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
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.)

One Response to “An Open Letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern”

  1. Nina Cullers April 1, 2019 at 11:53 am #

    Dear Mai,
    I commend your excellent letter to the prime minister of New Zealand. In fact I am proud to say that your letter inspired such noble sentiment. I am glad and happy that we have someone of this excellent calibre to represent American/Palestinian Women.
    Your letter expressed the highest ideals one expects of a leader. It is obvious that you yourself qualify for this leadership role. God bless you, and may you have the strength and courage to show the spirit and nobility of a pure Palestinian woman.

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