORLD LEFT
OAS campus activism promoting Palestine intensified after 1967. Over the next few years OAS sponsored teach-ins and staged rallies at universities across the United States and mobilized demonstrations at Arab embassies and other American venues hosting Israeli leaders. For example, Arab students at the State University of New York Oswego held a demonstration on their campus in 1968 on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and joined with the OAS chapter at Syracuse University to raise funds “for the widows and orphans of the Palestinian freedom fighters.” The Chicago OAS organized a sizeable protest march at an Israeli fundraising event at the Chicago Civic Opera House in 1969.30 OAS chapters across the country, including those at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University, sponsored teach-ins on the Arab-Israeli conflict featuring speakers such as Ibrahim Abu-Lughod.31
Collections of leaflets distributed by the OAS chapters on the campuses of the University of Michigan, University of Kansas, and University of California-Berkeley in the late 1960s and early 1970s demonstrate the forms of pro-Palestinian activities the organization undertook and the literature it disseminated. On the second anniversary of the June War, the Michigan OAS advertised a “March & a Ralley [sic] in Support of the Palestinian People” at the Diag, a campus gathering place, and throughout the year additional flyers publicizing OAS teach-ins, speakers, and films were produced at Michigan. As mentioned earlier, the leaflets occasionally reproduced Fatah and PLO statements, such as one handed out on the Diag titled “The Position of Al-Fateh,” and another, “The Struggle Goes On,” which was adapted from a publication of the Beirut-based PLO Research Center. The University of Kansas and Berkeley’s OAS affiliates handed out similar literature, including PLO Fact Sheets and the Fatah newsletter, during the Palestine Week they commemorated annually in this period. At one point, the Palestine Resistance Bulletin, aligned with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was handed out on Berkeley’s campus, though it is unclear by whom.
Most OAS literature used both rhetoric and imagery to promote the armed liberation struggle. For example, a flyer from 1969 featured a sketch of hands holding rifles with bayonets and invited the Michigan campus to a screening of a film about Palestinian commandoes. Berkeley’s Arab student group handed out a flyer in 1969 emblazoned with the catchphrase “The Time of the Gun,” and illustrated with images of guerrilla fighters. Another, from the University of Kansas, was titled “A National Liberation Struggle Against Zionism and Imperialism in the Middle East” and depicted a Palestinian guerrilla holding a rifle.32 This celebration of militant anti-imperialist struggle was characteristic of the activist style of the global and American New Left in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Numerous groups on American campuses were simultaneously producing literature idealizing Vietnamese, Latin American, and African guerrillas with similar iconography of the AK-47 rifle as the symbol for insurgency.
Tapping into this context, Arab student literature often posed parallels between the Palestinian freedom fighters and other Third World revolutionaries in a strategy to gain broader support from non-Arab leftists in the United States. For example, one leaflet handed out at Berkeley declared: “Southeast Asians Struggle for Independence, Palestinians Struggle for Freedom, G.I.’s Struggle for Liberty,” and another handbill urged: “People of America: Do Not Allow Another Cambodia in Jordan.” Invoking the anti-war movement’s disgust with American intervention in Vietnam, to the detriment of reform initiatives at home, Berkeley’s Arab Student Association’s “Speak Out Now” leaflet from 1973 asked,
Wouldn’t the American tax-payer prefer to support projects to combat poverty, environmental pollution and other similar projects with his money than allow Nixon and the Israel-run Congress to force him to pay taxes for Israel’s war machinery? Speak out now, support the Arab cause, support the self determination of the Palestinian people. Stop the murderous ‘advisors’ in the Middle East. Donate to: Arab Relief Fund.33
Creating solidarity out of their shared dedication to anti-imperialist revolution, OAS chapters often partnered with campus organizations that represented Third World students and oppositional politics. The Arab student group at Berkeley regularly formed these coalitions as a major feature of its activist approach. For example, in 1970, it co-sponsored a film festival on campus with the leftist group Liberation Support Movement that screened films about “people’s wars” in Angola, Vietnam, and Palestine, along with a film about the Black Panthers. Later that fall, the Arab students showed The Battle of Algiers, followed by a film about the Palestinian revolution, and their publicity material announced: “Algiers, Vietnam, Palestine, Angola! Dig! Come and Relive the Battle!” Berkeley’s Palestine Week teach-ins and rallies featured speakers from the Black Students Union, Young Socialists Alliance, Progressive Labor Party, and the Iranian Students Association. The relationship between the Iranian students and the Arab students was especially close. Internationally, the leftist Confederation of Iranian Students National Union (CISNU) was a strong supporter of Palestinians, especially of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which had a stronger presence in the Middle East and Europe than it did in the United States in this period. The alliance translated into solidarity among radical Arab and Iranian students at American universities as well.34
Pro-Israeli students were also organizing and demonstrating at Berkeley in these years. The Hillel organization distributed copies of the periodical The Jewish Radical on campus which defended Zionism from a New Left perspective. Rallies for Israel were held on campus, along with a conference at Hillel House by a coalition of Jewish groups calling itself Youth Committee for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East. One pamphlet from the period, which does not identify the sponsoring organization, specifically attacked the Arab Student Association and warned that Arab propaganda was “trying to wash your brain” and “mislead you.”35
THE OAS AND ALLIANCES AT WAYNE STATE
One of the most active OAS chapters in the late 1960s was at Wayne State University in Detroit. Exemplifying the activist style of the OAS, the chapter at Wayne showcased the alliances that the organization cultivated with other leftist groups on college campuses. Like other chapters, Wayne’s OAS stepped up its rallies and teach-ins on campus and in the city in the few years following the 1967 war. Although I do not have precise membership data from multiple OAS chapters to make a comparison, I suspect that the OAS at Wayne State, located in the metropolitan area with the largest working-class and Muslim Arab American population, was distinctive for involving more Arab American students and closer ties to the Arab American community than did other OAS chapters. The political and cultural environment at Wayne State fostered the Arab student activists’ intersections with other political activists. Several leaders of Wayne’s OAS in this period, principally Nabeel Abraham, Hasan Nawash, and George Khoury, were active in other New Left causes and joined with many other students to protest against racism and against the war in Vietnam during a constant swirl of rallies and demonstrations on and near campus in Detroit. In this way, these Arab and Arab American students made connections with non-Arab activists, making common cause over both shared ideology and practices of protest and consciousness-raising.
One of the main leaders of Wayne’s OAS chapter in the late 1960s was Palestinian-American Nabeel Abraham, later a professor of anthropology at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn. Abraham was born in the United States to parents who had emigrated separately from Palestine and met in America. The family moved to Detroit in 1955 when Nabeel was very young, and he attended Detroit public schools, graduating from Detroit’s well-known Cass Tech High School. Growing up, his family attended a mosque in the Southend neighborhood of Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit with a heavy concentration of Arab American residents, and he and his siblings also went to an Arabic language class at the mosque. His family was not very politically active, but he does remember being caught up in the Detroit-area Arab community’s enthusiasm for Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s. When the June War of 1967 occurred, he did not become politicized; instead, he recalls that the war “left us rather devastated . . . our ethnic identity took a beating.” At the time, he gave up on the Arabs and felt they were “like losers.”36
Abraham’s senior year of high school, the fall of 1967 through the spring of 1968, coincided with a very tumultuous time in the United States. In this year, Abraham experienced a political coming-of-age, but not on Arab issues. Through his relationships with non-Arab friends in Detroit, he was increasingly cognizant of the war in Vietnam and the oppression of African Americans, and he became drawn to the anti-war and civil rights movements. After he enrolled at Wayne State in the fall of 1968, an Arab student activist named Hasan Nawash who was collecting donations for Palestinian relief came in contact with Abraham’s mother. She expressed her concern that Nabeel was disconnected from Arab culture and politics, and Nawash told her about Wayne State’s chapter of the Organization of Arab Students, of which he was president. Mrs. Abraham pressed her son to contact Nawash and join the OAS, which he eventually did. It wasn’t long before Abraham became wholeheartedly dedicated to advocacy for Palestine during his college years as a member of OAS. He remembers shifting from disenchantment to enthusiasm for Arab people; he felt a desire to embrace his Arab identity through mastering the language, specializing in the study of Arab culture, and socializing with Arabs. He remembers, “I saw myself as part of a wider movement to build a new Arab society.”37
Hasan Nawash’s background was a little different from Abraham’s. He, too, came from a Muslim family in Palestine, but he had been born there and lived in East Jerusalem until he was nineteen. He migrated to the United States on his own in 1960 to attend college and remained in the United States after graduating. Growing up, his experience living in occupied Palestine made him feel alienated, like “nothing,” “an outcast,” he later told Janice Terry in an interview. In his youth Nawash developed a political consciousness that blended Arab and Palestinian nationalism, although by 1960 he and his community had become resentful of the Jordanian regime for its harsh treatment of Palestinians. As a college student in the Detroit area he was passionate about the anti-Vietnam war movement. Although Nawash was already politically active and an officer of the OAS chapter before the war, he experienced the June War as a transformative event, “the wakeful kind of alarm,” that caused him to focus even more fervently on the question: “how do I get to make a significant contribution to my own people’s struggle. . . ?” He obtained a substantial amount of literature from the Arab World and found himself attracted to the stance of the Marxist resistance group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.38
Another student who became active in Wayne State’s OAS in the late 1960s was George Khoury, born in Palestine to a Christian family. Like Nawash, he came to the United States in the early 1960s to attend college; his parents and two of his siblings joined him in the United States shortly after the war in 1967, and he still resides in the Detroit area. Earlier in the 1960s, Khoury had what he calls a “typical teenage commitment” to Arab nationalism and Nasser. Like so many other Arabs, he identifies the June War as a watershed event, but it did not demoralize him; instead, he states, “something in the soul went in and said regroup and find a new way. Don’t give up . . .” He disassociated from his social life and non-political friends and started to spend his time with activists who were similarly committed to Palestine. He acquired every publication about Palestine that he could get his hands on with a mission to educate himself about the political stances emanating from various factions in the Arab World. He joined the Arab American Congress for Palestine in Detroit, but he found it too traditional in its approach.39
At this point, Khoury was taking graduate courses in bio-engineering at Wayne State and became involved with the OAS there. He was instrumental in finding and fixing up a building on Cass Avenue near campus to rent for the organization’s meeting place, often referred to as the Arab Club. It was also where the organization printed its newsletter. (The Arab students who congregated there sometimes interacted with the staff of The Fifth Estate, an anarchist underground newspaper whose office was nearby.) The first OAS meeting Nabeel Abraham attended his freshman year at Wayne was at the Arab Club on Cass; Hasan Nawash was also in attendance, along with a woman from Saudi Arabia, Soraya Obaid, who was running the meeting and served as president of Wayne’s OAS in 1968–1969.40
Similar to OAS chapters throughout the country, the students ramped up their activism at Wayne State in the late 1960s through early 1970s. They held demonstrations, teach-ins, and scholarly seminars, some of which included leftist Israelis as guest speakers. They even staged dramatic plays. Khoury remembers one play put on by the OAS titled “Palestine on the Cross” that compared Jesus Christ’s suffering to the Palestinians; it drew a sizeable audience and caused considerable controversy. They promoted the Palestinian cause in different venues on campus, including placing literature and exhibits in showcases in the library and student center building. The chapter continued to host its traditional Arabian Night, featuring Arab music and “exotic Arab food,” for the purpose of raising funds for Palestinian charities. Members of the organization also participated in demonstrations held in Detroit to protest US support for Israel. OAS members at Wayne also interacted with the national network of Arab student activists, for example by occasionally attending the national OAS conferences held in different cities. Abraham emphasizes that it was only a select group of radical Arab students, in which he counts himself, who were at the center of these activities.41
Perhaps even more than other Arab groups that closely followed Arab World politics, the OAS at Wayne replicated the divisive factions of the Palestinian resistance movement—chiefly Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. While the newsletter printed in the OAS’s building on Cass Avenue was ostensibly put out by OAS, it was actually taken over by students aligned with one Palestinian faction or another at various times. The newsletter was normally printed in Arabic and featured clippings of publications from Palestinian and other Arab World organizations. Sometimes it included reprints of English-language articles, such as from the Christian Science Monitor. According to Khoury, the supporters of Fatah were always the most numerous among the students in OAS. (He emphasizes that he and the other activist Arab students were not actually members of the Palestinian groups; instead, they were sympathizers who operated in solidarity with one faction or another.) The factionalism could be debilitating at times. OAS students quarreled with each other over elections of officers, which speakers would be invited to their functions, and what materials to place in the library showcase. Barbara Aswad, a professor of anthropology at Wayne State, eventually left her position as faculty advisor to the OAS because she “got tired of their fighting, quite honestly.”42
Though the students had difficulty achieving consensus among themselves, they were able to create coalitions with other leftist organizations at Wayne State. The OAS’s alliance with the radical network on campus was especially evident in the support the Arab students received from the student newspaper. The newspaper, called The South End, was run by students who were instrumental in the black nationalist Revolutionary Union Movement (the best known of which was DRUM–Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement), which promoted blacks’ rights in Detroit’s auto plants and eventually became organized as the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Under the editorship of League leaders John Watson and Mike Hamlin, The South End promoted black nationalism and other revolutionary causes. Sympathetic to the Palestinian resistance, the editors gave the OAS frequent space. For example, in 1968, the paper ran a long interview with Hasan Nawash in which he outlined the Palestinian resistance’s strategy of mobilizing the masses and deploying prolonged guerrilla warfare to liberate its territory. In 1969 the paper printed Nabeel Abraham’s guest editorial about the links between Fatah and liberation struggles throughout the Third World. Furthermore, the newspaper and associated radical student groups co-sponsored OAS rallies against appearances in Detroit of Israeli leaders Menachem Begin in 1968 and General Itzhak Rabin in 1969.43
Also in 1969, The South End ran a feature article by its news editor Nick Medvecky—a former member of the Young Socialist Alliance who had recently visited Jordan—that extolled Fatah. About a month later it printed a lengthy Fatah statement that had been submitted by the OAS. This was too much for the university’s administrators who had been uncomfortable with The South End’s revolutionary politics for months. In response to the pro-Palestinian articles, outraged alums pressured the university’s Board of Governors to shut down the paper. Wayne State’s president issued a sharp rebuke to the editors, chastising the paper for “inaccurate and slanted” articles and “mean and spiteful propaganda attacks.” The only example he gave of these objectionable practices was the paper’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he called “highly irresponsible and inflammatory.” Although the administration did not shut down the paper, a power struggle ensued, and John Watson eventually left his editor post. Nevertheless, the paper remained leftist in orientation, and while it toned down its militant advocacy of some issues, it continued to publish articles supportive of the Palestinian guerrillas and to participate in forums supporting Arab students.44
Contact between Wayne State’s OAS and other radicals extended beyond campus and the student newspaper. OAS leaders occasionally gave talks at League of Revolutionary Black Workers’ meetings, and on a couple of occasions brought activists who were visiting from the Arab World, including representatives of Fatah, to meet with the League. For their part, a handful of the OAS activists assisted the League in a few of its organizing activities; for instance, Nabeel Abraham distributed RUM leaflets at the Dodge Main auto plant.45
While the OAS maintained these links with non-Arab activist organizations on campus, and even received support from the student government (which approved the OAS’s funding requests to bring in speakers), the alliances were not usually solid or reliable. Abraham remembers planning events with other political groups on campus as a way to signal solidarity and reach a broader audience, but found that students were frequently “hard to work with,” largely because they were focused on their own pet causes. They promised they would come to a demonstration or speaker but often did not attend. The same phenomenon of pledging support yet not following through also applied to Arab students’ behavior toward other groups. Moreover, not all members of OAS were supportive of the organizations that formed the leftist network at Wayne State. Abraham recalls that some Arab students were resistant to forming connections with the women’s liberation and gay liberation groups on campus, and some were even hesitant about working with African American groups. According to Khoury, some Arab activists were reluctant about visibly interacting with black radicals because blacks were “always harassed by the whites and the FBI. And if we had done it, we would have been targeted. So we said, let’s be friends with them outside of certain areas so we won’t be targeted.” On the other hand, other political groups on campus were not always welcoming to the Arab activists; Arab students sometimes encountered leftist students in groups such as Students for a Democratic Society who supported Zionism and spurned the OAS.46
In the early 1970s, some of the key leaders of Wayne’s OAS shifted to organizing in the Arab American community, focusing on the immigrant neighborhood in Dearborn which, coincidentally, was also called the Southend. By the early 1970s, Arab immigrants, mainly from Lebanon, Palestine, and increasingly from Yemen, comprised the majority of the residents of this historically immigrant, working-class neighborhood adjacent to the Ford Rouge auto plant. Nawash, the OAS student most committed to community organizing, stated, “At the time the Arab student organization saw its mission not just among the students. It really saw its mission to also connect with their community.” Abraham echoes this observation, stating, “increasingly the activists drifted from campus to community.” Khoury also turned his focus to the Southend, but he emphasizes that the community organizing there was undertaken by individuals like himself who had been active in the OAS at Wayne, not by the OAS as an organization.47
Khoury, Nawash, Abraham, and a few other Wayne State students began to regularly interact with the Arab residents of the Southend, mainly by sitting and talking with them at the numerous ethnic-based coffeehouses in the neighborhood, with the goal of organizing support and raising funds for the Palestinian resistance movement. The students sold literature put out by the Palestinian revolutionary groups, such as publications by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They also sold posters and buttons with slogans such as “Palestine ’Til Victory,” normally written in Arabic. Nawash felt that the recent immigrants in the Southend were “more open to political work” and that the neighborhood provided “a fertile ground” for the students’ promotion of Palestinian revolutionary politics. In contrast, they rarely reached out to older generations of Arab Americans (whom Nawash referred to as “the Americans”) in Dearborn.48 The recent immigrants’ closer ties with the Arab world, it seemed, made them more receptive to the transnational political work, and in particular to the advocacy of armed revolutionary struggle and Marxist ideology, that the students promulgated in their visits to the neighborhood.
Besides engaging in lengthy discussions of the Palestinian resistance and disseminating the fedayeens’ literature, the students occasionally showed films in the Southend. Abraham had a part-time job at Wayne State as a film projectionist, and he sometimes borrowed the projection equipment from the university and took it into the neighborhood. The students would get films about Palestine and the Arab World, usually from the leftist film collective Newsreel, and show them on campus and in the Southend to raise money. Abraham specifically remembers showing The Battle of Algiers in the community and being pleased that many Yemenis attended. Yemenis who supported the Omani rebels who were fighting the British held political events in the Southend, mainly ḥaflas that incorporated lecture and poetry about the rebellion, and the OAS students became involved in supporting those activities as well. This small group of student activists had thus established themselves as fixtures in the political life of the Southend. Accordingly, the students, especially Nawash and Khoury, were part of the nucleus of community activists who established an Arab community center in the neighborhood, which became the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in 1972. Over the next several years, Arab students from Wayne State were part of the volunteer crew at ACCESS.49
By helping to foster a political climate in the Southend that led to the formation of ACCESS, the student activists contributed to a significant accomplishment that held meaningful consequences for Arab Americans in that community. While the OAS could not point to concrete achievements on the Palestine question, some students did raise the consciousness of Arab Americans and created bridges to non-Arab activists which eventually led to coalitions in the city that supported Arab and Arab American rights.
In conclusion, the politically active students in the OAS borrowed discourse and tactics from American Black and New Left activists at the same time as the American Black and New Left movements anchored on many American campuses were becoming progressively oriented toward third world struggles. This convergence created a fertile space for Arab-American pro-Palestinian advocacy in American activist networks in the late 1960s. The intersections among these leftist groups also provoked increased surveillance and repression by American authorities. Nevertheless, the relationships among Arab-American activists and other leftist groups continued to grow over the next decade, and by the mid-1980s these relationships were one factor that contributed to the increasing support shown by more liberal (as opposed to militantly Leftist) Americans, especially liberal African American leaders, for the Palestinian position.
The formal title of the organization was The Organization of Arab Students in the United States and Canada. Many of its affiliate chapters carried the title Arab Student Association or Arab Club.↩︎
“Third World Round Up, The Palestinian Problem: Test Your Knowledge,” SNCC Newsletter, June–July 1967, 4–5, in Labadie Special Collections, University of Michigan; Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 266; Keith P. Feldman, “Representing Permanent War: Black Power’s Palestine and the End(s) of Civil Rights,” CR: The New Centennial Review, 8, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 217.↩︎
Gene Roberts, “SNCC Charges Israel Atrocities,” New York Times, 15 August 1967; Kathleen Teltsch, “SNCC Criticized for Israel Stand,” New York Times, 16 August 1967; Carson, 268.↩︎
"Resume of Resolutions, 16th Annual Convention" 28 Aug–2 Sept 1967, in The Arab Journal, 4 (Fall 1967): 80–82; Lewis Young, “American Blacks and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” Journal of Palestine Studies, 2 (Fall 1972): 76. The following year, SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael attended the OAS convention held in Ann Arbor. In 1978, Carmichael’s organization the All African People’s Revolutionary Party joined with the OAS to stage a major demonstration in Washington D.C. in support of the PLO and African liberation. See Juan Williams, “African, Arab Groups Stage Rally,” Washington Post, 14 May 1978.↩︎
On the associations of Arab Americans, particularly Muslim Arab Americans, with global anti-colonialism in the early twentieth century, see Sally Howell, Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 63–96.↩︎
See Cynthia A. Young, Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism, and the Making of a U.S. Third World Left (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006); Max Elbaum, Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che (London: Verso Press, 2002); George Katsiaficas, The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968 (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1987); Arif Dirlik, “The Third World,” in 1968: The World Transformed¸ ed. Carole Fink, et. al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 295–317.↩︎
Paul Thomas Chamberlin, The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).↩︎
Near the beginning of her study, Pulido includes population data for each ethnic group in Los Angeles in 1970 and lists the following groups in descending order: White, Hispanic, African American, Asian American, Middle Eastern, American Indian, and Other. She discusses American Indians in L.A. and explains why she did not select them as a focus for one of the book’s case studies, but she does not include a similar discussion of “Middle Easterners” and why they are not a part of the book’s analysis, even though her data demonstrates that more “Middle Easterners” lived in L.A. than American Indians. Pulido does, however, once mention Arab Americans in passing when listing “smaller groups,” including Filipinos and Vietnamese, who were inspired by Black Power (5, 42, 91).↩︎
Lewis Young, “American Blacks and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” Journal of Palestine Studies, 2, no. 1 (1972): 70–85; Robert Newby, “Afro-Americans and Arabs: An Alliance in the Making?” Journal of Palestine Studies, 10, no. 2 (1981): 50–58; Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Keith P. Feldman, “Representing Permanent War: Black Power’s Palestine and the End(s) of Civil Rights,” CR: The New Centennial Review, 8, no. 2 (2008): 193–231; Sohail Daulatzai, Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012); Samir Meghelli, “From Harlem to Algiers: Transnational Solidarities Between the African American Freedom Movement and Algeria, 1962–1978,” in Black Routes to Islam, edited by Manning Marable and Hishaam D. Aidi (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 99–119.↩︎
For example, I found several leaflets by the OAS in a collection at University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library—the Wystan Stevens collection—that features leaflets and similar materials from dozens of student groups, collected by a university archivist during the late 1960s. The Labadie Special Collections library at the University of Michigan specializes in materials from oppositional social movements, and it includes OAS and other Arab American sources intermingled in its diverse and rich collection. University of California-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library’s Social Protest Collection includes extensive materials by Arab American and other pro-Palestinian student organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. Handwritten notations on the materials indicate that university archivists collected them with the same methods that they collected leaflets from scores of other student groups on campus. To my knowledge, they have never been utilized in published scholarship. The University of Kansas and North Carolina State University represent two universities whose archivists catalogued OAS records in their Student Organization collections. One might say these student records are hidden in plain sight. However, their usefulness is limited because they are fragments picked up by archivists and lack contextualizing narratives. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to interview former OAS activists at universities other than Wayne State University (which, ironically, does not hold archival records of the OAS, other than articles that appeared in its student newspaper.) In my other work on Arab American activism during this period, I use expressly Arab American archival collections that were created by Arab and Arab American activists and donated to archives, and they include references to the OAS. These include Abdeen Jabara’s papers, Janice Terry’s papers, and Barbara Aswad’s papers at the Bentley Historical Library (along with several other Arab American manuscript collections housed there), the Association of Arab American University Graduates papers at Eastern Michigan University, and Fayez Sayegh’s papers at the University of Utah.↩︎
Therese Saliba, “Resisting Invisibility: Arab Americans in Academia and Activism,” in Arabs in America: Building a New Future, ed. Michael W. Suleiman (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999), 307–8; Ella Shohat and Evelyn Alsultany, “The Cultural Politics of ‘the Middle East’ in the Americas: An Introduction,” in Evelyn Alsultany and Ella Shohat, eds., Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), 21–2.↩︎
Muslim students also formed an organization on US college campuses, the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Established in 1963, its membership was dominated by Arab students affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim World League. The MSA rejected the political Arab nationalism that was embraced by the OAS. Much more than the OAS, MSA members withdrew from American culture and society in their endeavor to practice strict Islam. See Yvonne Yzbeck Haddad, “Maintaining the Faith of the Fathers: Dilemmas of Religious Identity in the Christian and Muslim Arab American Communities,” in The Development of Arab-American Identity, ed. Ernest McCarus, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), 75–6; Howell, 202–6; “Edward E. Curtis IV, “Islamism and Its African American Muslim Critics: Black Muslims in the Era of the Arab Cold War,” American Quarterly 59, no. 3 (September 2007): 689.↩︎
Yvonne Haddad, “Nationalist and Islamist Tendencies in Contemporary Arab American Communities,” in Arab Nationalism and the Future of the Arab World (Belmont, MA: Association of Arab American University Graduates, 1986), 147; Author interview with Nabeel Abraham, 20 August 2012.↩︎
Unfortunately, I have not been able to ascertain the national origins of OAS members in the 1960s. Surviving records are scant. Edward B. Fiske, “Arab and Iranian Students Increasing at U.S. Colleges,” New York Times, 28 March 1975; Paul D. Garrett and Kathleen A. Purpura, Frank Maria: A Search for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007), 223–4; Mohamed Nimer, “The Americanization of Islamism” The American Interest, July/August 2011, http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=980. In 1960, the Columbia University and University of Michigan chapters were led by female presidents. The University of Michigan chapter’s report in the OAS Yearbook stated, “In keeping with the tradition of encouraging Arab girls to take part in club affairs, the club elected its third lady president.” In the late 1960s, Wayne State University’s OAS chapter was led by Soraya Obaid. See Organization of Arab Students, Yearbook, (New York City, 1961), 6, in Labadie Special Collections, University of Michigan; Author Interview with Barbara Aswad, 24 August 2012.↩︎
Young Arab Speaks: A Symposium, The Proceedings of the First Arab Student Convention (New York: Organization of Arab Students, 1953), iv, 70–72.↩︎
OAS, Yearbook (1961); “Arab Students Picket Dinner,” Los Angeles Times, 12 October 1964.↩︎
OAS, Yearbook; Ziyad Husami, OAS Newsletter Committee Chairman, to Fayez Sayegh, 25 January 1963, in Fayez Sayegh Papers, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Box 243, Folder: Organization of Arab Students in the United States. Husami stated that the OAS newsletter’s circulation in 1963 was 7,000 recipients.↩︎
The Arab Journal, vol. II (1965) – vol. VI (1969).↩︎
OAS, Yearbook, 1961; Irving Spiegel, “Rabbi Contends Arab Students Foster Sentiment Against Israel,” New York Times, 14 September 1964.↩︎
Evelyn Shakir, Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997), 96; Hatem I. Hussaini, “The Impact of the Arab-Israeli Conflict on Arab Communities in the United States,” in Settler Regimes in Africa and the Arab World: The Illusion of Endurance, ed. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod and Baha Abu-Laban (Wilmette, IL: Medina University Press International, 1974), 207–8.↩︎
Arab American University Graduates, The First Decade 1967–1977 (Detroit: AAUG, 1977), 27–9, 39; Naseer H. Aruri, “AAUG: A Memoir,” Arab Studies Quarterly, 29, no. 3-4 (Summer–Fall 2007): 40.↩︎
Hussaini, 207º8; “Resume of Resolutions”; “The Palestinian Revolution: Message from the Palestine National Liberation Movement (Fatah) to the 17th Annual Convention of Arab Students in the United States and Canada,” held in Ann Arbor, MI, 26º31 August 1968, in Labadie Special Collections, University of Michigan.↩︎
Rabab Abdulhadi, “Activism and Exile: Palestinianness and the Politics of Solidarity,” in Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America, ed. Melissa Checker and Maggie Fishman (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 235–6.↩︎
“Resume of Resolutions”; Nadine Naber, Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 43.↩︎
Declassified FBI and ADL documents, accessed 18 July 2014, http://www.irmep.org/ila/ADL/1199215---62-NY-10686---Section2.pdf, 156–181. Along with monitoring the OAS, the FBI was monitoring the ADL and thereby obtained this report on the OAS convention by the ADL agents. The FBI became concerned that the ADL was passing this information to Israel and thus violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. See The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, “The FBI and the Anti-Defamation League,” The Israel Lobby Archive, accessed 18 July 2014, http://www.irmep.org/ila/ADL/.↩︎
“Ford: Mideast Agitators on U.S. Campuses,” Sandusky Register 25 April 1969 [United Press International]; Arnold Forster, Letter to the Editor of the New York Times, 28 May 1969; Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Not Quite American? The Shaping of Arab and Muslim Identity in the United States (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2004), 20; Hussaini, 216–7. Also see Boris Smolar, “New Arab-American Effort Bears Watching by U.S. Jews,” The Cleveland Jewish News, 3 August 1973, in Abdeen Jabara Papers, Bentley Library, University of Michigan, Box 12, Folder: Activities – NAAA – Press Clippings.↩︎
Seymour Hersh, “Alien-Radical Tie Disputed by CIA,” New York Times, 25 May 25, 1973; Charles R. Gessert, “A Non-Arab Looks at an Anti-Arab-American Policy,” in The Civil Rights of Arab-Americans: “The Special Measures,” ed. M.C. Bassiouni (North Dartmouth, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, 1974), 23.↩︎
Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Fedayeen Impact – Middle East and United States, June 1970,” accessed 18 April 2013,
Hussaini, 207; “Activities of OAS Chapters,” OAS News, March–April 1969, in Labadie Special Collections, University of Michigan Library; “Demonstration and Fund Raising at Oswego,” AAUG Newsletter, March 1969; “Arabs Protest Israel Event,” Chicago Tribune, 19 May 1969; Ivan C. Brandon, “Protesting Students Seize Arab Office,” Washington Post, 29 March 1972; “Protest Israel War Salesman,” Committee To Support Middle East Liberation Newsletter February 1970, in Committee to Support Middle East Liberation records, The Social Protest Collection, Subseries 6.3: Foreign Movements, Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley. Also see: “Protest $1000 a plate fund raising dinner for Zionist aggression,” flyer, 13 November 1973, which called for picketing at a hotel in San Francisco; and “Mass Rally in Union Square in Support of the Palestinian Revolution,” flyer, n.d., which contained information about carpools from Berkeley and San Jose State to San Francisco, in Israeli Arab Conflict Records 1969–1973, The Social Protest Collection.↩︎
“Members in the News,” AAUG Newsletter, June 1969; “Perspective for Peace in the Middle East, talk by Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod,” Flyer, 7 February 1969, in Wystan Stevens Papers, Box 1, Folder: Organization of Arab Students, 1969, at Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. The 1969 AAUG Annual Report stated that in 1969 AAUG members spoke at teach-ins held at Columbia University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, University of Nebraska, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and University of Wisconsin. AAUG Annual report, December 1969, AAUG Papers, Special Collections, Eastern Michigan University Library, Box 23, Folder: Board Meeting Minutes, 1969.↩︎
Collections of flyers in: Wystan Stevens Papers, Box 1, Folder: Organization of Arab Students, 1969; Organization of Arab Students records, University of Kansas, University Archives, Student Organization Records, Record Group 67/9; Israeli Arab Conflict Records 1969–1973, and Arab Student Association Records 1968-1974, in The Social Protest Collection.↩︎
Flyers found in Israeli Arab Conflict Records 1969–1973, and Arab Student Association Records 1968–1974, in The Social Protest Collection.↩︎
“Press Ignores UC Arabs’ Rap,” Berkeley Barb, 7–13 July 1967; Israeli Arab Conflict Records 1969–1973, Arab Student Association Records 1968–1974, and Liberation Support Movement Records 1967–1974 in The Social Protest Collection. Iranian Student Association and Arab Students in North California, “Dhofar: Revolution and Politics of Oil in the Persian-Arabian Gulf,” Pamphlet, 1974, in Labadie Special Collections, University of Michigan library; Afshin Matin-Asgari, Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2002), 135. I have found evidence of General Union of Palestine Students presence at a few American universities later in the 1970s and 1980s.↩︎
Israeli Arab Conflict Records 1969–1973, and Israel Action Committee Records, 1976–1977 in The Social Protest Collection.↩︎
Interview with Nabeel Abraham, 26 August 1996, Janice Terry Papers, Bentley Library, University of Michigan, Box 1, Folder: Oral History Interview with Nabeel Abraham; Author Interview with Abraham.↩︎
Interview with Abraham, Janice Terry Papers; Author Interview with Abraham; Nabeel Abraham, “To Palestine and Back: Quest for Place” in Arab Detroit: From Margin to Mainstream, ed. Nabeel Abraham and Andrew Shryock (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000), 453.↩︎
Interview with Hasan Nawash, 7 August 1996, in Janice Terry Papers, Box 1, Folder: Oral history interview with Hasan Nawash.↩︎
Interview with George Khoury, 31 July 1994, in Janice Terry Papers, Box 1, Folder: Oral history interview with George Khoury.↩︎
Author Interview with George Khoury, 16 July 2012; Abraham, “To Palestine and Back,” 452–53.↩︎
Author Interview with Abraham; Author Interview with Khoury; Laurel D. Wigle and Sameer Y. Abraham, “Arab Nationalism in America: The Dearborn Arab Community,” in Immigrants and Migrants: The Detroit Ethnic Experience, ed. David W. Hartman (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1974), 295; “Blacks and Arabs to Protest Israeli Speaker,” The South End, 4 June 1968; Niko Boyias, “Arab Supporters Demonstrate,” The South End, 27 January 1969.↩︎
Author Interviews with Khoury, Abraham, and Barbara Aswad.↩︎
Soraya Obaid, “The Truth Behind Begin and Zionism,” The South End, 6 June 1968; “Student Head ‘Frustrated’ – Talks of ‘Guerrilla’ War,” The South End, 28 May 1968; Nabeel Abraham, “The World’s Oppressed Speak,” The South End, 10 January 1969.↩︎
Nick Medvecky, “Al-Fatah,” The South End, 8 January 1969; Boyias, “Arab Supporters Demonstrate”; “Fatah, the Palestine National Liberation Movement,” The South End, 7 February 1969; Keast, letter to the editor, The South End, 10 February 1969. Also see The Wayne State University Board of Governors, Official Proceedings, 13 February 1969, Vol. 13, 1968-1969 at The Reuther Library; Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, third edition, (Chicago: Haymarket Press, 2012), 48, 52.↩︎
Author Interviews with Khoury and Abraham.↩︎
Ibid.; Nawash, interview with Janice Terry.↩︎
Another student active in this organizing was Muhsen Munem. Nawash, interview with Janice Terry; Author Interview with Ismael Ahmed, 22 May 2012; Author Interview with Abraham.↩︎
Author Interview with Abraham.↩︎