Culture: Writing to the LA Commission on Human Relations

Subject: Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations Award
Date: September 14, 2006 10:46:30 PM PDT

Dear Los Angeles County Commission:

I have recently been informed that your commission intends to recognize Dr. Maher Hathout of the Muslim Public Affairs Council with an award later this year.

In reading comments for (Daniel Sokatch) and against (David A. Lehrer and Joe R. Hicks) his selection for this award in the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times of September 14, 2006, I feel compelled to express my opinion that you should seriously reconsider your decision.

A search of the LA Times yielded an article by Teresa Watanabe dated September 12 that described the heated public hearing where both sides expressed their views on Dr. Hathout. It would seem to me that an individual that has generated such controversy would be a dubious candidate for receiving a Human Relations award. If the goal of the award is to highlight an individual who has fostered unity amidst our diverse city, how is it possible that he has received such vigorous opposition?

Individuals are entitled to express their opinions. However, in the context of an award for building human relations, I have to be concerned about Dr. Hathout's selection as he has made comments that seem somewhat ambiguous about terrorism that borders on justification. Additionally, though Dr. Hathout's is entitled to be critical of Israel, if he uses rhetoric that is offensive to Jews then I would question his credentials as a bridge builder in human relations.

I look forward to hearing from the newspaper the decision of your commission.

Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns.