Conference Program

Conference Program
RETURN AND LIBERATION: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, Canada
Conference Centre: Buchanan A Building, Room A101, 1866 Main Mall, UBC Campus, Vancouver
Friday, May 3
3:00 pm Registration Opens – Buchanan A101, Buchanan A Building, 1866 Main Mall
5:00 pm Conference Opening
Light refreshments will be served
Acknowledgement of Unceded Musqueam Territory
Remarks from Nisga’a elder and community organizer Carol Martin
Remarks by Indigenous and Human Rights activist Steven Kakinoosit
Welcome from Haneen Karajah, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – UBC
Remarks from Khaled Barakat, Conference Coordinator
Keynote by Hanna Kawas
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm Informational Workshops SessionCurrent Forms and Conditions of Palestinian Representation in the Shatat and Homeland
Facilitator: Loubna Qutami
We will map out the current forms of organizing by Palestinians in the homeland and across the Shatat, and the challenges they face in their respective locations. This session will allow participants to better situate and contextualize our role in North America within the broader movement for Palestinian liberation around the world.

Organizing on the Arab Community Front: Implications for our struggle in North America
Facilitators: Mostafa Henaway, Noura Khouri
This session will discuss Palestinian organizing with the larger Arab community, and building connections and relationships with other Arab movements. Recognizing Palestine as an integral part of the Arab world, and our bond with Arab communities, how do we relate to, and build with, broader movements for Arab emancipation?

Between Denunciation and Self-Criticism: Histories, Principles, and Strategies
Facilitators: Abdel-Razzaq Takriti, Khaled Barakat
How can we advance a productive self-criticism? This session will look at the past and present of criticism and self-criticism within the Palestinian liberation movement, past instances of denunciation, and how self-criticism can be managed in a principled political manner in order to advance our collective struggle.

Saturday, May 4
8:00 am Registration Opens – Buchanan A101, Buchanan A Building
Breakfast – and a special greeting, via Skype from Leila Khaled
8:30 am – 10:30 am PLENARY ILOOKING BACK, FORGING FORWARD: Strengthening our Organizing in the ShatatThis plenary will examine Palestinian organizing in the shatat, looking at the past and moving to the present day. We will discuss the reasons and implications for how different methods and mechanisms came to frame our organizing as part of our liberation movement, and consider frameworks moving forward. Some of the questions addressed will include: What have been the organizing trends within the history of our movement? What has been the historical role of students, workers, and women? How do we forge our role and revitalize our sense of national responsibility in the shatat? How do our communities currently organize? What internal and external challenges are confronting our communities? How do we build community accountability and organizing discipline? How can we imagine and strategize ways to connect our organizing in North America with our brothers and sisters on the ground and in exile?

Speakers:  Loubna Qutami, Issam Yamani, Mezna Qato
Moderator: Khaled Barakat

10:45 am – 12:45 pm Organizing Workshops Session IReference and Leadership: Palestinian Perspectives and Practices on BDS and Solidarity in North America
Facilitators: Dina Omar, Fatin Jarara
Palestinians in the shatat are deeply involved in Palestine solidarity work, and in particular BDS organizing. In that context, in this workshop we will discuss the role of Palestinians in shatat in determining the course of the BDS movement, and the challenges of reference and notions of leadership that have emerged within the BDS movement. The discussion will also address how Palestinians in shatat can mobilize within Palestinian and Arab communities to isolate Israel.

From Prisons to Pipelines: Forging Joint Struggle with Justice Movements in North America
Facilitators: Rabab Abdulhadi, Lamis Deek, Steven Kakinoosit
This workshop highlights the intersections of the Palestinian struggle with those of other communities fighting for justice, across different sectors. It aims to give us better tools to mutually build with other justice-centered and anti-colonial movements in North America and globally, discuss challenges both political and strategic in building these relationships, and gives us insights on how to de-exceptionalize the Palestinian struggle when working within these coalitions.

Issues in Gender and Queer Organizing
Facilitators: Nada Elia, Amal Rana
How do women and queers fare in the national movement, in our organizing spaces, and in our communities? We will assess current challenges, and explore ways to strengthen and create gender-attentive spaces and politics in our national movement.

Fighting Back: Confronting Zionism and Normalization in North America
Facilitators: Omar Chaaban, Michael Letwin
The pressure to “dialogue” confronts Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims in numerous organizing spaces, particularly on campuses. Moreover, lawfare and other tactics of intimidation aim to silence those who reject normalizing tactics. How can we strengthen resolve to block normalizing efforts, and push back against intimidation?

12:45 pm-1:30 pm Lunch – and a special photo presentation from Gaza by Kevin Neish – Buchanan A 101
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Organizing Workshops Session IIRepression and Resistance: Palestinian Civil and Political Rights in North America
Facilitators: Lamis Deek, Liz Jackson
Political repression has played a significant role in suppressing organizing in the Palestinian community. This workshop will address challenges in dealing with the FBI, police and other forms of surveillance and harassment, both directly and as it impacts political organizing. We will discuss how can we organize and challenge this intimidation in our communities, schools, and organizing spaces.

Integrating Grassroots Democratic and Participatory Processes
Facilitators: Mostafa Henaway, Carol Martin, BAYAN representative
How do Palestinian communities in the shatat currently organize? What mechanisms of communication, coordination, and conversation do we use? How can we be more democratic, participatory, and therefore more effective? With comrades in joint struggle, we will discuss ways we can practice what we hope to achieve, and advance democratic practices in our organizing.

Building Bridges with Palestinian Refugee Camps in the Shatat
Palestinians in North America are part of the Palestinian shatat – but the largest concentration of Palestinians remain in the Arab world and particularly the countries surrounding Palestine: Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. How do we build closer relationships with our brothers and sisters in the camps? What principles should guide us, and how can this reconnection help us to rebuild and reclaim our national institutions?.

Organizing on the Cultural Front
Subhi Zubaidi, Amer Taha
Project Description: The culture of resistance, development of art and media, has been central to the reproduction of Palestinian identity in shatat, particularly in North America. Palestinian cultural gatherings have helped to build community strength and unity. This workshop will address how Palestinian cultural festivals can be implemented in communities across North America, using successful experiences as a guide, and discuss how the creative work of Palestinian cultural workers is part of the liberation movement.

3:45 pm – 5:30 pm PLENARY II
PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATION AND THE RIGHT OF RETURN: Raising Our Voices in the Shatat in North America

The PLO is historically regarded as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, an overarching mechanism by which we all came together to deliberate on the strategies of our national movement. In this plenary, we will discuss the histories of political representation in our national movement, and what representation might mean today. Some of the questions addressed will include: What did the PLO look like, what does it look like now, and how/can it be remade? What can we learn from our earlier revolutionary histories? How has the current lack of representation impacted our struggle, and our ability to develop a coherent and cohesive national strategy for liberation and return? How do we create representation bodies that are inclusive of all our people and forces, and serve the needs of our national movement? How do we embody our demands for popular and democratic representation in our own communities and associations?
Speakers: Rabab Abdulhadi, Karma Nabulsi, Abdelrazzaq Takriti
Moderator: Jacqueline B. Husary
5:45-7:30 pm Representation Workshops SessionReclamation and Renewal: Part I – Exploring and Defining our Relationship to the PLO and PA
Facilitators: Ramzy Baroud, Karma Nabulsi
This conversation will continue on from the plenary to discuss in further detail the current state of the PLO, the national reconciliation process, and other issues in the current national political scene, and ways forward for Palestinians in North America. It will discuss in further detail the campaign for direct elections to the Palestinian National Council, and ways in which Palestinian communities can build the campaign.

Building Discourses for National Unity and Liberation: Setting Principles and Goals
Facilitators: Jackie Husary
This workshop aims to take stock of the multiple experiences, beliefs, and aspirations currently present among Palestinians and develop guidelines based on shared principles and mutual respect by which Palestinians develop a stronger culture of accountability to the struggle and clear guidance in our overall goals and objectives.

The Role of Palestinian Students and Youth: Grassroots-Building in the Shatat, and Bridging to Palestine
Facilitators: Omar Chaaban, Bader Takriti, Lana
What historic role did students and youth play in our national movement? What role do they play now, and how can it be strengthened? We will explore different experiences of student and youth organizing in North America and map out issues and topics that are essential in the Palestinian struggle including what groups/ organizations/ movements/ campaigns are touching on these issues.

Representation in North America: Building Community Leadership
Facilitators: Issam Yamani, Raja Abdulhaq
Project Description: There are many Palestinian community formations, associations, and societies in North America today. How can we build mechanisms of communication and accountability between them? In what ways does this multiplicity of leadership hinder national and movement organizing, and in what ways does it enhance the diversity and plurality of our voices and visions? How can we harness this plurality as strength and not weakness? How can we create national principles and strategies that highlight challenges unique to our location in North America, and therefore to our responsibilities?

8:00 pm Celebration Evening and Dinner
Join the Palestine Cultural Society and the organizing committee of the Vancouver Palestinian Shatat Conference for an Arab cultural evening at the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat, celebrating our coming together and marking 65 years of resilience after the Nakba.Featuring:
Palestinian dinner
Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj
Oudist Ghassan Hijazi Dabke by the Jafraa Dabke Troupe
Arab singer Nancy Jibbe
Poetry by the Desert Poet
Poetry by Akram Shaban
Sunday May 5
8:00 am Registration Opens – Buchanan A101, Buchanan A Building
8:30 am Breakfast – and special greeting from a former Palestinian prisoner
9:00 am-10:00 am Skill and Campaign Building SessionsOrganizing Palestinian Academics: Challenges, Potentials, and Responsibilities
Facilitators: Nada Elia, Rabab Abdulhadi
What role have academics played in national movement work? What role should they be playing? Here we will have a conversation on the role of Palestinian academics in North America, and their relationship to broader community and movement work.

Civil Disobedience, Direct Action and Protest Organizing
Facilitator: Aiyanas Ormond
This workshop will share key skills for Palestinian organizers in organizing protests, demonstrations and direct actions, discuss modes of civil disobedience, and share tactics, experiences, and organizing methods that have been successful in building impactful actions.

The Role of Palestinian Students and Youth: Part II – Grassroots and Campaign-Building in the Shatat
Facilitators: Omar Chaaban, Bader Takriti, Lana
A follow-up session which will continue to look at successful campaigns that have been initiated in North America in order to analyse the experience and highlight important lessons from those experiences to enrich future organizing.

Reclamation and Renewal: Part II -Next Steps
Facilitators: Ramzy Baroud, Karma Nabulsi
Geared towards drafting a concrete plan of action on national movement work in North America, this session will build on earlier discussion of the campaign for direct elections to the PNC as well as other possible national institutional work.

10:30 am – 2:00 pm PLENARY III

Organizers Plenary – Reporting Back, Decision Making and Ways ForwardIn this plenary, we will come together to discuss findings from all the movement conversations we participated in throughout the weekend. We will hear reports back from sessions on suggestions for possible work moving forward, and think through possibilities of crafting a conference statement.

All conference participants should attend and participate in this session!

Afternoon- 4:00 pm Protest CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) Western Regional Conference, featuring Dennis Ross and Israeli Ambassador to Canada (downtown at the Segal School of Business)