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March 03, 1989 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Support From Coast To Coast

Jews, most members of left-wing
groups vocal in their denunciation of
Israel's treatment of Palestinians. A
third donor is Christians.
Because it comes from such a
variety of sources, no one will venture
to guess how much foreign money is
being poured into the West Bank and
Gaza. But Palestinian groups in the
United States are not dealing only in
nickel and dime contributions. The
Chicago-based United Holy Land
Fund raised $723,140 from January-
October 1988. The United Palestinian
Appeal in Washington raised
$793,667. And the Palestine Aid
Society raised almost a quarter of a
million dollars from donations and
fund-raising events.
Officials with the Palestinian
organizations say the money they
raise goes strictly for humanitarian
purposes. But some Jewish leaders
charge that the PLO has its hands in
those funds and that the PAS is anti-
Israel. (See Page 28).

is projects are extensive, but the
PAS office, located in downtown
Detroit, is unassuming. The
door's opaque window looks like
those on 1940s detectives' offices.
Inside on the wall straight ahead is a
poster with the red, white, green and
black flag of Palestine. Another poster
commemorates Sabra and Shatila, the
Lebanese refugee camps where hun-
dreds of Palestinians were killed in the
early 1980s.
On a large desk is a proposal
issued by the Union of Health Care
Committees, a volunteer organization
in the West Bank and Gaza. It re-
quests $322,500 to fund five clinics
and a mobile clinic in the'territories.
"Hospitals, clinics and blood
banks have been closed by Israel
government order despite the popula-
tion's increased need for them, and
the few private hospitals are being
harrassed for the purpose of driving
them out of operation," the proposal
states.
This proposal is just one that Dr.
Anan Ameri, the chain-smoking
president of the PAS must consider.
She is one of two paid employees with
the organization.
At the end of one fund-raiser,
Ameri is already busy planning the
next. She talks to everyone from
reporters to curious callers who simp-
ly want information to high-profile

Its roots in Detroit now well
established, the Palestine Aid
Society wants to expand. PAS head
Anan Ameri hopes to open within
the next four years offices in New
York, Washington and on the West
Coast.
The Detroit-based Ramallah
Federation already has offices
throughout the United States. The
group brings together Arab-
Americans from the West Bank ci-
ty of Ramallah for social and fund-
raising activities, according to
federation member Samir Mashni.
Money is sent to organizations like
hospitals in the West Bank.
The PAS and Ramallah Federa-
tion are two of the many Palesti-
nian organizations nationwide that
raise funds for the West Bank and
Gaza.
The Washington-based United
Palestinian Appeal (UPA), created
in 1978, funds health services and
community development and
education projects and institutions,
according to UPA Executive Direc-
tor Tariq Abu-Jaber.
Among the UPA projects are a
computer camp for Palestinian
students, a theater company pro-
ducing programs that "preserve
and promote Palestinian culture
and consciousness" and an organi-
zation supplying food, clothing and
medicine to refugee camps, a UPA
brochure states.
The majority of UPA funds
come from individual contribu-
tions. And like the Palestine Aid
Society, the UPA is charting in-
creased figures every year.
The UPA's total income in 1986
was $284,627. In 1987, it jumped
to $794,667. The 1988 budget,

politicans. The subject is always the
same: the Palestinians.
It's been that way since Ameri
was an undergraduate. Born in Syria,
she went as a college student to work
in Palestinian refugee camps.
"It was a turning point in my life,"
Ameri said. "That's the time when
most young girls are going to the
movies and trying to meet nice boys.
I was working with refugees."
Ameri came to the United States
in 1973 to join Abdeen Jabara, now
her ex-husband and a leading figure
in the Association of Arab-American
University Graduates, the Palestine
Human Rights Campaign and the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee.
Five years after she arrived in
Detroit, Ameri helped found the
Palestine Aid Society. She didn't come
with fund-raising experience, but she
did come with a determination to help
the Palestinian refugees with whom
she had worked.
Despite her fierce dedication to
the Palestinians — about 837,700 of
whom live in the West Bank, another
545,000 in Gaza — Ameri is reserved
when speaking about Israel. She sup-
ports the PLO and doesn't hesitate to
say so. But she calls the Jewish state

which is being completed this
month, is expected to be the same
as the previous year, Abu-Jaber
said.
The Jerusalem Fund, also in
Washington, focuses its work on
educational, cultural and health
institutions for Palestinians within
Israel. After the intifada, the
fund's efforts expanded to
emergency relief aid to Palesti-
nians in the West Bank and Gaza.
A direct-mail, fund-raising
campaign started in April 1988 for
emergency relief has been very suc-
cessful, according to fund Ex-
ecutive Director Pamela Cadora.
The majority of projects to
which the Jerusalem Fund sends
money for emergency relief are
health related. This is because
since the intifada began,
"thousands of Palestinians have
suffered injuries and require im-
mediate medical attention through
hospitalization, followed up by ma-
jor rehabilitation," Cadora said.
The Chicago-based United Ho-
ly Land Fund also concentrates
much of its efforts on medical aid
to Palestinians. One of its largest
donations last year went to the Red
Crescent Society in Gaza, the Arab
affiliate of the Red Cross.
From January to October 1988,
the United Holy Land Fund
distributed $723,140 to Palestinian
social, educational and health in-
stitutions in the Middle East. Its
largest recipient is Project Loving
Care, through which individuals
can sponsor Palestinian children
much like other "adopt-a-child"
programs.
Like the Palestine Aid Society
in Detroit, the United Holy Land

Israel, not "the Zionist entity" or "oc-
cupied Palestine" as do some other
Palestinian leaders.
Politics is just part of the puzzle.
The PAS supports a two-state solution
in the Middle East and its represen-
tatives call politicians about Palesti-
nian issues from time to time. But its
raison d'etre is raising funds for
education, health and child care in
the West Bank, Gaza and refugee
camps in Lebanon, Ameri said.
The fund-raising techniques of the
PAS would be familiar to any Jewish
organization. There are annual din-
ners and raffles, ad books, boxes for
small change and conventions every
other year.
Last September, the PAS held its
fifth national convention in Los
Angeles. The speakers included
former California Rep. Paul
McCloskey and former U.S. Attorney
General Ramsey Clark. A program
book from the event includes
greetings to the PAS and messages of
"Victory to the Palestinian People"
from throughout the United States
and Canada.
The PAS holds no fund-raising
drives to speak of — no one will call
and ask for a pledge to the West Bank
and Gaza. It does conduct member-

Fund holds frequent conventions
and publishes a large, glossy book
for the occasion. Most of the pages
are filled with greetings from well-
wishers and descriptions of United
Holy Land Fund projects. One such
project is the Palestine Vocational
Educational Fund, the purpose of
which is "to offer vocational train-
ing for eligible students within oc-
cupied Palestine!'
Aiding Palestinians is just one
of Grassroots International's
causes. Based in Cambridge, Mass.,
the organization assists famine vic-
tims in Africa and combats apar-
theid in South Africa.
Grassroots works with the
Union of Palestinian Medical
Relief Committees (UPMRC) to
bring medical aid to Palestinians
in the territories. Grassroots board
member Gail Pressberg, writing
about her recent work with the
UPMRC in the West Bank and
Gaza, said, "The point was to em-
power people who have no access to
doctors and who are afraid to go to
the hospitals because the Israelis
are raiding them and attacking
people there."
Grassroots receives financial
support from individual donors and
institutions. It has drawn praise
from the general secretary of the
Middle East Council of Churches,
who told the organization, "I hear-
tily endorse your efforts."
The Jerusalem Fund, the
United Palestinian Appeal, the
United Holy Land Fund and
Grassroots International are all
tax-exempt, non-profit organiza-
tions.

— E.K.

Palestine Aid Society President Anan Ameri:
"The PLO doesn't need our money, believe
me. We only raise money for our people
who need it."

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

25

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