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 

One Response to “With Love and Gratitude”

  1. Jann Hebsch May 27, 2021 at 3:19 pm #

    Very Nice Blog!!!!! 3:10 PM Join other followers on our blog…

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