- American Task Force on Palestine
The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) was founded in 2003 in order to provide an independent Palestinian-American voice in the United States and its capital, Washington, DC. The founding aim of ATFP is to advocate an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the creation of a Palestinian state that will live alongside Israel in peace. ATFP categorically and unequivocally condemns all violence directed against civilians no matter who the victims or perpetrators may be.
In late 2003, ATFP began its work on advocacy in behalf of peace. In early 2004, the Task Force helped promote and publicize the [http://www.geneva-accord.org “Geneva Accords“] in the United States. In November, 2004, AFTP President Ziad Asali served as a member of the United States official delegation to the funeral of Chairman Yasser Arafat. He subsequently served as a member of the United States official delegation to observe the Palestinian Presidential elections in January 2005. On February 10, 2005, [http://www.americantaskforce.org/testimony.pdf Asali testified] before a full committee hearing of the House International Relations Committee on “the way forward in the Middle East peace process.” (Asali was also a delegate with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to monitor the Palestinian Legislative election in January 2006. In February 2006 ATFP issued its [http://www.americantaskforce.org/vision.php vision for a Palestinian state] , first published in the New York Times.
On October 11, 2006, ATFP held its first annual [http://www.americantaskforce.org/gala/ gala] in Washington, DC, featuring keynote speaker Dr.
Condoleezza Rice, also addressed by [http://www.americantaskforce.org/gala/sensununu.php Sen. John E. Sununu (R-NH)] and [http://www.americantaskforce.org/gala/senlevin.php Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)] . [http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/73895.htm Dr. Rice told] an audience of 500, “I believe that there could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state for a people who have suffered too long, who have been humiliated too long, who have not reached their potential for too long, and who have so much to give to the international community and to all of us. I promise you my personal commitment to that goal.“ In December, 2006, a 10-member delegation from ATFP’s leadership traveled to the region and held substantive meetings with top political leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and acting Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni.
ATFP advocates the following six principles towards a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
#Two sovereign states—Israel and Palestine—living side by side in peace and security based on the borders of June 4, 1967 with mutually agreed upon territorial adjustments.
#An end to the Israeli occupation and the evacuation of all Israeli settlements, save for equitable arrangements mutually agreed upon by the negotiating parties.
#A just solution for the Palestinian refugee problem, in accordance with international legality and the relevant UN resolutions.
#A shared Jerusalem open to all faiths, serving as the capital of two states, providing for the fulfillment of the political aspirations of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.
#Full acceptance of Israel by all Arab states, and normalized diplomatic and economic relations throughout the region.
#A "Marshall Plan" style package of aid and investment for Palestine and the new Middle East.
Palestine and the US National Interest
[http://www.americantaskforce.org/pdfs/advocacy_strategy.pdf ATFP’s advocacy] emphasizes the positive aspects of Palestinian statehood, and especially why the creation of a Palestinian state is good for the United States. ATFP stresses five key benefits of the creation of a Palestinian state to the American national interest:
#Promote U.S. Interests in the Middle East generally: “Peace based on the creation of a Palestinian state will remove the greatest single obstacle to achieving U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East. More specifically, the emerging Palestinian state will be a new democracy, a new ally of the United States, and a peace partner to Israel.“
#Remove one of the major rallying calls of terrorists: “Many people, including former senior government officials, CIA officers, political scientists and commentators and other persons closely associated with the American establishment and having impeccable reputations have made the point forcefully that a resolution of the conflict and the creation of a Palestinian state would be a major blow to anti-American extremism in the region.“
#Strongly Enhance the US Role as World Leader: “Americans believe that they should be trusted to run a monopolar world system in the general interest of all. They also understand that the world expects a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially close allies such as the UK.”
#The Opening of Major Middle Eastern Economic Markets: “Resolving the conflict would mean the removal of major barriers to trade and other relations between the United States and 23 Arab states, and 1.2 billion Muslims around the world, to the tremendous mutual benefit of both Americans and Arabs.“
#A Major Step in Promoting American Values Worldwide: “The creation of a Palestinian state means the birth of a new democracy, and the emergence of millions of new citizens of a new democracy, and the ending of a period in which millions of people lived without benefit of those basic political freedoms which constitute the founding ethos of the United States.“
ATFP’s Vision for Palestine
On February 3, 2006, ATFP published in the New York Times its [http://www.americantaskforce.org/vision.php vision] for the character of the Palestinian state it advocates. The vision advocates that the state of Palestine be:
#Pluralistic: “It must be a genuinely pluralistic state for all its citizens, which recognizes and celebrates their diversity while it treats them equally and with neutrality.”
#Democratic: “Palestine, for reasons of its own internal stability and for the regional role it needs to play, should be a democratic state built on the foundations of pluralism. Its political structures will be based on a multiparty system without ideological disqualifiers, that regular elections ensure the consent of the governed, that there be an independent judiciary that applies the rule of law in an equitable and impartial manner, and that fundamental individual political rights such as freedom of expression and assembly are guaranteed”
#Non-militarized: “The immediate order of business in the independent state of Palestine must be social and economic development. Non-militarization would realize very substantial economic benefits and free resources for investment in education and other tools for the development of human capital, which should be the foremost priority.”
#A Positive, Stabilizing Regional Player: “A Palestinian state committed to peaceful coexistence, non-belligerence and military neutrality would have a powerful moral voice in promoting international legality and regional stability”
ATFP launched the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund appeal in May 2006 to collect donations for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. ATFP donates all funds raised from the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund to medical facilities in the West Bank and Gaza. In total, ATFP has donated $55,000 to medical facilities in the West Bank and Gaza for Palestinian humanitarian relief. In August 2006, ATFP donated $45,000, with grants going to Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, and the Washington, D.C.-based United Palestinian Appeal (UPA). On January 23, 2007, ATFP launched a humanitarian medical program to help alleviate the Palestinian medical situation in the West Bank. The program, 'Healing Palestinians,' will consist of one-week rotations to several West Bank hospitals beginning in Summer 2007.
In 2006, ATFP published a volume summarizing its efforts and positions to date. [http://www.americantaskforce.org/store/book.php “Principles and Pragmatism: Key Documents from the American Task Force on Palestine”] was edited by Board Member Saliba Sarsar, Associate Vice President of Monmouth University, and Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the Task Force. (book page) The Task Force had previously issued its [http://www.americantaskforce.org/101.htm “Palestine - Israel 101”] power-point slideshow on the history of the conflict and prospects for peace in the region. ATFP has also created a brief video on the history of Palestinian Americans, [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ4FvtogSKo “Snapshots of Palestinian Americans.”]
In a July 20, 2007 article published by
The Electronic Intifada, Palestinian commentator Osamah Khalilcalled for a boycott of officials and institutions associated with the Palestinian Authority, "including diplomatic fronts like the American Task Force on Palestine, a group that boasts among its slim record of 'achievements,' sponsoring polo matches and hosting a speech by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice." [ [http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7131.shtml Reclaiming Palestine] Accessed August 4, 2007] Khalil viewed the Palestinian Authority as fundamentally antithetical to the goal of Palestinian liberation.
In March 2005, dozens of organizations representing Palestinian refugee communities signed a statement in response to statements made by ATFP president Ziad Asali "declaring that various statements and false representations by the president of the Washington-based "American Task Force on Palestine" (ATFP) Dr. Ziad Asali nullifying the Palestinian right to return and demeaning the Palestinian and Arab people are reprehensible and entirely outside the consensus of our people." The statement alleged that "voices such as Asali's are part of a larger concerted effort to introduce a false veneer of moderation as a replacement for the legitimate inalienable rights of the Palestinian and Arab people, represented by their right to return, sovereignty and self-determination." [ [http://www.badil.org/Publications/Press/2005/press377-05.htm Palestinian Associations Worldwide Condemn Ziad Asali's Statements] Accessed
August 5, 2007] .
Ziad Asali, M.D., President -- Asali is a long-time activist on Middle East issues. He has been a member of the Chairman's Council of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee(ADC) since 1982, and has served as ADC’s President from 2001-2003. He served as the President of the Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) from 1993-1995, and was Chairman of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), which he co-founded, from 1995-2003. He was born in Jerusalem, where he completed his elementary and secondary education. He received an M.D. from the American University of Beirut (AUB) Medical School in 1967. He completed his residency in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then practiced medicine in Jerusalem before returning to the US in 1973. Asali was the Medical Director and Chairman of the Board at the Christian County Medical Clinic in Taylorville, Illinois and he served as Chairman of the Board of Physicians Health Association of Illinois before he retired in 2000. He is a Diplomat of the Board of Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Hussein Ibish, Senior Fellow -- Ibish also currently serves as Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership. He has made thousands of radio and television appearances and has written for many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, and was Washington Correspondent for the Daily Star (Beirut). He is editor and principal author of 2 major studies of Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Arab Americans 1998-2000 (ADC, 2001) and Sept. 11, 2001-Oct. 11, 2002 (ADC, 2003) and numerous other book chapters and essays. From 1998-2004, Ibish served as Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab-American membership organization in the United States. He has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Board of Directors
* Samir Abu-Ghazaleh, M.D.
* Reema Ali, Esq.
* Naila Asali
* Ziad J. Asali, M.D.
* Marwan Atalla
* Abed Awad, Esq.
* Jesse I. Aweida
* Peter Aweida
* Tawfiq Barqawi
* Nedal Deeb, Ph.D.
* Ameen Estaiteyeh
* George Hishmeh
* Bishr Husseini
* Maha Kaddoura
* Omar M. Kader, Ph.D.
* Bishop Samir Kafity
* Shadia Kanaan
* Rashid Khatib
* Hani Masri
* Farah Munayyer
* G.F. Joey (Ghaith) Musmar
* Fahim Qubain, Ph.D.
* Rana Sadik
* Tareq Salahi
* George Salem, Esq.
* Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D.
* Zuhair Suidan
* Cheryl Sukhtian
* Basel Yanes, M.D.
* Ali Zaghab, Ph. D.
American Muslims for Palestine
If Americans Knew
American Palestine Public Affairs Forum
* [http://www.atfp.net American Task Force on Palestine website]
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