DETROIT (Jul. 11)
An organization calling itself the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, which claims a membership of 20,000, held a convention in Dearborn at which it pledged continued support for embattled Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat.
During its four-day convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Detroit suburb, the convention heard the PLO’s deputy observer at the United Nations, Dr. Hatem Hussaini, claim that Arafat “is not on the ropes. He is getting stronger.” The reference was to the fighting between PLO elements in Lebanon, and Arafat’s leadership being threatened by Syrian-backed factions.
The convention received a message from Arafat calling for “revolution until victory” and a letter from President Reagan calling for the organization to join in the Middle East peace effort.
Meanwhile, last Friday, several hundred “Islamic” demonstrators marched in downtown Detroit carrying photographs and placards bearing the picture of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. They chanted slogans and carried signs calling for “death to American imperialism” and “cancer of the Middle East, Israel must not exist.”
The Detroit area has one of the largest concentrations of Arab residents in the U.S., estimated at 125,000-200,000. The American Federation of Ramallah claims to be the largest Palestinian organization outside the Middle East, with 20,000 members in the U.S., 5,000 in the Detroit area. The group announced at its convention that it plans to build a $1 million cultural center in the Detroit area.