Muslim community decline White House Iftar dinner invite
April 04, 2024  10:01
There is widespread famine in Gaza now. Pic: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
There is widespread famine in Gaza now. Pic: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Members of the Muslim community in the US have declined the White House's iftar dinner invitation this week, protesting the Biden administration's continued support for Israel amid humanitarian concerns in Palestine, according to multiple media reports. 

 Many of the invitees, distressed over President (Joe) Biden's support for Israel's war in Gaza, said they would not attend an iftar meal with the president on Tuesday evening while so many Palestinians were under siege, The New York Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

 The White House held a pared-down meal just for staffers. "How can we talk to you about famine and starvation over bread and steak? Dr Thaer Ahmad, a Palestinian American doctor who was in Gaza in January was quoted as saying by The New York Times report.

 Dr Ahmed attended a separate hour-long meeting of the community leaders and President Biden. The meeting on Tuesday was attended by Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Some people who were invited to attend the White House events on Tuesday flatly declined, according to the sources familiar with the planning, who said the invitees did not feel comfortable celebrating with the president while many Palestinians are currently facing starvation and malnutrition, NBC News reported. 

 Muslim advocacy group Emgage, which declined the invitation from the White House, said a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions has been unfolding with millions now facing famine and disease. In this moment of tremendous pain and suffering, we have asked the White House to postpone this gathering and to convene a proper policy meeting with representatives of the community's choosing, rather than those selected by the White House, it said in a statement. Emgage said in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Biden administration can and should leverage its enormous support for Israel and begin to take demonstrable actions on an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

 The US should also ensure an unfettered access for humanitarian aid convoys and the resumption of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) funding; an end to any Israeli plans to invade Rafah where 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering; and the initiation of a legitimate political track that leads to Palestinian statehood, it said.
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