Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Maksoud Calls for
Unified Arab Diplomacy to Thwart Netanyahu
by Katherine Metres
According to former Arab League
Ambassador to the United Nations Clovis Maksoud, it is time for
coordinated Arab diplomacy "to make Israel's actions costly"
and to shock the United States into taking a more even-handed
position. Maksoud, currently professor of international relations
and director of the Center for the Global South at American University
in Washington, DC, was keynote speaker at the March 23 10th anniversary
benefit dinner and costume exhibition of the Palestinian Heritage
Foundation, founded by Farah and Hanan Munayyer. Held at the Marriott
Hotel in Teaneck, New Jersey, the event rallied Arab Americans to
support efforts to educate the public about Palestine's heritage.
The Maksouds and Munayyers
The permanent observer of
Palestine to the United Nations, Dr. Nasser Kidweh, along with Muslim,
Christian and Druze religious leaders, were among the 400 persons in
attendance. Sister Jane Frances Brady, president and CEO of St. Joseph's
Medical Center in Patterson, NJ.
was awarded a wooden from Bethlehem for making
her hospital more responsive to the needs of the Arab-American
community. The Foundation's citation noted that "This gift depicts
the first Palestinian to carry a cross.
Today we [Palestinians] all
carry a bit of a cross." Ambassador Maksoud, who resigned in
protest from his Arab League ambassadorship during the
1990 Gulf crisis, sought to rally fellow Arabs to defend Jerusalem from
Israeli aggrandizement during the current crisis. "This is the litmus
test of what remains of the Arab will and the Palestinian commitment,"
he said. He emphasized the need to make Jerusalem the "capital of a
pluralistic civilization" in which the three monotheistic religions
"reinforce each other rather than trying to destroy each other."
Sister Jane Frances, receiving Award
Maksoud called for international solidarity
as the "critical counterweight to the Israeli lobby's undue
influence on U.S. Middle East policy." A policy guided by American
values would insist that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are occupied, he
said, and therefore Israeli behavior must conform to the Fourth Geneva
Convention, which bars occupiers from settling their own people in
Stressing Arab unity, Ambassador Maksoud
lamented, "We talk brotherhood but act enemyhood." He called
for coordinated Arab diplomacy that would break diplomatic relations
with Israel over its unilateral acts in occupied Jerusalem. "It is
necessary to make Israel's actions costly in order to extract from the
United States a more objective, even-handed position," he
Dress from Nazareth
In the costume show that followed the
address, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation presented its collection of
traditional embroidered bridal dresses, complete with headpieces and
veils. Most of the handmade dresses were made around the turn of the
century. The brightly colored dresses were embroidered with silk thread
dyed with henna, saffron, and other herbs.
The costume collection has been exhibited at
museums and institutions throughout North America. Palestine was known
for dressmaking before the time of Christ, a commentator noted. She said
that "Canaan" means "the land of the purple," a
reference to the textile dye extracted from shellfish that became
associated with royalty in the ancient world.
Famed Palestinian musician Simon Shaheen and
his ensemble provided musical accompaniment to the dress exhibition. The
evening also featured a sale of Palestinian paintings, tile work,
calligraphy and works made from earthen materials.