Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Christian, is the founder and secretary-general of Miftah. She was also the first woman to be elected as a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee. In her works, Dr. Ashrawi has always been committed to principles of democracy and human rights.
Dr. Ashrawi will be coming to the Twin Cities today, Thursday, May 6, at Town Hall Forum at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Nicollet Mall and 12th Street, in downtown Minneapolis. Dr. Ashrawi will speak in Westminster’s sanctuary from Noon to 1:00pm on Peace in the Middle East: A Palestinian Perspective.
Since it was established in the 80s, the Town Hall Forum at Westminster Presbyterian Church has wanted Dr. Ashrawi to be a guest speaker. Since the problems between Palestine and Israel have persisted for decades, the topic of peace in the Middle East is always timely, and a Palestinian perspective on the challenges to peace is rarely heard, or understood, in the U.S.
Local Congress people regularly vote on resolutions that affect the lives of many people. It is an injustice to do so without fully understanding the conflict. And what makes it worse, is most Congress people are afraid to be critical of Israel as there is a chance of losing an election and not enough Minnesotans are knowledgeable of the situation to support them to stand for a just peace.
The Church is expecting 800 - 1,000 Minnesotans, and we're hoping to top that number by encouraging all those who are put in a position to speak or vote on foreign policies that affect lives of people abroad to attend this important event.
In a recent interview with Haaretz, Dr. Ashrawi said that
"Israel acts as an occupier not only in the West Bank, Gaza but also in Washington."
"Sooner or later the U.S. has to end this culture of impunity, and Israel has to abide by rules. At least the sounds from the administration now are more firm than they were before. Netanyahu’s government went too far, even with the closest ally and a patron and the benefactor. They went too far and there is a certain degree of arrogance, an no one can take it. I am sure he knew about the settlements, and besides, not knowing doesn’t absolve one from crime. He should know, and if he didn’t know, it’s worse. Because he kept saying that these were plans from before. But then he started talking about all things 3000 years ago and Jerusalem is our capital and we will continue to build – this kind of ideology is not a contemporary language, it’s inconsistent with negotiations or peace. It’s ideological language. If you don’t want peace – it’s OK to talk like that. You will quote Bible, others will quote Quran or new testament. This is ridiculous.”
Very few people know the history behind Israeli leaders. Dishonest and insincere peacemakers keep people focused on the Palestinian charter or Hamas and overlook the voices and actions of Israeli leaders throughout history.
In 1989, in a speech at Bar-Ilan University, Benjamin Netanyahu stated:
"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."
One can forgive him if he had a change of heart since then. But he didn't.
A few years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu commemorated the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of British rule, which killed 92 people. I do not recall any outrage or condemnations from the Jewish community regarding this event. And Connecticut Senator, Joe Lieberman who is always whipping up a hysteria in Capitol Hill against Muslims, welcomed him with open arms. And I do not recall anyone demanding Netanyahu renounce violence or terrorism either. Is terrorism bad if you are the underdog and okay if you are not?
People are resisting Israel not out of hatred or rancor for Jews. The resistance is because Israel was built on massacres, ruins, graves and ethnic cleansing of Arabs. It was built by terrorists and war criminals, whom Israelis freely choose as prime ministers, without facing starvation and sanctions like Palestinians did when they elected Hamas. These policies did not come to an end. It is not something in the past that people are rehashing and cannot move beyond.
More to point, the United States has also financed this atrocity although we do not like to talk about these realities as "experts" psychoanalyze to death the actions of ordinary people turned insane. Then, how are we going to solve the problem?
Please join us today at Westminster Presbyterian Church and ask your critical questions to Dr. Ashrawi.