Press Release for May 15 Rally for Return in New York

Organizing Committee for Al-Nakba Commemoration 2011 in New York

Contact person:

Thousands to March at United Nations in New York for
Palestinian Right to Return

Part of Worldwide Coordinated Actions to
Mark May 15th Nakba, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Sunday, May 15, 2011, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th and First Avenue, New York, NY
March at 2:30 pm to Times Square

The face of the Middle East is changing daily, and the force of people’s demands for justice and freedom have overwhelmed the dictators that have been holding the hopes and dreams of their citizens hostage.

But for Palestinians, this changing world has yet to become their reality. 63 Years after Al-Nakba, Palestinians across the globe are still facing catastrophic oppression.

We are calling for the implementation of Right of Return for Palestinian refugees to their homeland, and for the UN and the associated global community to live up to their responsibilities, as expressed in countless unimplemented and unenforced resolutions and statements affirming that right. Resolutions are nothing but words if no action is taken to honor them. Declarations of peace and peace processes mean nothing when negotiated by dictators and occupiers.

On May 15th, refugees will march from camps in several Arab countries to the borders of historic Palestine, demanding to be allowed to return to the homes from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948. Early estimates say at least 500 buses will transport an estimated 35,000 persons — mostly Palestinian refugees — from across Lebanon to the village of Maroun al-Ras on the boundary with Israel. In response to a call from refugees in the camps of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, thousands will march that same day to the UN, coming from all over the Northeast US and as far away as Michigan and Ohio, as well as in dozens of cities around the world.

On that day, Egyptians plan to march to Palestine under the slogan “Cairo’s liberation will not be complete without the liberation of Al-Quds [Jerusalem].” That march, going from Cairo to Gaza, is being coordinated by a broad coalition including many of the groups which led the movement to oust Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. The action, in addition to supporting Return, will also push for Egypt to change its foreign relations policies, including the permanent opening of the Rafah border to allow the movement of people and goods; ending the export of Egyptian gas to Israel; ending all “humiliating agreements with the Zionist state;” and releasing all Palestinians in Egyptian prisons.

The spirit of determination to return is shown in the announcement for the Jerusalem action, whose sponsors said: “63 years after we were forced out of our beloved lands and homes, …63 years of continuous massacres, we, who are called the Palestinian Refugees, refuse to be called as such any longer. We are THE PALESTINIAN RETURNEES.”

“We have the right to return to our homeland. We have every right to live peacefully in that land. And not a soul has the right to STOP us. Not a soul has the right to sell us out. Not a soul has the right to negotiate on our right of return or on how much land we could get back.”

Some have termed these days of action a “Third Intifada.” Regardless of the label applied, as one Egyptian analyst told the Electronic Intifada, this day of action, unlike the first two Palestinian uprisings, “is meant to involve the entire Arab world,” a real possibility now that the masses in the Arab world have shown this year that they will let no-one – not US-and Israeli-supported dictators, nor the US or Israel themselves – stop them from fighting for their rights.

During the recent controversy over whether CUNY should grant an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner, CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who explicitly told the Times that Palestinians “are not human,” wrote in a letter to the editor that the heart of his problem with antiZionist activists is their labeling the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 “ethnic cleansing.” We agree with Wiesenfeld that 1948 is the core of the issue. Justice will never be served until what was in fact an ethnic cleansing is reversed by allowing the return of ALL refugees and all their descendants.

Locations where actions will occur include: Cairo, Gaza, Jerusalem, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, Cleveland, Boston, Rome, Brussels, Washington, DC, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Miami, Dublin, Bern, Houston, Paris. For a complete list see

Sponsors of the NYC UN action include Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine- NJ, American Muslims for Palestine NY, US Palestinian Community Network, WESPAC Foundation, Existence is Resistance, Hunter Students for Justice in Palestine, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Brooklyn College Palestine Club, International Action Center, National Lawyers Guild – International Committee, Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat – North America, New York City Labor Against the War, Labor for Palestine, United National Anti War Committee NYC, International Jewish AntiZionist Network, Women in Black, New Rochelle, NY, Middle East Crisis Committee, Connecticut, May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Siege Busters Working Group, Free Palestine Movement, ISM – Northern California, BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice, International Socialist Organization, Socialist Action, NYC Chapter National Lawyers Guild