Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos pulled out of a scheduled meeting this week with an Arab-American political group after pressure from some members of the Jewish community, who criticized comments made by the group's leaders about the Middle East.This was a remarkably wimpy statement, showing that DeVos is only doing this out of politics, not because he has a fundamental moral problem with speaking to an organization that explicitly and repeatedly supports Hezbollah. DeVos' statements to the Detroit Jewish News were more explicit but he needs to say those statements to the media at large.
Spokesman John Truscott said Monday that DeVos had a scheduling conflict, adding that DeVos was concerned about pro-Hizballah comments made by the group's leaders.
The Dearborn-based Arab American Political Action Committee had planned to host DeVos at a "Dinner and Politics" meeting this week. The group has hosted other politicians, both Republican and Democrat, over the years and plans to continue inviting candidates from both parties.
But in an article published last week with the headline: "Don't Mainstream Extremists," Robert Sklar, editor of the Detroit Jewish News, said:
"No legitimate candidate for public office should go before the Dearborn-based Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC). That's because its leadership has defended Hezbollah, a virulently anti-Semitic terrorist group that calls for death to America and Israel, seeks an Islamist theocracy and instigated the devastating summertime war against Israel. There's something wrong about candidates for high office in Michigan accepting invitations to address any group that defends Hezbollah."
The article details comments made by AAPAC leaders Osama Siblani and others in recent months during the conflict between Israel and Lebanon.
In the article, Siblani is quoted as saying to the Christian Broadcasting Network that members of Hizballah are not terrorists, but freedom-fighters. The Detroit Jewish News article also quotes Siblani as saying during a rally that the U.S. government is being bought by the Zionist lobby, according to a Free Press article.
Another AAPAC leader is quoted as saying on National Public Radio that Israel is occupied Palestine.
On Monday, Truscott said, "We're concerned about any remarks that would support a terrorist organization."
Siblani said he and the group are "the victim of a smearing campaign in an attempt to stifle debate." He said his comments about Hizballah were made in the context of explaining the views of Arabs.
Many see Hizballah as a freedom-fighting organization, he said. And so his comments "reflect the Arab opinion," Siblani said.
As anyone who ever read the Arab American News can tell you, Siblani is a liar and his newspaper is consistently and vocally pro-Hezbollah. His Dearborn community is not just pro-terror but explicitly threatens Jews - and he is a leader of the organization that held rallies with those very threats. For Osama Siblani to pretend now that he himself doesn't hold these views and that his paper and own editorials are just meant to reflect opinions of others is laughable and remarkably cowardly. His own words, over years and still archived, show who is telling the truth.
Robert Sklar hit the nail on the head in his editorial, which is more damning than this watered-down Detroit Free Press article indicates. The Michigan Arab community is led by people who support terror, and while they have the right to choose their own leaders, Michigan politicians and all people of honor have the duty to call them what they are and refuse to pander to their immoral goals.