The suffering of the people of Gaza under the boot of Israeli occupation continues. While there are many organizations dedicated to the cause of Palestine, a relatively new one, Muslim Americans for Palestine (MAP), has, in less than half a year, established itself as a front runner.
Muslim Americans for Palestine held a well attended and educational fundraiser at Masjid Al Ansar in Anaheim, Ca. this past Saturday evening. Titled: â€œ1948 Nakba: Independence or Occupation, What the New Generation Should Knowâ€, the event observed the anniversary of the Palestinian Holocaust few know about. As part of this observation the dinner that was served was a typical Palestinian meal one might be served if a visitor today in the oPt. There was no meat, and the fare consisted largely of lentils, rice, yogurt, cucumbers and radishes. The evening was a learning experience, and the meal was no small part of the education. â€œIt will help us understand the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestineâ€ said Mohen Azuz, the Master of Ceremonies and one of the organizers of the evening.
A film titled â€œI Am Israelâ€ detailing the suffering of the Palestinian people and the arrogance of the Israeli occupying powers played before the formal part of the evening began.
After a reading of the Holy Koran by Sheikh Muhib of Masjid Al Ansar and a translation, the program began with presentations by Alison Weir director of â€œIf Americans Knewâ€ and Emad Al Bahri, expert and lecturer on the subject of Palestine.
Ms Weir presented herself as a person who was relatively uninterested in the Middle East prior to the first Intifada, a person who was willing to accept the standard analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict presented by the main stream media. In early 2001 she travelled to Palestine and found things to be entirely different from her original perceptions. She found ethnic cleansing, wanton destruction by Israelis and brave resistance by the Palestinians. She not only internalized what she saw, but she spoke to the victims of Israeli military action and, in many cases, to their survivors.
She has made subsequent visits to the oPt and has founded an organization with the following website:www.ifamericansknew.org.
Ms Weir said that her initial experiences led her to research the origins of Israel and the Zionist movement. She began by detailing the friendship between US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and President Woodrow Wilson and the formerâ€™s influence on Wilson in favor of Zionism. She surprised her audience by saying that most American Jews – particularly religious ones – did not support the founding of the state of Israel. To the religious Jews it was a political act masquerading as a religious one and therefore bordering on blasphemy.
President Harry Truman, rather than being an ardent supporter of Zionism, gave his support under extremely coercive pressure and the pragmatic realization that while Jews vote in a bloc, no such Arab bloc existed.
She further surprised her audience by stating that World War Two hero and cabinet member General George C. Marshall so opposed the creation of Israel that he told President Truman that he would not vote for him in 1948 if he supported a Zionist state. She detailed the suffering of the Palestine people when they lost their homes, their property and their homeland.
Mr. Bahri traced the history of Jerusalem to a period more than 4000 years ago, demolishing the claim by Israelis that Jerusalem is their city by reason of history. Palestine, said Mr. Bahri, has always been an Arab land. He detailed the work of a British Zionist who went to Palestine to oversee trade and commerce. The Palestinians were largely farmers and, when he saw to it that a bank they were dependent on was closed, they lost their livelihood. He created jobs with a technical component, jobs that European Jews were qualified to hold, and that facilitated their immigration.
On a personal note, Mr. Bahri said that his grandmother was forced to leave Haifa under Israeli bombardment. He detailed other Israeli massacres, a matter of historical record but virtually unknown to the average American.
Mr. Bahri spoke of the work of Muslim Americans for Palestine and its essential component of community action.
Mr. Bahri warned his audience that Al Quds and Al Aqsa are in grave danger.
Mr. Abdullah Omreish, a producer of the well received film â€œOccupation 101â€ was also a guest. The award winning film documents the suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.
â€œI learned so much tonightâ€ said one young woman in the audience.
Muslim Americans for Palestine seeks to educate Americans about Palestine; to empower the Muslim community, and preserve Palestinian history and traditions.They seek justice, dignity and self determination for the Palestinian people. They may be accessed at: www.mapalestine.org.