Jafar Farah and Nabila Espanioly introduce themselves to Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
The Mossawa Center continues its tour of the United States in Boston today. Since its arrival on September 23, the delegation, which includes Nabila Espanioly (Director of Al-Tafula Center), Jafar Farah (Director of the Mossawa Center), and Suha Salman Mousa (the Mossawa Center’s U.S. Coordinator), has met with community leaders, foundations, academics, and civil society actors in New York and Washington, D.C. The Mossawa Center also met with the offices of Senators Sanders, Leahy, Schumer, and Durbin, and Congresswoman McCollum and addressed Senator Kaine and Congressmen Beyer and Connolly at the Virginia Arab American Candidates Dinner.
Although many of those with whom the delegation met already shared concerns around minority rights in Israel, others were unaware of the extent of discrimination facing Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Despite knowing of home and village demolitions in the OPT, for example, several had no idea that Israel’s very own citizens regularly experience the trauma of home and village demolitions. Others understood the symbolic implications of the Jewish Nation-State Law, but had not realized the practical implications the law will have in housing and litigation.
While the delegation sought to raise awareness of the state’s ongoing and increasing mistreatment of its Arab citizens, it also emphasized that the role of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel is not passive. Arabs in Israel are not merely the victims of injustice. On the contrary, as citizens with unique psychological, linguistic, and historical connections to both Palestinians in the OPT and Jewish Israelis, the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel has the capacity to transform the future of the region. This too comes as a surprise to many of those with whom the delegation met in Washington, D.C. and New York. If it has critically considered Arab citizens of Israel at all, the international community has generally viewed this group as a victimized minority, overlooking its political and discursive power within Israel. Despite their capacity to vote, organize, and build coalitions with other marginalized groups, the international community has regarded Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel as an “internal” issue, unrelated to regional peace. As such, the international community has poured resources into building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians in the OPT while overlooking the pre-existing bridge in its midst.
While the current reality in Israel is one of segregation and political incitement, organizing coupled with a commitment of resources and human capital can transform this reality. As such, the Mossawa Center has taken its first steps to establish Friends of Mossawa, a network for organizing at the international level, especially in the United States. As the organization’s representative in the US, Suha Salman Mousa will coordinate the Friends of Mossawa network’s efforts in the United States to raise awareness of the challenges facing Arab citizens of Israel and increase cooperation and partnerships with likeminded advocates for equality, justice, democracy, and peace. As the Mossawa Center embarks on the second half of its 2018 delegation to the United States, it will continue to recruit members in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Our efforts would not be possible without the hospitality and concern of those with whom we have met in the United States. We thank all those with whom we have met privately, as well as those who have hosted us and/or attended our public events, including the Foundation for Middle East Peace, the Middle East Institute, the Arab American Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Open Society Fund, and the Jerusalem Fund.
The delegation will be in Boston from October 3-4, Chicago from October 5-6, LA on October 7, and San Francisco on October 8 and 9.
For more information about our tour, please follow us on Twitter (@MossawaCenter) or contact our US International Advocacy and Resource Development Coordinator, Suha Salman Mousa ([email protected]).