University of Chicago Medicine Breast Cancer June 2022
Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Turning hatred into humor

By Ray Hanania

Anyone who has followed my columns over the past 45 years knows that I have a knack for finding myself in some major controversies.

I enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War in college and, after being honorably discharged, was the subject of a two-year long FBI investigation. They thought I was an Arab terrorist. Banks mysteriously closed my accounts, and I lost two jobs. Friends stopped talking to me. I only learned about the investigation years later, when I used the Freedom of Information Act to pry loose the information from the government.

RayHanania 1

Ray Hanania

When Jane Byrne was elected Chicago’s mayor, her husband, Jay McMullen, threatened to punch me in the nose when I reported that Mayor Byrne was getting vengeance against Circuit Clerk Morgan Finley for not hiring her husband.

Then there was Richie Daley, who attacked me at a press conference after he finally won election as mayor. Daley used my popularity as a community columnist during the Byrne administration to protect his patronage pals. Once he got elected, instead of giving me exclusives on the city budget, he got upset when I started questioning his hypocrisy.

The Chicago Sun-Times slammed me hard when I demanded to be included in a six-reporter team the paper was sending to Israel. It was during the Palestinian Intifada; and as the only Palestinian journalist working at a daily newspaper in the country, I felt I should be included.

They refused and huffed I could destroy my career by going “to that hell hole” called Palestine if I wanted. And I did, taking two weeks vacation and writing five stories about the brutality there. Backed into a corner, the newspaper ran the stories, which one editor thought were so good he nominated them for a Pulitzer Prize, but vowed to get even with me.

They did when I met City Treasurer Miriam Santos that same year.

Well, that finally got that Arab out of the Sun-Times City Hall slot, replacing me with someone else that was more in their political line.

After Sept. 11, 2001, a little old lady came up to me at a speech I had given, telling me with disgust, “I can’t believe you abandoned your Christian faith to become an Arab.”

I was so shocked at her ignorance that I couldn’t figure out how to respond. So I started to throw some jokes at her to make her laugh past her racist hatred.

I turned that into a standup comedy routine where I did jokes about growing up Arab in America, and lampooned my marriage to my wife, who is Jewish American, and our Jewish son.

Zanies, the premier comedy club in America, heard about my “Arab comedy” and invited me to perform on their Wells Street stage.

After six months of performances, and taking classes they recommended, they gave me my own show, nine shows over Labor Day week in 2002.

A few weeks before the performances, which were sold out to my family, relatives, close friends and many national journalists, Zanies told me comedian Jackie Mason was passing through Chicago and needed to warm-up on their stage before launching his next Broadway performance in New York. Could he take my first three shows as the headliner and have me as his opener?

I was thrilled. Mason was a funny curmudgeon. He would have made a great City Hall reporter, probably better than the ones I left behind. I urged Zanies owner Rick Uchwat to make sure to tell Mason I am Palestinian. He laughed and said, “We’re veterans. This is comedy.”

On opening night, Mason learned I wasn’t “just an Arab,” but a “Palestinian.” He told Uchwat I could not open for him, and the cancellation made international headlines.

We appeared together (from different locations) on every major TV program, the Today Show to Phil Donahue, with Mason attacking me. All I wanted to do was use humor to bring people together, especially Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis.

I realized if I couldn’t get Mason to joke with me, there was no hope for any of us. He declined repeated invitations to join me on stage after I co-launched the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour and performed across Israel, in Palestine, Dubai, Dublin’s Trinity College, colleges across America, before 2,400 people at Toronto’s Thompson stadium, and 7,000 Muslims in London.

Mason died last week.

So, when a pipsqueak mayor in my own backyard screams about columns I write criticizing his ignorance, I respond, “My mother is from Bethlehem, buddy. And Jesus is my cousin. So get in line.”

Check out Ray Hanania’s work at Hanania.com.

Local News

Kathy Headley

Farewell and thanks to Nathan, Connor and David

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 As June ends, we at St. Rita of Casica Parish and St. Clare of Montefalco Shrine sadly say goodbye to Nathan Fernandes, Connor Fitzmaurice and David Marshall. The three are pre-novices discerning a vocation to the priesthood in…

Peggy Zabicki

Grateful for the freedoms we have

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Happy Birthday USA! I am so grateful for the freedom we have in our wonderful country. I hope those who choose to celebrate our freedom by lighting illegal fireworks will be arrested by our police, who I hope will have the…

Laura Ortega

Graduations are so bittersweet

By Laura Ortega Your correspondent in Greater Ashburn 4214 W. 82nd Place • (773) 627-6679 Congratulations to the Class of 2022! It’s bittersweet to see everyone graduate, especially when you can remember those same individuals graduating kindergarten not so long ago. A huge congratulations to my daughter, Liliana, who graduated eighth grade. I look forward…

Mary Stanek

Peck playlot taking shape

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 “It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that makes a great difference in our lives” – Fred Rogers. Who remembers the play lots of the 60s and 70s? Can you recall…

Joan Hadac

A mom’s heart broke, and now her children are broken-hearted

By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] A mother’s heart, filled with love for her children, is unique. I understand that in a way only other moms can. I thought about that the other day as I read the profoundly sad story of Garfield Ridge mom Gisela “Chella” Ruiz.…

Nick Kantas

Kantas wins bid for 4th Subcircuit vacancy

By Carol McGowan Nick Kantas came out on top in the Democratic primary for Cook County judge in the 4th Subcircuit. He won over Amanda Moira Pillsbury in the race to fill the Gavin vacancy. Kantas had 12,652 votes to 10,393 for Pillsbury with 99 percent the vote in (218 of 221 precincts), according to…

Lyons Township Democratic Committeeman Steve Landek (left) congratulates Terry Carr Tuesday night at Carr's victory celebration in McCook (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Terry Carr elected as Lyons Township Republican Committeeperson

By Carol McGowan It was quite a celebration at JC’s Pub in McCook Tuesday night as the results came in for the race for Lyons Township Republican Committeeperson. McCook Mayor Terrance “Terry” Carr claimed victory in the race against GOP incumbent Catherine (Katie) Justak, by a 56-44% ratio (3,008-2,352) with all 69 precincts reporting. At…

George Cardenas

Cardenas ousts Wendt in Dem primary for Board of Review

By Bob Bong Palos Heights attorney and Realtor Tammy Wendt was denied a second term Tuesday night when she was defeated by Chicago Ald. George Cardenas in the Democratic primary for the Board of Review 1st District. Wendt said the party had been out to get her since she surprisingly prevailed in 2020 over endorsed…

Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar won the Democratic primary Tuesday night. (File photo)

Aguilar wins nomination in 16th Cook County District

By Bob Bong Incumbent Frank Aguilar held off a tough challenge from Letty Garcia in the Democratic primary for the 16th Cook County Board District Tuesday night. With all but one precinct reporting, Aguilar held a 1,326 vote lead over Garcia. His 8,615-7,289 win was tantamount to re-election as no Republicans filed to run in…

Sean Morrison toasts with a glass of water after his unofficial victory over Liz Gorman for a shot at retaining his season on the Cook County Board Tuesday night. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Morrison knocks off former ally for 17th District GOP nomination

By Jeff Vorva In the first head-to-head election battle between the two people who have owned the Cook County 17th District seat for the past 20 years, Sean Morrison beat out former ally Liz Gorman for the Republican nomination Tuesday. Orland Park’s Gorman had the job as 17th District commissioner from 2002-2015 but gave it…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
Kathy Headley

Farewell and thanks to Nathan, Connor and David

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 As June ends, we at St. Rita of Casica Parish and St. Clare of Montefalco Shrine sadly say goodbye to Nathan Fernandes, Connor Fitzmaurice and David Marshall. The three are pre-novices discerning a vocation to the priesthood in…

Peggy Zabicki

Grateful for the freedoms we have

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Happy Birthday USA! I am so grateful for the freedom we have in our wonderful country. I hope those who choose to celebrate our freedom by lighting illegal fireworks will be arrested by our police, who I hope will have the…

Laura Ortega

Graduations are so bittersweet

By Laura Ortega Your correspondent in Greater Ashburn 4214 W. 82nd Place • (773) 627-6679 Congratulations to the Class of 2022! It’s bittersweet to see everyone graduate, especially when you can remember those same individuals graduating kindergarten not so long ago. A huge congratulations to my daughter, Liliana, who graduated eighth grade. I look forward…

Mary Stanek

Peck playlot taking shape

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 “It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that makes a great difference in our lives” – Fred Rogers. Who remembers the play lots of the 60s and 70s? Can you recall…

Joan Hadac

A mom’s heart broke, and now her children are broken-hearted

By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] A mother’s heart, filled with love for her children, is unique. I understand that in a way only other moms can. I thought about that the other day as I read the profoundly sad story of Garfield Ridge mom Gisela “Chella” Ruiz.…

Nick Kantas

Kantas wins bid for 4th Subcircuit vacancy

By Carol McGowan Nick Kantas came out on top in the Democratic primary for Cook County judge in the 4th Subcircuit. He won over Amanda Moira Pillsbury in the race to fill the Gavin vacancy. Kantas had 12,652 votes to 10,393 for Pillsbury with 99 percent the vote in (218 of 221 precincts), according to…

Lyons Township Democratic Committeeman Steve Landek (left) congratulates Terry Carr Tuesday night at Carr's victory celebration in McCook (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Terry Carr elected as Lyons Township Republican Committeeperson

By Carol McGowan It was quite a celebration at JC’s Pub in McCook Tuesday night as the results came in for the race for Lyons Township Republican Committeeperson. McCook Mayor Terrance “Terry” Carr claimed victory in the race against GOP incumbent Catherine (Katie) Justak, by a 56-44% ratio (3,008-2,352) with all 69 precincts reporting. At…

George Cardenas

Cardenas ousts Wendt in Dem primary for Board of Review

By Bob Bong Palos Heights attorney and Realtor Tammy Wendt was denied a second term Tuesday night when she was defeated by Chicago Ald. George Cardenas in the Democratic primary for the Board of Review 1st District. Wendt said the party had been out to get her since she surprisingly prevailed in 2020 over endorsed…

Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar won the Democratic primary Tuesday night. (File photo)

Aguilar wins nomination in 16th Cook County District

By Bob Bong Incumbent Frank Aguilar held off a tough challenge from Letty Garcia in the Democratic primary for the 16th Cook County Board District Tuesday night. With all but one precinct reporting, Aguilar held a 1,326 vote lead over Garcia. His 8,615-7,289 win was tantamount to re-election as no Republicans filed to run in…

Sean Morrison toasts with a glass of water after his unofficial victory over Liz Gorman for a shot at retaining his season on the Cook County Board Tuesday night. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Morrison knocks off former ally for 17th District GOP nomination

By Jeff Vorva In the first head-to-head election battle between the two people who have owned the Cook County 17th District seat for the past 20 years, Sean Morrison beat out former ally Liz Gorman for the Republican nomination Tuesday. Orland Park’s Gorman had the job as 17th District commissioner from 2002-2015 but gave it…

CRR NH European Foot Ankle House Ad
Regional Capri Pizza House Ad