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Interview :: Organizing
An Open Letter from the Arab-American and Muslim Community to the US Anti-War Movement
12 Jan 2004
On March 20, 2004, the world will mobilize against war and colonial occupations. The significance of this historic day is evident to all and requires no further elaboration. The political clarity and character of this mobilization in the US, however, remains illusive.
Dear peace and justice organizations and activists,

On March 20, 2004, the world will mobilize against war and colonial occupations. The significance of this historic day is evident to all and requires no further elaboration. The political clarity and character of this mobilization in the US, however, remains illusive.

This is where our community stands:

In confronting war, the people of Palestine and Iraq have paid dearly. They stand against the imperial project shoulder to shoulder with communities of color and the working class in the United States, along with great many subjugated peoples around the globe - from Afghanistan to Colombia, and from the Philippines to Vieques, and on. Without a doubt, the Palestinian and Iraqi people are both welded together in an inextricable unity at the forefront of the global anti-war movement, transforming themselves as a whole as its embodiment and paying in its defense with the dearest of all - their very existence. Yet, despite every home destroyed, child murdered, acre confiscated and tree uprooted, town colonized and ethnically cleansed, wall built, refugee remaining nation-less, and incremental robbery of their self-determination, they remain the very antithetical formulation of empire and with a vision of justice for all.

In the United States, we, Arab-Americans and Muslims have been maliciously targeted, stripped of our rights, and positioned outside the constitutional framework of this country. A new COINTELPRO has been unleashed against our homes and living rooms, as our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are plucked away and thrown into unknown prison cells. Thus, in a continuum of history, we stand with African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and all others in the painful struggle for justice. From them all, we take our cue, for they are our predecessors and our partners in this long march.

Accordingly, we the undersigned hereby declare that:

1. We do not accept delinking the struggle of the Palestinian people from the anti-war movement, and regard the struggle in Palestine, as it is viewed worldwide, to be central to any peace and justice mobilization.

2. We insist that the Palestinian right to return and to self-determination are the key anchors of the Palestinian struggle, and that organizations that attempt to diminish, sidetrack, or abrogate these rights, regardless of any other position they may take on Palestine, are acting contrary to the will and aspiration of the Palestinian people.

3. We view all attempts to relegate our collective presence to the margin and to tokenize our participation in the movement to be racist in character. In its attempt to silence the Arab and Muslim voices for decades, particularly that of the Palestinian people, the movement in the US has stood alone in the global movement for justice. We see ourselves as full partners in leading the movement as signified in the heavy price we continue to pay along the way, and reject any attempt to objectify our presence.

4. We regard the positions that the "colonial occupation of Iraq must be internationalized", or that ending the occupation must be conducted over a period of time until the "Iraqis are able to secure their democracy", as implicitly colonial and racist. These are positions that are rooted in the construct of "manifest destiny" and the "white man's burden" to "civilize".

5. We call on our people everywhere to hold all organizations accountable to the positions they take, especially those that depict racist attitudes towards us, implicitly or otherwise, particularly those that tokenize and objectify our struggle. Any organization or movement that finds it acceptable to minimize or disregard for political expediency the struggle of any people should not be allowed to function within the global justice movement. Justice is neither selective, nor partial or conditional.

We are firm on these principles for the March 20th mobilization and beyond as we call on all communities and organizations to mobilize and stand in force under the following unifying five slogans:

1. End all colonial occupations from Iraq to Palestine to everywhere!

2. Bring the troops home NOW!

3. No to internationalizing colonial occupations!

4. Stop the attacks on civil liberties!

5. Money for jobs, education, and healthcare not for war!

As we salute and stand empowered with sectors of the movement that have taken a principled stand on justice, we seek to participate in the empowerment of all as we call for a genuine global united front against war.

All out on March 20, 2004!

(List in alphabetical order. To be included, please write to: rashmawi (at) sbcglobal.net)


1. Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition

2. Al-Bireh Palestine Society, California Chapter

3. Al-Qalam Institute

4. American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ)

5. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greater Sacramento Area Chapter

6. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, New Jersey Chapter

7. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Seattle Chapter

8. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter

9. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

10. Arab Center of Washington - Seattle

11. Arab Muslim American Federation

12. Arab-American Community Center, Chicago

13. Arab-American Forum, New Hampshire

14. Arab-American Press Guild

15. San Francisco Bay Area Palestine Coalition

16. Canada-Palestine Association

17. Canada-Palestine Friendship Society

18. Canadian Arab Federation

19. Committee for Democratic Palestine - Canada

20. Committee for Justice - USA

21. Deir Yassin Society of New York

22. Free Palestine Alliance - USA (FPA)

23. Friends of Ghassan Kanafani, Toronto Chapter

24. Kana'an Review

25. Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom Foundation)

26. Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA-National)

27. Muslim Students Association, California State University, Sacramento

28. Muslim Students Association, University of California, Davis

29. National Council of Arab Americans (NCAA)

30. Palestine Children's Welfare Fund

31. Palestine House Educational and Cultural Center, Canada

32. Palestine Right of Return Congress - USA

33. Palestine Solidarity Committee - Los Angeles

34. Palestine Solidarity Committee - Seattle

35. Palestine Solidarity Group - Chicago

36. Palestinian American Women's Association (PAWA)

37. Sacred Roots

38. Students for Justice in Palestine, California State University, Sacramento

39. Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Davis

40. The Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP)

41. The United Muslim Association of High Schools Club

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