Last night (26 Aug 2006) in Brisbane there was a benefit dinner and concert held to raise money for relief efforts for the Lebanese and Palestinian people after the July/August 2006 war. The function was organised by Brisbane’s Fair Go for Palestine and the local Al-Nisa Muslim Women’s Youth Group.
Sheikh Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh from the Kuraby Mosque sang Arabic songs and described how he, a Palestinian, has recently been prevented three times from visiting his homeland by Israeli military.
Brisbane artist Phil Monsour (pictured) sang accompanied by film depicting the Israeli military bombardment of Lebanon and Palestine and the war in Iraq.
The benefit was strongly supported by the local Muslim community. About 240 people attended in a small hall in South Brisbane.
At my table was a Lebanese man who had driven down from Toowoomba and a group of young men from South Africa who now live in Brisbane. The young men had heard about the dinner through the Kuraby Mosque. We all had an political discussion over excellent lebanese food about the recent events in the middle east.
One young man said that he thought Iran must have given a lot of money to Hizballah for rebuilding villages. Someone else later suggested that countries in the region like Iran want others to resist Israel and US agression in the region (e.g. to do the fighting for them). It has been left to a coalition of lebanese political groups (of which Hizballah is an important part) to rebuild villages, towns and Beirut.
Many others wished to attend the dinner but could not because of the size of the hall.
The function raised over $10,000 to be given to Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) for relief in Palestine and Lebanon. An auction was also held during the night to raise funds.
Speakers at the function were Halim Rane (Fair Go for Palestine), Qld Senators Andrew Bartlett (Australian Democrats) and Claire Moore (ALP). The two senators opened the benefit. At the outset, Claire Moore, eager to get started, called Andrew Bartlett to the stage. Senator Bartlett obediently took up his position on stage. His first comment into the microphone was “I do not always do what the ALP asks me“
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