As third cohort leaves, AMP analyzes MLI

PART II: Muslim Leadership Initiative and Understanding BDS, Zionism and Israel

By Dr. Hatem Bazian
AMP Chairman
Originally published on AltMuslim

In a May 22, 2015 article published in The Huffington Post, Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, the only Palestinian participant in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), officially and publically disengaged from the program. Abu Shamsieh’s disassociation concluded, “As the third cohort of the Muslim Leadership Initiative gets underway, it has become impossible for MLI to meet with any credible Palestinian. Without a Palestinian narrative, MLI risks becoming a Hasbara program, Israeli-propaganda.”
The announcement is a very significant development and brings the debate back into center stage.

In late March, both Abu Shamsieh and Imam Abdullah Antepli visited Berkeley, Calif., to discuss with me and others the MLI program and issues emerging from the intense debate and also to open channels of communication moving forward. The discussion was long and spirited, but the differences and gulf between us remained the same. At the time, I agreed to write an article to express my own opposition to the MLI program and also to highlight the political nature of disagreement.

AMP chairman analyzes MLI program

PART I: Shalom Hartman’s MLI Program – A Constructive Engagement Paradigm

By Dr. Hatem Bazian
AMP Chairman
Originally published on AltMuslim

I am writing this article a few months removed from the heated debates on Altmuslim and other media outlets about the Shalom Hartman-sponsored Muslim Leadership Initiative — all-expenses paid trips to Israel for mainly American Muslim leaders to learn about the roots of Zionism. But, the issue are as relevant today as they were then. And now with the third cohort readying to leave this summer, the debate on the subject has only started.

I am approaching the subject first through South Africa’s anti-apartheid and Latin American solidarity movements lens, then I’ll engage in a discussion about the problematic nature of Shalom Hartman Institue’s MLI. The debate on the MLI program and my disagreement with it is fundamentally political in nature and not theological, even though participants entered into the program based on their Muslim identity.

This fact, then, conflates the political with the religious. I am not interested in the religious part of the debate and find the introduction into the conversation of Adab (spiritual courtesy), a complex term that governs relations between Muslims, as a tactic used to mute or alter critical responses to the program.

AMP reps attend high-level UN conference

AMP National Policy Director Dr. Osama Abuirshaid stands with Dr. Shaher Awawdeh, deputy permament observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the UN. 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency invited two representatives from the American Muslims for Palestine to attend a high-level conference in New York that commemorated the agency’s 65th anniversary.

Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, AMP national policy director, and Kristin Szremski, national director of media and communications, attended the daylong conference, which was held on June 2 at the Trusteeship Council Chambers in the UN headquarters. The event was attended by representatives of dozens of member countries, NGOs and invited guests.

The conference highlighted UNRWA’s vast array of programs that cater to the needs of more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. From education, health facilities, economic microfinance programs to psychosocial treatment for children in Gaza, UNRWA’s programs have been described as a lifeline to a struggling Palestinian refugee population.

“We should not have had to mark the 65th anniversary of UNRWA. UNRWA wasn’t supposed to be here so long. It is a failure,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

AMP stands in solidarity with SC community

(WASHINGTON DC 06/19/2015) – It is with deepest sorrow that the American Muslims for Palestine sends our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and to Black communities throughout the country, who everyday struggle against oppression, racism and police brutality.

We especially pray for the families of Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons, Sr., and Depayne Doctor, who were gunned down in what is supposed to be a sacrosanct refuge for all human beings – a place of worship. We are including the names of the deceased because Black Lives Matter. They are more than statistics in a long line of those who have been murdered because of their race. They were a state senator, a librarian, clergy members, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Until we begin to interrupt the racism so deeply embedded in our society, this horrendous violence will continue.

AMP media director makes presentation to Middle East Special Envoy

state dptDuring a three-and-a-half-hour briefing session at the US Department of State, organized by the Arab American Anti-Discrimnation Committee, AMP national Director of Media and Communications Kristin Szremski discussed Palestinian child prisoners before Middle East Special Envoy Frank Lowenstein and Deputy Assistant Secretary Larry Silverman.

The presentation was part of the Now Way to Treat a Child campaign, a coalition effort spearheaded by the American Friends Service Committee and Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, and supported by AMP.

Empowerment Through Education and Action

The American Muslims for Palestine firmly believes that educating the American public is key to bringing about change in the Middle East. Because once Americans know what is truly happening on the ground in Palestine, they will no longer allow their tax dollars to be used to support Israel's military occupation of Palestine, the world's last and longest-lasting occupation. We are all empowered to act for justice when we know the truth.

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