On May 15, across the shatat and in the homeland, Palestinians marked the 64th anniversary of the Nakba of 1948 in a multitude of ways. We rallied, we held vigils, and we took a quiet moment to remember, reflect, and mourn. On this anniversary, we particularly honored our heroes in Israeli prisons, who conducted the longest, and one of the largest, hunger strikes in history. In our long march to liberation and return, it has always been our people, their undiminished courage, and their towering fortitude, that have carried our struggle through. We are honored to be Palestinian, proud of our people, and the nobility of our cause.
It is therefore with grave concern that we issue this letter expressing our dismay at the continued disregard and disrespect for our struggle and our people by the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), and its President, Ziad Asali.
At this time of remembrance, two photos were widely circulated of Asali embracing Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at a celebration of Israel’s independence hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. While Palestinians were mourning the destruction of 531 of our villages, and the expulsion of nearly 800,000 of our people, Asali saw fit to attend a celebration of that moment, and shake the hands of a man whose task it is to silence us and defend the destruction of our homes, theft of our land, starvation of our prisoners, and elimination of our people.
Indeed, this incident is merely the culmination of a long history of ATFP’s betrayal of our people. Since its inception in 2003, with Asali as its President, ATFP has consistently found itself the focus of the Palestinian community’s ire, and the organization’s history carries a string of resignations by one Board member after another in disgust. In the wake of Israel’s 2008-2009 war on Gaza, several Board members stepped down in protest of ATFP comments to CNN effectively absolving Israel of responsibility for its crimes. In his resignation letter to the Board, one member wrote:
[Asali’s] comments and the direction he is taking ATFP do not advance the cause for justice in Palestine and do not foster unity among the Palestinian people. In fact, ATFP’s direction is in line with the American administration’s or institution’s misguided and unjust policy. 
This is not the first time that ATFP fails to take a strong and clear stand to protect and support the [Palestinians] against Israeli aggression and illegal occupation. I was disappointed then and raised my objections to many members of the Board including the President.
Today’s inappropriate, ineffective and weak ATFP statement was the last straw. ATFP should be representing and advocating for the just Palestinian cause rather than blaming the victim and giving excuses for Israel’s continued occupation and devastation of the Palestinian people. ATFP over time has become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the current Administration’s position on Palestine as opposed to attempting to impact policy changes through communicating the true suffering and devastation from Israeli policies that are supported by the US. We must demonstrate to the US government that its unconditional support of Israel violates American notions of justice, equity and liberty. American interests are not served by such unconditional support. ATFP has failed to do that. ATFP has failed our community. 
More recently, in September 2011, another Board member resigned after Asali aligned with the U.S./Israel position on the Palestinian Authority statehood bid at the United Nations (UN). In a statement explaining his resignation, this Board Member specifically cited “[t]he clear failure of the organization to take a position independent of the US government” and “[t]he fact that the organization – as stated by its president – appears to care more about the survival of the organization over everything else including the future of Palestine.”
In response to widespread community anger over the ATFP’s latest transgression, staff member Hussein Ibish wrote in defense of the organization, “[I]n terms of gaining a real measure of influence in the policy conversation in Washington, it has been an unprecedented and unexpected success.” As evidence of this “real measure of influence in the policy conversation in Washington,” Ibish inexplicably cites “[a] 2009 letter from Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), then Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, attest[ing] that Asali and ATFP ‘have been an important influence on my own thinking about Middle East peacemaking and that of many of my colleagues in the Congress.’”
Representative Berman is among Israel’s staunchest allies in Congress. After praising Asali and the ATFP, Rep. Berman proceeded to vote in favor of Israel on every piece of one-sided legislation regarding the Jewish state before him. For example, during the 111th session of Congress (2009-2010), Rep. Berman voted “Yes” on H.Res 34 supporting Israel and placing exclusive blame for the Gaza massacres on Hamas, and “Yes” on H.Res 867 calling the Goldstone report “biased” and “unworthy of further consideration.” Furthermore, Rep. Berman signed letters to President Obama stating that there should be no U.S. pressure on Israel, and defending Israel’s May 2010 lethal assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, when Israel killed eight Turkish and one American human rights activists. Rep. Berman also sponsored H.Res 2589 (the Anti-Boycott Act) in the House. This bill, which has not been passed, seeks to prohibit American individuals and organizations from actively boycotting Israeli goods.
Given his unwavering commitment to Israel in Congress, an endorsement from Rep. Berman is evidence not of “success” and “influence” in Washington, but rather of pandering complicity by the ATFP. What the ATFP attempts to sell as a pragmatic or strategic exchange has in actuality amounted to nothing more than a one-sided arrow. In this regard, rather than serving as a conduit through which Palestinian interests are advocated to the political establishment, the ATFP has conversely acted as a means through which Israel’s advocates in Congress push their agenda on Palestinian-Americans (or, in reality, the Board members and staff of the ATFP).
While it is every Palestinian’s prerogative to meet with whomever they please, it is unacceptable for any individual or organization to purport to represent our community without accountability or deference thereto. Although the ATFP may sometimes claim that its self-serving actions are in an individual capacity, this organization of a few individuals willingly embraces and exploits a perception of representation in Washington’s chambers of power in exchange for recognition and acceptance by the pro-Israeli political establishment.
We recognize that some Palestinians in the US may consider ATFP as performing the necessary task of speaking to power, or they may see it as a necessary evil by which the Palestinian people can gain a foothold in the seemingly impossible arena of political establishment. To them we offer a simple reminder: Without holding fast to the principles our struggle holds close, no amount of obsequious pandering to US and Israeli sensibilities will ever serve Palestinian national interests. In our long history of struggle, and in the history of anti-colonial movements the world over, this remains an undeniable fact.
Although many are calling for the dissolution of the ATFP, it should be understood that this organization is not the first, and may not be the last, of its kind. As long as there exists an oppressor, there will exist a demand for complicity from the oppressed and, sadly, willing participants offering to barter their identity in exchange for gain.
We call on members of the American Task Force on Palestine board to review the practices and policies of the ATFP, do what a sense of collective responsibility and national belonging necessitates and resign from their posts.
We call on all Palestinian associations, organizations, societies and formations and community members and activists to:
–Write to members of the ATFP board, calling on them to resign from their posts.
–Refuse to provide platforms of any kind for any representatives of the American Task Force on Palestine, including its leadership and Board
–Continue to actively participate in the continuing grassroots organizing for Palestine across the United States.
As we work towards rebuilding our national institutions to speak for Palestinians wherever they are, it is our task as Palestinians in the US to remain vigilant, and reject those who do not uphold our dignity and our principles as a people and as a struggle. As USPCN and the Palestinian community in Chicago stands with its allies in protest against NATO and global powers that target indigenous and popular struggles of self-determination, emancipation, social and economic justice the world over, we remind each other that in organizing together, we bring power to our collective voice, and ensure that principle always triumphs over expedience.
We cannot but end by once again paying homage to the over 4,600 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons; sacrificing self for the collective interest. We pay tribute to our wounded, our martyrs, and all the organizers around the world who quietly, brilliantly, selflessly, every day and in every way, hold fast to Palestine, and uphold the ideals of our struggle.
Until liberation and return.
US Palestinian Community Network
 A. Awad, Letter to Board, January 11, 2009, in USPCN possession.
 T. Barqawi, Letter to Board, December 28, 2008, in USPCN possession.