Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Commemorating the Catastrophe by Celebrating Ethnic Heritage

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Commemorating the Catastrophe by Celebrating Ethnic Heritage

Article excerpt

Thousands of Palestinians in the Chicago area commemorated 63 years of al Nakba (catastrophe) in Bridgeview on May 22 by celebrating their heritage with an outdoor festival hosted by the Chicago chapter of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). The daylong event featured the first-ever Palestine parade, authentic Palestinian food, bread baked on site in taboon(clay) ovens, traditional debka dancing and more. Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Knesset; Dr. Ahmet Dogan, father of Furkan Dogan, the American citizen slain by Israeli commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara last year; Osama Abu-Irshaid, AMP board member and editor of Al Meezan newspaper; and Sheikh Jamal Said, director of the Mosque Foundation, were the event's keynote speakers.

AMP, whose mission is to educate the public about Palestine, had several goals for the event, according to Awad Hamdan, AMP national programs director. "We wanted the Palestinians in the Chicago area to be able to take pride in their heritage and history," he said. "The many activities-from fresh Palestinian bread baked right on the site to taking pictures beside the re-created Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque-helped people here connect to their heritage.

"But, we also wanted to educate the public at large that the Nakba is an ongoing problem," Hamdan continued. "Israel's occupation of the Palestinian people and its apartheid policies are aimed at forcing Palestinians to leave. They're another form of genocide, so to speak. …

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