Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Tri-State News from New York: Adrien Wing and Hanan Ashrawi Discuss Palestinian Rights at New Jersey's William Paterson University

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Tri-State News from New York: Adrien Wing and Hanan Ashrawi Discuss Palestinian Rights at New Jersey's William Paterson University

Article excerpt

TRI-STATE NEWS FROM NEW YORK: Adrien Wing and Hanan Ashrawi Discuss Palestinian Rights at New Jersey's William Paterson University

An audience of more than 700 responded with standing ovations for Palestinian Legislative Council member Hanan Ashrawi and American law professor Adrien Wing who spoke about "Peace in the Middle East: the Palestinian Perspective" as part of the Distinguished Lecturer Series at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, on Jan. 29.

Professor Wing approaches this issue wearing many hats. She first came to the question of Palestine as a mother. She and her physician husband, now the parents of five sons, were in Gaza Palestinian Hospital in Beirut during the 1982 Israeli invasion. When a made-in-the-USA cluster bomb blew apart a whole family, she held the only surviving son in her arms while Dr. Swee Chai Ang, who has written a book about her Beirut experiences, stitched him up without anesthesia because none was available. Wing said that at that moment she, a black woman who grew up in Orange, New Jersey, became a Palestinian mother.

As an international lawyer, Wing's concern is how to extend to Palestinians international laws, such as the right to self-determination, the fulfillment of U.N. resolutions on Palestine, and the treatment of people under occupation according to the Geneva Conventions. Wing maintains that a Palestinian state is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for peace. Until that is created, and until such injustices as 6,000 Jewish settlers occupying 37 percent of the 140 square miles that comprise the Gaza Strip while one million Palestinians "control" the remaining 63 percent, tomorrow's terrorist will be willing to die because he has no reason to live.

As a tax-paying American citizen and voter, Wing feels a responsibility to hold the U.S. government accountable for all the money it gives to the Middle East, especially to Israel. By being passive and taking our liberties for granted, she says, Americans have allowed our representatives to embarrass us internationally.

As an African-American, Wing relates to the oppression of Palestinians and many others. She reminded the audience that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s response to the question, "when will you people be satisfied?" was "I have a dream." Her hope is that King's dream of racial equality in the U.S. will become a reality for Palestinian and Israeli children as well.

Dr. Ashrawi traced changing Palestinian attitudes. In the 1930s her father wrote that because Jews were oppressed in the West, it was up to Palestinians, as fellow Semites, to take them into Palestine. He did not expect European Jews to replace Palestinians.

After the grave historical injustice of an international body giving away a people's land without their consent, her parents' generation wanted full justice in all of Palestine. Both sides viewed the situation as a zero-sum game and considered those who sought compromise as traitors.

When in the 1970s Ashrawi accepted a two-state solution, her father felt abandoned. But Ashrawi wanted a future for her children, which meant accepting geopolitical reality and refusing to dehumanize Israeli Jews. …

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