note: Who am I to worry about Israelis and Palestinians? What inspires me to be
involved in the Israel Palestine conflict? The following is the story of my
struggle to see a cohesive world, the story will take you through different
emotions but at the end, I hope you feel a sense of completeness of the story.
Due to its length it is a three part article, and this is part 2 of 3.
part 1, click here.
and justice to the Palestinians are directly proportional to each other. Hundred
percent security for Israel comes with 100 percent justice to the Palestinians.
A majority of people in the conflict understand this, but the leadership runs
aground with short sighted false perceptions.
Way back in
the early 60s, when I was around 10 years old, my mother took away a book from
me, "Eishman 60 Lakh Yahodiyon ka Khatil" -- Eichmann killer of 6
million Jews in my mother tongue Urdu. She would not let me read the book; she
said I could not handle it.
right; I did glance over a few pictures and was unable to take it out of my
mind forever. She had psyched me up to run from it, I was unable to watch the
WWII movies up until I was 55. Whenever I saw the wagons stalked with
skeletonic humans, or marching of innocent men and women towards the pit, my
systems would shut down on me and I would turn the TV off or walk away from it.
gutlessness bothered me, and I had always wanted to do my share of work towards
finding a solution. The catalytic moment came on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005. As Muslims,
we took the initiative to commemorate Sept. 11 as Unity Day to bring Americans
together to re-dedicate our pledge for the safety and security of America. I
had invited people from every faith, race, ethnicity and nationality along with
the FBI chiefs, 10 mayors and several council persons.
Chow was speaking and the fire alarm went off. I can never forget the scene. My
Jewish friends in the front row were the first ones to dash out of the hall.
There were 630 of us in that hall. Remember we were doing the 9/11 event and it
was scary to many. Mayor Mike Simpson of Frisco stepped up and assured everyone
that it was a false alarm as his Fire Marshall assured him in less than two
minutes. I asked agent Gonzales, the FBI chief for Dallas area to speak up. He
did and assured everyone that it was false alarm ... there were about 25 on the
stage including mayors, fire and police chiefs and civic leaders. I walked up
to my Jewish friends and asked them to come back and they did. That was the
catalytic moment for me. The fear in their eyes had a major impact on me and an
inexplicable love for my friends and the desire to protect them was welling up
later in Nov. 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution about Holocaust
commemoration. Something triggered in me. Perhaps the catalytic moment was
moving me to commemorate the event to let the Jewish community know that we
care about them and that we are with them in their sacred moment. I called in
my friend Bernie Mayoff (who had attended the Unity Day). He lend me a copy of
"Schindler's List" to watch, which I had avoided all along due to my
own childhood phobias. I decided to see the movie and understood my mother's
words that I could not handle it.
I had lost
my balance and wanted to regain it. Bernie and I went to see Elliot Dlin, (who
passed away in 2010) the Director of Dallas Holocaust Museum, an affable but sceptical
person. He saw my passion about the commemoration and also saw that I was
willing to go it alone, if he did not want to participate.
forward and commemorated the first Holocaust event on Jan. 26, 2006 and every
year since then except 2007. The Holocaust survivors William and Rosalie Schiff
were the key note speakers at a gathering of about 300 people represented by
every faith. We have taken extensive pictures and all are listed at
probably the first time in the world where a Muslim took the initiative to
commemorate Holocaust with the general public. The Jewish people have always
commemorated as Yom HaShoah at the synagogues, and usually Jewish people have
attended the event. At our program we had 11 different religious groups shared
their prayers. We were all in there together and the tradition continues; that
of education to the general public.
I hope one
of these days, through appropriate funding, I could make this happen in every
major city around the world. A day where all of us come together to reflect
upon the terrible things we have inflicted on each other.
There is a
shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the
sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own. The program would
entail learning that other people's suffering is as legitimate as ours, it is
easy to see ourselves as victims, but we must also see the perpetrator in us
that remains silent or justifies oppression of others or turns the head other
way. We need to be full humans to cherish the life and we must learn to value
each life and learn to do everything we can, to never let this happen again.
president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad denied Holocaust and I jumped all over him in a
note at Dallas Morning News. Later found out that he did not deny it, but had
for giving me the courage to stand up for others, and I have continued with
education in pluralism and stereotyping and have written extensively about it.
I wrote against the anti-circumcision bill in San Francisco and finally it was
off the ballot and I believe this article was cited.
came to Dallas with his anti-Semitic demonstrations, he was at several
synagogues, Texas Jewish post and the Holocaust Museum where he demonstrated,
so was I gathering the Holocaust Survivors together and leading the peace
prayers in the Holocaust Museum. Huffington Post published my piece on the
topic as well.
I went to
Jerusalem in Aug., 2010 for four days with the Middle East Peace group. a Rev.
Sun Myung Moon initiative. I am proud of the efforts of Rev. Michael Jenkins
who had led the team to Israel over 30 times. He and his group did what was the
right thing to do -- engage the faith leaders in dialogue, taking actions such
as getting the Israeli and Palestinian Children to play soccer, and eat
together. Get the Knesset and Palestinian Parliament members to sit together
and talk. I wish, the world can see the power in doing this in finding lasting
solutions. Blaming and bullying does no good. The group visited Israel quite
extensively and I spoke on pluralism and shared the peace prayers.
of peace, we need to step above the Jewish or Palestinian issue to find a
solution and not keep building barriers. Sadly, the community leaders among
Jews and Muslims act the same; deny each other's initiatives. Indeed, if a sane
Jewish voice comes out, as a sane Muslim voice, they will be hounded and barked
at in unison.