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Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003 at 9:08 PM
Rutgers Palestine Conference Report
Report of the Third North America Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement
Rutgers University - New Brunswick, New Jersey
October 10-12, 2003
At Rutgers/New Brunswick, today's ground zero for the struggle for Palestine in the United States, Palestine emerged victorious!
Defeating one of the most vicious Zionist and rightwing-orchestrated assaults on Palestine solidarity in North America in recent history, the Third North America Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement ("PSM") at Rutgers University (the "Conference") concluded its proceedings and activities with a resounding success and a determination to forge forward to build a unified and principled movement. The Conference was held in the spirit of resistance to Israeli war tanks that were during that very time destroying hundreds of homes and neighborhoods in Rafah, Palestine.
In what will be recorded as a definitional event in the history of Palestine solidarity in the US, this was the first ever conference of this size and significance to announce its actual venue only 48 hours prior to convening to outmaneuver the enormous systematic pressure imposed by the Zionist movement and rightwing forces that had caused the cancellation of all previously-secured venues.
The Zionist movement at its highest levels had considered this Conference and the divestment movement as its top priority target, recruiting to the attack the governor of New Jersey, Rutgers University president, and state and federal agencies along with dozens of elected officials. According to all press reports, never before did the Zionist movement bus into an American town five to seven thousand Israeli supporters for the sole purpose of silencing and intimidating the Palestine solidarity movement. Such is what AIPAC, the ADL, state and local Zionist forces did on that weekend to shore-up the largest ever pro-Israel campus counter-event, termed "Israel Inspires."
This was the first time ever that a state governor would actively campaign to reverse divestment and to leverage Zionist and rightwing frenzy to announce investing public funds in Israeli bonds. New Jersey Governor, Jim McGreevy, did just that, by announcing to the Zionist rally of many thousands that he was the first governor in New Jersey to invest Public Employees Pension Funds in Israeli bonds.
Additionally, never before did a national conference convene with such success against a systematic and extensive campaign from simultaneous multiple sources repeatedly announcing its cancellation in all media venues and forms up to the day it was actually being held.
Yet, despite all stacked odds, between Friday and Sunday, October 10-12, 2003, at least 300 committed nationwide activists, including many founders of the PSM and divestment movement that was initiated in 2001 in Berkeley, California, participated undeterred in the proceedings and activities of the Third PSM Conference. They came from as far as California and Florida to join many others from the Midwest and the East Coast determined to register a unified stand in solidarity with Palestinian people.
Reflecting the worldwide support extended to the Third PSM Conference through the enthusiastic endorsement of 229 organizations (listed below) and 1,498 individuals, the conveners resolved to unify the PSM, maintain the centrality of divestment as its anchor, and protect its founding principles that were set in Berkeley, California in 2001.
In that context of unity, the Conference reaffirmed its commitment to the existing principles without any alteration, and passed a resolution to establish a PSM Coordinating Committee that is open to all organizations that support the existing principles of unity. In addition to setting an action plan and an open mechanism of implementation, the Conference also resolved to propose to the movement at large that the Fourth North America PSM Conference be held in Northern California - the strong founding region of the divestment movement.
Of all the national and international massive support for Conference, the inspiring support from the Abna el-Balad Movement in Palestine was of special meaning. It affirmed the unity of the Palestinian people in all of their sectors, and the need to maintain a principled position on the nature of the Apartheid system of the Israeli polity.
With more than 1,000 letters of support worldwide, and an endorsement list that intersects North America with the Arab World, this 3-day event was historic in the tasks placed on its shoulders. The Conference faced monumental logistical challenges related to the constant forced venue cancellation and the smear/fear campaign that whipped a frenzy against the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Against such unprecedented difficulties, the Conference was nonetheless tasked with securing a unified solidarity and divestment movement that is rooted in supporting the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Primarily, the Conference aimed to:
1. Ensure that the primary contradiction for the PSM at all time is not internal but with Zionism and colonial designs in all their forms. This was evidenced in the massive assault the Zionist movement waged against this Conference and the amount of resources it channeled in a failed attempt to secure its cancellation.
2. Ensure that the Palestine Solidarity Movement does not transform its principles and programs to selective and conditional solidarity that would inevitably lead to a colonial power structure.
3. Protect the centrality of institutional divestment, particularly on college campuses, as the core anchor program of the PSM, with corporate boycott campaigns as an integral part of divestment but not as an exclusive substitute.
4. Maintain a principled unity in the PSM and to expand the reach of the movement to all organizations and individuals in agreement with the principles of unity to include both student and community groups.
5. Provide an organizational structure that is voluntary and non-binding, yet able to coordinate national programs and safeguard the consensus of the PSM.
Conference Rallied in Support of Palestine and Free Speech
In the spirit of defiance against Zionist intimidation and rightwing forces, Conference participants held a powerful rally on Saturday afternoon on the grounds of Rutgers University. At 4:30 PM participants boarded busses and cars and headed towards Rutgers University for a show of determination, unity, and solidarity. Zionists throughout the rally attempted to disrupt and intimidate participants in the most aggressive manner, but to no avail as the level of political awareness was exceptionally high.
After a spirited and emotionally charged rally and standoff, and in a rare show of commitment, rally participants boarded back the busses and returned to the final plenary of that day that addressed the history of Palestine solidarity. Following the plenary, the Conference opened the first portion of the organizing session, which continued into the evening. The Saturday rally was also unique in that Conference participants left the venue of the proceedings to an off-site location, rallied, and returned in full for several hours of additional commitment and hard work. The rally received extensive press coverage, and demonstrated that a principled and well-organized movement can stand strong in the face of all odds.
Conference Defeated Racial Profiling and Zionist Intimidation:
Racial Profiling: Registering at the hotel where Conference proceedings were held was no less challenging than holding the Conference itself. When obtaining their rooms at the hotel front desk, "Arab or Muslim looking" and "dark skinned" participants were asked to present their identification cards and were told that a copy would be made and kept by the hotel. Hotel personnel revealed that they were required to maintain this record by law enforcement, which appear to have demanded the list of participants. This prompted the hotel to implement this politically motivated racial profiling practice. Conference participants strongly and emphatically objected to this practice and demanded the return of all acquired copies. A legal team was immediately assembled, and the hotel management was informed that should they continue their practice legal action would be initiated promptly. All copies were returned, and hotel management stopped this profiling practice.
Zionist Intimidation: Throughout the duration of all proceedings and the on-campus rally on Saturday afternoon, Zionists attempted to use various means to politically and physically intimidate participants and record all proceedings. It would be safe to state that the vast majority of participants were photographed through close-ups and remotely placed zoom-cameras, some of which were visible at a distance between trees. The process of photographing the participants took an exceptionally intrusive and aggressive nature in order to create a confrontation that would undermine the Conference and the rally. Zionist attempts at infiltration were ongoing throughout the duration of the conference leading to several confrontations with the volunteer security team.
At one point on Saturday morning, a tripod-mounted CNN camera set to record the opening session was stolen without a trace. During that same Saturday afternoon, it appeared that there was an attempt to set-off fire sprinklers in the second floor of the Conference area where all the workshops were being held in order to disrupt the proceedings.
I - Principles of Unity:
The Conference resolved to affirm unchanged the existing principles of unity set forth in the founding Conference in Berkeley, California, 2001. The decision was made in order to safeguard and build towards the unity of the movement. These principles are:
1. The PSM is committed to a core set of principles.
2. The PSM believes that the Palestinian people must ultimately be able to decide their future in Palestine. Certain key principles, grounded in, but not limited to, international law, human rights, and basic standards of justice, will be fundamental to a just resolution to the plight of the Palestinians. These include:
o the full decolonization of all Palestinian land, including settlements, which are illegal under international law;
o the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem and all Arab lands;
o the recognition and implementation of the right of return and repatriation for all Palestinian refugees to their original homes and properties; and
o an end to the Israeli system of Apartheid and discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian population.
3. Just as the PSM condemns the racism and discrimination inherent in Zionism underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel, the PSM rejects any form of hatred or discrimination against any group based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
4. The PSM's strength is in the great diversity of its membership. The PSM welcomes individuals of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to join in solidarity with the struggle for justice in Palestine.
5. As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.
6. The PSM seeks to promote the following campaigns:
o Divestment from Israel
o Ending U.S. aid to Israel
o Right of Return
Using tactics which may include:
o Public demonstrations and rallies
o Civil disobedience or direct action
7. The PSM does not endorse activities that contradict the guiding principles as stated above.
8. Individuals or groups acting as members, representatives, or sponsors of the PSM agree to abide by the code of conduct and promote its guiding principles.
9. In the interest of building a more unified and expanding solidarity movement for justice and human rights in Palestine, individuals or groups may endorse and sign on to the above guiding principles.
II. Establishing A PSM Coordinating Committee
In order to facilitate open and voluntary coordination within the constituent members of the PSM, and in an effort to include within the movement both student and community organizations, the Conference resolved to establish a:
"National Coordinating Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Movement based on the principles of unity, to facilitate the implementation of the solidarity program, of which divestment is the central focus."
Groups agreeing to the principles of unity can join the coordinating committee by writing to:
III. Action Plan:
In addition to calling for implementing educational campaigns on Palestine in all areas, the Conference resolved to support and call for the following:
o Strengthen and support the establishment of a Divestment Resource Center
o Called for nationally coordinated action in commemoration of Land Day (March 30) and the Deir Yasin Massacre (April 9).
o Called for nationally coordinated action in support of Palestine on May 15, 2004, in commemoration of the Nakba in 1948.
o Support the October 25 mobilization against war in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, and organize a Palestine solidarity contingency
o Call for national Palestine solidarity protests at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions
o Support the mobilization in defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal
IV. Establishment of Committees:
The Conference resolved to establish the following committees:
1. International Coordination Committee
2. Reconciliation Committee to internally strengthen the unity of the PSM.
3. Mobilization Committee (rallies, events, etc.)
4. Student/Community Resource/Education Committee in support of the Divestment Resource Center (DRC), to be established in service of the divestment campaign
5. Finance Committee
6. National Outreach Committee
7. Communication (website) Committee
V. Support for Civil Liberties:
The Conference issued the following resolution:
"The Third PSM Conference condemns the assault on civil liberties on all people, particularly Arab Americans and Muslims, and demands the repealing of the USA Patriot Act, and calls for support for all those who have been unjustly criminalized in particular the LA-8 and Dr. Sami Al-Arian.
The Conference further rejects all attempts to vilify Palestine solidarity work and calls on all to join in the solidarity movement for Palestine."
VI. Proposed Venue for the Fourth PSM Conference:
The Conference resolved to propose to the movement that the Fourth PSM Conference be held in Northern California.
The following is a list of 229 organizations that endorsed the Third North America Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement -New Brunswick, New Jersey. All organizations agreeing with the principles of unity outlined above are encouraged to join.
20th of March Movement for Change - Cairo, Egypt
Abnaa elBalad Movement
Ad-Hoc Nepal Solidarity Committee
Aisha, Arab Women Forum - Cairo, Egypt
AGEG, The Anti Globalization Egypt Group
Al-Awda Los Angeles
Al-Awda Orange County
Al-Awda San Diego
Al-Awda, San Francisco Area
Al-Bireh Palestine Society - California
Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBTIQ Muslims
Aman, Network of NGOs working against Torture in the Middle East and North Africa
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - Fresno Chapter
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - Greater Sacramento Area Chapter
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East
Americans for Social Justice
Amnesty International of Park Falls, WI
Ann Arbor Coalition Against the War
ANSWER Coalition, Boston
ANSWER Coalition, Chicago
ANSWER Coalition, Los Angeles
ANSWER Coalition, Orange County
ANSWER Coalition, SF Bay Area
ANSWER Coalition, Western Mass
Applied Research Institute (ARIJ) - Jerusalem, Palestine
Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party
Arab American Civic Organization
Arab American Press Guild
Arab Muslim American Federation
Arab National Congress ("Al-Mu'tamar al-Qawmi al-Arabi") - Beirut, Lebanon
Arise Bookstore Collective
Arise for Social Justice
Association of Palestinian Australian Graduates
Atlanta Palestine Solidarity
Augusta Coalition for Peace and Justice
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights - Palestine
Bay Area United Against War
Bayan International - U.S.A.
Bayan International - Los Angeles Chapter
Bridgewater State College R.E.A.P.S. Restoring Environmental And Political
Brisbane Free the Five Committee
Bus Riders Union/Labor Community Strategy Center
Campus Greens at The Ohio State University
Casa las Américas
Central New Jersey Coalition for Peace and Justice
Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism
Christians and Muslims Establishing Peace
Citizens for Fair Legislation
Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace
Colorado Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Committee for Justice to Defend the LA8
Committee for the Defence of Democracy - Cairo, Egypt
Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti
Committee to Defend Palestinian Human Rights
Communist Party, USA's, Frederick Douglass Club
Communist Party of Argentina
Conscious Roots (San Francisco)
Dallas Peace Center
Deir Yassin Society of New York
Don't Waste Michigan
Dream Dancer Design
Egyptian American Professional Society
Egyptian Association against Torture - Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian National Committee against Torture - Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian Popular Committee in Solidarity with the Egyptian Intifada - Egypt
Ever Reviled Records
First Nations North & South
For a Better World
Forum of Indian Leftists
Free Palestine Alliance - USA
Gay and Lesbian Arab Society
Grandmothers for Peace International
Green Party of Chatham County
Green Party of Dallas County
Green Labor Party of Georgia
Hammerhard MediaWorks - Chicago
Hawaii Solidarity Committee
Hisham Mubarak Law Center - Cairo, Egypt
INCITE! Women of Color against Violence
Indigenous Student Alliance at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California
International Action Center
Int'l League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS-US)
International Socialist Organization, USA
Islamic Association for Palestine
Islamic Center of NYU
Jews Against the Occupation at SUNY Binghamton
Jews for a Free Palestine
Just Peace: An Action Group for Justice in the Middle East
Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB)
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center - Ramallah, Palestine
Korea Truth Commission
La Raza Unida Party
LAGAI -- Queer Insurrection (SF Bay Area)
Malìa: Collective of Italian American Women
March For Justice
Marin Center for Peace and Justice
Marshall Action for Peaceful Solutions - Marshall University
MAS Freedom Foundation
Maui EARTHDAY Collective
MECA (Middle East Children's Alliance)
MECCA (Middle Eastern Civilization and Culture Association) of Union College, NY
Mexican American Education Foundation
Minnesotan's for a United Ireland
Minority eXperience Network
Mobtown Autonomous AntiFa - Baltimore
Modesto Committee for Peace in the Middle East, California
Morton County Citizens for Repsonsible Government
Movement In Motion Arts Collective
Movimento Democratico Pela Anistia
Muslim Student Association - National
Muslim Student Association - DC Council
Muslim Student Association - Hofstra
Muslim Student Association - Rutgers University-Newark
Muslim Student Association - Sacramento
Muslim Student Association - Sacramento-Davis Region West
Muslim Student Association - San Francisco State University
Muslim Student Association - UC Davis
Muslim Student Association - University of Alberta
Muslim Student Association - University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Muslim Student Association - University of Saskatchewan
Muslim Student Association - Virginian Commonwealth University
Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
Nadim for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence - Cairo, Egypt
National Committee to Free the Five Cuban Political Prisoners - Los Angeles
National Lawyers Guild - Los Angeles
National Lawyers Guild - University of Texas School of Law
New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
New School Aikido
New York Committee to Defend Palestine
New Zealand Peace Council
NISPOP - Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines
Northern California Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Not in Our Name México
NYC Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Orange County Peace and Freedom Party
Orange County Veterans for Peace
Palestine Action at Union Square
Palestine Aid Society
Palestine Children's Welfare Fund
Palestine Human Rights Monitoring Group - Palestine
Palestine Solidarity Committee - Los Angeles
Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa
Palestine Solidarity Group - Chicago
Palestine Solidarity Group - Vancouver B.C. Canada
Palestinian American Congress
Palestinian American Women Association of Southern California
Palestinian - Canadian Student Society - University of Calgary, Canada
Palestinian Center for Human Rights - Gaza, Palestine
Palestinian Council for Justice and Peace - Ramallah, Palestine
Palestinian National Association for Youth - Gaza
Partido Comunista do Brasil
Peace Action - Sacramento Area, California
Peace and Justice Alliance (Central Washington University)
Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County
Peace and Justice Network of San Joaquin County
Philadelphia Committee to Free the Five
Philippine Peasant Support Network (PESANTE)
Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee
Progress Acadamic Group - An-Najah University, Nablus, Palestine
Proyecto Common Touch
Public Intellectuals for Social and Spare Change
Punjabi Student Association
Queers For Peace And Justice
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) (SF Bay Area)
Racial Justice 9-11, National Network of People of Color Against the War
Reform Party USA - Action Group
Revolutionary Theory & Action Collective
Rutgers Acts for Peace and Justice
Rutgers Pakistan Student Association
Rutgers University Queens Chorale
SNAFU - the Support Network for an Armed Forces Union
SOA Watch West San Jose
Socialist Research Center - Cairo, Egypt
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights - Concordia
South Asians Against Police Brutality and Racism
St. Pete for Peace
Stony Brook Coalition Against War
Student Labor Action Coalition -- UW-Milwaukee
Students for Corporate Responsibility - University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Students for Justice - San Jose State University
Students for Justice in Palestine, California State University, Sacramento
Students for Justice in Palestine, UC Berkeley
Students for Justice in Palestine, UC Davis
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Illinois-Chicago
Students for Social Justice
Students Movement for Justice
South Jersey Earth First!
Sudanese American Society
SUSTAIN - Memphis Chapter
SUSTAIN - Northwest Suburban - Chicago area
SUSTAIN - St. Louis
Third World Forum
Third World Majority
TopShelf Entertainment, LLC
UC Berkeley Arab Student Union
UMAH (United Muslim Association of High Schools)
Union of Health Care Committees (UHCC) - Nablus, Palestine
Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento
Utahns for a Just Peace in the Holy Land
We The People United
Weekly East West Link & Urdu Times
Women Against War
Women of All Red Nations
Workers World Party
Young Muslims of Jersey City
Youth Business Assocation Fayoum - Egypt
Youth Solidarity Summer
YWCA of Palestine
Long Live Palestine!
Long Live International Solidarity!
The Struggle Continues!
The Organizing Committee of the
Third North America Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM)
Rutgers-New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
October 10-12, 2003
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