Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab-American Interns Organize a Capitol Hill Discussion of the Middle East Peace Process

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arab-American Interns Organize a Capitol Hill Discussion of the Middle East Peace Process

Article excerpt

Arab-American Interns Organize a Capitol Hill Discussion of the Middle East Peace Process

In a July 29 event independently organized by George Atallah and Barbara Hawatmeh, two Arab-American interns in the office of Sen. Spencer Abraham (RMI), President Khalil Jahshan of the National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) and Congressman Ray LaHood (RIL) briefed Arab-American interns from a number of offices in the national capital and interns from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on the Middle East peace process. The main theme of the meeting was to enable members of the interns' generation to offer their expectations and their recommendations for solution of the conflict in the region.

Noting that the recent "peace process" in the Middle East was the 76th attempt at Middle East peacemaking since the partition plan of 1947, Dr. Jahshan urged interns not to give up, regardless of all obstacles. In his answer to the meeting's theme of "what can our generation do?" Dr. Jahshan recommended that interns not allow the failures of previous generations to drive them to despair, but to be balanced and fair, focus on fundamental issues of the conflict, and continue the dialogue among themselves. The purpose of the peace process is "to put an end to the Israeli occupation through peaceful negotiations, to give Israel its legitimate security requirements, and to give Palestinians the right to self-determination," Jahshan said.

Representative Ray LaHood gave a brief talk in which he mentioned his Arab-American origin and some of his views regarding the Middle East peace process. LaHood said the U.S. government is working very hard to promote peace in the Middle East. "This is obvious through the effort Secretary of State Madeline Albright is making to protect the peace process," he said.

Ribhi Huzien, a Palestinian-American intern at the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), asked Congressman LaHood, "How can you, as a person who cares about the Middle East, vote for the bill to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a thing that would make peace in the region rather impossible?"

"Because I believe so," LaHood answered. "Israel is a democracy and it has to do whatever pleases its citizens. This is what the people want."

Dina Gurguis, an intern at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (CPAP), asked him to specify which people he was talking about. …

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