Boston–May 29–A friend of the Somerville Divestment Project, Loay Abdelkarim, has founded a sister organization opposing US funding of Israel called Jamaica Plain Residents for Human Rights. Abdulkarim, who is originally from Darfur, organized a lecture featuring Palestinian â€œWheels of Justiceâ€ activist Mazin Qumsiyeh at Spontaneous Celebrations.
Thousands of pro-Palestine flyers were handed out to people at subway and supermarket, delivered to homes, put on cars, and posted in the community. Three large signs hung on the street for two afternoons at subway stops, and about 400 pieces were sent by physical mail through SDPâ€™s fundraising mailing. About twenty hours of volunteer time were donated by residents to the group. A sister named Hala made a lovely cake.
Turnout was about 40 people. Of these, six were high school students. About 25 people were new, while 10 or so were familiar friends. Of the 25 newcomers, approximately 10 said that they had seen a flyer on pole, 7 had been given a flyer by hand or at homes. 3 or 4 saw the big signs on the street, 7 had gotten email, and about 6 heard about it from a friend. 3 or 4 of the people found out about the event in more than one way.
Ron Francis talked about the movement to divest from Israel, and John Spritzler discussed the issue of â€œwhy politicians and other ruling elites are against us.â€ Mazin Qumsiyeh was the keynote speaker. Qumsiyeh focused on refugee issues and on his recommendation for Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions and other forms of non-violent resistance. Qumsiyeh also took some questions that ranged from response to false attacks of anti-Semitism to how we move forward.
Mazin answered the questions well. JPRHR hopes to be able to attract a small set of people who might be willing to pursue grassroots organizing in the area. A total of $140 was raised. Loay talked about the need to organize in Jamaica Plain several times. People hung around for about one hour afterward and the cleanup was done at around 9:30. For a first attempt at trying to help local folks activate people in a given neighborhood the project was good and the organizers said they certainly learned a lot.
A follow-up pizza discussion group for JP folks is planned and there is talk of a similar Cambridge effort. On June 19th, JPRHR will show the film Jenin Jenin at the same place.
Finding friends for Muslimsâ€™ children is a challenge for Bostonâ€™s Muslim parents
Boston–May 29–Lena Hariri, mother of three, wants her children to feel a part of the Muslim community in Boston, but feels they lack close relationships with other Muslim children, a common concern among Muslim mothers in the Boston area.
Her sons, ages eight and six, arenâ€™t forming strong friendships with other Muslim children in the community because they attend public schools where Muslim children are in the minority.
â€œThere are a couple of Muslim kids at my oldest sonâ€™s school, but their families donâ€™t show any interest in getting together, â€œ she says.
On Saturdays, Lenaâ€™s children spend several hours studying Arabic and Islam at Al Huda Societyâ€™s Weekend School in Everett, MA.
â€œMy children attend Saturday Islamic school, but the teachers have to cram a lot in four and a half hours, so the kids donâ€™t really get to play together,â€ Lena says.
Lena attends the potlucks and â€˜Eid celebrations that local Islamic organizations have every year, but wishes there were more opportunities for her kids to socialize with other Muslims.
Cherice Dacosta, mother of four children under the age of ten, also wants her kids to develop stronger relationships with other Muslims. She homeschools her children, and they attend Al Huda on Saturdays.
â€œThe weekend school offers my children a chance to connect with children from Muslim families, but it is only once a week and we do not see most of these children outside the school setting,â€ Cherice explains.
While she is thankful for the social activities that local mosques organize, she wishes her children had more Muslim friends.
A major problem is that Muslim families live far apart and have to schedule play dates and other activities so that their kids can meet. Parents often bring their children to the mosque for family-friendly activities.
Sarah Chapman doesnâ€™t have any Muslim neighbors, so she has started bringing her toddler to a mosque north of Boston where they can meet other Muslim families.
â€œItâ€™s important to me that my daughter has Muslim friends, Sarah says. â€œItâ€™s important to me that she will be a good Muslim and not be surrounded by non-Muslim children who could teach her bad things.â€
With the construction of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center nearing completion and the growth of Muslim families in the Boston area in the last decade, there is hope for more opportunities where Muslim children can connect with each other.
Roxbury community recruits peace activists
Boston–May 29–City Councilman Chuck Turner is inviting all community members to sign a â€œPeace Pledgeâ€ (below) to launch a dialogue on â€œAchieving Sanity in an Insane Society.â€
His district, where the Roxbury Mosque is located, has the highest homicide rate in Boston.
â€œWe have drugs, no jobs, guns and our children out of school.â€
Turner explained that we cannot rely on the government to create a healthy, peaceful and prosperous communityâ€¦We live in a society where many of us believe that violence is legitimate.â€
Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967 preached about the triple evils of racism, militarism and economic exploitation, Turner recalled. The goal should not be to â€œintegrateâ€ into such a society.
Today, the federal government is spending hundreds of billions on warfare. A fraction is spent on education, the most expensive social program. The Cityâ€™s budget emphasizes â€œlaw enforcement.â€
Counselor Maureen Feeney spoke. â€œThere is not enough money to throw at the problems.â€
Turner emphasized that adults have to step up and be role models.
â€œThere is a negative self-concept which is part of being raised black in our society. Jesse Jacksonâ€™s â€˜I am somebodyâ€™ campaign was an attempt to replace the negative programming. We have not accepted who we are and where we have come from. We need to teach the history of the [civil rights] movement.â€
Turner said, â€œWe can change ourselves and we can change our country.â€
Council-member Felix Arroyo and an aide to Council-member Sam Yoon expressed their support for the pledge.
Peace and Prosperity Pledge
Because of my desire to play a part in creating Peace and Prosperity for myself and the people of District 7, I pledge to:
Make a commitment to lead a life of nonviolenceâ€”a life in which the guiding principle is â€œDO NO HARMâ€ Make a commitment to work continuously on self development–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually Make a commitment to work continuously on the development of a solid, legal economic foundation for self and family Make a commitment to work together to hold our leaders accountable for their responsibility to work with us to obtain the resources necessary to carry out the above commitment
Because I understand that in order to meet the challenge of the above commitments we are going to have to help each other, I pledge myself to help others in their quest for Peace and Prosperity and I acknowledge that I am going to need help in the following areas: ____________________.