US Campaign hosts 15th annual conference for Palestinian rights
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, formerly US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, is hosting its fifteenth annual national conference in Arlington, Virginia, “Which Side Are You On? Taking a Stand for Palestinian Rights.” The conference gives attendees an opportunity to gather and strategize about strengthening the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality in Palestine.
While the bulk of the activities consist of panels and discussions, conference attendees will also participate in a lobby day in Washington, D.C., and are invited to a benefit concert with Palestinian-American oud player Simon Shaheen.
According to Ramah Kudaimi, Director of Grassroots Organizing, one of the most exciting parts of the conference was the reading performance of the play “There is a Field.” The play depicts a Palestinian family seeking justice for the death of their son at the hands of Israeli police. A discussion with Black activists will follow the reading to give an intersectional perspective on the “oppressive systems affecting both communities.”
The workshops offered cover a wide range of strategic and informational topics. Many focus on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) and its history, goals, elements and current targets. Others give analysis of pressing issues such as home demolitions, access to water, workers’ rights, and the blockade of Gaza.
At the lobby day, attendees will pressure lawmakers to effectively oppose Israeli settlements, protect the right to participate in boycotts, and oppose more weapons sales to Israel. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights is hopeful that with the growing widespread attention on the urgency of protecting the right to boycott, the solidarity movement can grow on a grassroots level. Kudaimi also says that the fact that lawmakers are afraid of BDS is a testament to its strength.
“These are students on campuses passing divestment campaigns. These are community activists showing up at local stores and asking them not to sell Israeli products. And this is scaring the opposition,” Kudaimi said.
The conference will close with a panel of Palestinian activists, which Kudaimi sees as “an opportunity to highlight the work that’s happening on the ground in Palestine, and what they see needs to be done moving forward.”
Approximately 200 people attended and organizations represented at the conference included the Palestinian BDS National Committee, Palestine Legal, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Black Youth Project (BYP) 100 and the Movement for Black Lives.
For more information is on the US Campaign’s website.