APWA’s Mission and Objectives

18 Feb

American Palestinian Women’s Association 

American Palestinian Women’s Association (APWA) is a nonprofit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Virginia.  APWA is a non- political secular organization that represents American Palestinian women whether they may be Christian, Muslim, Jew, or not.

APWA’s mission:

  • Empower American Palestinian women,
  • Advocate for women’s equality across the entire social spectrums and spheres (economic, political, cultural, familial, educational, social),
  • Advance genuine change that meets the needs of all Americans of every faith, affinity, color, gender, social standing, ethnicity, sexual orientation, native born, and immigrant,
  • Advocate for the emotional and mental wellbeing of children whether they may American, Palestinian, or Israeli,
  • Support long lasting just peace among Palestinians and Israelis, and
  • Bridge and elevate the level of understanding between Americans and Palestinians.

***American Palestinian Women’s Association is a non profit, non-political, secular, tax-exempt, registered organization. APWA was established in 2004 by concerned American Palestinian women in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area (DC, VA, MD).

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Happy Easter

20 Apr

This Easter, Palestinian Christians honor Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and sacrificed himself for the oppressed, sick, injured, imprisoned, and poor. They will draw comfort from the words he said of those who like them (Luke 6) struggle under considerable hardships to protect their families, children, life, and livelihood, and work to achieve justice and peace.

 “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be 
  comforted. 
  Blessed are you when people hate you, when they 
  exclude you,insult you and reject your name as evil
  Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after 
  righteousness for they shall be satisfied. 
  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called
  sons of God.
  Blessed are they that have been persecuted for 
  righteousness'sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” 
  (Luke 6).
            Happy Easter to one and All!

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An Interfaith Ramadan Iftar

20 Apr

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 11.02.17 PM Interfaith Ramadan Iftar 

 Hosted By American Palestinian Women’s Association

In Partnership With

  Churches For Middle East Peace

 Saturday May 11, 2019

6:30 PM-9:30 PM

Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ 

Carpenter Hall 5010 Little Falls Road Arlington, Virginia 22207

Event Proceeds Benefit

The Museum of the Palestinian People (MPP)

Traditional Palestinian Iftar

Promptly Served at Sunset 

Entry Fee $25 (adults) & $15 (minors under 14 years)

Press Link to RSVP

 

APWA is a non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3) 

 

Interfaith Ramadan Iftar: May 11th

20 Apr

Holy Week: Defines the Palestinian Christian Faith and their Arduous Struggles

18 Apr

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Palestinians are the living stones of uninterrupted generations of Christians. They are linked in faith and lineage to the first Christians. Holy Week for the Christians of Palestine is the most significant living faith experience that connects them to their past, present and future, and the quintessential cornerstone of their faith.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and concludes on Easter Sunday.  Palestinians follow the same path that Jesus took on his return to Jerusalem. Two thousand years ago, Jesus rode on a donkey as followers laid palm branches along his path.

During Holy week Palestinians retell the story of Jesus’ sabeel (Arabic for just path), visit their churches, and attend candlelight services at some of the oldest standing churches in Christendom (Bethlehem, Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, Taibeh, Tabarieh, Arabe’, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala). All week, in prayer they will share the same stories their forefathers told of past Holy Weeks and linking how Jesus suffered and sacrificed himself for the Palestinian Christians who followed him then and continue to follow him.

They will recount how Jesus entered their cherished and tortured Jerusalem greeted by a loving crowd who waved and covered his path with palm branches. They will contemplate their organic experience and unique narrative that connects them to the very first Christians and ancestors who lived through and witnessed the countless biblical accounts that speak of Jesus and the heavy cross he carried, and they still carry. They will recount the hardships and the Joys their ancestors before them experienced, and pray for the peaceful end of the innumerable hardships they daily confront.

This week, like every Holy week since Israel’s military occupation, those few Palestinians with an Israeli permit march on foot and waddle through Israel’s Separation Wall, checkpoints, and soldiers 3aOlive-branch-offering-940x626while carrying and waving their Palm fronds and olive branches.

On Good Friday, twenty Palestinian men will carry the heavy cross that Jesus carried alone. Twenty representatives of the same families will place the cross on the same position that their fathers before them placed on their shoulders. They will retrace Jesus’ sabeel along the cobble stoned Via Dolorosa, mark the Stations of the Cross that lead to his crucifixion, reflect and pray at each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross that are depicted on East Jerusalem’s ancient walls. Others will carry and clutch the same small wooden cross their ancestors carried. Together they will march towards the Sanctuary of Flagellation and meander the narrow paths that commemorate the final steps of Jesus.

07079c71e9ed7699c216c4b8997f162eLike their mothers before them, young Palestinian women will gently release white pigeons of peace at the end of the procession in honor of their beloved and tormented Jerusalem. They pray for peace to reign on their precious city and reflect on their unique and arduous faith experience. Robbed of their lands, homes, freedoms, and peace for following and adopting their ancestral faith generations of Palestinian children continue to shoulder Jesus’s heavy cross and call for justice and peace.

On the eve of Holy Saturday, the Holy Sepulcher will spread the Holy Fire that has been kept lit for 1,500 years. The same fire will be carried to every town, city and village across Palestine. Before the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem interrupted the spread of the Holy Fire, Palestinians on foot carried the Holy Fire to neighboring churches in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.  Until 1967, and for 1.200 years before their restrictive occupation, Palestinian delegates, clerics, and laymen crossed the borders to carry the Holy Fire to neighboring Christian churches to share and spread it to the next church.

This Easter Sunday, most Palestinian Christians will be confined by Israel’s Separation Wall, check points and visa restrictions. However, before 1967, most celebrated Easter Sunday at the two holiest Christian sites that mark the birth of Jesus and his crucifixion (Bethlehem and East Jerusalem) where more than twenty separate masses are annually conducted within a span of 24 hours at the Church of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulchre.

For the Christians of Palestine, Holy Week marks and represents the organic manifestations of their faith, and directly connects them to their past, present and future. In faith, they relentlessly practice non-violence while working for justice and peace for their own people and occupiers- Palestinians and Israelis. Like every Holy Week since 1967, Christians of Palestine will reaffirm their faith, carry their cross and painful existence, and recommit to remain faithful to Jesus’s just path.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

30 Mar

March 27, 2019

Dear Prime Minister Ardern,

On behalf of the American Palestinian Women’s Association, I would like to express our deepest appreciation for the manner and tone of your response, actions, sincere compassion, and warmth towards the families of the terror victims; including the six citizens and immigrants of Palestinian origin (Atta Mohammed Elayyan, 33 years; Osama Adnan Abu Kweik, 37; Kamel Darwish, 39; Abdul Fattah Qassim al-Daqqah, 57; Amjad Hamid, 57; Ali al-Madani, 66). Also among the injured many were of Palestinian origin (Wassim Daraghmeh and his young daughter Elin, Mohammad Elayyan (Atta’s father), Basil As’ad, Shehadeh Al-Senawi, and Khalid Hijjawi).

Your leadership stood apart from that which we have become accustomed to from Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 6.08.44 PM
male as well as female leaders who often repeat and emulate the pre-established rhetoric. Your consistent kindhearted demeanor and thoughtful behavior was reassuring. And your compassion was most comforting.

Leaders driven by prudence, rational thinking, compassion, and courteous manners create very close-knit and content societies. Conversely, irrational, cruel, inconsiderate, and incriminating leaders sow division, fear, hate, and discontentment. The day after the murderous attacks that took the lives of innocent Americans including members of our own community by foreign nationals on September 11, 2001, American Muslims and Arabs were blamed. In tandem, our community grieved the loss of loved ones who perished on 9/11, and the loss of trusted friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Since the colonial era, Muslims lived and died defending their country. However, most politicians wish to ignore this simple fact. Arab Americans immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1800’s, and yet their innovations and contributions to community and society are disregarded.

It is not that the majority of Americans are hateful; in fact, most are as kind as the citizens of your nation. However, when civility is an anomaly, crudeness is the common standard. In recent years, and after Barack Hussein Obama became president, our hardships intensified. The loud and hateful rhetoric spewed by the far right extremists, their political operatives, and supporters that malign American Muslims as well as Arab Americans has become the accepted norm. In spite of this, our hope remains that this shall pass. Like you, we faithfully hold that love extinguishes hate. Benevolence, respect, and friendships repair broken bridges.

Our country shares many of your values, yet we are so different. When challenged with trepidation the inclination of our leaders’ is to use our dominance and power, you astutely showed us that strength lies in the kind manner and compassion a leader emotes when the nation is stricken, afraid, and in shock. Your actions untied your country and re-strengthened its moral and civic fabric. Your community whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or agnostic are fortunate to have you at the helm on a fateful day and a national calamity that has more than often shredded communities, separated, and divided nations.

As sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and mothers of adult children, or mothers like yourself of young children our hope now rests on your example. While you may not know it, Americans of every stripe, and especially Arab Americans and Muslim Americans paid close attention to every move you made and every decision you took. We have been thirsting for a leader like you to demonstrate a better way to respond, rebound, rally, and heal.

After witnessing the compassion and kindness you exhibited to the victims of hate and terror in Christchurch, the tender care for the well being of your citizens, your thoughtfulness towards the grieving families, your love of country, and all your citizens including the recent immigrants fascinated our political leaders and average Americans. Your actions showed us what to expect of a forthright leader for all citizens, not just some citizens. For that we thank you.

Your leadership is a credit to your country and the world. You are a magnificent example of a unifier and a great leader.

Most Respectfully,

Dr. Mai Abdul Rahman
President
American Palestinian Women’s Association

 

(Hard copies of this letter were mailed to the Prime Minister’s Office of Chief Executive in Wellington, New Zealand, and the Embassy of New Zealand, Washington, DC.)

Spring Equinox: Is Mother’s Day for Palestinians

20 Mar

Palestinians celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st, which generally marks the first day of spring, the resurrection of nature, and the budding of new creations.

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Spring equinox is an astronomical phenomena that is determined by the movement of the sun that occurs between March 19th through March 21st. The specific date is determined when the sun crosses the celestial equator, and day and night are segmented equally at twelve hours. It signals seasonal change and the resurrection of nature.

However, the designation of March 21st  as the first day of spring was established in AD 325  by the  Council of Nicaea. It was set to usher the season of Lent leading to Easter in April.  For that reason, Palestinians celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st  to signify the beginning of new life, new seeds, and the commencement of new creations.

On Mother’s Day, Palestinians honor their mothers as well as the maternal bonds that extend to grandmothers, aunts, and female family members. Palestinian regard maternal bonds as sacred relations that link families and connect them to past and future generations. During Mother’s Day public events are held, stories are shared, and poems are recited to honor the influence of Palestinian mothers on family and society.

Palestinian poets, writers, authors, and playwrights have dedicated much of their literary work to their mothers. While in an Israeli prison Mahmoud Darwish, the award winning author and poet dedicated a poem to his mother with the simple title “To My Mother.” The poem is written in letter-form and remains one of his most famous poems. It portrays the simple ordinary things that Palestinians treasure in their familial and communal relations, the crux of the Palestinian identity, and their arduous experience living under the Israeli occupation that often separates them from their loved ones (see poem below).

On the occasion of Mothers’ Day for Palestinians, and the advent of spring for all, may your day be filled with(فرح) happiness and (صحة جيدة) excellent emotional, mental, and physical health.

 

Oud player and music composer, Marcel Khalife (مارسيل خليفة) song “To My Mother إلى أمي” was written by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (محمود درويش). It captures the poet’s personal experience as a political prisoner longing to return home to be with his mother.

“إلى أمي  To My Mother”

أحنُّ إلى خبز أُمي
 Intensely I yearn for my mother’s bread
وقهوة أُمي
My mother’s coffee
ولمسة أُمي..
My mother’s tender touch…
وتكبرُ فيَّ الطفولةُ
Within me my childhood is raised,
يومًا على صدر يومِ
Day upon day
وأعشَقُ عمرِي لأني
For her I cherich life, because
إذا مُتُّ،
If I die
أخجل من دمع أُمي!
My mother’s tears will shame me.
خذيني، إذا عدتُ يومًا
Settle me, if I return one day,
وشاحًا لهُدْبِكْ
A thin veil on your lashes
وغطّي عظامي بعشب
With grass cover my bones
تعمَّد من طهر كعبك
Baptized by the purity of your heel
وشُدّي وثاقي ..
Untie my shackles
بخصلة شَعر ..
With a lock of your hair
بخيطٍ يلوِّح في ذيل ثوبك ..
With an unstitched thread at the helm of your thoub-dress
عساني أصيرُ
Perhaps I will become
إلهًا أصير ..
A tolerant god
إذا ما لمستُ قرارة قلبك
But, if  I could  touch the deep tranquility of your heart
ضعيني، إذا ما رجعتُ
Set me, if I ever return
وقودًا بتنور ناركْ ..
Fuel to light the fire you cook with
وحبل غسيل على سطح دارك
A clothes line on your roof
لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ
Because I lost my strength to stand
بدون صلاة نهارك
Without your day light prayers
هَرِمْتُ، فردّي نجوم الطفولة
Old I have become… return me to the stars of childhood
حتى أُشارك
So I may join and chart my journey
صغار العصافير
With the fledgling sparrow chicks
درب الرجوع ..
To the homeward path
لعُش انتظارِك
Back to your awaiting  nest.

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Here is Why American Palestinian Women’s Association Supports the 2019 Women’s March

13 Jan

American Palestinian Women’s Association (APWA) is one of the cosponsors of the 2019 Women’s March that will take place on January 19. While well aware of the unfair and fair allegations that have challenged the 2019 Women’s March, we believe that all women share a common history of discrimination, economic and political exclusion that transcends their faith, color, political affinity, and values. Moreover, our decision to endorse this Women’s March, and participation in all prior women lead marches does not compromise our strong belief that all forms of bias, discrimination, and phobias are in direct contradiction to our organizational and individual values.

mai abdul rahman                      January 2019

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Our decision to co-sponsor the Women’s March stemmed from our strong support for the Unity Principles  that was articulated in the 2017 Women’s March, and constitutes the foundation of the 2019 “Women’s Agenda” and its policy platform that will shape the women’s movement priorities leading up to 2020.

While well aware of the unfair and fair allegations that plague this and all other women’s movement before, we believe that all women share a common history of economic and political exclusion that transcends individual values. Our Black sisters before us, joined and endorsed the suffrage movement that included women who advocated for the segregation of Americans and demanded Black women assemble and march separately. Black women chose to join because of their understanding that protecting the rights of women is important to all women whether they may be Black, White, and all shades in between. Likewise, our decision to endorse the 2019 Women’s March does not dilute our strong belief that all forms of bias, discrimination, and phobias are in direct contradiction to our organizational and individual values.

We have firmly and consistently denounced and rejected all forms and expressions of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, racism, and bigotry.  In fact, APWA has never failed to stand up against bias within our own Arab American community or lend our support to our American Jewish sisters whether they may belong to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP); or for those who oppose JVP for denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, and for advocating for the end of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and Israel’s absolute control of the Palestinians, who are an extension of our families and relatives. Simply because, politics aside, we share a common concern and desire to build an American society where all our young live free of bias and fear irrespective of their faith, color, ethnic origin, economic and social status, sexual orientation, housed or homeless, immigrant or native born, or gender affinity.

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To that end, whether you may be a supporter of APWA or not, a female or male– we urge you to join the 2019 Women’s march that will take place on Saturday, January 19 in Washington, DC, participate in a sister march taking place in cities nation wide or around the world. Together, we can build a national movement that will end violence against women, bring an end to discriminatory state practices and violence, arrest the spread of bias and bigotry; protect and defend our constitutional rights and the First Amendment, reproductive rights, the rights of young children, refugees and immigrants, LGBTQIA+, poor, challenged, and disabled populations, and our environment. All of which will promote economic and social justice for all Americans and give hope to young girls and women in faraway nations who suffer greater injustices.

 

The Forgotten Palestinian Christians: Their Resilience is a Testament of Faith

18 Dec

On Christmas Day, worshipers across this country will hold bibles that bear the faithful diligence of the forefathers of present day Palestinian Christians. Deacons, clergywomen, clergymen, priests, bishops, and cardinals will don their best ecclesiastical vestments that invoke Palestinian traditional dalmatic embroidery. Yet, few if any, will utter a word of gratitude or concern for the Palestinian Christians whose daily life and right to worship are an enormous challenge under Isreal’s military occupation.

mai abdul rahman                        December 2018

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This Christmas, like every Christmas before, Catholic and Protestant clerics will bear their ecclesiastical vestments that display Palestinian traditional dalmatic embroidery that was first worn by early Palestinian clerics, and will quote the scripture that was elucidated by early Palestinian scholars.

However, few if any, will utter a word of concern for the plight of the Palestinian Christians who daily struggle under Israel’s military occupation to worship and maintain Christendom’s first churches.

Ignored and dismissed they resiliently pray, advocate, and work for a just and lasting peace. Their access to their churches denied and right to worship is daily challenged, they continue to bear the heavy weight of maintaining Christendom’s first churches.

Meanwhile, more than many American church, pastor, and church leader are funding and feeding the frenzy of Israel’s extremists and settlers. Well aware that Israeli extremists and settlers view the Palestinians, their churches, lands, farm fields, properties, and villages an obstacle to their desire to seize and control the skimpy remnants of historical Palestine.

The Christians of Palestine trace their faith to the very first converts. Their willingness to adopt Christianity made it possible for the Christian faith to spread throughout the Near East, across the Mediterranean basin, Eurasia, and Africa. However, their mere conversion stripped their descendants of their right to their lands, freedoms, and churches.

Ignored and forgotten by church and cleric, Americans continue to ask Palestinian Christians “When did you convert?” Unaware, that the Palestinian Christians whether they reside in Gaza, the West Bank, East or West Jerusalem, or Israel represent the uninterrupted presence of the very first church.

The history and narrative of the Palestinian Christians dates back to the very first church and converts. Since the birth of Jesus on a clear night in Bethlehem, the Christians of Palestine have provided fellow Christians an authentic account of the early Christian experience. Early Palestinian Christian scholars helped clerics and worshipers contextualize the bible verses they cite and read.

Their close proximity  to the first disciples, early Palestinian Christians played a critical role in spreading the Christian faith, yet few are aware of their role and influence in spreading the word.

Palestinian Christians’ direct link to the first converts and disciples provided scholars and historians an intimate knowledge of the personal religious experience of the first Christians. Their accounts helped shape the Christian narrative. To date, they remain the living extension of the first church. For two thousand years, they have faithfully maintained the oldest churches in Christendom.

They have preserved the ancient gardens where Jesus prayed, tended and harvested the olive trees that shaded Jesus and his disciples, and when their communities are besieged and bombed, they have used their sanctuaries to shelter and accommodate the earnest prayer of fellow Palestinians- Christian or Muslim. However, their cries to be heard are muted, their faithful diligence is discarded, and strong desire to keep their churches open is undermined.

So why do most Americans choose to ignore and dismiss the Christians of Palestine? Palestinian Christians are an indivisible part of the Palestinian historical narrative, they share the same aspirations and struggles as other ordinary Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation, and their  language is Arabic. Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 9.08.26 PMAnd so is their “Injil” –-bible.

They are Arabs, with an Arabic bible, liturgies, and sermons, and Arab Semitic ancestral heritage are the core reasons they are forsaken and forgotten.

Christians owe much to the faithful work and witness of the early Palestinian Christians, and many a pilgrim owes  them and their ancestors gratitude for their persistent stewardship of Christendom’s first churches. Like their ancestors before them, the Christians of Palestine continue to practice their faith traditions and preserve their churches while living under an Israeli military occupation that limits their access to their holy places.

This Christmas like every Christmas  before, the Palestinian Christians will pray for peace for friend and foe, and will again commit to carry their faith and cross with grace. Their unwavering resilience is a beacon of hope for the free and the captive. Ignored and dismissed by their fellow Christians, they represent the best attributes of their faith and the Palestinian people.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all!

 

!كُلّ عام وَأَنْتُم بِخَيْر Season’s Greetings!

8 Dec

 

عيد سعيد

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American Palestinian Women’s Association extends our best wishes for a happy holiday season and our sincere gratitude for your continued support.  Wishing you peace, health and contentment throughout the New Year!