American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) held a “Workshop for Palestine” on Nov. 17 at the Islamic Center of Union County, N.J.

Muhammad Habba, a New Jersey-based AMP activist (see MEMRI TV clip 6483), said that he believes Israel will cease to exist in the next 50 years, and praised members of the Democratic Party for supporting boycotts and sanctions against Israel.

American Muslims for Palestine held a “Workshop for Palestine” at the Islamic Center of Union County, N.J., on Nov. 17, 2018. Credit: Facebook.

Waseem Qana’a, another AMP activist, said that AMP’s focus is cutting U.S. funding for Israeli state-sponsored terrorism. During the Q&A session, one of the audience members said that peaceful measures are not enough and that the “military option” should not be taken off the table, and Qana’a answered that BDS is the biggest threat to Zionist supremacy.

A statement by another audience member that the Palestinian cause is “100 percent Islamic and 0 percent humanitarian developed into a debate. ICUCNJ’s imam Sa’id Elkasaby said that even though he agreed that the Palestinian cause is an Islamic cause, it must be marketed to the West as humanitarian so that Jews, Christians, and others will support it as well. An unedited video of the presentation was uploaded to the Islamic Center’s (ICUCNJ) YouTube channel on Nov. 17, and it was taken down soon after being uploaded.

The following day, a shortened version of the video was re-uploaded to the channel. The re-uploaded version excludes the Q&A session and the excerpts that can be seen in this clip. The ICUC building had formerly housed Temple Israel, a Jewish synagogue; it was sold to the Islamic Center in 2010.

Following are excerpts:

Imam Sa’id Elkasaby: As I said in yesterday’s sermon, Palestine is not limited to today’s borders. Palestine is not limited to the borders of 1948, of 1967 or of [the] Sykes-Picot [agreement]. Palestine is greater than that. Palestine is in the heart of every Muslim. Palestine is a land of all Arabs and all Muslims. Before being an Islamic cause, Palestine is a cause for humanity.

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Muhammad Habba: There’s this idea that Israel is something that’s going to last forever, which, unfortunately from what we’ve been seeing recently, isn’t true. Israel, at the way it’s going right now, will cease to exist, I would say, maybe within the next 50 years.

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Right now Palestine advocacy in America is at an all-time high. The majority of Democrats support boycotts and sanctions on Israel because of their treatment of Palestine.

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One thing that, surprisingly, has happened, is that through the election of Trump, many people are beginning to see the problems with Israel.

Waseem Qana’a: The connections.

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Muhammad Habba: Just last week, we had the first American congresswoman endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions on the State of Israel until the end of the occupation.

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Waseem Qana’a: Where you are is the largest sponsor and funder of the State of Israel, and that is just reality. So why don’t you, not you specifically, but us. … Why don’t you take the angle of working to tell our government to stop funding the State of Israel? We can get into a discussion about whether or not that’s possible or feasible, but again this is a strategic long-term plan.

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As an organization, we work on Palestine within the context of American society and American policy, and our goal is to build our community as a force in the state of New Jersey and in the United States that’s going to work towards ending us support for Israeli state-sponsored terrorism

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Muhammad Habba: We live in a country that is the biggest supporter of Israel in the world. We, as American citizens, had the right to voice our opinions through our congress-people and through our senators. We have the ability to literally cut paychecks that are going to Israel to fund what is going on right now in Palestine.

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Audience Member 1: I think most people are not convinced that peaceful resistance is the right way to confront the enemy.

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We are a minority in America, and I think that the boycott is not an effective way to defeat the Zionist claims. So why do you take the military option off the table? The world understands only the powerful people. They don’t understand peaceful protest or peaceful resistance.

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Waseem Qana’a: BDS, and I mean this with every fiber of my being because I believe this, is the biggest threat to Zionist supremacy. Money is where it hurts.

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BDS is an effective tool that everybody here should dedicate themselves to, because your money should not be spent on the oppression of Palestinian children, and all of our money does, because we’re all taxpayers.

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Wa’el (Audience Member 2): When we talk to the Jewish people, to the Zionists, one on one. … When they give up their arguments, they say: “Well, I am a Jew, it is my land.” I always like to say to everyone. … The Jewish [people]. … They always confuse you between a nationality and a religion. An American Muslim cannot say: “I’m a Muslim, so Saudi Arabia is my country,” and then he has to go there. That’s religion, and that’s nationality. As a nationality, there is no Jewish country. There is no Muslim country. There is no Christian country. In Palestine, there are a lot of Christians, there are Jews, and there are Muslims. But it is their own country. No Jewish German can come in, kick me out, and say: “This is only my country.”

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I can say it loudly and clearly. The only problem is to fight with all possible means. Put twenty red lines under that. Fight [using] all possible means that you have.

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If you have the will, they will be out in a minute. That state is a lot weaker than anyone thinks, and just a few days ago the Gazans proved that.

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When it comes to Palestine, the Palestinians will never ever free their own country. Arabs and Muslims will free it. All the Palestinians have to do now is keep their affair loud and clear so that it doesn’t die with time.

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It bothers me that the Palestinian cause is seen as a humanitarian issue. I have rights. It is a humanitarian issue when I come here as a refugee, and the Americans give me citizenship, and they take care of me. … That is a humanitarian issue, because they can tell me: “No, we don’t want you here. You’re not American. You’re an Arab. Go to Jordan. Go wherever.” You can view this as a humanitarian issue for the Palestinian refugees, who went to Syria or to Jordan, where they put up tents for them, and the United Nations came and brought them a little bit of bread, butter, oil, and olives. … That is a humanitarian issue. But returning to my land is an issue of rights. We don’t view is a [humanitarian] cause. If I’m saying that it is a humanitarian cause rather than an Islamic cause, I am losing my rights. It makes me look like a human being who is begging. We are not begging. This is our right. This issue is 100 percent Islamic and 0 percent humanitarian. Thank you.

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Imam Sa’id Elkasaby: May Allah reward our brother Wa’el. You talked about “humanitarian” and “Islamic.” Although our cause is Islamic, when we market and present it to people, I believe that it should be presented as a “humanitarian cause.” If I talk to Jews and tell them that my cause is Islamic, they’re out. It’s over. They won’t support me because they’re Jews and I’m a Muslim. The same is true when I tell a Christian that my cause is Islamic. When I tell him that my cause is humanitarian, it means that every human being must acknowledge that truth. I know that I have the right to Palestine, but I want to be supported by everybody—by the Muslims, the Christians, the Chinese, the Sikhs and the non-religious. They will all support my cause because all humans will support my cause. I am a human being. I have rights. I own a land. So I present this cause to people. … I am in America now. Like brother Muhammad and brother Waseem said, we are American citizens. If we keep telling the Americans that our cause is Islamic, only the Muslims will support us. The non-Muslims will not support us. So I want to generalize the cause so everybody will sympathize with us.

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Waseem Qana’a: I want to address Wa’el’s initial point. If there is one thing that we as a community need to become well-versed in and understand, it is the difference between Zionism and Judaism, and [we must not] not conflate the two things. [We must] separate it out, and then develop our own realistic narrative and talking points.

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[We must] make it clear that Zionism isn’t one and the same as Judaism.