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Sustainable Struggle: The Road to Palestine
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition's 2nd National Convention, NY, NY
April 16-18, 2004

"The most natural thing in the world is to return home. Palestinians will not just disappear, or disperse. It is now abundantly clear that...they are the only ones who have nowhere else to go or wish to go except Palestine."
        Dr. Salman H. Abu-Sitta

Over 55 years of colonialism--forced through paralyzing curfews, military incursions, resource thievery, expulsions, extra-judicial assassinations, political imprisonments, and massacres-- have reigned on Palestinians at the hands of the Zionists all with active support from the U.S. That being insufficient to defeat the Palestinian resolve to live in dignity and freedom, a series of calculated efforts to steal all hope of political and human justice from the hands of Palestinians has been launched.

The fundamental right for Palestinians to return to their homes, from which they were forcefully removed, is under constant threat. Recent efforts to undermine and dilute this right have manifested themselves in many forms. The US-sponsored "road map" initiative, which, from its inception, has been a ploy to formalize the expansion of an already illegal occupation; last year's Geneva Accord, an undemocratic, unrepresentative consensus of elites who sidestepped legal precedents and used deceptive language to deny millions of refugees their internationally enshrined right of return; to the Apartheid Wall that carves up Palestine into concrete ghettos, splits communities and isolates Palestinians from their homes, livelihoods and from each other; to the refusal of the international community at large - specifically the US and the UN Security Council - to take decisive action against the brazenly illicit practices of the Zionist entity and hold that entity to the tenets of UN Resolution 194, the Geneva Conventions, and international and humanitarian law; to the discriminating propaganda, the cover-ups of massacres, expulsions and the daily terrorism that Palestinians endure at the brutal whims of the US-Zionist war machine.

The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and the continued Zionist occupation of Palestine and oppression of Palestinians are two cataclysmic events that are inextricably linked on many levels. Plans to consolidate US hegemony over the Arab Homeland necessitated the crushing of the Palestinians, whose perseverance in the face of overwhelming military and political odds had transformed them into a model of, and catalyst for resistance to colonialism. The Bush Administration could not afford having a strong resistance movement in Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin as it tried to consolidate its occupation of Basra, Samarra and Baghdad. The crushing of the Palestinian struggle was entrusted to the Sharon government, thereby further highlighting Israel's role in US plans to dominate and reshape the geopolitical map of the Middle East.

In spite of the ongoing efforts to defeat the Palestinians, 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 international movement in solidarity with Palestine has been rejuvenated after years of disorientation in the wake of Madrid, Oslo I and II, and Palestine has regained its rightful place in the anti-war movement, both in the US and Europe, as the anchor of the struggle against settler-colonialism and oppression. This was evidenced during the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, and again, in April, 2002 when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Washington, D.C. and other American cities in support of the Intifada.

Equally significant have been the various initiatives undertaken by grassroots Palestinian and Arab activists and their supporters everywhere in defense of Palestinian rights, first and foremost the right of the refugees to return to their original homes and lands. 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, the mushrooming of similar Right of Return popular campaigns in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, etc..., and the emergence in the US of the National Council of Arab-Americans, with its unequivocal adherence to, and support for the Palestinian struggle in all of its aspects testify to the determination of the Palestinian and Arab people to take their destiny into their hands. These and similar initiatives assume greater urgency given the absence of a unified Palestinian leadership to lead the struggle for national liberation and the abysmal state of the Arab countries.

It is within this context that Palestinian activists and their supporters will convene in New York City on April 16, 17, 18th 2004 for The Second National Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition, Convention.

The Al-Awda Convention is 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 (or fundamental/essential) to 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 Israel 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 history and dynamics of the Palestinian struggle;

  • providing a forum for future and current activists to formulate concrete initiatives;

  • 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.

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