By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – A multi-faith gathering held May 15 at the police station called for justice and peace in Palestine, with marchers following Michigan Avenue from Mercury Drive to Schaefer Road and back.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders, local politicians and community activists were among the speakers, which included U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-13th District), Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and City Councilmembers Erin Byrnes and Mustapha Hammoud.
In addition to local Imans Sayed Qazwini and Mohammed Mardini, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Jews United Against Zionism of New York City and the Rev. Halim Shukair of Mother of the Savior Church in Dearborn spoke.
Many of those gathered held signs and banners decrying the May 11 death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, who was fatally shot in Jenin in Palestine’s West Bank. While her killer is unknown, some believe she was shot by Israel Defense Forces while covering a raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp.
Imad Hamad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said the gathering was simply a call for justice.
“The 74th anniversary for the Palestinian catastrophe, or Nakba, is a living aspect in people’s minds and hearts, and it will not go away, as long as the Israeli occupation exists,” he said. “Second, the assassination of the Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Aqleh is a slam on the face of justice.”
On May 15, 1948, Israel was established as a Jewish-majority state, which is said to have caused the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians.
Jewish Voice for Peace activist Barbara Harvey of Detroit said she has taken three delegation trips to Palestine, which totally changed her perspective.
“I had grown up, as a Jew, and decided I had a duty to Israel, and I never saw or heard anything to contradict my assumptions, until I went and met Palestinian people and saw how they lived and saw their capacity for forgiveness,” she said.
Mayor Hammoud said the people present were gathered as humanitarians advocating for peace and justice. He condemned the shooting of Shireen Abu Aqleh and the Israeli interference in her funeral procession.
“I am proud to be standing here with all of you, whether we have a stage or whether we don’t,” he said. “We will always continue to stand strong with Palestine until they have a free Palestine, with the right to self-determination.”
Tlaib said she will continue to protest U.S. aid to Israel that she said hurts Palestinians.
“Nakba hasn’t stopped, just like the movement for Black lives in our country hasn’t stopped,” she said. “It is so incredibly important to understand this. They are going to try to tear us down, to gaslight folks, but the American people are with us, I am telling you.”
Following the speakers, the marchers followed Michigan Avenue from Mercury Drive to Schafer Road east, then returned west on Michigan Avenue to the Dearborn police station.