Presentations in Price Center depict current situation in Israel

A group of Muslims from UCSD and the San Diego community gathered to raise funds April 20 to assist Palestinian Muslims in the areas of greatest devastation.

Over 400 people packed the Price Center Ballroom, enjoyed ethnic cuisine and viewed graphic presentations depicting the destruction in Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem, Israel.

Attendees represented a diverse demographic slice of San Diego, from Kelly Hooker and his family from La Jolla, to Hamar Haddad, a Palestinian Christian and UCSD graduate.

Some came due to invitations from friends, while others came to give financial support for Palestinians in Israel. Though perhaps surprised by the dramatic representation of life in Gaza and West Bank and the strong push for contributions, guests seemed to see great value in a show of solidarity and support for Palestinians.

The event began with a recitation of the Quran by a local middle school student, followed by a lecture by Yuseff ali-Yuseff from the American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice on the current state for affairs in the Middle East.

He began by affirming the equality of all people who descended from Adam and Eve and decried the “”apartheid”” in U.S. and world history.

Likening Israel and Palestine to South Africa, ali-Yuseff said, “”apartheid leads to conquest and control,”” implicating the Oslo Peace Accord as part of the problem.

During dinner, another set of preparations went into effect. UCSD administrators had planned the logistics of security for the event.

“”[The dinner] is a high-profile event,”” said Tom Colley, the Operations Manager with the University Centers department. “”But security should be no problem. It’s been very peaceful.””

At least two police officers and several Community Service Officers worked to protect the dozens of families and hundreds of individuals who were present at the fundraiser.

While the officers watched and waited outside, the Muslims prayed inside.

After prayers, guests listened as Anwar Khan from the Islamic Relief Organization called on those with freedom to fulfill their responsibility to use it to ease human suffering and to address this as a human issue rather than a small and isolated Palestinian issue.

Next on the itinerary were presentations of the most recent events in Jenin and the work of the IRO in Palestine.

Khan and Muslim community leaders then asked the audience for donations. The amount of verbal pledges totaled well over $100,000, with some jewelry contributed as well.

According to Muslim Student Association sources, past fundraisers (such as those for Afghanistan and Chechnya) have seen immediate auctions of jewelry. No such sales took place for this event. The Islamic Relief Organization will work out the details of donations later.

At 9:30 p.m., the guests received their food — chicken kabobs — while Mohammed Kotob, another UCSD graduate, proposed a far-reaching boycott of companies that donate money to the Israeli state.

The event concluded peacefully and successfully, according to MSA President Ahmed Salem. He sees the goals of his organization and this event to be twofold: “”to establish a connection with the community”” and “”to inform people [about events in the Middle East].””

“”The No. 1 thing is to stop the killing,”” he said. “”Then it is to establish a right of returning for their homes with no fear of military action. The real situation in Palestine will never be understood unless people are well-educated.””