Many thanks to Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Inc. and for the people who showed up to support #Palestine.
Below is the text of my speech
When I was asked to speak today, I was overcome with a sense of “I don’t want to be here”
I don’t want to be here today
I don’t want you to be here today
Let me rephrase,
I wish we didn’t HAVE to be here today.
I wish we gathered for different reasons
but here we are again caught in a seemingly endless cycle of Israeli aggression followed by an outcry from concerned citizens hoping to get some meaningful action
Ladies and gentlemen
Peace seekers everywhere
I am tired of reading and hearing in the news mind blowing numbers of “people who died in a conflict”
I am tired of having to correct the word died to killed....mercilessly, indiscriminately, callously
I am tired of having to elaborate on the word “people” to spell out the fact that those killed are Palestinian civilians of whom the majority are women and children
I am tired of having to explain that when a colonialist, expansionist, apartheid regime invades and continually occupies a peaceful nation it is NOT a conflict
I am tired of how the life of a Palestinian has been reduced to the price of the indiscriminate bullet that is fired towards her
I am tired of our government, regardless of make up, annually giving $3.8 billion in foreign military financing to Israel,
I am tired of our government having used its veto power 53 times against draft U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel
I am tired of the current administration, despite the current situation, approving over $750 million in military aid to Israel
I am tired of the complacency and complicity of those who cowardly hide behind the “it’s complicated”
I am tired of saying that my father who passed away last month, was 8 years old when he witnessed the ethnic cleansing of his hometown to establish Israel 73 years ago
I am tired of the absurdity of being blamed for being a victim
I am TIRED of trying to prove my humanity
I AM TIRED
WE ARE TIRED
But we will never be defeated
Because injustice never lasts.
Tyranny never lasts
Apartheid never lasts
Brothers and sisters in justice
Brothers and sisters in Peace
Brothers and sisters in humanity
Make your voices heard
Free, free Palestine
#Palestine #PalestinianLivesMatter #Jerusalem #gaza
Fall semester of 2000, I was at Wayne State University in Detroit finishing up some pre-pharmacy courses needed to complete my application to their pharmacy program. It was also the time when, in an attempt to appeal to the far-right citizens of Israel, Ariel Sharon gave the proverbial middle finger to the world and to the peace process by marching up Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site for Muslims, surrounded by military and a handful of politicians. The visit was the spark that ignited the second intifada (uprising) of Palestinians. So in an effort to raise awareness about the situation I, and a handful of other Muslim and Arab student activists, worked tirelessly to put together a rally on campus and within a couple of days. A response was needed, and needed immediately, before the blood of the victims could be allowed to cool.
The next steps happened in rapid succession and things fill into place almost effortlessly. speakers from respected local human rights organizations were quick to agree to take part and volunteers enthusiastically worked on placards, posters, and fliers.
The day of the event started in a typical fashion with some who want to show support but are not fully understanding how their way of doing it may cause harm than good. There was Ali who wanted to wave a black flag while having his face covered, Adel whose frustrations with the situation manifested themselves in profanities and Lucas who just wanted a mic to air out his frustrations. Of course there was also Michael who wanted to convince everyone else in attendance that the Palestinians brought this onto themselves. Overall however the event was a success. Many people walked by, many more engaged in conversation and took some brochures that explained the situation. No yelling, no screaming, no damage to property (a none sensical argument the student affairs office tried to make) and certainly no shortage of people who showed up and showed support.
After the event, a student representative from an African American Student Association on campus came up to me and said “I wish we knew about this beforehand, we have hundreds of members who would have been right here beside there brothers”
That perhaps was the most meaningful and most eye opening comment I have ever received. At that point, I had only been living in the US for a few months. Prior to that I had lived in Canada for three years and before that I was born and raised in a Muslim majority, Arab country. My limited exposure to US internal politics and my consumption by my own Palestinian struggle, limited my appreciation for how, in the fight for justice, we are all brothers. Up to that point, I never thought of other than Palestinians or Arabs as brothers in our struggle for peace, for justice, for being seen as full humans
The more I learn about the oppression of African Americans in this country, the more I believe that, to positively impact the situation in Palestine and elsewhere, we must understand the black American experience and we must stand hand in hand to refuse hate, reject color and race based sense of superiority and stop state sponsored discrimination and oppression.
The below is a picture from the latest issue of National Geographic which dedicated most of its content to the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark