Ms. Maha Nassar
Former political prisoner and Chair of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees in Gaza and the West Bank
Dr. Karma Nabulsi
PLO representative from 1977 to 1990
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta
Former member of Palestine National Council and
General Coordinator for the Palestinian Right of Return Congress
The Palestinian Right of Return is under constant threat. Recent efforts to undermine it have taken many forms: the “Road Map” initiative, the notorious “Geneva Accord”, the persecution of Palestinian refugees in Occupied Iraq, the floating of trial-ballon proposals to resettle Palestinians in occupied Iraq, and the ongoing, official abuse of Palestinian residents of Lebanon at the hands of the Lebanese government.
Despite those and other efforts to break the determination of the Palestinian people, activists and people of conscience across the world refuse to waver in their support for the Palestinian struggle for liberation, self-determination and return. The establishment of Al-Awda in 2000, the recent founding of the Palestinian Right of Return Congress, which includes Palestinian activists from Palestine, the Arab Homeland, Europe, Asia and Africa, and the mushrooming of similar Right of Return popular campaigns and committees in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Spain, Austria, England testify to the determination of the Palestinian refugees to take destiny into their hands. These and similar initiatives assume greater urgency given the absence of a national Palestinian leadership to lead the struggle for self-determination and return.
It is within this context that Palestinian activists and their supporters will assemble in New York City on April 16, 17, 18, 2004 for the Second National Al-Awda Convention.
The Convention will be guided by the following principles:
1. Palestinian Arabs, within areas occupied in 1948, 1967, and all those in exile, comprise a single, indivisible people. They are indigenous to Palestine and, as such, have the right to live as equals anywhere in historic Palestine.
2. The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and return are inalienable and nonnegotiable. Ending Zionist occupation of Palestine and implementing the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their original towns and villages everywhere in historic Palestine are prerequisites to achieving a lasting peace.
3. The Palestinian Right of Return is a national, collective and individual right, which is not subject to any form of negation or compromise. It is rooted in the irreducible, natural entitlement of an individual and a people to their original homes, property, and homeland. It is a fundamental right that transcends generations, place of residence and birth, as well as agreements and treaties. As such, the Right of Return, which is inseparable from the right to self-determination, has been enshrined in international law and codified in more than 135 United Nations resolutions starting with Resolution 194.
4. Zionist apartheid, racism, and settler-colonialism in Palestine, manifested through massacres, occupation, land confiscation, ethnic cleansing and separation, discrimination, and the systemic denial of fundamental human dignity in Palestine is violative of the most basic human standards and all tenets of international law. Thus, the Palestinian resistance is justified by natural principles of liberty and international laws protecting such liberties.
5. The occupation of Palestine is the longest and most suffocating the world has seen in the past century. The Palestinian struggle for liberation has been congruently enduring. Palestine is the last remaining obstacle to colonial and imperial hegemony in the Arab Homeland and the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq has become yet another stepping stone towards the imposition of imperial control and dominance. Hence, Palestinian resistance is part and parcel of the resistance by oppressed peoples worldwide against foreign occupation, colonialism and hegemony. Just as the agenda of the new imperial order, of which the Zionist state is an inextricable part, is global, resistance to it must be global and united so as to be sustainable and successful. In this context, the Palestinian and Iraqi struggles for full self-determination are the embodiment of the global resistance to settler and military occupation.
6. The Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and dignity is inseparable from the struggle of Arab and Muslim Americans against discrimination and repression; by people of color against political and social marginalization; by the working class against economic exploitation; and all forms of repression.
During the Convention activists, academics, community members and leaders from across the country and overseas will engage in a weekend of education, activist training, brainstorming, and coordination around the movement for Palestinian self determination and the right to return so as to build a sustainable struggle.
The National Al-Awda Convention will present a series of workshops and symposiums aimed at:
providing information to participants on the dynamics of the Palestinian struggle;
providing a forum for future and current activists to formulate concrete initiatives and action plans;
providing community organizers with the opportunity to share and analyze their work and put forth ideas for future collaboration;
supporting the Arab & Muslim community’s resistance to the suffocating political and legal climate in the U.S.;
demonstrating the political and economic congruence between the Palestinian struggle and that of other communities so as to build strong broad-based inter-community coalitions.