Perhaps slightly overshadowing the event was the announcement made by Hassan Nawash, the founder of the Palestine Cultural Office, who stated that this may be the last year the organization holds a Nakba event, which is an annual tradition they have kept every May for over twenty years. Nawash said the planning of the event has gotten too tiresome for him.
"It's terrible to always have us concentrating on filling the hall rather than concentrating on the program. The Palestine Cultural Office is in trouble because I am getting old and tired. This will probably be the last event we will hold in May like this. It has just been very difficult," Nawash said.
Nawash also stated that his office has not been doing very well financially and that its future is looking very gloomy if he ever decides to step down. He however does not want to give up hope just yet and wants someone to be able to fill his shoes once he retires.
Despite the somber news given by Nawash, the event moved forward with keynote speaker Ray McGovern. McGovern served as a CIA analyst from John F. Kennedy's administration all the way until George H.W. Bush. In 2003 he helped create Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to expose the way intelligence was being falsified to justify a war against Iraq.
Also on the agenda was honoring The Washington Report, a magazine that has been an alternative source for many Muslims, Christians and Jews around the world who are frustrated with the mainstream American media's biased reporting on the Middle East. The magazine gives plenty of coverage on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and grassroots activism in the U.S. and abroad.
There to accept the award on behalf of the Washington Report was Delinda Hanley, the Executive Director of the magazine. "It's been a privilege to tell your stories and record your words and provide a historical record of the Palestinian struggle of human rights, dignity and justice of the last 64 years. In this room there are many heroes working tremendously for peace and justice and sacrificing time from their family and friends. They are writing letters to editors, calling and representing groups and individuals, voting and volunteering, we are all Palestinians," she stated while accepting the award on behalf of the magazine.
An honorary award was also given to Abdul-Karim Bader, a Lebanese musician who plays the cello and has spent time in Middle Eastern regions such as Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. In the last ten years he has been touring the U.S with Lorelie Zwiernikowski, who also performs with him. "He is an icon contributor to our culture. He is not a Palestinian but I really consider him one because he never defines himself by just one nation," stated Nawash while presenting the award to him.
Singer and songwriter David Rovics was also present at the event and performed a tune both at the beginning of the ceremony and after the dinner. Rovics is a renowned classical musician whose music has become known for topics such as social justice, anti-war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.