Growing Gardens for Palestine: A Wonderful Gala: ATFP 2011 Honoring Heritage & Embracing Originality
American Task Force on Palestine President Ziad J. Asali: "The pursuit of peace, independence and reform is not a project for cowards..."
Dr. Asali was describing the keynote speaker Salam Fayyad with those words, but I think his words describe everyone attending and supporting the ATFP Gala.
It takes real courage to work towards actually building a real Palestinian state in today's world... AND the Gala was TOTALLY crowded with people, with quiet heroes who have been doing what they can each in their own way to help do exactly that.
There was much to celebrate and enjoy at this year's ATFP Gala.
A good summary of the event itself can be found on ATFP 's website
My favorite speech was by Hanan Karaman Munayyer's daughter Maha Munayyer Kabbash who spoke of her mother's work to collect and preserve Palestinian embroidery.
There was a breathtakingly beautiful display of those traditional Palestinian dresses and Hanan Karaman Munayyer's most recent book was on display too- it is huge!
Thankfully there are visionaries like Hanan Karaman Munayyer who have carefully collected and preserved the beauty of Palestine for Palestine, to share with all the world.
Thankfully there are also gifted musicians who help lift our spirits with their enchanting music....
Thankfully there are also people with delightful senses of humor, to help lighten the mood as we struggle against all odds to do what we can for Palestine in these very difficult times.
Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid and Omar Baddar ATFP Gala table #33
The crowd at ATFP's Gala was full of talented and highly competent people. Far too many to mention all of them. A very impressive crowd indeed. My husband Jaffar and I enjoyed sitting at table #33 with Hussein Ibish. Ibish is a brilliant thinker and speaker. Dean Obeidallah, a charismatic comic, and Omar Baddar, a talented young writer, were also at our table... I was in awe!
The warmth, wisdom, generosity, good character, true dignity and decency of Dr. Ziad Asali and his charming wife Naila help set the tone for The American Task Force on Palestine's Gala. It becomes easier and easier to believe that Palestine will actually emerge as a free and sovereign and successful nation state with friends and advisers like this.
The American Task Force on Palestine "is strictly opposed to all acts of violence against civilians no matter the cause and no matter who the victims or perpetrators may be. The Task Force advocates the development of a Palestinian state that is democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in armed conflicts..."
The American Task Force on Palestine is convinced that diplomacy matters and that Palestine is worth discussing seriously AND worth investing in. The politicians and people of Palestine do not have to listen to ATFP if they don't want to- they are not forced to follow any one's advice. No one has to. But in my opinion it is a darn good idea to follow ATFP's lead as they are talented and well informed experts in the right place at the right time.
I also believe that Palestine is worth getting all dressed up for- and celebrating. No one knows what will be, but at least we can do what we can to try to help Palestine become a real nation state each in our own way.
Annie all dressed up in a green silk gown for the American Task Force on Palestine's Gala 2011. My jewelry was a gift long ago from my beloved father in law ( hand crafted in the Arab world and given to me on a visit to his home in Amman Jordan many years ago), and my handbag was embroidered by my American grandmother who used to live in Washington DC.
This morning I have been exchanging emails with a charming stranger who asked me several weeks ago if her local garden club could use one of my poems for a bookmark to give to her garden club members as a favor. For me, as a poet, this unexpected compliment is a higher honor than any formal prize or award I can think of. It is also a pertinent reminder to me of what building a state really means. It is not about rally cries or protest slogans or grandiose gestures, nor is it about headlines and newspaper articles. It is about slowly but surely building a community and belonging: It is about the individual efforts and good intentions and creativity and the admirable persistence of real people working together to make connections on a local level to improve our world and our collective future- to help make our world nicer... more safe, more beautiful, more pleasant and more welcoming for more people-for ALL people, citizens or not. A world where every child is welcome and free to grow up knowing what ever might be worth knowing.
On my own Granny's lap, in her garden Washington DC (Eleanor Standish Gamble James with Anne Selden Yellott Annab)
GROWING GARDENS for PALESTINE