At a Minnesota conference forum, American Indians and Palestinians:
Nehad Awad introduced himself: ìMinnesota is my home. I studied at Hamline and the U of M. Thank God I came to the Twin Cities. One of the first people I met was Nick Boswell, a Native American man who converted to Islam. A Native American Muslim.î
Awad spoke about growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan where he watched black and white American movies. He noticed that the Indians were portrayed as scary, dangerous bad guys. When he came to the U.S. he realized that as a Palestinian he was considered scary and dangerous in the same way, while the whole time growing up he had understood himself and his people to be victims. He was shocked to see Palestinians portrayed as violent.
ìWhat brings us together?î he asked and then answered, ìOppression.îHe explained the recipe for oppression: S-K-L.: Steal the land, Kill the people, Lie about it.
Watching the movies he knew something was wrong. The way of portraying American Indians in Hollywood movies was very effective and it took him years to undo the stereotypes. The heroes were the god- fearing, good people with guns. The villains, who threatened the safety of the white people, had to be killed. Killing these people was always justified.
ìMy knowledge of Native Americans was that they have no feelings and they donít speak. The victims were dehumanized. They had been victims of genocide for over 500 years,î he said.
Awad said he ìunderstands that fear and suffering led Jews to establish a political state.î Everyone acknowledges and empathizes with the suffering Jews have endured throughout history. But the conflict between Jews and Palestinians has to do with America and its Weapons of Mass Deception, he said. He nevertheless ultimately has great hopes for working together; he has faith in peace, faith in justice.
About Gaza, he said it was the first time in history that civilians were not able to flee; it was ìlike bombing people in a cage. The press and humanitarian aid were not allowed into the area.î
ìWe know thereís injustice. Our tax money supports Israel. We give them political support and weapons and we donít speak up about the injustice. It hurts me as a U.S. citizen that these things are done in my name. The majority of America is decent. How come this is done in our name?î
He emphasized, ìSpeaking against Israelís actions is not anti- Semitism. Everyone needs to speak up. I ask my government to be fair, to hold people accountable, to hold Israel accountable to international laws. Obama promised change, letís ask him for that.î