Nick Meyer

Posted by Nick Meyer on April 16, 2011 in News Clips

DEARBORN  —  As airstrikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip have continued and general civilian populations in Palestine have continued to suffer under an internationally-condemned occupation, the need for humanitarian aid has remained high to say the least.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn's Humanitarian Organization for Palestinian Equality (HOPE) in recognition of this need held its 4th annual "United for Freedom" banquet at The Dearborn Inn in  support of Palestinian civilians on Friday, April 8 as a large crowd raised money for the United Palestinian Appeal organization.  Proceeds from the night were expected to go to the Samouni Community Center and Classroom Project in Gaza as well as the upcoming U.S. Boat to Gaza humanitarian mission through the UPA.

Kenyote speaker Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute talked about a vivid experience he had decades ago while visiting a refugee camp for Palestinians that changed his life.

"An old woman grabbed me by the arm and looked me in the eye and said, 'we told you our our story, now the question is, what are you going to do with it?'" he said.

Zogby came back and wrote a recount of his story in a Philadelphia newspaper and has continued to raise awareness as an author and advocate ever since.

"The most threatening thing we can do is to remind the rest of the world that the Palestinians are real people and they have real stories," he said. "What is going on is a story of ethnic cleansing and we need to continue to remind the world of the humanity of the Palestinian people...to continue to organize and keep hope alive."

Zogby signed copies of his book 'Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters' and donated a portion of the proceeds to HOPE's causes.

Poet Remi Kanazi of New York has undertaken a similar mission as well through works including the new book 'Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance in Palestine.' He entertained and informed  with readings while reminding the crowd that they have a say in what's going on in Palestine because their tax dollars pay for weapons used against the native population.

HOPE head of Public Relations Laura Neme said that the group has enjoyed a resurgence despite being inactive last year. The group is non-political and instead focuses on raising funds for humanitarian projects. Its Facebook page, 'HOPE- Humanitarian Organization for Palestinian Equality,' has over 600 members.

Neme thanked the crowd after the event for coming out in support of Palestinians as HOPE continues its humnitarian mission by raising money for non-profits.

"Thank you to everyone who helped make the event possible, including the sponsors and guests who donated," she said.

"Just by raising awareness for the cause, you are doing something that has a big impact."

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