AMP’S Fourth Annual Palestine Advocacy Day a Resounding Success
(WASHINGTON, D.C. 3/20/18)—We are so thrilled to share that this year’s Palestine Advocacy Day & Training was our most successful! We had close to 250 participants of all backgrounds and faiths, representing 25 states, and they met with the offices of over 100 Members of Congress.
Many members of our delegation also attended a special meeting with Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) whom we thanked for her sponsorship of H.R.4391, a historic bill that supports Palestinian human rights, and who thanked usfor our efforts to push other lawmakers to support the bill. On the steps of the Capitol Building, Rep. André Carson (D-IN), another supporter of the bill and one of only two Muslim Members of Congress, addressed our delegation, applauded us for our efforts, and encouraged us to run for office ourselves.
Over the weekend, we heard from policy and civic engagement experts on the basics of government, how to lobby and craft an effective message, and the necessity of voting and supporting—or even leading—campaigns. We heard from current staffers on the Hill and from other organizers such as Brad Parker of DCI-Palestine, who helped turn advocacy for Palestinian children into a policy issue.
The three main issues we presented to lawmakers were: 1) Supporting H.R.4391 The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israel’s Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act; 2) Opposing S.720 The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which unconstitutionally punishes free speech; and 3) Supporting the funding of UNRWA, for which the Trump Administration drastically reduced funding this year, and which is certain to have a devastating effect on the lives of Palestinian refugees, especially the half a million children who attend UNRWA schools.
AMP’s Palestine Advocacy Day & Training program has already proven to be one of our most successful initiatives, with participants of all ages expressing their gratitude and support for the opportunity to bring Palestine to the halls of Congress.
Dr. Nida Ali, the head of AMP's Chicago chapter, attended with a delegation from Illinois. "It was an eye-opener for my group. They came back truly empowered and all want to continue the work locally. We are now a committee of 20+ people working on the local level. We are planning visits with our representatives all over Chicago and Illinois inshallah," she said.
Rahma Aboukwaik, a Palestinian American delegate from New Jersey also thanked AMP for organizing this event, “I just came home from the Palestinian Advocacy Day. I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. I AM Palestinian. I DO care about the cause. But I never did anything to make my voice heard. These past few days have taught me so much, and I cannot wait to continue learning through your hard work. Unfortunately, although having lived in a Palestinian household, I was never taught many things from Palestinian history, which left me to do my own research. I joined this thinking it was a workshop where we learn about the history of Palestine. But when I came and realized what we were doing, it was even better. I now care about Palestine in a different way. And I strive to get my voice heard."
Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, AMP’s national policy director, emphasized the importance of building a large base of Palestine advocates in the U.S., “We realize that our path is long and arduous, but building a strong civically engaged base working for justice in Palestine is a cumulative and gradual process. This year we had almost 250 participants; we are confident that in the coming years, God-willing, our program will attract thousands of participants. AMP is determined to make this a success story for Palestine in the U.S., and we are committing the necessary resources within our means.”
He added, “We must mainstream Palestine in the U.S. and tear down the stigma and fear that many media outlets and politicians have unfairly attached to this cause. We are working hard to prepare a new generation of advocates, equipped with information, knowledge, and experience, exactly as they are armed with faith in the justness of the Palestinian cause. Moreover, we want to put Palestine on the U.S. domestic agenda, as Israel has dominated it for the two main political parties. At AMP, we believe this is a major step in that direction and no longer will there be a void when it comes to this issue.”
While we are excited and gratified to have completed another successful day of advocacy, we know that our meetings in Congress are only the beginning, not the end. We urge all of you as participants and supporters of AMP to continue the dialogue with your representatives. Be sure to schedule meetings locally in your districts with your state and federal officials. Talk to them about the right to boycott, Jerusalem, human/children's rights, UNRWA, or any issue that you care about or may affect you directly.
For those who weren’t able to attend this year or those who would like to return, we will be sure to update you soon with a “Save the Date” for Palestine Advocacy Day & Training 2019! Stay tuned.
Finally, we would like to thank the organizers and the many volunteers, our speakers and participants who made the journey to Washington, D.C. and made this event a huge success. We also want to thank our generous donors for contributing to this vital and empowering program, and to all who helped give a voice to the Palestinian people. We are so proud of and thankful for your efforts.
AMP is dedicated to advancing the movement for justice in Palestine through education, advocacy, and grassroots mobilization. AMP is committed to ending U.S. support for the Israeli occupation, to raising awareness about the plight of the Palestinian people, and to supporting their right to freedom, justice, equality, and self-determination in accordance with international law.