Advocate of Plo, Critic of Israel Join Ranks of Democratic Committee

An Arab American who is a supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and a Los Angeles city councilman who has compared Israel’s treatment of West Bank Arabs to Hitler’s treatment of Jews, are among those added to the expanded Democratic National Committee at its post-convention meeting in Atlanta last Friday.

Ruth Ann Skaff of Houston, who has been active in various local and national Arab-American organizations, was among 10 supporters of the Rev. Jesse Jackson added to the committee as members at large, as part of the unity agreement between Jackson and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee. Eight Dukakis supporters were also named members at large.

Councilman Robert Farrell, while also a Jackson supporter, automatically became a member of the party executive committee when he became president of the Conference of Democratic Municipal Officials.

There are 50 members of the executive committee and 387 seats on the Democratic National Committee, some shared by more than one person. The DNC does not make policy. Its basic function is to coordinate the presidential campaign, raise funds and increase political support for the Democrats.

Hyman Bookbinder, an adviser to the Dukakis campaign on Jewish and Middle East issues, said while he is not pleased with some of the new DNC members, what is more important is that Dukakis and the overwhelming majority of members of the committee support Israel and are not sympathetic to the PLO.

Skaff, whose grandparents emigrated from Lebanon, was a spokeswoman for the Ad Hoc Committee on Lebanon in Houston in 1985, when she accused Israel of “aggression against civilians in south Lebanon.”

‘CAMPAIGN OF TERRORISM’

At a meeting of Arab Americans in Houston last year, she said “Israel was using U.S. aid to carry out a campaign of terrorism against civilian residents.”

Farrell’s comparison of Israel to the Nazis was made in an interview with the pro-PLO East Jerusalem daily Al-Fajr during a visit he took to the West Bank in May 1986. He toured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as part of a delegation under the auspices of the Association of Arab American University Graduates.

Farrell said at the time that the Palestinians “are living in a state of terror.” He said he found “parallels between the plights of Palestinians and that experienced by blacks in America.” He said the situation he found reminded him of his own experiences “living down South on the other side of the railroad tracks.”

Farrell also was among a group of well-known blacks listed as supporters of a 1985 appearance by Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan in Los Angeles.

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