By Wasan Abu Baker
This is the fourth year, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is holding its Palestine Advocacy Day and Training program in Washington, D.C.
This meeting started with a small number of attendees and supporters, however over the past four years the number of participants has increased significantly.
The goal of the conference is to prepare the next generation of leaders, activists, and advocates for Palestine providing them the basic tools for civic engagement with elected officials in different branches of government.
We were 250 participants of all backgrounds and faiths representing 25 states. In total, we met with the offices of over 100 members of congress.
— ICOSF (@ICOSF2) February 11, 2018
Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, the National Policy Director Of AMP, feels that the role of Palestinian Americans in diaspora is to advocate for Palestinian rights, create relationships to present the Palestinian narratives by sharing our perspectives and stories.
This complements the work of Palestinians in Palestine. The Palestinians and the supports of the international community and individuals throughout the world is more important today than ever before .
Many members of delegation attended a special meeting with congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN). They thanked her sponsorship of H.R.4391, a historic bill that supports Palestinian human rights.
It was wonderful to meet with American Muslims for Palestine @amp today to talk about my bill, H.R. 4391, which promotes human rights by ending Israel's military detention of Palestinian children. Learn more → https://t.co/oCEpslsyaE pic.twitter.com/GtvS9LmMRk
— Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) March 19, 2018
According to the human rights official, the number of Palestinians children in 2017 between detention or arrested even with wounds or injuries without medical cure was the worst year in west bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza history.
Brad Parker, a staff attorney and international Advocacy officer from Defense for Children International Palestine focused on the goal of impact the members of congress to support AMPs legislative agenda, create local powers in your mosque, create spaces to talk about Palestinian rights, and partner with other organizations.
He covered topics with the statistics of Palestinian children who have been detained by the Israeli military which is a violation of international law.
The three key issues presented to lawmakers were:
- Supporting H.R. 4391: The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act.
- Opposing S.720: The Israel Anti-Boycott Act which unconstitutionally punishes free speech.
- Supporting the funding of UNRWA, for which the Trump Administration drastically reduced funding this year, and which is certain to have a devastating effect on the lives of Palestinian refugees, especially the half a million children who attend UNRWA schools.
Attendees met with their state representatives at various times. Each of the state groups were trained and everyone had a role in the meeting with the government officials.
Ahmed Bedier, the president of United Voices for America shared that Muslims need to prioritize civic engagement in order to get the message out regarding Palestinian human rights, their rights to live, and ending the occupation.
— Malak Silmi (@MalakSilmi) March 17, 2018
A panel during the workshop trained attendees to raise awareness about the importance of respecting Palestinian rights to live with dignity and ending the occupation. Speakers offered their thoughts during the panel which included; the importance of becoming leaders in America that lobby for Palestine.
Due to the intimate relationship between Israel and United States, pro-Palestine activists and Palestinian American living in diaspora are working together to raise their voices that ask for justice and a free Palestine.
Leena Al Arian, one of the organizers and speakers, encouraged Palestinian Americans to establish more non-Muslim allies and create partnerships with other organizations that support Palestinian civil rights.
— Homan Machuca (@HomanMachuca) March 14, 2018
Neveen Ayesh, a Palestinian American who attends law school was one of the Participants representing Missouri State. She spoke about her personal experience as a Palestinian immigrant in the United States. Tor Neveen, most important is to share the stories we have experienced as Palestinians when we fight for human rights and freedom of speech.
Palestinians have resisted occupation in all forms of popular resistance, despite all the attempts to erase their identity. Documenting the history of Palestine before the catastrophe of 1948 and after was to reassure that Palestine is the land for Palestinians.
Stephen Bennett of the Institute for Palestine Studies, said that their approach is to support the Palestinian cause by documenting and collecting information about violations of human rights against Palestinians.
Jenan Shbat, the events and outreach manager of CAIR in D.C., informed the attendees that great work always comes from partnerships between organizations. She agreed that allies will support and raise more awareness. As a CAIR representative she also volunteered to offer her resources to AMP.
At a time where the president of the United States attempts to ban Muslims from entering the country and decide about Jerusalem that has instigated many Muslims throughout the world Muslim, Muslims are still active and are optimistic.
-Wasan Abu-Baker is an American Activist with a Palestinian Origin. She is the Vice Chair of Corpus Christi National Justice for our Neighbors in Corpus Christi,Texas, a member of ABCD New addition Team, and a staff writer for Kings River Life Magazine in the US. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.