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Man Behind Palestinian Flag at Paterson, NJ City Hall a Convicted Felon

The community leader who solicited government proclamations for naming May 19 "Palestinian American Day" in Paterson, NJ had publicly expressed outrage over NYPD surveillance of Muslims. No one even noticed he was a convicted felon.

Paterson, NJ City Hall flew the Palestinian flag on Sunday, May 19, which Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones named "Palestinian American Day."

Paterson, NJ City Hall flew the Palestinian flag on Sunday, May 19, which Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones named "Palestinian American Day."

On the same day that many Americans were celebrating Israeli Independence Day, Paterson, New Jersey Mayor Jeffrey Jones named Sunday, May 19 “Palestinian-American Day” in his city, and a Palestinian flag was hoisted over Paterson’s City Hall.

Jones presented a city proclamation commemorating the event. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ9) was also there for the flag raising. Pascrell presented a letter of Special Congressional Recognition, and New Jersey Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-NJ34) presented a ceremonial resolution marking the event.

Although the organizer of the event, Khader Abuassab, said he had received nasty phone and text messages prior to the event, the day went forward with no counter-demonstrations or public hostility.  Approximately 120 people showed up, to dance, cheer and yell “long live Palestine,” according to NorthJersey.com, as reported in Jewish World Review.

WHO ORGANIZED THE EVENT?

Khader Abuassab is an unusual name – in fact, there is apparently only one listed in the United States: he resides in Paterson, New Jersey.  Abuassab was the one who placed ads in Arabic newspapers about the Palestinian American Day celebration and he texted invitations to friends, community leaders, politicians and law enforcement officials. According to Abuassab, South Paterson is known as “little Ramallah,” and he felt it was important for the Arab Palestinian community to be recognized much like any other local ethnic community.

PATERSON PALESTIAN-AMERICAN DAY ORGANIZER ADVISED FOLLOWERS NOT TO COOPERATE WITH AUTHORITIES. HE ALSO DID PRISON TIME FOR MASSIVE CREDIT CARD FRAUD.

So who is Abuassab?

According to a Feb. 2012 Press TV interview, Khader Abuassab has served on the Paterson Board of Education and has run for City Council.

In the spring of 2012, when an Associated Press series disclosed the practice by the New York Police Department of surveillance of Muslims at businesses, universities and mosques in the greater New York area, Khader Abuassab told Muslims not to cooperate with the authorities. He was indignant that Muslims, who are “an important part of Paterson’s diverse community” had been “spied on or suspected.”  He declared that Muslim Americans “certainly don’t have to defend their citizenry to anyone.”

“I would tell people not to cooperate,” with the authorities Khader Abuassab was quoted in a New Jersey newspaper, in response to the firestorm created by the NYPD Muslim surveillance program.  “I can’t promise people they will be safe or not be spied on again.”

Abuassab, or at least a Khader Abuassab also from Paterson, New Jersey, and approximately the same age, was already well acquainted with the law enforcement community in that state.

In 2002 Khader Abuassab pled guilty to having racked up more than $615,000 in credit card fraud, using 40 different credit cards to circumvent credit limits on the cards, and then filing for bankruptcy to erase the debts. Abuassab admitted he had not intended to pay for the things he charged.

In 2004, Abuassab was sentenced to 13 months in prison, with two additional years of supervised release.  In addition, Abuassab was ordered by the federal district court judge in New Jersey to pay $620,000 in restitution. No information was readily available about what Abuassab had originally used the money for, and whether it had all been paid back.

What is known is that after sentencing, Abuassab sought a delay of his incarceration date so that he could “travel to Mecca.” That request was denied by the government.

When The Jewish Press asked Abuassab to confirm whether he was the one who had spent more than a year in prison on fraud and swindling charges, Abuassab said he did not want to discuss that, because it was “not relevant to this discussion.”

The Jewish Press called the office of Paterson Mayor Jones to see the wording of the proclamation he issued in honor of Palestinian American Day, “honoring the group’s heritage and contributions,” but his staff claimed no knowledge of the proclamation and promised to look into the matter.

A follow-up phone call to the Mayor’s office provided an astounding piece of information: the Mayor told his staff to refer anyone asking about the proclamation to the Paterson legal department.  An Open Public Records Act request is required even to find out to whom the proclamation was addressed.

The Paterson legal department said they would fax the OPRA request form, but would provide no information until the form was completed, sent back in, and until after a determination about the request was made.

This reporter has never heard of a ceremonial public document requiring the local equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request for its disclosure.

Aides to Congressman Pascrell and Assemblyman Giblin acknowledged that the lawmakers had provided ceremonial letters for the community event on May 19, but neither knew anything about Abuassab.

What is odd, is that given the repeated outcries of Muslim profiling, none of the public officials or their staffers had vetted the person responsible for organizing the Palestinian American Day, and none of the members of the Arab American Civic Organization seemed uncomfortable with an executive committee member who is a convicted felon.

Also surprising is that after the AP story broke about the NYPD surveillance of Muslims, Abuassab had been quoted in multiple media outlets as not only critical of the NYPD surveillance of Muslims, but as advising his fellow Muslims to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement, yet no one thought to check up on him.

Fraud and swindling are known as “crimen falsi” crimes, which reflect on a person’s honesty — something that in turn bears on the credibility of everything that person says or does, to the government or to the public.  It’s an odd thing to ignore about someone publicly preaching that his fellow community members work to frustrate law enforcement investigation of terrorism or potential terrorists.

The fact that a Muslim leader of one of the largest Muslim communities in America did prison time for fraud and no one even knows about it – or thinks to comment on it – and that such a person had access to and was able to obtain letters of commendation for his cause from political leaders at every level of government – local, state and federal – make the repeated claims of Muslim persecution sound particularly hollow.

Whether or not people think that a Palestinian flag should have flown in front of the Paterson City Hall, particularly on the Sunday following Israeli Independence Day, the idea that Muslims are a persecuted minority in America is increasingly a difficult one to swallow.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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18 Responses to “Man Behind Palestinian Flag at Paterson, NJ City Hall a Convicted Felon”

  1. Great story Lori.

  2. Heather Dow says:

    It just goes to show how deceiving and cunning these people are (Muslims) and that their agenda is easy in America (to take over the country) because of the government appeasing their every whim and persons being gullible to what they say. Look at Dearborn Mi and see if average American citizen especially a minority group, or Christian or Jewish can say Anything in that town. The police will protect the Muslims not you.
    I would say WAKE UP America!

  3. I agree with you and i live in a siburb of Detroit.people here are scare of Muslims and what they stand for. It is awful

  4. Les Le Gear says:

    Typical arab. No surprises.

  5. Anonymous says:

    RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    America Unite BOSTON BOMBING.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTYenEIEUp4

    RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    America Unite BOSTON BOMBING.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In Edison new jersey A Imam walked out before the singing of Hatikvah at the interfaith Holocaust service. HE PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED HE WOULD DO SO. I RESIGNED FROM THE ORGANIZATION AND I was a past president. Rabbi Dr. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  7. André Dufour says:

    It doesn't seem to me that "Palestinian-American Day" has any ties to islamic sympathies. I know for a fact that practicing Christian and Jewish Palestinians exist as a minority. Your story is nothing but a gigantic argumentum ad hominem directed towards the individual that fights to make a day significant to Palestinian peoples that reside in the U.S.. Why shouldn't there be a day to celebrate a particular ethnic group? Do you only despise Muslims, or do you make it a point to despise the Palestinian ethnicity as well? Both major parties in the U.S. political system have dedicated themselves to Israel, all the while both nations terrorize and destroy the Palestinian people day in and day out. There are Palestinian children dying in Israeli bombings and U.S. drone strikes every day, and the only thing you can point to in a man who tries to make a stride for Palestinian-American people is credit card fraud and a general distrust of stop-and-frisk law enforcement? What a joke.

  8. André Dufour says:

    If he's a typical arab, are you a typical jew? Or are you a special, one-of-a-kind jew? Just checking.

  9. Susan Cohen says:

    Stop lying There are NO Jewish "Palestinians", & the Xian ones are being persecuted the way you falsely claim Israel is doing to the Gazans. NO children would be dying in airstrikes if the terrorists – with the full votes of over 70% of the local population – didn't keep up a CONSTANT BARRAGE of rockets & bombs! Stop lying – YOU are the problem! There will NEVER be peace when you spread LIES!

  10. André Dufour says:

    Ah, so every dead Palestinian child is just another example of collateral damage to you, correct? It's okay to retaliate against terror with terror, right? Israeli terrorists are no different than Palestinian terrorists. They both have a senseless disregard for life. There are jewish palestinians, there are christian palestinians, and there are muslim palestinians. It's not a lie, it's just a fact you fail to recognize because it would cause cognitive dissonance. Who wouldn't hate a nation that strips away their land, murders their children, and then justifies it with the retaliation it causes?

  11. Mark Yachad says:

    Dear Mr Mayor.

    My heartfelt congratulations for advancing this multicultural event, which is at the heart of America's open-hands policy to the world's underprivileged.

    You've obviously been doing something very right, if the number of Plestinians living in your area is testament to that.

    Thanks so much, and please continue to encourage them to settle there.

    For us in Israel, it really helps – nobody but Jews belong in Israel, and every Plaestinian living in Paterson is one less in Israel.

    Furthermore, my brother Jews don't belong in America, and the more Arabs who move to New Jersey, just makes the Jews more uncomfortable, and want to leave the USA for Israel.

    The Almighty works in strange ways, and you are just a very willing and helpful part of His plan.

    Keep up the good work!

    Menahem Yachad
    Israel

  12. largest muslims' in USA are in Dearborn MI – a little detail.

  13. largest muslims' in USA are in Dearborn MI – a little detail.

  14. When will Paterson fly the Nazi flag?

  15. Jihad Abdelaziz says:

    This is a beautiful thing. We love America and we will NEVER forget our ancestors who were killed/expelled from their homeland by terrorist Zionist by using the name of Judaism. Wake up, Judaism has been taking over by the racist Zionist ideology in reality Nazism and Zionism are the same thing, propaganda and foreign agents only will last so long. Americans will eventually realize to much money is being sent to a racist government. Salam, Sholom to all.

  16. Yori Yanover says:

    Jihad Abdelaziz – You say that "in reality" Zionism and Nazism are "the same thing." Yet it was the Muslim Brothers and the Jerusalem Mufti who maintained a warm relationship with Adolf Hitler, who funded their anti-British terrorism. You'll have to explain how these Islamists who collaborated for 15 years with the Nazis are not "the same as Nazism," while the Zionists, whose brethren were murdered by the millions by Nazis are "the same as Nazism."

    The fact is that you haven't really thought this out. For instance, your answer here, should you answer at all, would most likely be that I'm lying, and that it was the other way around. That is a typical Muslim tactic, begun as early as the 7th Century. You and your kind have been revising history to fit your ideology, and when challenged your uniform response has been that everybody else is lying.

    The problem is that with this kind of know-nothing approach you, Muslims, have been unable to break away from the real problems of your societies. You are mired in poverty and ignorance, you murder one another with ease, and you produce very little of value other than your natural resources. In effect, you are the makers of your own slow death as a civilization, and the only escape you're hoping for is to leech on to Western societies, suckle on their productivity and creativity as you've done over the centuries.

    Who knows, you might be successful. But your contribution as a civilization these days shames the great Arab contributions of 800 years ago. If I were you, I'd hide my face in shame. But, thank God the merciful, I'm not you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    BernhardRosenberg – YouTube.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BernhardRosenberg

    HOLOCAUST SPEECH… Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg shares his response to the statement that was… Rabbi Dr. Rosenberg's Speech on the Holocaust.

  18. Rana Helou says:

    We will always raise the Palestinian flag on land and on sea because everything that Zionists and those whom support them know that they are behind all the problems in the world. They cannot live without problems. We are honored, proud, and will always raise our flag.

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