Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa Addresses Arab Americans

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa Addresses Arab Americans

Article excerpt

Pat and Samir Twair are freelance journalists based in Los Angeles.

During his third trip to the U.S. in four months, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa addressed nearly 1,000 Arab Americans on Feb. 7 at the West Coast Anaheim Hotel. At the event, hosted by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Egyptian diplomat stressed the league's priority to forge relations with Arab Americans as well as to represent the interests of Arab societies.

Moussa announced that the league is planning a conference in the U.S. with Arab Americans, focusing on politics and culture, as well as a June economic conference in Cairo.

"As much as we admire the U.S. and benefit from aid and cultural exchanges," he said, "we have to recognize we deeply differ with the policies followed by the U.S. that involve Israel. We differ with any policy that favors Israel over the Palestinians."

Noting that Arab states stood beside the U.S. after the attacks of Sept. 11, Moussa stressed that, while the league is against international terrorism, terrorism isn't the only item on the agenda.

"The Israel-Palestine conflict must be addressed," he emphasized. "To let occupation go on unabated is a recipe for chaos and the collapse of all that has been achieved. We support a two-state solution. There can be no Israeli peace without an Arab peace. The balance of power is tilting toward Israel, but the rights of the Palestinians must be recognized and the land of the Syrians and Lebanese must be returned."

During the question-and-answer period, Moussa was asked what actions the league can take to halt Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's holocaust of the Palestinian people.

"The murderous policy of Israel against Palestinians in killing civilians and demolishing houses is at the top of the agenda of the next [Arab] summit," he responded.

Asked about Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon's campaign to transfer the Palestinian population to Jordan, Moussa replied:

"This is not a new issue. Sharon has said all along that Palestine should be Jordan. No one has taken it seriously. Israel has become a regional superpower and has reached the conclusion that it is at its finest moment. It knows it is protected [by the U.S. veto] and the Security Council can't censure it, so it wants to impose its peace now.

"No Palestinian would sign a peace agreement the Israelis think they can impose," he continued. "Israel is exploiting the situation and continues its occupation of Arab land. Israel should remember the peace it imposed on Lebanon in 1982. The Lebanese immediately threw out the agreement. This is what would happen if Israel tries to push through a lopsided settlement."

In response to a query about Arab nations adopting democracy, Moussa said the Arab world is in a period of rebuilding. "The presence of non-governmental organizations and trade unions signifies the societies are opening up. Democracy is a process," he reminded the audience. "It happened here [in the U.S.]. The Middle East fell behind largely because of colonialism, but the process is starting."

Anaheim Mayor Tom Daley greeted Moussa, who was introduced by ADC's Michel Shehadeh. Others present included the Arab League's Permanent United Nations Representative Ambassador Hassan Hassouna, Egyptian Consul General Afaf al-Mazariky, and ADC Orange County President Nader Abduljebair.

ADC Leaders in L.A.

On Jan. 20, the Arab American Press Guild hosted a debriefing session in which visiting ADC national leaders discussed with the Los Angeles Arab-American media new strategies for their organization.

Noting that they were on a six-city tour, ADC president Dr. Ziad Asali, executive vice president Khalil Jahshan and communications director Hussein Ibish fielded questions from more than 100 Southern California reporters.

The purpose of their cross-country visit, the three explained, was to engage in dialogue with chapter members and discuss past accomplishments and future decisions, including establishing offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Cleveland and Atlanta. …

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