Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AMA Omaha Protests Award

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

AMA Omaha Protests Award

Article excerpt

AMA Omaha Protests Award

The Omaha chapter of the American Muslim Alliance joined with students and faculty members to protest the granting of an honorary doctorate of humane letters by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) to Moshe Katsav, Israel's deputy prime minister and minister of tourism.

In addition to issuing statements printed in the local press denouncing the decision, AMA members and supporters mounted a demonstration on the UNO campus May 20, the day the degree was presented.

A press statement by AMA Omaha political affairs committee chairman Abed Ajrami listed some of the human rights violations in the occupied territories of Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon committed by Israel's current Likud government, of which Katsav is a high official. It also noted his role in opening a tunnel in 1996 near the foundation of the Haram Al Sharif in East Jerusalem. Katsav called the tunnel an archeological and tourist attraction, but the nighttime opening set off rioting in which some 65 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers were killed.

The AMA press statement also detailed harassment by Israel's present government of Palestinian academic instirutions, This includes closure of Palestinian universities, colleges, schools and research centers and deportation and imprisonment of faculty and students. Frequently students from Gaza who attend West Bank institutions are prevented from traveling across a 70-mile strip of Israel separating the two Palestinian areas. (Israel has promised to open a land link between them but so far has failed to do so.) Students therefore must cross the border to Egypt, fly from there to Jordan, and then travel from Amman to the Jordan valley to cross the bridge to the West Bank where their colleges and universities are located.

Protesters also pointed out that Katsav, as minister of transportation under the former Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir, in 1990 branded the U. …

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