There are a number of more public, and predictably absurd trips that are taking place (like Biden going to Saudi Arabia), or which are scheduled to take place this spring or summer.
Take for instance this trip taken in May by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC); and the UAE/Bahraini pro-Abraham Accords Sharaka organization to Israel and the UAE.
The group comprised primarily of Pakistani Americans, and included individuals from Pakistan and the UAE.
.@NPR did another piece about our historic #peacemaking delegation to #Israel: “The trip was organized by an #American Muslim #women's activist group, & sponsored by an #Israeli organization seeking to expand Israel's ties with #Muslim-majority countries.” https://t.co/II4YUhzKBM
— AMMWEC (@ammwecofficial) June 1, 2022
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Qureishi also tagged along for the trip and was then fired by the state-run Pakistan Television Corporation for doing so.
Here’s how this trip looks to me:
A number of fairly well-off Pakistani-American Muslims go on a cushy trip to Israel and Dubai in the name of helping Palestinians. Really though, they’re actually just helping the Democratic Party (and more generally those in power) who wish to benefit from public ties with Israel.
“It may seem that a small interfaith group would have little influence on a country’s foreign policy. But such trips can serve as a trial balloon.
An interfaith delegation of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs from Bahrain made an unprecedented visit to Jerusalem in late 2017, three years before Bahrain established diplomatic relations with Israel.”
Pakistani American woman Anila Ali, who is a founding member of AMMWEC, helped to lead the group. She does not shy away from displaying her strong support for the Democratic party and has even held political positions herself.
And this is the person who helped lead the group to Israel.
These types of efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, make matters worse in large part because they require a denial of whom you’re actually dealing with. Israel is an entity that has no problem jailing a population, denying it access to the sea upon which it rests, and then opening fire on its civilians.
It’s one thing if you want to have a dialogue with a Jewish neighbor; say, to discuss the differences and some similarities between your two faiths, or if you want to discuss what’s happening to Palestinians. It’s quite another to take it upon yourself and your small group to meet with the President of Israel, while advertising this as some kind of effort and first-step towards a peace deal.
Shocked. A beautiful #Arab #Muslim #Christian town in #Israel with a mosque built by #Chechnya. The azaan was blaring through loudspeakers. The delegation was delighted to see that Israel has so many mosques. #religiousfreedom #AbrahamAccords @ammwecofficial @sharakango #AbuGhosh pic.twitter.com/7eXqBWe5LR
— Anila Ali (@anilaali) June 14, 2022
Such public statements obscure larger problems. Israel can have a large number of mosques and still systematically oppress Muslims and ethnically cleanse Palestinians.
Here’s a description of what they did in Israel:
“The Pakistani American delegation visited Tel Aviv, toured Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and were guided by a Palestinian tour guide at the Al Aqsa Mosque, central in Islam.”
Did they also visit any Palestinian refugees? I certainly can’t find any evidence of them having done so.
What I think most of us would appreciate more than AMMWEC working with politicians to simply push the status quo (and holding an interfaith iftar), is that perhaps they could take some of their funds and find out what Palestinians actually want.
Even despite differences in opinion likely existing amongst them, I can pretty much guarantee you that what they want isn’t the Abraham Accords.