“In the past nineteen days, Israel’s military has killed more than 1,033 Palestinians, including 335 children, and injured more than 4,850,” she added. “Many of the dead are still under the rubble of schools, mosques, markets, police stations, and apartments.”
Gores has been a fierce critic of American mainstream newspapers for what she views as their pro-Israeli bias. In March 2005, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights released a lengthy study of the way the Portland Oregonian had covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Overall, our analysis of The Oregonian headlines demonstrates a significant inaccuracy in the reporting of Palestinian versus Israeli deaths,” it concluded.
“While Palestinians in the last four years have consistently been killed at a rate three times greater than Israelis — and 10 times greater during the study period — The Oregonian headlines have portrayed the conflict in a way that minimizes the difference. Readers were given the impression that the Israeli death toll was greater than it was and the Palestinian death toll was considerably smaller than its reality.”
In a July 2007 interview with Willamette Week, Portland’s alternative newspaper, Hala Gores discussed possible reasons for the bias. “The Israeli lobby has been written up as the most powerful lobby in Washington, D.C. And there are certain newspapers, when they report a more balanced view of Israel, there is tremendous pressure put on them, financial and political, to stop that kind of reporting,” she said.
Asked by the paper whether she ascribed the problem of media bias against the Palestinians to “Jewish media ownership,” Gores replied, “I am always really nervous to talk to anybody about news ownership by any religious group. To prevent us from talking about the truth, all one has to do is label one an anti-Semite and the discussion stops there. I’m not saying that [Jewish media ownership] exists or doesn’t exist. The focus is on why the news media tends to focus on one side of this conflict.”
Although she is clearly proud of her cousin Tom’s purchase of the Union-Tribune, Gores is cautious when discussing him. She declined to talk about whether he shares her views on the situation in Israel or has ever given money to support her pro-Palestinian activities.
“I am not a representative of the family,” she begins when recently reached by telephone at her Portland law office. “I don’t get involved in discussing Tom’s personal life with newspapers. I’m not authorized to, I’m not asked to. I don’t step into that role.”
She adds, “I can say he’s been absolutely amazing with respect to close family members as well as distant family members. He’s just a tremendous human being. I can tell you that Tom as an individual, in his relationship with everyone around him, he has a heart of gold. Tremendous. Whenever he hears about anyone needing any assistance, I’ve never heard him say no to anything to anybody. He’s just the most decent human being I know.”
By many accounts the Joubran and Gores families have always looked out for one another, through hard times as well as good. Tom Joubran’s immigration to the United States was sponsored by his uncle, Tom Mansour, another Nazareth native, in whose Flint-area grocery store Joubran labored before opening his own business, Tom’s Supermarket, in 1957, the Flint Journal has recounted.
“Tom [Joubran] was kind of the trailblazer for the family,” recalls his nephew Brian Joubran in a recent telephone interview. “He became very successful in Michigan, and he is a very family-oriented person. He helped out the family a lot in Michigan, which meant that if we needed work and we needed help getting some type of income, Tom would hire us or we would go to Tom and ask him if we could work in one of his grocery stores and he would help us out, and he was very accommodating.
“I think that’s why Tom and Alec [Gores] attribute most of their success to Tom Joubran, because there was a lot of teaching and learning that was being exchanged from family member to family member.”
In 2002, the two Gores brothers, by then living in California, gave $250,000 to their alma mater, Genesee High, to replace the old cinder track with one surfaced with asphalt and rubber. The contribution was recognized with a plaque honoring Tom Joubran and his wife Julia on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.
“The thing about Mr. Joubran is that he’s basically brought so many of his relatives and family members here,” notes Shriner, the former Flint Journal reporter who covered Joubran and his run-ins with the law during the 1980s and 1990s. “Just dozens and dozens of people he’s brought here over the years.
“He’s been an interesting character for a long time, I’ll give him that,” Shriner continues. “He came here, had like $25 to his name, couldn’t speak a word of English, did the immigrant thing — worked hard and eventually bought his own grocery store and kind of grew things from there.
“He’s owned several bars, but the big one that everybody remembers him for was the Mikatam,” says Shriner. “It was named after his son Michael, his daughter Kathy, and his youngest daughter Tammy: Mi-Ka-Tam.
“That was a huge bar, and he did business like nobody else. Frankly, what he did, I thought, was brilliant. What he would do was that he would charge a $10 cover charge, and this place would hold 5000 people. He told me he could easily get 3000 to 5000 people in there without a problem. Now, it was packed, mind you, but he would do it if he could, and he frequently did.
“He would sell draft beer. You would get 10 glasses of draft beer for like $5. They’d bring them to your damn table. The problem was, you’d have fucking 20 or 30 glasses of beer getting warm on your table.
“I asked him about it, ‘How can you do that?’ Because no other bars did that. He said it was all about volume. He said a glass of draft beer cost him 6 cents. So, hell yeah, he’d sell ’em 10 for $5 because it cost him 60 cents! And the cover was pure profit.”