Youngstown's Arab-Americans' vigil to commemorate Middle East tragedies

By Susan Tebben


As the U.S. reflects on its own tragedy days ago in Boston, a group of Arab Americans in Youngstown is calling attention to the tribulations of their brethren in the Middle East.

The Arab American Community Center has scheduled a silent vigil to commemorate 65 years of Palestinian oppression and occupation in the Middle East and dispersion to other parts of the world.

The group is scheduled to begin the vigil across from the Jewish Community Center on Gypsy Lane today at 10:30 a.m. to bring together those wanting to pay tribute to those living in refugee camps, under occupation in the West Bank or facing a war zone in Gaza, according to a prepared statement from the AACC.

“Most people would have thought it would have been done by now, but it’s the tragedy that keeps on going,” said Ray Nakley, media spokesman for the AACC of Greater Youngstown.

While others mark the spring with a celebration of the founding of Israel, those of Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Syrian descent, among others, remember the occupations and tribulations their “brothers and sisters” overseas are going through, Nakley said.

“This ongoing process [of] gross human-rights violations and ethnic cleansing affects Palestinians in the Middle East most intensely,” the release stated, but also affects those spread throughout the world.

Those who are American citizens have the obligation to those in the Middle East or in refugee camps to “use our freedom to demand justice, and only justice, for them and for all people who suffer unjustly,” the statement says.

But the vigil extends to those who are not from Middle Eastern backgrounds, and is not dependent on the religion of any particular group, Nakley said.

“We have members [at the AACC] who are Christian; we even have a Jewish member,” Nakley said. “All we want is for people to remember, and we’re just interested in having a peaceful, quiet ceremony.”

Nakley and the AACC, through the statement about the vigil, stressed the desire for “good will and peaceful intentions” for all who attend.

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