AMP conference calls for coalition-building during Trump presidency
American Muslims and other supporters of Palestine from around the country came together in Chicago last weekend for the ninth annual convention for Palestine in the US: Paving the Way Toward Justice.
The conference featured numerous panels, workshops, and discussions with leaders in the Palestine solidarity movement, including the organization’s Campus Action Track series targeted toward university students. In the foyer of the meeting area, tables for non-profits, publications, and artists attracted attendees to support grassroots initiatives.
Most speakers were Muslim leaders from prominent social justice groups in the United States, such as Nihad Awad and Dawud Walid from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Linda Sarsour from the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), and leaders from American Muslims Palestine itself like Taher Herzallah.
In a panel discussion on the need for intersectional work by the American Muslim community, all participants focused on the links between the experiences of non-Muslim Black Americans and American Muslims (especially those who are not Black themselves). They stressed that cooperation between the communities was imperative and currently neglected, to the detriment of both groups. Dawud Walid of CAIR Michigan cited multiple prophetic examples of anti-racist action.
Linda Sarsour of AAANY called on American Muslims to refuse to ingratiate themselves to hypocritical individuals and groups in the US.
“Who do you want your friends to be right now,” She asked the audience.
“I don’t give a damn who you are, telling me, that if there’s a Muslim registry, that you’re going to be the first one in line to register, when you don’t recognize the humanity of the Palestinian people. No thank you – sit home,” she added
Other panels covered Palestinian history, including the 1948 Nakba, U.S. policy in the Middle East, and related issues such as the Syrian crisis. Nihad Awad of CAIR National spoke emotionally of his own childhood in a Palestinian refugee camp and the empathy he feels with the millions of Syrian refugees struggling to continue their lives in terrible conditions.
The newly-created Campus Action Track included panels of students from around the country involved in pro-Palestine activism at their universities, as well as discussions facilitated by BDS leaders and legal advocates. Like the main track, the student series included sessions on Syria and intersectional organizing.