By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
Justice for the people of Palestine is without doubt one of the key human rights issues that face the world today. These past few weeks have seen individuals and organizations that embrace justice and have humanitarian goals address themselves to this issue.
Concerned students at UCLA presented Palestine Awareness Week, an event which began on Monday, May 12 with a program titled: “Ask me about Palestine” and culminated in a banquet Sunday evening, May 18.
During “Ask me about Palestine” students were invited to post questions about Palestine on a large bulletin board posted at Bruin Walk, a centrally located outdoor area where UCLA students congregate. Answers would be provided the next day. It was a fitting beginning given the many misconceptions about Palestine, a situation exacerbated by media prejudice towards Israel.
Other events included speeches by Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of the late heroine, Rachel Corrie, murdered by an Israeli bulldozer; by Jewish American peace activist and author, Anna Baltzer, and by Professor Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian.
At the well attended dinner on the final day, titled: Branch out to Peace, funds collected were donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). The PCRF will be familiar to readers of *The Muslim Observer* which has chronicled its outstanding humanitarian work on behalf on sick and injured children, primarily from Palestine but also from Lebanon and Iraq.
The dinner was dedicated to the memory of Elias Ibrahim, a young UCLA student killed in an accident earlier this year. Elais was a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and an activist who dedicated himself to bringing the Palestinian cause to public attention.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Alexander Zouros, the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Loma Linda University Hospital. Dr. Zouros has made two trips with medical missions to the Occupied Territories and plans to make a third in late November of this year.
Dr. Zouros spoke of the injuries and congenital problems he treated while on his missions – and, sadly, the children he could not help. Absent advanced care equipment for surgery and post surgical recovery, many children must go untreated. Usually, this is equipment that is readily available in other countries.
He also spoke highly of Makassad Hospital in East Jerusalem and its Pediatric Cardiac Unit. This is the result of efforts by PCRF, particularly the Southern California chapter.
For further information on Students for Justice in Palestine, please email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, please access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.