In an op-ed article published on Al-Jazeera titled “Change is coming to Capitol Hill and Israel won’t like it” by Ayah Ziyadeh, Advocacy Director with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action), the author reflects on the historic 75th Commemoration of the Nakba event that took place in the U.S. Capitol. The event educated Members of Congress about the Nakba and its ongoing impact on Palestinians. The Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the violent expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948. Ayah Ziyadeh emphasizes the significance of the event and the challenges faced by Palestinian-American organizers.
Ayah Ziyadeh on The Nakba and Its Ongoing Impact:
The Nakba event on Capitol Hill highlighted the profound impact of the Nakba on Palestinians worldwide. Ayah Ziyadeh explains, “The Nakba has shaped the lives of each and every Palestinian and is the root cause of the injustices Palestinians face today.” Palestinians were displaced, families were separated, and Palestinian towns were destroyed, leading to the world’s largest refugee population. Ziyadeh emphasizes the ongoing violence faced by Palestinians and their inability to return to their homes.
Ayah Ziyadeh’s Personal Experience as a Palestinian-American Organizer:
Ayah shares her personal experience as a Palestinian-American organizer involved in the Nakba event. She recounts the opposition faced from Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who tried to cancel the event. Despite these challenges, the organizers worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success and refused to be silenced. Ziyadeh expresses the significance of the event for the Palestinian-American community and its impact on American political discourse.
Challenges in Advocating for Palestinian Rights in Congress:
Ayah Ziyadeh writes on the challenges faced by Palestinian-American advocates in Congress. She highlights the overwhelming support for Israel among members of Congress and the influence of pro-Israel lobby groups. This support often leads to a pro-Israel bias in policy decisions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Ziyadeh acknowledges the efforts of notable members of Congress, such as Representative Betty McCollum and Senator Bernie Sanders, who have consistently championed Palestinian rights.
Palestine Advocacy Days and Grassroots Organizing:
She discusses her role in leading Palestine Advocacy Days, an initiative that brings together advocates from across the United States to promote legislation supporting Palestine. She highlights the significant number of participants and the impact of their meetings with Congressional offices. Ziyadeh emphasizes the power of grassroots organizing and the potential for change through collective efforts.
Ayah Ziyadeh’s Reflections on the Nakba Event:
The author reflects on her experience as a lead organizer for the Nakba event in the Capitol. She describes it as a milestone in the ongoing struggle for recognition and justice for Palestinians. The event showcased the resilience and determination of the Palestinian-American community and their allies. Ziyadeh acknowledges the challenges ahead but remains hopeful, inspired by the efforts of advocates who have paved the way for change.
About Ayah Ziyadeh
Ayah Ziyadeh serves as AMP and AJP Action’s Advocacy Director. You can follow the work of Ayah and AMP and AJP Action on the organizations’ social media channels. Moreover, she is a Palestinian-American human rights scholar, activist, and writer. She has a proven record in raising awareness of Palestine and other human rights concerns.
Ayah has over 5 years of experience in political and grassroots advocacy, including working as legislative staff and a lobbying intern with the ACLU. She has also organized with various organizations and coalitions, gaining comprehensive knowledge of policy-making and advocacy spaces. Ayah Ziyadeh holds a master’s degree in International Human Rights from the Josef Korbel School of International Relations. During her studies, she focused on Palestinian rights, resistance, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. She has conducted extensive research and policy work on this issue. This op-ed demonstrates her commitment to human rights, even against the status quo in Congress.