On the 15th of April, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hosted a conference on the Palestinian Right of Return. This is hardly surprising since Maduro, like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, have spearheaded pro-Palestinian initiatives in South America for decades. The identity of the organizers of the event is scarcely unexpected either Nicola Hadwa Shahram, the Palestinian football couch and the chair of the Chilean Committee on Solidarity with the Palestinians and Fuad Musa, the head of the Center for Islamic Culture in Santiago are known pro-Palestinian activists.
What is more intriguing, however, is the scholarly material that the Right of Return groups have used in their presentations. Elia Zureik, a Palestinian sociologist at the Queens University, Ontario, Canada, is arguably the academic architect of the Palestinian right of return. Zureik, a highly prolific scholar-activist served on the Refugee Working Group (RWG) set up under the auspices of the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference.
Starting in the early 1980s, Zureik tirelessly argued that the right of return should be enshrined in any resolution to the conflict. He and a group of like-minded Palestinian academics including Rashid Khalidi, escalated their pressure on Yasser Arafat during the Camp David II agreement. According to some analysts, the Zureik group had managed to elevate the right of return from a virtual non-issue to a high priority item, making it harder for Arafat to sign the deal.
Since the collapse of the Oslo process, the Palestinian right of return has been embraced by many in the academic community. Not coincidentally, this development coincided with the critical theory critique of realism and neorealism in International Relation (IR). Realists and neorealists consider power to be at the core of IR and thus regard the plight of the Palestinians as outcome of the 1948 war. In other words, the Palestinians were belligerents who rejected the UN Partition resolution, initiated a conflict, and had the bad luck to lose it. Critical theorists, on the other hand, vehemently reject the notion that power considerations should have a place in IR theory or practice. For them, the Palestinians are the quintessential victims of the power of ‘capitalism, imperialism and colonialism’ that deserve the full restoration of their rights.
As the Venezuelan conference initiative takes shape, it can count on the Zureik and his academic followers. For instance, the Journal of Palestine Studies has some 215 articles on the right to return, not to mention scores of books and reports. Last but not least, some Jewish academics have signed on petition for the right for return and in Israel there are some like Shenhav, and others that embraced the Palestinian's right to return to Israel.
Venezuela Hosts Congress on Palestinian Right of Return
Panelists participate in the first Latin American Congress on Palestinian Right of Return, April 15, 2015.
Published 17 April 2015
The congress features the participation of Palestine solidarity activists from throughout Latin America. Venezuela is host to the first Latin American Congress of the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine, being held until Friday in the capital of Caracas.
The campaign was founded two years ago as an effort to coordinate the work of Palestinian solidarity activists at a global level. It gives particular attention to demand for the right-of-return of Palestinians who were forcibly displaced by militant Zionists during the foundation of the state of Israel.
“Venezuela is the focal point for the Palestinian cause in Latin America,” said Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian Ambassador to Venezuela. Venezuela under the late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro has been a strong defender of the Palestinian people.
The Venezuelan government has routinely and strongly denounced attacks on Palestinians by the Israeli state, while also spearheading regional aid drives after the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014. The congress features the participation of Palestine solidarity activists from throughout Latin America, including representation from Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela. Participants drew links between the struggle of the Venezuelans against imperialism and the struggle of Palestinians against Israeli aggression.
“This is an international struggle against a common enemy, that same enemy that besieges Venezuela, that wants to seize the wealth of Venezuela, is the same that wants to seize the wealth of the Middle East and the rest of the world,” said Nicola Hadwa Shahwan, member of the Chilean Committee in Solidarity with Palestine. Shahwan also highlighted the importance of unity amongst the peoples of Latin America with Palestinians.
Palestine recently joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an effort to hold Israeli politicians and military officials accountable for their alleged war crimes committed against the Palestinian people. Congress attendee Isak Khury of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called Palestine's membership in the ICC a “triumph” but said this alone would not be enough to force Israel to meet the demands of the Palestinian people.
“We must combine all forms of struggle: diplomatic, legal, and political together with armed resistance,” said Khury. The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine first held congresses in the Middle East but now aims to hold congresses throughout to world in order to increase support and visibility for Palestine solidarity work.
Venezuela acoge 1ª Campaña Global por Retorno a Palestina
Finalizó en Venezuela el primer congreso latinoamericano por el retorno de los palestinos a su tierra.
Durante tres jornadas, los representantes de movimientos sociales y políticos de las Américas discutieron acciones comunes de solidaridad con Palestina sitiada por el régimen de Israel, y por el derecho al regreso de los palestinos a su tierra.
El encuentro culminó con una ceremonia interreligiosa, donde se denunció que el sionismo intenta ocultar el genocidio palestino tras un supuesto conflicto religioso.
En el encuentro participaron también delegados de Estados Unidos, quienes aseguraron que las acciones del régimen de Tel Aviv nada tienen que ver con el verdadero judaísmo.
En los acuerdos finales del encuentro, se resolvió una mayor acción de los solidarios con Palestina en los medios de comunicación para sumar más voluntades a la campaña internacional.
Congresos como este se realizarán en todos los continentes para hacer más efectiva la solidaridad urgente con Palestina.
Marcos Salgado, Caracas.
- Published on Saturday, 18 April 2015 12:31
The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine is currently holding its first Latin American congress of the in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.Venezuela has been a strong defender of the Palestinians, both under the late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro.
“Venezuela is the focal point for the Palestinian cause in Latin America,” said Linda Sobeh Ali, the Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela, as reported on the teleSUR website.
The campaign was founded two years ago to coordinate the work of Palestinian solidarity activists around the world, with particular focus on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to lands taken over by Israel.
It first held congresses in the Middle East but now aims to hold congresses throughout the world in order to increase support and visibility for Palestine solidarity work.
Venezuela has been a strong defender of the Palestinians, both under the late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro.
Participating in the congress are Palestine solidarity activists from throughout Latin America, including representation from Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.