April 1, 2009
On last 28 March 2009 I went to a charity event in solidarity with the Palestinian victims in Gaza and which had the purpose of raising money to finance a Physical Therapy Center in Gaza, according to Dr. Tariq Afifi, who
headed the event. Dr. Hassan Najjar, the Chairman of the Association of Arab Doctors in Europe, said in his address, that “three months after the barbaric Israeli aggression on the Palestinian civilians in Gaza Strip, it is necessary to work together to establish a museum which documents all the past and current Israeli war crimes, genocide and the blockade in Gaza”. This bold and strong proposal, to open a museum documenting the Israeli war crimes proposed by Dr. Najjar was widely welcomed attendants to the event, among them many doctors, diplomats ambassadors and intellectuals and artists.
Ikhlass Al-Sheikhly, head of the Grants Unit at the Office of the Director General of the OFID, and Austrian Parliament member Omar Al-Rawi were among the attendants. The Palestinian Ambassador in Vienna, Dr. Zuheir Al-Wazeer was not present. Dr. Al-Wazeer, as an employee of the Palestinian Authority, is not interested in taking part in activities in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, which is not under the control of the PA since Hamas took power there by illegal and violent ways. Dr. Al-Wazeer also had some problems in the past due to the weak speeches which he presented in different occasions.
Ambassador Dr. Michail Wehbe, head of the mission of the Arab League and permanent observer to the UN in Vienna, who also took part in the solidarity event, said that the Palestine issue is an Arab-Palestinian issue, he added that in 45 years of working at the United Nations he was always for Palestine, that he spent over 16 years working in the United Nations offices in New York, Geneva, and Vienna. He said: “I strongly believe that education is a holy weapon of resistance against the Israeli occupation. Education is an access to freedom and to civilization, it is an effective weapon to face the Israeli war crimes. Through education the nations build civilization. I call all the Palestinian to continue their education, and I call everybody to support them in all ways possible”.
Iranian Attendance and an Orgy of Shouting
Imam Ayato Allah Mohie Al-Din Heshazari from Iran also attended the event. During his address he said that God assists those people who stand with him “If you stand by God, God will assist you”. He added that God assisted the victorious people of Gaza. Imam Heshazari said that during the last attack on Gaza, the winners were the beloved of God, (he meant the Palestinians), and that the conspirator would be vanquished by God (he meant the Israeli occupation). Imam Heshazari described the Palestinians as the beloved of God and said that everybody should support these people beloved by God in their resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Imam Heshazari provoked strong antagonism among some Iraqi doctors participating in the event. The Iraqi participants started to yell, to shout, and demanded that all the attendants leave event. They described Imam Heshazari as a murder of the Iraqi nation, saying that it is not possible to be a murder and to describe others as murders. When I asked the Iraqis about their anger, one of them was yelled at me, saying: “if you have moral you will get out of the charity now”. I understood that these Iraqis had been personally affected by the two wars between Iraq and Iran.
The Charity solidarity event continued and nobody left, except the loud Iraqis themselves. The majority of the attendants were astonished of the Iraqis. They described their behavior as unwise and unbecoming.
The Austrian Intelligence
People from the Austrian Intelligence arrived soon because of the shouting party of the Iraqis. They offered their assistance to the organizers of the event, but since the Iraqis had mostly left, the problem was over, and the organizers apologized to the Austrian intelligence and to the hotel management for the inconvenience. Some people commented on what happened. One participant said: “this is an event which is organized for Palestinians and not for the Iraqis. Everyone is welcome to support the Palestinians. The Iraqis do not have the right to decide who is welcome to support the Palestinians and who is not welcome. It’s not their party”. Another participant asked: If the attendants who came to support the Palestinians were Israelis or American civilians, would these Iraqis also protest and try to interrupt the event yelling and shouting in this indecent way?
Yet another attendant said that he found it shameful to attack somebody in their own place. Imam Heshazari was a guest of the event, and was considered as a guest of the Arab attendants, who were all were responsible for his security and safety. He added that it was shameful to attack somebody under your responsibility, as the Arab tradition mandates that one is responsible for the well-being and security and safety of ones guests. The behavior of these Iraqis corresponded neither to the Arab customs nor to the principles of the Islamic religion and morality.
One Euro Proposal
Dr. Tammam Kelani, head of the Arab-Austrian Federation of Doctors and Pharmacists in Vienna, proposed a “One Euro Project”, in which everyone from the Arab Community would be able to pay one Euro monthly until the completion of the project of the proposed Physical Therapy Center in Gaza. Kelani explained the reasons which led to this idea of building a Physical Therapy Center in Gaza. He said that the increased numbers of injured in Gaza who need permanent therapy, which reaches into the thousands, forced him to think about building such a Physical Therapy Center with the ability to provide the right treatment which the injured need.
Sheikh Adnan Ibrahim, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Taher, Sheikh Muheisen Ali, representatives of the biggest mosque in Vienna, (Al-Shura), were among the charity event attendants. Sheikh Adnan Ibrahim gave a speech in which he demanded that everybody should assist the Palestinian people in the devastated Gaza Strip. Imam Ibrahim said that assistance to the Palestinians is a religious duty considered equivalent to worshiping God. He demanded that everybody should fulfill their religious duties and so assist the Palestinians. People from Al-Shura Mosque also attended other charity events held in Vienna in support of Palestinians during and after the last Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.