Archive | May, 2021

With Love and Gratitude

24 May

I confess that I feel heavy hearted to share with you my intent to step down as president of American Palestinian Women’s Association, especially when the extent of the latest tragic events in Palestine remain unknown. But today more than even, I am cognizant that APWA needs fresh new leadership that builds upon our successes and expands our reach. 

As a founding member, I am grateful to have had the privilege of leading the most beautiful and dedicated group of women who spoke truth to power and committed thousands of volunteer hours without an iota of public recognition. I am truly proud that I can reflect on the work we accomplished, and the labor of love spent to build a better world, not just in Palestine, but here at home. I am gratified to have been a member of one of the most dedicated band of principled women who challenged Americans to learn, be better, and do better.

APWA was one of the first groups to call attention to the contextual relatalibilty of the oppression experienced by Palestinians and the racism and injustice experienced by people of color here at home. We brought about an understanding of the similarities between the economic privilege in our own country whose wealth was extracted from the sweat and free labor of Americans forced into slavery, and Israel’s wealth, military sales, economy, and its illegal settlement enterprise that depends on the systematic abuse of the Palestinians, and for the enrichment of settlers who otherwise are of meager means. We also warned Americans from importing Israel’s policing tools that compromise the integrity of our local police and American’s constitutional rights. The uncovering of these corresponding institutional practices alone is a testament to the work accomplished and the breadth of unfinished work ahead of us.

In words and deeds, APWA denounced all forms of bigotry and hate, and forewarned Americans of the cost of accepting and adopting Israel’s oppressive occupation policies and police tactics. Above all, we understood that Israel’s military, policing practices, and occupation policies harm Palestinians, and taint the moral fabric of Israel’s young. And when few Americans recognized the human cost of supporting and funding Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people, APWA gave voice to the authentic living experience of Palestinian women, and called attention to the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinians, as well as Israelis. Throughout, APWA believed in the power of sisterhood for the building a better future for young people whether they were born Christian, Muslim, or Jew.

We know that the greatest accomplishments are the things that are not written or documented: the conversations we engaged with congregations, the friends we made, and the one to one transformation that grew out of our collaboration and sponsorships of people willing to speak their truth. The safe spaces we organized where Rabbis, imams, and pastors spoke their truth, the many groups we were invited to join, the conference calls and conference resolutions we wrote together, and the challenging of our communities to keep learning that deepened relationships and understanding of our mutual struggles.

I am proud to have been part of the most effective and dynamic grass roots movement that changed American attitudes and values. Nonetheless, I sincerely believe that part of the art of organizing is knowing when it’s time to step aside to allow for new leadership with new gifts, strategies and ideas in a constantly demanding and evolving landscape. I feel satisfied that I have given what I can to APWA.

It is for all the reasons above that I am really excited to announce that Nuha Shiblie has agreed to step in to take the baton to facilitate the expansion of APWA’s reach, funds, and contributions. Nuha has a proven record in working with national and international organizations. She has abundance of talent and wisdom and the necessary skills to build upon APWA’s past successes. Nuha believes in APWA’s mission that never wavered from it’s humanitarian, non-political, and secular character that honors and respects all faiths and creeds. She is also kind, courteous, energetic, and a joy to work with. I promised Nuha to stay on for just a little longer to ensure a smooth transition and hand-off of programs and tasks, and that is a promise I intend to keep.

In the meantime, I am holding my breath excited to begin a new phase of organizing that will solely focus on the orphaned Palestinian children, especially the recent victims of the Gaza war. I have a lot of learning and lots of ideas about what this new American Palestinian women lead organization might want to accomplish –and I am open to more suggestions. With the help of several amazing American Palestinian women, we already started putting the organizational structure that could potentially begin addressing the educational and social needs of the orphaned Palestinian children. I understand under the current conditions it will not be easy, but with the right structures and principled values the potential impact of such an organization would radically transform the prospects of young Palestinian children. Nevertheless, I am well aware that the scope of work ahead of us will not be simple or easy to accomplish, especially when considering the need and the volatile conditions these children continue to face, but this will not deter us from realizing our dream. 

My APWA experience has taught me to appreciate the power of a small band of women to change hearts and minds. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the gifts of learning from and struggling with women committed to the cause of Justice. Your principled values made it possible for APWA to be the most trusted and most effective change-maker it can be. Together we educated and changed attitudes, and did our part to create a vibrant movement committed to Palestinian human rights. Above all, we contextually connected the relatability of Palestinian oppression to the racism here at home. Because of you, American’s commitment to justice has grown wider, stronger, and more resolute, and thus our work together will continue on.

With Love and gratitude…. mai 

What Do We Do? And What Do We Do With The Money We Raise?

22 May

What Do We Do?

We give voice to the authentic living experience of Palestinian women, and call attention to the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian people. And we also support the most vulnerable populations here at home. We resolutely support the rights of all women, and stand firm against bigotry and hate of the other irrespective of faith, color, national origin, immigration status, or orientation. 

In addition, APWA was one of the first organizations to call attention to the relatalibilty of the oppression experienced by Palestinians and the racism and injustice experienced by people of color here at home– in a way that only American Palestinian women can.

Speaking Our Truth to Erase Injustices

At a time when few Americans recognized the human cost of supporting and funding Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people, APWA gave Palestinian women voice to speak and express their truth, and called attention to the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian people as well as Israelis. Throughout, APWA believed in the power of sisterhood and the building of high moral values through action driven principles that call people to act morally and rise above their biases. 

We were one of the first groups to call attention to the contextual relatalibilty of the oppression experienced by Palestinians and the racism and injustice experienced by people of color here at home. We brought about an understanding of the similarities between the economic privilege in our own country whose wealth was extracted from the sweat and free labor of Americans forced into slavery, and how Israel’s wealth, military sales, and economy are dependent on the systematic oppression of the Palestinians, and how Israel’s cross lateral institutions are engaged in the annexation of Palestinian homes and fields to enrich the Israeli settlers who are otherwise with meager means. 

In a way that only American Palestinian women can, we warned Americans on the risks of importing Israel’s oppressive administrative tools that are compromising the integrity of the local police, US securty agencies, and constitutional rights. The uncovering of these corresponding unjust institutional practices alone is a testament to the breadth of the work ahead of us.

What Do We Do With The Money We Raise?

As women who enjoy dual identities- American and Palestinian- we understand the contextual connectivity of the injustices experienced by the Palestinians and America’s marginalized communities. Our dual identity makes it imperative for us to fund programs that help ease the hardships of young Palestinians and their families as well as those communities struggling in our midst.

Here is partial list of the initiatives your contributions help APWA build and support:

  • We support and empower Palestinian women by buying their products and selling them at our various events and bazaars. Each dollar we collect from each of our events that feature Palestinian women products is dedicated to ease the hardships of Palestinian children and their families.
  • APWA funded the building of a guest room to house Palestinian families visiting their sick children at Victoria Hospital, East Jerusalem. This made it possible for families visiting their sick child to stay overnight and avoid the complex web of Israeli check points strung across the Palestinian territories,
  • APWA funded the delivery of US donated musical instruments to help build the capacities of Edward Said National Conservatory of Music,
  • We funded the music education of students living in Jenin (West Bank). Several of these students became proficient musicians invited to play at some of the most reputable European concert halls, and some became music teachers spreading the joy of music within Palestine,
  • Until it was made impossible we collected wheel chairs and crutches for the disabled and limbless children in Gaza,
  • We funded and delivered hundreds of backpacks to Palestinian students living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Each book bag was filled to the brim with school supplies and a warm handwritten note from each donor and funder. 
  • We funded Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza when they faced budget cuts,
  • APWA funded the education of young Palestinian refugees with social, physical, and educational challenges, including children with autism.
  • We financially supported countless of groups focused on supporting Palestinian families and children including UNRWA, ANERA, and UPA.

And Here at Home:

  • We fund and support America’s young and homeless,
  • We donated bikes for the homeless youth,
  •  Organized workshops to help homeless youth maintain their bikes to ensure them reliable and well functioning as they use them to travel from their shelter to school and find employment,
  • We funded and collected home baked meals to feed the homeless,
  • Funded and supported Arab American groups,
  • Funded and supported the foundation of several Arab American women initiatives,
  • Funded the establishment of the Museum of the Palestinian People,
  • Funded and supported IQraa: Running for a Brighter Palestine,
  • Funded women shelters and victims of domestic abuse,
  • Funded American Palestinian women and Arab American women,
  • Funded the education of Palestinian students attending US colleges,
  • Supported the transition of Syrian refugee mothers and their families,
  • Offered financial support to improve the living conditions of Iraqi women immigrants
  • Funded and organized interfaith Ramadan Iftars and events that featured Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy,
  • We funded the education of the young children of the Navajo nation, and gave each student a grade appropriate book about the living experience and aspirations of young Palestinian children, the books collected were authored and published by a Palestinian or a publishing house that supports the human rights of Palestinians.

Because of Your Support:

Because of your support we are able to leverage every penny we raised to help Palestinian children and their families as well America’s underprivileged children and their families.

Because of our Christian, Jewish, and Muslim supporters we built safe interfaith spaces where rabbis, pastors, and imams spoke from the heart about their desire to see a free Palestine

Because you were open to hear our perspective, we were able to expand the conversation and understanding of fellow Americans on the intersectional connectivity of the racial injustice of the people of color in this country, and the injustices committed against the Palestinian people– in a way that only American Palestinian women can.

Thank you! 

President Biden, Send the USNS Hospital Ship to Gaza

16 May

As the wreckage and death toll mounts as a result of Israel’s provocative attack on Al Aqsa worshipers during the holy month of Ramadan, American Palestinian Women’s Association implores President Biden to send the USNS naval hospital ship to the shores of Gaza. To heal and mend the injured children, and provide water, food, and tents to shelter the 50,000 families made homeless by Israel’s American made planes and bombs.

mai abdul rahman May 2021

Last April, American Palestinian Women sent a letter to President Joe Biden. We congratulated and welcomed him as the leader of our nation and urged him to send the USNS naval hospital ship to Gaza- letter attached below. There is no time more urgent than now to send the USNS Naval ship to treat the injured and mend the broken limbs of young Palestinian children who suffer the consequences of irresponsible US policies. 

Children do not develop in isolation. They are shaped by the social and political worlds in which they live. The US bears much of the blame for creating the political and situational conditions that have allowed Israel to impose the ecological and military constructs that continue to shape young Palestinian’s cruel environment. In other words, funding Israel’s wars and its wholesale brutal occupation policies and Gaza siege dictates US intervention to reduce the physical and psychological scars that impact the long term development of young Palestinians.

Long before Israel’s provocative attacks on Alaqsa mosque worshipers, and its chronic policy of vacating and displacing Palestinian families from their homes to hand over to Jewish settlers, Palestinian children have suffered unbearable trauma. Almost all under age Palestinian children (88%) have personally witnessed the demolition of homes, the wounding and killing of family members, neighbors and loved ones. Palestinian medics and therapists are ill equipped to deal with overwhelming number of young Palestinian victims in need of medical attention and therapy. Without the proper intervention, the impact of these scaring experiences will last an entire lifetime.

Armed and well equipped with US made weapons, Israel’s occupation soldiers determine Palestinian children’s physical safety and the safety of their families. Israel’s military and police control their access to school and ability to walk safely back to their homes and neighborhoods. Their daily encounters with Israel’s occupation soldiers and its angry settlers reinforce time and again that at any given day they may lose their life, father, mother or siblings. These cruel facts are multiplied ten folds for those Palestinian children living under Israel’s suffocating siege in Gaza. Israel also controls their food intake, clean water consumption, and ability to safely walk to school or playground. They live in perpetual anxiety afraid to face Israel’s devastating US made bombs and its occasional happy trigger snipers who on a whim commit them limbless, orphaned, or dead. 

Long before Ramadan 2021, and the Covid19 pandemic that exasperated the fragile Palestinian health care system, research had established that 68% of Palestinian children exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and more than two-thirds of children under 5 suffer from various vitamin deficiencies. All of which produce long-term developmental issues that damage their physical and mental wellbeing. 

American taxpayers (you and, I included) have generously funded Israel’s wars and human right abuses. Our monies fund the weapons that successive US administrations have supplied Israel without one iota of accountability. We are collectively responsible for the senseless suffering of thousands of young Palestinian children.

As an active party to this decades long devastating carnage, the US must take responsibility for healing and mending the innocent young Palestinian children who suffer our irresponsible policies and negligent actions. Sending the USNS naval hospital ship to Gaza on a humanitarian and medical relief mission could provide the surviving young Palestinian children a little help to overcome the dire conditions we helped create. It will also offer principled Americans a small gesture of much-needed relief from the ache of feeling directly responsible for creating this mess.

[Emblem of American Palestinian Women’s Association]

American Palestinian Women’s Association (APWA)

Bridging cultures for a brighter future

APWA is a non-profit organization (EIN 52-2439307)under the IRS code 501(c)(3)

President Joe Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington D.C., 20500

April 3, 2021

Dear President Biden,

The American-Palestinian Women’s Association would like to congratulate you and welcome you as the leader of this nation. We write to you today as concerned mothers, sisters, representing a large community of Palestinian-Americans, about the deplorable living conditions of the Palestinian children, youth, and elderly residing in Gaza.

At this time, and as the research suggests, 68% of Palestinian children display symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In addition, nearly two-thirds of children under 5 suffer from various vitamin deficiencies and suffer long-term developmental issues that prolong the harm to their physical and mental wellbeing. The COVID19 pandemic has only exacerbated the fragile healthcare system of Gaza and deserves our attention for its dire impact on the most vulnerable children of Gaza.

We urge you to send the USNS Mercy to Gaza for much-needed relief to the sorely inadequate local healthcare facilities. It can improve the quality of life for thousands of Gazans and show the children of Gaza that the US has not forgotten them. We believe that your administration can take action to address this humanitarian calamity and we ask that you assign someone in your cabinet to advocate throughout the process of the ship deployment.

We thank you for your leadership and look forward to your response by email at mai.abdulrahman@gmail.com or by phone at (…..

Sincerely,

Dr. Mai Abdul Rahman

President, Board Chair

The American-Palestinian Women’s Association