- Former Board Chairman of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund
Born in East Jerusalem, Bishara A. Bahbah earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University, and an MA and PhD from Harvard. He subsequently worked as: a visiting professor at Brigham Young from January to May of 1985; managing director of the Washington, DC-based United Palestinian Appeal, Inc. from 1985-87; associate director of the Kennedy School of Government's Institute for Social & Economic Policy in the Middle East from 1990-96; and president/CEO of Television Development Partners from 1995-2000. Moreover, from April 2001 to January 2012 Bahbah was a senior investment-management consultant for the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial-services firm.
Bahbah has long felt extreme antipathy for the state of Israel. In 1989 he accused the Jewish people of having established their homeland “on almost two-thirds of the land of Palestine,” thereby causing “Palestinians [to be] reduced to a stateless nation” of mostly “refugees” living “under Israeli control.” “Over the years,” added Bahbah, “Palestinians tried different approaches to regain all or part of Palestine. All have failed and none has provided as much hope as the Intifada.”
(For details about that violent Palestinian Intifada, which persisted from 1987-93, click here.)
In the early 1990s Bahbah was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Oslo peace talks with Israel.
In the early 2000s, Bahbah chaired the board of trustees of the Global Relief Foundation, the International Islamic Relief Organization, and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF), a U.S.-based advocacy group with historical ties to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Bahbah described PCRF as an organization “dedicated … to helping the children victimized by war and violence,... children who were injured or maimed during the first Palestinian Intifada which erupted in December 1987.”
Bahbah has written numerous articles critical of U.S. financial and military aid for the Jewish state, support that he says has produced “a more militaristic Israel, compliments of the United States.” In August 2006, for instance, Bahbah wrote that post-9/11, “Arab and Muslim Americans … feel besieged and targeted” by the United States. “The feeling of anguish in the Arab and Muslim communities is widespread,” he added, emphasizing that “I have never witnessed Arab and Muslim Americans as discouraged as they have become in participating in the political process.” Other noteworthy quotes by Bahbah included the following:
- “It is not fair to assume all Arab and Muslim Americans are a threat to national security because of the actions of 9/11 murderers who were not American citizens.”
- “It is demeaning, insulting, hurtful and damaging to stigmatize Arab and Muslim Americans as a potential fifth column.”
- “It is un-American and despotic to target an entire community of citizens because of their ethnic or religious background.”
- “We have to carefully weigh the impact of the feeling of alienation and discrimination among an ethnic or religious group.”
- “It is dangerous and counterproductive for a community to feel besieged, isolated and disenfranchised.”
Bahbah has been a guest columnist with the Arizona Republic since 2001; an adjunct professor of Investment, Finance & Wealth Management at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem since January 2009; a senior portfolio manager and wealth advisor at UBS Financial Services (in Scottsdale, Arizona) since January 2012; and a board member of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation since May 2014. Further, Bahbah is a frequent guest speaker at investment and wealth-management seminars in a variety of venues. He also has authored two books: Israel and Latin America: The Military Connection (1986), and Wealth Management in Any Market: Timeless Strategies for Building Financial Security (2009).