Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"We Will Continue Our Struggle," Dr. Hanan Ashrawi Tells Oregon Audience

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"We Will Continue Our Struggle," Dr. Hanan Ashrawi Tells Oregon Audience

Article excerpt

"We Will Continue Our Struggle," Dr. Hanan Ashrawi Tells Oregon Audience

Sr. Elaine Kelley is the administrative officer of Friends of Sabeel-North America.

In her first public address since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Arab League commissioner of information and public policy and representative for the Jerusalem District to the Palestinian Legislative Council, addressed a gathering of 1,800 in Portland on "Palestinian Statehood: A Path to Peace." Her Nov. 1 lecture, held at Benson High School, was an 11th-hour addition to the World Affairs Council of Oregon's annual Distinguished Speakers Series. Invited speakers for this year's series included former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Oct. 15; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, scheduled for Dec. 15; anthropologist Jane Goodall in March 2002; and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in May 2002. The World Affairs Council's decision to include Ashrawi came at the urging of members of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, who felt the Council's selection of speakers for the series was too slanted toward Israel. The decision was also influenced by the Sept. 11 attacks and Ashrawi's cancellation of a scheduled September appearance in Spokane, Washington, due to airport closures.

No opposition demonstrations took place outside Benson High School, as they had at Barak's Oct. 15 lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland (see December 2001 Washington Report, p. 65). In his introduction of Ashrawi, the Council's executive director, Jeff Merkley, remarked that her lecture had sold out even though publicity had begun only 15 days in advance. KBOO Radio, he added, had even cancelled a lecture on prison reform in order to air Ashrawi's talk.

Ashrawi, who also heads the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, first addressed the violent attacks on America and expressed the sentiments of the Palestinian people. "We do share your pain," she stated, adding that there is "a need to know and a will to rectify" realities in the world. She condemned Osama bin Laden's use of the Palestinian cause as a reason for terrorism. "The Palestinian cause is not up for grabs," she said. "We refuse to have our cause distorted."

Ashrawi also addressed media images showing Palestinians celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks, charging that television news reports aired the scenes "repeatedly," although the incident involved a minority who were filmed immediately following the attacks. The more prevalent fact of thousands of Palestinians participating in candlelight vigils and demonstrating their mourning was not aired on American TV, she pointed out. …

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