After a brief introduction by Kareem Shora, National Executive Director of the ADC, and a moment of silence for the victims of Gaza, the floor was opened up to comments from attendees as to what plan of action may be most effective. Ideas abounded and there was an atmosphere of urgency and anger over the slaughter of people in Gaza as well as the perceived bias of the American media in general with regards to the crisis. Everyone voiced their frustration with a controlled media and government which seem to regard everything done by Palestinians as suspicious or outright wrong, whereas anything done by Israel was, somehow, justifiable.
One of the first to speak was a representative of the Code Pink Women’s Alliance who spoke of the regularly scheduled protests which had been organized to be held every Sunday between 5:30 and 6:30 pm in front of President Elect Obama’s offices. Another woman then stood to express her desire to see more editorials submitted to newspapers in the area as well as mobilizing sympathetic persons across North America to send selected editorials to their local papers – citing that local newspapers are oftentimes more effective at reaching people. In general, the discussions which followed focused upon two areas: the media and the government.
With regards to the US government, a call has been put out in the form of e-mailings to encourage people to contact their representatives, the President’s office and President Elect Obama’s office. Pressure on government officials, according to all who attended, was crucial to getting the message home. Public figures are actually swayed by the opinions of their constituents – despite the overwhelming impact of lobby groups like AIPAC.
Much of the commentary was oriented towards a desire to change the prejudiced perception which the average American has towards Muslims and Palestinians. So far, it was said, the US government and the Zionist lobby have had the spotlight in making an impression and molding public opinion. What is needed is a full public relations effort – by every individual who cares about the truth – to bring the American psyche to the light.
Ultimately, it was Ralph Nader’s turn to stand and add his comments. All eyes turned to this seasoned political figure as he spoke words which had a greater impact than any other heard that evening. Speaking with sincere compassion and much experience, Mr. Nader began by lambasting The Washington Post as a biased newspaper which has exhibited deep prejudice towards the Palestinians for a long time. According to him, The Post should be picketed – an action which has, since then, been done. He suggested, further, that people should contact the highest authority within The Post to protest their bias and to propose alternative editorial pieces to the typically prejudiced ones The Post always puts out.
Another thrust of Mr. Nader’s comments had to do with elected government officials. He cited that contacting an official by telephone in order to schedule a visit to his or her office by a group of concerned citizens – then actually taking that group of citizens to their office – is an effective way to get a message across. As a further way to communicate the importance of understanding the true nature of the situation, he suggested that people from Israel who themselves are against the extremely aggressive practices of their government should be brought to America to speak out to the public. He noted that, in fact, many of these disaffected Israelis are former military and political personalities who have seen the folly of Israeli policies.
Finally, Ralph Nader had one piece of advice to anyone who would write an article for publication. His desire would be to see each and every article written about the plight of the Palestinians include within it’s text a quote from David Ben Gurion – the founder of Israel in the modern age – in which he asked one of his people: “Why should they want to make peace with us? We just stole their land from them”.
The American – Arab Anti – Discrimination Committee is a non-sectarian, non – partisan civil rights organization founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. It’s main office is located at 1732 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20007.