Palo Alto hosts Sept. 11 'Multifaith Peace Picnic' | September 6, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 6, 2013

Palo Alto hosts Sept. 11 'Multifaith Peace Picnic'

Organizers hope to spur cross-cultural friendship with food, music, speeches

by Sue Dremann

Organizers of a "peace picnic" in Palo Alto say they are continuing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Dream" by hosting a community-building event on Sept. 11.

The gathering in downtown Palo Alto's King Plaza will take place just two weeks after a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the civil-rights leader's "I Have a Dream" speech, which exhorted the nation to join hands and erase racial discrimination.

Organizers said they hope the picnic will be a launching point for greater understanding and friendship among the city's diverse residents. The free event will include a light dinner, speeches, children's activities and music and is open to all, said organizer Samina Sundas, a member of the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission. Claude Ezran, who serves on the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission, and others will speak.

The picnic is sponsored by the American Muslim Voice Foundation, the City of Palo Alto Human Relations Commission and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.

The event is part of a project spearheaded by Sundas called "From Fear to Friendship," which has brought together disparate groups at Sundas' Palo Alto home to share dinner and conversation. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks sparked in Sundas a deep desire to mend religious and cultural differences, she said.

"If we really, really get to know each other and build relationships, we can do something," she said.

Palo Alto and Silicon Valley have grown exponentially since Sundas first moved here in 1982, but civility has not kept pace, she said.

"I have seen the world change not for the better but for the worse. We are less courteous," she said. "Social media will never replace human contact. People go online and 'friend' each other. Those are not your friends. When you are in trouble — when you are in need — they cannot reach out to help you."

In prior years, the event was held in San Jose and was sponsored by the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission and Cortese. But this year, the Palo Alto commission wanted to collaborate more with the county to promote awareness, understanding and the resolution of conflicts, discrimination or injustice, said Jill O'Nan, Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission chair.

"We don't want to be in a society where we are all afraid of each other," she said.

The timing of the picnic with the King anniversary is also relevant, she said.

"This is a society founded on racism and slavery. We need to not forget our roots and devolve into racism and fear of each other. Dr. King, of course, focused on equality for African Americans. But his struggle is everybody's struggle. We still have racism and sexism and ageism and prejudice. All these things we need to remember. We do need to find these occasions to come together in celebration," she said.

The peace picnic will take place Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. at King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave. Twelve community groups, including the Asian Law Alliance, First United Methodist Church Palo Alto, the county's Office for Human Relations, and Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, are cosponsors.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


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Posted by is
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Multifaith Peace Picnic

Good initiative- Good luck!

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

"Pope Francis ;@Pontifex

Dear young people, pray with me for peace in the world #prayforpeace"

Like this comment
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Quran (9:5) - "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."

Will this fundamental rule of the Quran be front and center?

Like this comment
Posted by downtown dave
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

It is good for people to live at peace. But multi-faith doesn't work in heaven. There is only one Name given under heaven by which a man may be saved. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm

@downtown. Your post would have been so much more useful if you had stopped after your first sentence.

Why are so many "believers" so quick to condemn all those who believe otherwise, sometimes by just a little tick in an observance? Why can't they just respect the right of each person to determine what, if any religion, that person chooses to follow?

After all, despite all the protestations of "mine is the only true religion" and all the so-called "holy books," and "divine visitations," and "visions," there is no way to know who is right until each of us dies.

A recent New Yorker cartoon summed things up nicely. Scene, the gates to Heaven, one marked "Right Religion" the other marked "Wrong Religion." Both gates are wide open. People all queued up at the "Right Religion" gate. God on the side says to St. Peter: "They don't get the humor."

So why not try to live in harmony, which seems to get karma points in most if not all religious observances?

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Posted by Ex-Peace Corps Volunteer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I was in Iran in the early to mid Seventies, and I have read the Shiite version of the Quran. Basically, it gives a Shiite Muslim who cannot convert a non-Muslim permission to kill that failed convert.

How can there ever be peace with a religion like that???

Like this comment
Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm

What about a religion that tells everyone that believes in another religion that they will burn in hell??. WHAT about a religion that condones the abuse of children???

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm

"Multifaith Peace" - An oxymoron.

Like this comment
Posted by The Bible says....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Jesus said "The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself" after saying that "The greatest commandment is to love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind" when asked what is the greatest commandment Matt 22. 23-40.

He also said "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation". Mark 16. 15 - 16.

Please can you tell me where in the Bible Jesus says that people who believe in other religions will burn in hell?

I think if Jesus were here today (or in Palo Alto on Sept 11) He would go along to the picnic to show that He loves all neighbors. He would also proclaim His own Gospel. Why shouldn't His followers do both.