The Daily Life of Kawther Salam

  ..: Al-Naqbah Activities in Vienna :..
May 11, 2008
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Yesterday, 10 May 2008, the Palestinian community in Vienna commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Naqbah (Catastrophe) of 1948, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly deported from their cities and villages, the Zionist Jews massacred civilians at hundreds of villages, and over 500 Palestinian villages were razed to the ground by these same Zionist terrorists.

Palestinian Tent at Stephansplatz The Palestinian activities were held at Stephansplatz in the center of Vienna. A tent was erected during the activity, Palestinian flags were raised over and inside the tent, and the history of Al-Naqbah was illustrated with information placards and photos inside the tent. To highlight the fact that the Catastrophe continues for the Palestinians, the situation in Gaza, which Israel has turned into a concentration camp and whose 1.5 million inhabitants have been locked in, left without the basic supplies of food, fuels, electricity, medicines, … about just everything, received special attention.

This commemoration also served to collect signatures and to invite interested members of the public to a follow-up event on 17. May, which has the support of many personalities from Austrian cultural, political and academic life (see link).
Outside Palestinian Tent at StephansplatzDozens of Austrians and foreigners took part in the mourning of the Palestinian Catastrophe at Stephansplatz. But the Palestinian ambassador, Dr. Zuheir Elwazer, did not show up to take part in this important activity of the Palestinian community in Vienna. In the same way, he did not show up to take part in an exhibition which included discussions with invited guests, an exhibition about Al-Naqbah and about Palestinian Culture in the exile, which was held between 24-27 April 2008 at Albert Schweitzer Haus and had been organized by the Austrian organization Dar Al-Janub and Thabit - the Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return - and had the support of the Society for Austro Arab-Relations GÖAB, the Culture Department of the City of Vienna, and other Austrian, Palestinian and Arab persons and organizations.

Discussion - Dr. Hannes, Prof. Andrea Komlosy, Dar Al-Janub presenter, Dr. Daud Abdullah, translatorOver 150 Austrian and Palestinian Academics, Political activists, official representatives of different organizations and students took part in the opening of this exhibition of Palestinian culture. Dr. Hannes Swoboda, Member of the European Parliament, came from Brussels and made it a point to make the opening event his first stop from the airport. Doctor Swoboda was very tired of traveling and after a long day of work, but he came, and he took part in the discussion with interest, and shared informative comments about the political background of the Palestinian tragedy as seen from Brussels. I have known Dr. Swoboda for years, and in my memory he has much more interest in the Palestinian issue than many representatives of Palestine, and he says the things like they are, without hesitation, despite having often been the target of criticism for his activities. He is well known among Palestinians, and his presence raised the value of this event.

Stop the Embargo ! Gaza must live !Ambassadors usually take part in the activities of their national communities everywhere in the world. The Palestinian diplomatic mission in Vienna was the first diplomatic mission of Palestine in the world, accepted by the Austrian government under chancellor Bruno Kreisky. Because of this, the mission in Vienna is of symbolic importance, or should be, to the ambassador in charge. Since I am in exile in Vienna and taking part in the Palestinian activities, I seldom see the Palestinian representative, or anybody from the mission, taking part in the activities of the community. Also, I never read anything in the Austrian media about the activities of the Palestinian representative, and all what I read in the Austrian media about Palestine amounts to the usual inanities which defame all Palestinians as terrorists for the simple fact of existing and aspiring to protect our property, our livelihoods and our lives from criminals.

Is it not part of the work of any diplomatic mission to clear up mistakes and misconceptions about their country and its nationals ?

Public during the discussion - where is Dr. Elwazer ?As a Palestinian and a journalist, I asked the participants of both events about the Palestinian ambassador: where is Dr. Zuheir Elwazer? Did you send him an invitation? Is everything right with him? Nobody could answer my questions. I only know that he excused himself for “lack of time” at the event organized by Dar Al-Janub, and that he was not present at the event yesterday at Stephansplatz. I hope that Dr. Elwazer is not sick, or that he recovers soon should he be sick, and that he and his wife will again be able to take part in the activities of his community before the Austrian society.

More Pictures: Here and here.

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