DEARBORN – Thousands of people gathered at Hemlock Park this past Tuesday to commemorate the one year anniversary of the end of the Israeli-Lebanese War. The Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO) organized the first ever Festival of Peace, and its success promises that the event will be an annual tradition in Dearborn.
“We want to emphasize that this community is supporting peace and that we want to have peace in Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Sudan,” said Osama Siblani, executive board member of CAAO.
|Arab Americans dancing on national songs|
The event was meant to celebrate the cessation of hostilities from Israel, but also to show support for the end of war around the world. More than 4,000 Arab American residents from Metro Detroit were in the midst of the chaos last summer, when Israel relentlessly destroyed Lebanese infrastructure and killed more than 1,200 civilians, a third of them children.
The summer war provoked the Dearborn community to take to the streets in protest, due to the familial connections and property many local residents hold in Lebanon. Families of local Arab Americans were wounded and/or killed.
“We are a peace-loving people, and we want to put on an annual event to celebrate the meaning of justice and the spirit of peace,” said Imad Hamad, director of the American- Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
As the masses gathered in the park, banners that read “Make Peace, Not War” were elevated to the performance stage, as American, Palestinian, Yemeni and Lebanese flags flew together. Live entertainment included many nationalist folk songs that had young people line dancing till late in the evening. Chef Habib Bazzi of the Bint Jebail Cultural Center provided hot food and sandwiches. Shaker Aoun of Garden Foods provided water, juice and pop. Concession stands offered ice cream and candy. 1-888-TRASH-IT provided clean-up services.
Attorney Abed Hammoud emceed the event.