I received this email forwarded by Tom Compton at We Hold These Truths.
From: Free Palestine Movement <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: FPM News <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 11:02 AM
Subject: We have visas (two out of three) for the North America Nakba Tour
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.
The Free Palestine Movement, International Solidarity Movement-Northern California and
al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition announce the
North America Nakba Tour, April 5 – June 5, 2016
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, 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.
Here is the planned itinerary. Some dates and places are confirmed, 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 1
June 5 depart for Beirut
Would you like to be a volunteer driver?
We have a special vehicle for the entire trip, but need drivers. You must be willing to be on the road for at least one and preferably two or more weeks. Besides the visitors, the vehicle can take a companion or alternate driver. Preference will be given to persons who are familiar with the issues and can possibly participate in the presentations. We can cover some airfare costs for drivers, but prefer those who need a minimum of reimbursement.
Is $500 is a lot of money?
It’s enormously expensive to fly two people halfway across the world and then take them on tour for two months in 25 cities in the US and Canada. $500 per event won’t even cover the cost. We already spent more than $7000 before the tour even started. This is a good time to be forming coalitions to share the expenses. We’re only asking $200 up front and then $300 is not much to raise at the event. (For universities it is a $500 honorarium.) We are asking those who can afford it to help create a fund to help groups that can’t. Let us know if you can help.