North America Nakba Tour
North America Nakba Tour, April 5 – June 5, 2016
Umm Akram and Amena Ashkar arrive in San Francisco
Our two visitors have arrived on schedule. Amena’s luggage unfortunately did not. Apparently it couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Beirut, but British Airways promised to put it on the next flight and deliver it to her door in Berkeley. After settling in with their gracious host, Kirsten, Amena rushed off to Ross to buy a few things.
By now they’ve spent their first night here. This morning, Amena and Samir, their videographer and driver, will go to the bank and get debit cards to cover their expenses and then a mobile WiFi and phone, so that they will be connected wherever they are on the tour.
Tonight is also their first event, in Hayward, California. No time off for jet lag.
Thank you all for your donations. They are a big help when we’ve already spent nearly $14,000 before the start of the tour. When the tour expenses are paid, we hope to have enough left over to send a nice check to the Noor al-Yaqin Foundation registered in Lebanon. It’s a wonderful charity that fills the gaps in the United Nations mandate. The UN supplies most of the basic needs of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (and elsewhere). Most, but not all. That’s where Noor al-Yaqin comes in, providing medical, vocational, educational, recreational, social and even environmental needs not provided by the UN. They are not well funded at present, and we believe they are the best use of any extra funds generated by the Tour. Please go to this link to see how to donate.
One other small request. Our guests will be spending a lot of time in the wonderful vehicle that we found. Amena and Samir will be able to use the mobile WiFi to good advantage and even do live video interviews, but we want to appeal to our Arabic speaking friends for Arabic films and show on DVD that Umm Akram can watch on the built-in DVD player. please let us know if you have any in your collection that you can spare. You can contact us by email or call 510-232-2500.
Many thanks to you all.
The Free Palestine, NorCal ISM and al-Awda Team
The Exiled Palestinians
Stateless Palestinians from the Camps in Lebanon
On May 14, 1948, as Zionist leader David Ben Gurion was proclaiming a Jewish state in Palestine, his heavily armed troops seized the ancient Palestinian Arab town of al-Zeeb and drove out most of the inhabitants. 18-year-old Mariam Fathallah was one of them. She and her young husband Mohammed Atayah and their families were forced to flee to Lebanon, along with most of the town. By the end of the year, the 4,000 year old community had been leveled to the ground. More than half the Arab Palestinians in Palestine were killed or expelled and more than half of the cities, towns and villages of Palestine were made to disappear, a crime that Palestinians call al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).
Mariam Fathalla Interview
Mariam, now 86 years old and respectfully known as Umm Akram (mother of Akram), has spent the last 68 years in crowded, makeshift refugee camps in Lebanon. She has raised three generations in the same camps, all waiting to return to their home in Palestine. She has lived through five Israeli invasions of Lebanon, as well as the 1976 Tel al-Zaatar camp massacre that killed more than 2000 of the refugees there. Please listen to what she has to say.
Umm Akram wants meet you and tell her story in person. So does Amena Ashkar, the granddaughter and great granddaughter of other Nakba survivors, who has known no other home than refugee camps. Umm Akram and Amena have a different message from other Palestinians. They are among six million Palestinians not living in Palestine – more than those who are. They are citizens of no government at all, not even the Palestinian Authority. They are not living under Israeli occupation. Israel does not allow them to visit their homes, much less live there. Amena has never met an Israeli, and Umm Akram not since 1948. As exiles, they have a different perspective from Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the part of Palestine that became Israel.
Invite Umm Akram and Amena to speak in your community
The Free Palestine Movement, ISM – Northern California and the al-Awda Palestine right to Return Coalition are bringing these two Palestinian women to North America for two months starting in the first week of April, 2016. They will fly to San Francisco and then travel around the US and Canada by car, proceeding south, east, north, west and then south again to San Francisco before returning to Lebanon.
If you want to host an event in your university, house of worship, support group or other community organization, get in touch with us at 510-232-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We request $200 in advance to reserve your event and we ask that you raise another $300 or more at the event to support our costs. We also ask you to provide lodging and meals (homestays and shared rooms are most acceptable) for up to four persons, including volunteer drivers. Universities are asked to provide a $500 honorarium and make similar housing and meal arrangements.
The planned itinerary is below. Confirmed with details are found on our Events Calendar, but some are approximate and may be modified according to requests that we are continuing to receive. We want to be careful about the pace and number of events so as not to tire our visitors. Please call for further information.
Apr 3 Arrive in San Francisco
Apr 4 Hayward, California
Apr 5 San Jose State University
Apr 6 Stanford University
Apr 8 Pitzer College, California
Apr 10 Arizona
Apr 12 New Mexico
Apr 14 Texas
Apr 16 Texas
Apr 18 Texas
Apr 20 Jackson, MS
Apr 22 Atlanta
Apr 24 Richmond, VA
Apr 25 Washington, DC
Apr 29 Philadelphia
Apr 30 Clifton, NJ
May 2 New York
May 3 Rhode Island
May 4 Massachusetts
May 6 Montreal
May 6 Ottawa
May 10 Toronto
May 12 London
May 14 Cincinnati
May 16 St. Louis
May 18 Kansas City
May 20 Denver
May 22 Salt Lake City
May 24 Boise
May 26 Seattle/Tacoma
May 29 Portland
May 30 Eugene
June 1 Sacramento
June 3 San Francisco
June 5 depart for Beirut
The US Embassy in Beirut approved visas for 86-year-old stateless Palestinian Nakba survivor Mariam Fathalla and for 23-year-old Amena Ashkar, the stateless granddaughter and great granddaughter of Nakba survivors. Both will come to the US on April 3. Regrettably, the visa for 25-year-old Hiba Abu Khreibeh was denied, for reasons about which we can speculate but never really know. Below is the revised announcement, including an updated itinerary.