Rafeeq Jaber, president of the Islamic Association of Palestine
Zionism Condemned Arab rally spurs call to defeat Israel, the “oppressor.”
Don Cohen Special to the Jewish News
Leaders of the Metro Detroit Arab community stood strongly behind Hamas' and Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, condemning the American and Israeli governments and calling for the Muslim and Arab world to defeat Israel.
A July 14 press conference and rally at the Islamic Center of Detroit mosque attracted about 225 persons, mostly males ages 30-50, as well as young children and teens holding signs condemning Israel. The event was organized by the Palestine Office of Michigan and the Conference of Arab American Organizations (CAAO) representing 43 local Arab American organizations.
The guest speaker was Rafeeq Jaber, president of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), which Steven Emerson and other terrorism experts consider a front group for Hamas. In December 2004, a federal court found the IAP and other organizations liable for $156 million in damages for the 1996 murder of American teenager David Boim during a Hamas terror operation in Israel.
Charging the news media with a pro-Israel bias, Jaber claimed: "Israel has perfected the killing of families, of whole families, and the media doesn't talk about it."
Urging more coverage of Arab suffering, he said Israel has a secret weapon that kills Arabs by destroying "soft tissues internally," but that the chemical — "depleted uranium, we don't know" — cannot be detected.
"They are not human!" Jaber said of the Israelis to loud applause. "They are terrorist! They are terrorist! They are terrorist! They are barbaric! They are not human!" Noting harsh words for President Bush and the "deafening silence from around the world, especially from the Arab and Muslim countries," Jaber concluded by calling for political action, reminding the audience "the highest form of jihad is to save the world against an oppressor."
But the strongest attacks on the Bush administration were made in an impassioned speech by Abed Hammoud, an assistant prosecutor for Wayne County and president of the CAAO. He blasted President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling them war criminals blindly following the Israeli lead.
"It's the blind leading the blind, [Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert leading George W. Bush," Hammoud said.
"I knew Bush never cared about life. Never cared about innocent life. Never cared about lives of U.S. soldiers," Hammoud said, his voice rising. "The problem is not only are they blind, and not only criminal, and when I say criminal, I am responsible for my words. The president is backing, and the criminal secretary of state is backing, the crimes of Israel. I am a prosecutor and I know the law, and the law says that when you back someone who has committed a crime, you are as responsible as that person. To my mind, this president is a criminal!"
Hammoud's remarks were greeted with enthusiastic applause and chants of, "Not a penny, not a dime, Israel out of Palestine" with some children shouting, "Allahu Akhbar!" [God is Great!].
Neither Jaber's or Hammoud's provocative remarks, nor the involvement of the Hamas-linked IAP, were mentioned in a Detroit News story about the event. The Detroit Free Press attended the program, but did not report on it.
Other speakers were scathing in their criticism of America and Israel. Not one of the speakers mentioned Hamas or Hezbollah, the rocket attacks on Israel or Israeli deaths. The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was only mentioned to charge Israel with a disproportionate response.
The publisher of the Arab American News and past-president of the CAAO, Osama Siblani, implored Muslims and Arabs to speak out, saying U.S. interests were being harmed by American support for "a criminal state called Israel," and "a bunch of terrorists led by Ehud Olmert that are trying to take the United States on an adventure."
"Don't be afraid. America needs you. Humanity needs you. You are the only people that can make a difference," he said.
Hassan Newash, director of the Palestine Office of Michigan, charged that Israel was killing "families en masse in Lebanon and Palestine."
"There are barbaric assaults on both fronts by Israeli forces backed by the Bush administration under the guise that Israel has the right to self-defense," Newash said.
He said President Bush is destroying the American economy because money is "all sent overseas to make war on our people in Iraq, in Lebanon and in Palestine."
Saying that Congress is not hearing enough from those opposing Israel, he urged contacting legislators to "express your outrage" because "there are warmongers in the White House and the congressmen."
George Khoury, a local Palestinian Christian businessman active with the national Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Fund, which organizes Christians on behalf of Palestinians, charged that Israel "wants land without people; it's an act of thievery."
Israel commits "acts of barbarism, not just the last week and the week before, but in the last 50, 60, maybe 100 years," Khoury said.
He blamed Zionists for driving Christians out of Palestine saying, "not one" Christian ever left because of Muslim oppression. "We have never had any problems with our Muslim brothers in Palestine," he said to loud applause from his overwhelmingly Muslim audience.
The final speaker, Rafael Narbaez, called Zionism "racist" and a "repressive political ideology" that had nothing to do with Judaism.
Introduced as an employee of the Arab Community Center for Economics and Social Services (ACCESS), Narbaez said he wanted to speak for Jews he knows that reject Zionism. He said Jews under Islam "lived in peace for centuries patiently waiting for the messiah," but that now Jews cannot speak openly "for fear of oppression from their community."
"Whether it is 6 million Jews dying in gas chambers, or 6 million Arabs dying of starvation, it is the same thing," said Narbaez, saying that Zionists "have the same racist ideology that the Nazis of Germany had."
Comparing Palestinian terrorists to resistance forces during World War II, he said, "Gaza is their Poland, Lebanon is their France. We will continue to fight to the last man and to the last blood."
Narbaez predicted the end of Israel, saying Israel's current actions had "had turned the corner" and "they are on their way to defeat once and for all."
"I'm sick of talking about 'Free Palestine,'" he said.
"We are now talking about "Victory in Palestine!" he said to loud applause.
The program ended with Hassan Newash, director of the Palestine Office, telling the audience that "Saladin lies within you, Saladin lies within all of us," referring to the historic Muslim military leader and hero who reclaimed Muslim lands from the Crusaders and established Muslim rule over Jerusalem in 1187.