Dear Members of the Board of Directors of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP):
We—Palestinian-Americans, Palestinians living, working, and studying in the United States, and Americans in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle—are writing to express our outrage at the conduct of Ziad Asali, ATFP President. Most recently, we are appalled by his decision to attend an “independence day” celebration organized by the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.
As Palestinians all over the world gather to mourn and remember the Nakba, the great trauma and crime of ethnic cleansing committed against our society, it is intolerable to find that Ziad Asali, a man who purports to represent Palestinians, chose to celebrate this time with the very perpetrators of the Nakba.
More than 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their historic homeland during the Nakba in 1947-48. These were our grandparents, our parents and their grandparents. Everything was stolen from them – from all of us. Our hearts have been carved out by this monumental crime that has never really ceased. The Nakba continues to this day with daily expulsions, home demolitions, and the constant death that rains on our people without mercy by a state with the most powerful military machine in the Middle East, the same state that Asali celebrated!
We are all baffled, stunned, and left feeling betrayed by the images of Asali posing with smiles in a suit next to Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. in what amounts to a celebration of the greatest wound in the Palestinian psyche – a boundless collective pain that we pass on from one generation to another in hope of redemption, of justice, and the restoration of our dignity as native sons and daughters of Palestine.
How dare he? At a time when Palestinian prisoners are on the brink of death by starvation to protest the endless injustice against our people, Asali poses with smiles next to Oren, an American immigrant to Israel and chief propagandist in the U.S. for Israeli state policies that are tantamount to war crimes.
By attending this Israeli celebration, Asali is complicit in the attempts to legitimize a monumental trauma that we have suffered as a people and a nation struggling for its very survival. There can be no retreat from such a disgrace. There can be no justification. And no credibility can be salvaged for ATFP as long as Asali remains associated with this organization.
During this month of May, as we grieve and remember the ongoing Israeli campaigns to extricate our roots from our homeland and erase our Palestinian Christian and Muslim heritage from the land; as we renew our commitment to continue the good fight for justice and freedom; and as we once again lift our hearts with hope and dreams of being at last acknowledged as human beings with entitlement to the full range of human rights accorded to the rest of humanity, we hereby also combine our voices in a sure demand for the severance of all ties to Ziad Asali by ATFP and all Palestinian organizations.
We hope that the images of Ziad Asali at an Israeli “independence day” celebration smiling next to Michael Oren are as offensive to your sensibilities as they are to all Palestinian people and to people of conscience who stand in solidarity with us.