LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – Wednesday evening, the Youngstown area’s Arab American community gathered to tell their side of what’s happening around Israel.
Youngstown’s Ray Nakley was one of the speakers — his passion for the Palestinian cause was apparent. The overall theme of the evening: What we’ve been watching did not begin on Saturday.
Nakley has been active in the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East for two decades. Wednesday evening, his words were directed at the United States government and its support of Israel.
“We have a right to object to our country’s involvement in this problem, which complicates it, and had kept it going on for this long,” Nakley said.
Nakley’s comments were made before 100 people at Liberty’s Arab American Community Center, who had gathered to tell the Palestinian side of the war with Israel.
“The seizure of Palestinian homes and land have become all too common in Jerusalem and surrounding villages as Israeli citizens settle into them,” said Suhad Hadi, president of the Arab American Community Center.
“You have to talk about peace, give the people their rights, and then you have peace. End the occupation of Palestinian people today, and tomorrow, you have peace,” said Mousa Kassis, a board member for the Arab American Community Center.
“We just started an organization for Palestine called Students for Justice in Palestine,” said YSU student Tala Alsharif.
Alsharif received a round of applause when she announced her new effort. She was joined by four other students who were also part of the group.
“We encourage students from all ethnic and religious backgrounds to come together to broaden their understanding of the Palestinian struggle,” Alsharif said.
Another YSU student claimed Israel was committing the crime of apartheid, to which one of the panelists brought up South Africa.
“I mean, whoever thought that apartheid in South Africa would be gone? I mean, it is gone. I mean, nothing is impossible,” said Raed Khatib with the U.S. Palestinian Community Network.
Todd Davis drove in from Erie, Pennsylvania, to be part of the discussion.
“In our dream of dreams, just opening up democracy to everybody and let it be one big, democratic state,” Davis said.
Kassis agreed, saying it’s no longer possible to have two separate states.
“Myself believe one state, one democratic state where everybody live under one sky,” Kassis said.
One man stood up before the crowd and declared that he was “not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist.”