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Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > Al - Awda convention in LA to feature radical Hamas cleric Tayseer al- Tamimi

Al - Awda convention in LA to feature radical Hamas cleric Tayseer al- Tamimi

May 11, 2008

The Al Awda convention scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on May 16th to 18th is hosting Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi a known Hamas operative who has been arrested by the Israel Defense Forces and praises suicide bombings and calls for jihad.

According to Debbie Schlussel:

"There's Al-Tamimi, the Palestinian Authority's Chief of Judges and chairman of its Islamic law high council.

He uttered these words: "Islam is escalating and cannot be resisted. I pray that Allah may tear apart America just as the Soviet Union was torn apart."

As the chief Palestinian judge and Muslim cleric, Al-Tamimi frequently appears on Palestinian Authority Television praising homicide bombers and spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and fatwas.

In 1994, Al-Tamimi said, "The Jews are destined to be persecuted, humiliated, and tortured forever, and it is a Muslim duty to see to it that they reap their due. No petty arguments must be allowed to divide us. Where Hitler failed, we must succeed."

In August 2003, Al-Tamimi, a personal friend of Yasser Arafat (who appointed him Chief Islamic Judge), was arrested for inciting terrorism. Al-Tamimi's extremist sermons are well-known for urging attacks on Israel and calling upon Arab nations to wage war. In March 2000, Al-Tamimi delivered a hate speech during the Pope's visit to Jerusalem, accusing Israel of "genocide" and "strangling Jerusalem." He called on Christians to join Muslims in a jihad to oust Jews from all of Israel.

In a recent Palestinian Authority appearance, Al-Tamimi defamed late Israeli Prime Minster Golda Meir, claiming she and the Israelis conspired to burn down the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He decreed Jews have no right to pray at the "Cave of the Patriarchs," (where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried), one of the holiest of Jewish sites, which Al-Tamimi claims is a mosque. "Jews have no right to claim any bond or connection . . . . Jews are foreign interlopers." http://www.debbieschlussel.com/columns/column010505.shtml

MIM: Al-Awda has been sending out messages urging people to welcome Al-Tamimi at the airport upon his arrival in the United States.

Dear Muslim and Christian Brothers and Sisters Al-Awda


As you are aware two main speakers at Al-Awda Sixth International Convention (May 16-18), and the demonstration that will be held Sunday 18 May marking the 60th year of Al Nakba, are coming from Palestine, they are Bishop Atallah Hanna, and Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi. So as our honour as Arabs we need to show them our great welcome and appreciation, whether we are religious or not, whether we are into politics or not, whether we are activists or not, remember they are our guests, and they are very highly respected and known personalities. So I am calling upon my brothers and sisters to show them at least a grand reception at the Airport. Please call me @ 949-290-3486, or Zahi @ 760-685-3243 for details on their arrival.


MIM: Conference information and bios of the speakers.

World-renowned Speakers and Book Signings @ Al-Awda Convention! Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard
Garden Grove, California, 92840
May 16-18, 2008 Join us for an important weekend of commemoration, education, discussion and organizing for Palestine and its people on this 60th year of our Nakba and Struggle to Return. We will be holding BOOK SIGNINGS on Friday and Saturday May 16, 17, 2008 of the convention for some of the speaker authors taking part: Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Ramzy Baroud, Dr. Saree Makdisi, Dr. Ghada Karmi and Dr. Ilan Pappe. Get your BOOK at the convention and have it signed by its author!

To see the program schedule, go to: http://al-awda. org/convention6/ program.html To REGISTER TODAY, go to: http://al-awda. org/convention6/ reserve.html

Speakers at the Convention (partial list) Bishop Atallah Hanna ( Jerusalem ) Born in the village of Rami in Galilee, Archbishop Theodosios “Atallah” Hanna is a distinguished Arab nationalist and spiritual leader for Palestine. He is Archbishop of Sevastia of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He is also the designated spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Church for all of occupied Palestine. Archbishop Atallah Hanna earned masters and doctorate degrees in religious studies, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. He taught about Arab civilization and the history of the church, and serves as spiritual leader for many youth. His writings have been published widely in local, national and international journals and magazines. He is active in inter-Christian as well as Christian-Muslim activities. Archbishop Atallah Hanna has traveled widely to speak in international forums, colleges and to human rights organizations about Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and the role of the Christian Arab community. The Archbishop is a member of the Arab Nationalist Congress as a representative of Palestine, and has received numerous awards for his work to strengthen Arab unity and for being a powerful spokesperson for the Palestinian Arab cause.

Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi (Jerusalem) Dr. Sheikh Al Tamimi was born in the old city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1952. He attended Al-Azhar Al-Sharif University in Egypt , where he graduated in 1975 with a Degree in Religious and Civil Law. He obtained his Master of Arts Degree in Jurisprudence and Legislation from Al Najah University (Faculty of Islamic Creed) in Nablus, Palestine. He worked in Sharia courts as a judge, inspector and director for the courts, and then became the deputy for Palestine's supreme judge. He was assigned as Palestine's Supreme Judge of Sharia Courts in 2002. In 2003, Sheikh Tamimi was assigned as the Head of the Higher Council of Sharia Jurisdiction and Head of the Supreme Sharia Court in Palestine. He is also the Head of the Inter-religious Dialogue Committee in Palestine and Head of the Committee for Defending the Islamic and Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem. Sheikh Tamimi is the Head of the committee for defending and protecting Al-Khalil City. In 2006, he obtained his Doctorate degree in Islamic comparative Jurisprudence.

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta Dr. Salman Abu Sitta is General Coordinator of the Right of Return Congress, and is the Founder and President of The Palestine Land Society, London. He is a world-renowned researcher on refugee affairs, and the author of numerous articles and books on Palestine and Palestinian refugees, particularly "The Atlas of Palestine 1948" and "The Return Journey" atlas. Dr. Abu Sitta is a former member of The Palestine National Council.

Dr. Ghada Karmi Dr Ghada Karmi is a leading Palestinian activist and writer. Currently she is a research fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She was born in Jerusalem but was forced to flee as a child in 1948 to Britain, where she became a physician, an academic and writer. She has held a number of research appointments on Middle Eastern politics and culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (London), Durham University and Leeds University. In her previous post as Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International affairs, she led a major study on Palestinian- Israeli reconciliation. She is a well-known commentator on British radio and TV. She gave the Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the University of Adelaide, Australia, in October 2007. Her publications include Jerusalem today: what future for the peace process? (Ithaca Press, 1996) and The Palestinian Exodus 1948-1998 (with Eugene Cotran, Ithaca Press, 1999). Her memoir, In Search of Fatima: a Palestinian Story, published in 2002, won wide critical acclaim. Her latest book, Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine, (Pluto Press (2007), analyses the case for a unitary state solution to the conflict.

Dr. As'ad Abu Khalil As'ad AbuKhalil was born March 16, 1960 in Tyre, Lebanon and grew up in Beirut. He received his BA and MA from The American University of Beirut in Political Science. He came to the US in 1983 and received his PhD in comparative government from Georgetown University. He taught at Tufts University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Colorado College, and Randolph-Macon Woman's College. He also served as a Scholar-in-Residenc e at Middle East Institute in Washington DC. Dr. Abu Khalil has served as free-lance Middle East consultant for NBC News and ABC News, an experience that served only to increase his disdain for mainstream US media. He is now professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley. Dr. Saree Makdisi Dr. Makdisi is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. His scholarly fields of study include the culture of modernity, especially as it developed in relation to the changing dynamics of British imperialism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the aftermath of that culture in the contemporary Arab world. In addition to numerous articles and books in his scholarly fields, he has written and spoken extensively on the question of Palestine. He has also had numerous radio interviews and television appearances, and has published commentaries on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict in a number of major newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, An-Nahar (Beirut), The Nation, and the London Review of Books, as well as the Los Angeles Times, to which he is a frequent contributor. His most recent book is Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, offering what Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu calls "a compelling account of the lives of ordinary Palestinians suffering under occupation.”

Ramzy Baroud Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Palestinian- American journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer. He has taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle. Baroud's work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald, The Japan Times and Al-Ahram Weekly. He has been a guest on numerous television programs including CNN International, BBC, ABC Australia, National Public Radio, Al-Jazeera and many others, and has published two books: Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion and in 2006 The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle.

Haneen Zoabi Ms. Zoabi is from Nazareth, and is a member of the political bureau of the Arab National Al-Tajamu' party in Zionist-occupied Palestine. She served as a lecturer at Mar Elias College in Ibillin, Palestine.

Dr. Ilan Pappe Ilan Pappé is professor of History at Exeter University in England. He is one of the world's leading historians of the Middle East. Among his publications are: Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1988), The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (1992), The Modern History of Palestine: One Land Two Peoples (2003), The Modern Middle East (2005) and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006). He is the fulcrum of a group of historians and political scientists at the Cornwall Campus at Exeter University working on 20th century ethno-politics. He has published extensively on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and his experiences have resulted in some very incisive thought on what it is to be a historian and the methodology of historical enquiry.

And back by popular demand . . . Dr. Nabil Azzam Dr. Azzam is the conductor and founder of the Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra (MESTO). He is accomplished in both classical European and Middle Eastern musical styles. He graduated with a B.A. and B.Mus. from the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, an M.A. in Musicology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and earned his doctorate in music from the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1977, Azzam established and chaired the first conservatory of music in his birthplace, Nazareth. He has been acknowledged by several heads of state for his peace efforts and has taught at UCLA, the University of Redlands and UCSB. He founded MESTO in 2001 because of his firm commitment to building bridges of cultural tolerance and understanding between East and West through music. Maestro Nabil Azzam is a seasoned conductor, talented composer and arranger as well as a versatile violinist and virtuoso Arabic 'Ud instrumentalist. He is currently writing two books: The Composer of Egypt: M. Abd al-Wahhab, and The Complete Collection of Songs: A tribute to Abd al-Wahhab, with an introductory analysis and commentary.


MIM: Al-Tamimi attempted to incite violence against Israelis by claiming they were going to collapse the Al Aqsa mosque.

'Al-Aqsa Mosque threatened by collapse' The Hamas website also quoted the Palestinian chief justice of Islamic courts, Sheikh Tayseer al-Tamimi, as claiming that "Israeli diggings have reached a dangerous spot underneath the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem that was threatening the Mosque's collapse." "Tamimi addressed an urgent appeal to the Arab and Muslim Ummah (nation) to protect the holy site, noting that the Israeli occupation authority had opened tunnels underneath al-Aqsa for Jewish visitors causing cracks in its western wall," the website said. The claim that Israel was conspiring to collapse the al-Aqsa mosque has been routinely repeated in the propaganda of hard-line Palestinian Islamist organizations for several decades, and is often used as a tool to raise funds and support from donors in Arab-Muslim states. The Hamas website said Tamimi accused Israel of aiming "for the Judaizing the al-Aqsa Mosque and changing its landmark," and the Islamic judge added that "all Palestinian factions should set aside their differences and unite ranks in face of such imminent dangers." http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3343670,00.html


MIM: Al-Tamimi calls for attacks against Jews claiming a jewish 'plot' against the Al Aqsa mosque.

The lethal al-Aqsa plot hoax

A century-long campaign of unfounded claims of a Jewish 'plot' against the mosque continues unabated
Yaakov Lappin

As the Israel Antiquities Authority begins construction work at the Mugrabi Gate in Jerusalem in order to make the area structurally sound and safe for visitors, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called on Muslims "to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque." Hamas has also charged Israel with "demolishing parts of the Aqsa mosque" on its website.

Muslim Protests
11 arrested in riots following J'lem works / Efrat Weiss
Police arrest rioting youths protesting Israeli works at Mugrabi Gate leading to Temple Mount, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threaten attacks if works continue. Israeli archeologists say works nowhere near mosques, city officials divided over legality of work permit
Full Story

Although the works are not taking place on the Temple Mount , the Hamas website accused "the Israeli occupation government of conspiring to finally destroy the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest Muslim shrine world-wide, and to install the alleged Third Temple on its ruins."

"The Aqsa Mosque is in real danger and needs Muslim support to defend and spare it the rancorous Israeli conspiracies", Palestinian Chief Justice Tayseer al-Tamimi declared, calling on Muslim masses to assemble to "protect" the site.

And the Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, claims to have "documents and photos" proving that "the demolition of the pathway and the two rooms under the Buraq Mosque will expose both the Aqsa Mosque and Buraq Mosque inside Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) to extreme danger as Israeli settlers will easily access both of them," the Hamas website added on Tuesday.

Calls have been issued for Palestinians to "unite their guns in defense of al-Aqsa," while the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have threatened terrorist attacks if the work continue.

Certainly, small, far-Right fringe groups exist within Israel that have set their sights on the mosque, and on rebuilding the Temple using physical force - but the State of Israel has devoted considerable resources of its security arms to keeping such extreme elements in check.

Why do Palestinian leaders continue to insist that the al-Aqsa mosque is "in danger?" The answer may lie in the shiny gold covering of the Dome of the Rock itself.

A history of false charges

Since the 1920s, Palestinian leaders have used the site as a rallying cry to wage war against the Jewish presence in Israel, and to try and gain support from Muslims abroad. The Palestinian prime minister today is continuing a 90-year tradition of incitement, which began with the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Husseini, who is widely seen as the father of Palestinian nationalism, used the al-Nabi festival, which commemorates the defeat of the Crusaders, and conquest of Jerusalem by the Islamic general Sala'ah al-Din, to instigate anti-Jewish riots in April 1920, even before he became a mufti. His message was simple: Jews are the new Crusaders, and Islam must re-invade Jerusalem.

After being elected mufti (through dubious strong-arm tactics, according to some sources,) and becoming head of the Supreme Muslim Council, Haj Amin embarked on an ambitious project of restoring the al-Haram (Dome of the Rock) and the al-Sharif (al-Aqsa Mosque).

By doing so, Haj Amin hoped to draw the attention of millions of Muslims to the Palestinian cause, and to gain material and financial support so that he could fight the growing Zionist Jewish community in Israel.

Members of the Islamic Council traveled around Muslim countries in the 1920s to gain support, with one delegation to Mecca stating: "The Islamic Palestine Nation, which has been guarding al-Aqsa and (the) Holy Rock ever since 1300 years, declares to the Muslim world that the Holy Places are in great danger on account of the horrible Zionist aggressions."

Like clockwork

These missions resulted in a successful fund-raising drive, which led to the gold covering of the Dome of the Rock.

One British official in Mandatory Palestine noted at the time a "remarkable psychological change..." and a "stirring of a new feeling in the Muslims of this country" following the restoration.

Haj Amin also had photos with the Star of David superimposed on the Dome of the Rock distributed widely, in order to convince Muslims of a "Jewish plot" against the site.

In April 1929, Haj Amin helped stoke riots by issuing a Friday afternoon sermon at the al-Aqsa Mosque, reemphasizing the charge of a Jewish bid to take over the Islamic holy sites.

The incitement continued right through into the 1990s, when in 1997, Yasser Arafat declared: "I am ringing the bell of danger to warn against the Jewish plan to build the Temple of Solomon in the place where today stands Al Aqsa Mosque, after removing the mosque."

Similar incitement flooded the airwaves of the Palestinian Authority following Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000, launching what has now become known as the al-Aqsa Intifada.

Like clockwork, warnings of an Israeli plot to destroy the mosque are issued by the Hamas government every few days, ensuring that the flames of unfounded paranoia and incitement against Israel remain lit. http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3361820,00.html



The following is a brief outline of the tentative program for the convention. This program may be subject to change.

Friday May 16, 2008

6:00 pm 10:00 pm Registration

6:00 pm 7:00 pm Meet and Greet

7:00 pm 7:20 pm Convention Opening and Welcome

7:20 pm 7:25 pm On this 60th, a poem by Aida Hasan

7:25 pm 7:35 pm Video Quilt Premiere

7:35 pm 8:05 pm Oral History Reading with Lucy Der-Tavitian and Nasser Faris

8:10 pm 8:40 pm The Sons of Eilaboun - A Film By Hisham Zreik

8:45 pm 9:15 pm Life Under 60 Years of Occupation
Lena Meari, Himmat Zu'bi, Haneen Zoabi

9:15 pm - 9:30 pm In Solidarity
Richard Becker (ANSWER), John Parker (IAC), Yael Korin
(CEIA), among others

9:30 pm 10:00 pm Dr. Ilan Pappe: "The Nakba of Palestine"

10:00 pm end Closing Remarks, followed by Book Signing

Saturday May 17, 2008

8:00 am 9:00 pm Registration

9:00 am 9:10 am Introductory Welcome

9:10 am 10:40 am Workshop Topics:

  • A Critical Assessment - Activism for the Return - TBA
  • Youth Organizing for the Return with Ziad Abbas from Dheisha refugee camp
  • Prisoner Campaign with Dr. Anan Odeh, Addameer attorney
  • Culture and Resistance with Michel Shehadeh

10:45 am 11:20 am Ramzy Baroud: "Palestinian Unity - A Prerequisite to Any Debate on the Future of Palestine and the Direction of the Palestinian Struggle."

11:20 am 11:55 am Dr. Saree Makdisi: "Toward a Democratic, Secular, Multicultural State"

11:55 am 12:30 pm Dr. Ghada Karmi: "One State: A Solution Whose Time Has Come Again"

12:30 pm 1:00 pm Book Signing

1:00 pm 2:00 pm LUNCH

Keynote: Dr. Salman Abu Sitta "Recollections of the Nakba"

2:00 pm 2:30 pm Book Signing

2:30 pm 3:10 pm Dr. As'ad Abu Khalil: "Reflections on the 60th Year of Al-Nakbah"

3:15 pm 3:50 pm Haneen Zoabi: "Palestinian Women in the Struggle to Return"

4:00 pm 5:30 pm Activist Panel and Workshops:

  • Al-Awda Media Center - Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb
  • Palestine Library - Freddie Santistevan
  • Refugee Support - Dr. Jess Ghannam
  • Divestment for the Return

7:00 pm 11:59 pm BANQUET

  • Speakers: Bishop Atallah Hanna and Chief Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al-Tamimi
  • Music by World-Renowned Maestro Dr. Nabil Azzam
  • Fund-raising

Among other events taking place on Saturday May 17 :

  • Art: by Ismail Shammout and Tamam Al-Akhal
  • Exhibit: "Waiting to Return" from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon by Naim Farhat. Organized by Dr. Fayeq Oweis
  • Culture: "Palestinian Embroidery" by Nisreen Malhis
  • Film showings including:

    "Forced Exile and Odyssey" Documentary about the work of world-renowned Palestinian artists Ismail Shammout and Tamam Al-Akhal
    "The Presence of Absence in the Ruins of Kafr Bir'im" (2006), followed by discussion with film-maker John Halaka
    "Twenty Five Thousand Tents - Maybe More" (2008) World Premier, Samer Salameh and Ala'a al-Sadi
    "Confronting the Wall: Art and Resistance in Palestine" (2006 - Alan Craig)
    Driving to ZigZigland (2006, feature film), followed by discussion with filmmaker Nicole Ballivian

Sunday May 18, 2008

9:00 am 10:30 am Members meeting

10:30 am 12:30 pm Interactive Panel Discussion with all the available speakers including:

Chief Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al-Tamimi, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Dr. Asa'd Abu Khalil, Ramzy Baroud, Haneen Zoabi, Dr. Ghada Karmi, among others

12:30 pm 1:30 pm Break

1:30 pm Organized Departure from Hotel for Rally and March Kick-off

2:00 pm 4:00 pm Rally and March to Mark 60 Years of Palestinian Nakba and Struggle to Return. Rally speakers include Bishop Atallah Hanna and Chief Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al-Tamimi.

Additional information

Travel Directions
For Media
Convention Flyer
Mass Rally Flyer
Host Committee
Points of Unity



MIM: A report on the Al-Awda convention.

The following report will appear in the next issue of Al-Awda's newsletter: Until Return!

May 23, 2008

Sixth Al-Awda Convention A Major Step Forward For The Right to Return Movement

"Palestine: 60 Years of Forced Exile - Time for Return!" was the guiding theme of the Sixth Annual International Al-Awda Convention on May 16-18, 2008 in Anaheim California. Thirty organizations came together to host this historic event as well over 1000 Palestinians and their supporters converged from various parts of the US, Canada, Europe, and Palestine. The largest
Al-Awda convention in the US to date marked the 60th year of the Nakba and reaffirmed its unity, commitment and dedication to the struggle to Return.

Participants took part in a week-end of commemoration, education, discussion and organizing, resulting in a plan of action to carry us through the coming year and beyond. The convention culminated with a mass rally in solidarity with Palestinians in the homeland and the shatat (exile) around the world.

We have emerged from our coming together united, stronger, and eager to carry out our goal of realizing the inalienable Palestinian Right to Return. The convention once again reaffirmed its commitment to Al-Awda's points of unity.

Convention Opening

The high pre-convention anticipation opened to a full house of members and supporters on Friday May 16, 2008 with a minute of silence in honor of Palestinians who were martyred in the 1948 era and since. This was followed by welcoming remarks by Dr. Zahi Damuni on behalf of the convention's host committee.

A screening of the "Sons of Eilaboun" By Hisham Zreik was received enthusiastically and the entire convention was deeply moved by the voices of Palestinian refugees demanding justice and the right to return.

"Life Under 60 Years of Occupation" was a special presentation by three Palestinian women, Lena Meari, Himmat Zu'bi, and Haneen Zoabi in which each speaker discussed a different aspect of the ongoing racist Zionist policies and practices related to land, housing, education, marriage, movement, etc.

Oral History readings featured actors Lucy Der-Tavitian and Nasser Faris, who were able to bring to life the narratives, histories, and lives of Palestinians before, during and after the Nakba.

One of the highlights of the evening was the world premiere of the Video Quilt to Mark 60 Years of Palestinian Nakba. The Video Quilt, a project of Al-Awda Media Center, is a unique interactive video presentation. It shows Palestinians and their supporters from around the world reaffirming the Palestinian right to return to their original homes and lands. It is an ongoing project of the Media Center. The film was greeted with vigorous applause and great pride. The first edition may be viewed at http://al-awda.org/video_quilt1.html

Powerful statements of solidarity were presented by Richard Becker of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, Paul Hershfield of the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, and John Parker of The International Action Center.

Sana Ibrahim, a student at California State University at San Bernardino, addressed and welcomed the attendees on behalf of the students who have been active with the host committee.

The opening events of the convention were concluded with a speech, followed by a question answer session and book signing, with Exeter University historian Ilan Pappe. Pappe emphasized the importance of the right of Palestinians right to return to their homes and lands and the necessity to dismantle the racist nature of the Zionist state.

Saturday May 17, 2008

The first full day of the convention began with a brief critical assessment of activism for the return presented by Dr. Jess Ghannam where he described a re-birth and renaissance of activism for Palestine and Palestinian justice since the creation of Al-Awda in 2000. He discussed the progressive emergence of a global coalition in support of Palestinian Right to Return and to self-determination since the inception of Al-Awda.

This was followed by discussions of Youth Organizing for the Return with Ziad Abbas from Dheisha refugee camp, a Prisoner campaign by Addameer attorney Dr. Anan Odeh, and a discussion of Culture and Resistance by community organizer Michel Shehadeh.

Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian-American journalist, former Al-Jazeera Producer and author of the "Second Intifada", discussed the issue of Palestinian unity as a prerequisite to any debate on the future of Palestine and the direction of the Palestinian struggle. This was followed by speeches entitled "Toward a Democratic, Secular, Multicultural State" by Professor of English and Comparative Literature Dr. Saree Makdisi and "One State: A Solution Whose Time Has Come Again" by Dr. Ghada Karmi. Both speakers discussed their views on the significance and relevance of their vision of a one state solution. Each presentation was followed by lively discussion. The morning session ended with book signings.

Before a sell-out attendance, lunch keynote speaker Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, founder and president of The Palestine Land Society and former member of the Palestine National Council, discussed his recollections of the Nakba and the critical importance of rebuilding the Palestine National Council as a representative body for all Palestinians including those living in the
shatat (exile). Dr. Abu Sitta's speech was followed by a book signing of"The Return Journey" atlas which he authored, as well as the updated map he provided to the convention and which shows all the villages and towns destroyed with the occupation of Palestine from 1947-48 to the present (including the 1967 occupation). Copies of this map may be obtained from
Al-Awda at http://al-awdacal.org/shop.html

The Saturday afternoon lecture sessions began with an incisive and analytical discussion by professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, Dr. As'ad AbuKhalil on the 60th year of al-Nakba. He spoke about new dangers in the Arab world, including how Zionism has won allies among Arab regimes. He was followed by Ta'ayyush al-Watani al-Dimocraty party politburo member Haneen Zoabi on the role of Palestinian women in the struggle to return.

The afternoon session was concluded by an Al-Awda activist panel which reviewed progress, showcased achievements, and presented proposals for further growth and development, with requests for donations and other support.

Discussion of the Al-Awda Media Center project was presented by Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb. The Palestine Library project was presented by Al-Awda member Freddie Santistevan and Dr. Jess Ghannam discussed Al-Awda's Refugee Support programs. "Twenty Five Thousand Tents - Maybe More", which focuses on the narrative of Palestinians stranded in no-man's land in Tanaf detention camp between Syria and Iraq was then shown. The production of this film was
supported in part by Al-Awda's Media Center and Refugee Support Programs. It highlighted the importance of the integrative nature of Al-Awda's Media Center and Refugee Support Projects.

A photographic exhibit, by Naim Farhat and organized by Dr. Fayeq Oweis, entitled "Waiting to Return" depicting life in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon was on show throughout Saturday. Film viewings were also presented throughout that day including: the premiere of "Forced Exile and Odyssey" about the work of world-renowned Palestinian artists Ismail Shammout and Tamam Al-Akhal; "The Presence of Absence in the Ruins of Kafr Bir'im"
(2006) followed by discussion with film-maker John Halaka; "Confronting the Wall: Art and Resistance in Palestine" (2006 - Alan Craig); and "Driving to ZigZigland" (2006, feature film) which was followed by discussion with its maker Nicole Ballivian.

A discussion of "Palestinian Embroidery" was presented by Nisreen Malhis.

Saturday Banquet

The Saturday Banquet and Fundraiser drew more than 600 participants who heard Bishop Atallah Hanna and Chief Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al-Tamimi give passionate speeches about the Right to Return and the unity of the Palestinian people in their struggle to return. Both speakers received spontaneous standing ovations from the attendees. An excerpt of Bishop Atallah Hanna's speech may be viewed at http://al-awda.org/bishop.html

Each table at the banquet had a listing of some of the villages and towns that were destroyed and/or occupied in 1948. Many of the attendees showed their support for Al-Awda's work by donating to Al-Awda in the name of a Palestinian village or town of origin. A listing of all such donations will soon be posted to http://al-awda.org and in the next issue of Until Return -
To be added to this listing, simply donate to Al-Awda in the name of a destroyed and/or occupied Palestinian village or town by following the directions posted at http://al-awda.org/donate.html

Sunday May 18, 2008

The last day of the convention began with a members' meeting where a number of decisions were taken by the attendees for the coming year. These decisions included holding a youth training conference; developing and enhancing connections internationally to other Al-Awda and Right to Return groups; working toward a meeting to be held in a refugee camp in Palestine
or neighboring Arab country; and extending the work of Al-Awda's Media Center (for example by working to develop a weekly television program); Palestine Library by accumulating more books, recruiting support from Palestinian authors and donors; and Refugee Support by
increasing the material and broadening the educational aspects of these programs.

The convention culminated with a historic mass rally to mark 60 Years of Palestinian Nakba and Struggle to Return in the "Little Gaza" district of Anaheim. Speakers included Dr. Sheikh Taiseer al-Tamimi and Bishop Atallah Hanna as well as several of the organizational representatives of the host committee. All of the speakers passionately urged the continuation of the struggle to return.


The message of the Sixth International Al-Awda Convention was resolute and powerful. Together more than 1000 members and supporters marked the 60th year of the Nakba and reaffirmed their unity, commitment and dedication to the struggle to return - Until RETURN!


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