2018 Middle East Workshops

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Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return

Resulting from their dispossession in 1948 and 1967, Palestinian refugees constitute the largest refugee community in the world today, at more than 5 million people. Their internationally-recognized rights as refugees have been denied, including the right to return to their homes and villages, a right affirmed in UN resolution 194 (in Dec. 1948). US churches have supported programs for Palestinian refugees, and advocated for their rights. This workshop will introduce the issue, and help participants to respond to this enduring human tragedy.

Dr. Bernard Sabella, Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees
Elizabeth Campbell, Director, UNRWA Representative Office, DC

The Right to Boycott: Protecting tools of non-violent social change

Civil rights workers, farm laborers, prison reformers, anti-Apartheid groups, and environmental activists have all used boycotts and divestment campaigns to end injustices and churches have often supported their efforts. In 2005, over 120 Palestinian civil society organizations also called on international actors to use boycotts, divestment, and sanction (BDS) to pressure Israel to end its occupation, address Palestinian refugees right of return, and guarantee equality between Palestinians and Israelis. Many church activists and institutions have responded to this call as well by supporting both selective and broad boycott and divestment initiatives. Now a coordinated legislative effort is underway to punish and sanction individuals, groups, or corporations that respond to the Palestinian BDS Call. Join us to learn more about these efforts to restrict the right to boycott, and to learn why this should concern all people committed to social justice regardless of their position on the Palestinian BDS call.

Noushin Framke, Israel Palestine Mission Network, PCUSA
Andrew Kadi, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Steering Committee
Paul Noursi, Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace

Moderator: Rev. Susan P. Wilder, Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

Driving Displacement in Syria: Militarization and Migration

The war in Syria has created a massive displacement crisis, with half of all Syrians displaced from their homes. But while much attention has focused on resettling Syrian refugees, not enough attention has been paid to how the United States and other countries continue to perpetuate the war through their own military involvement in it. Come learn more about what is happening in Syria and what you can do to respond.

Phyllis Bennis, Program Director, New Internationalism at the Institute for Policy Studies
Ruth Keidel Clemens, Program Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

If Jerusalem Had No Walls

President Trump’s declaration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv has generated considerable controversy. Upending years of U.S. policy which had viewed Jerusalem as a “final status” issue, Trump’s decision was met with praise by many Israelis and widespread condemnation from many Palestinians and those in the Arab world who view East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. With peace negotiations unlikely to resume anytime soon, this panel will focus on a vision for Jerusalem marked not by walls that divide, but by a shared city with full equality, human rights, and justice for all who call it home.

Kyle Cristofalo, Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Churches for Middle East Peace
Zaha Hassan, Middle East Fellow, New America Foundation
Dr. Debra Shushan, Director of Policy and Government Relations, Americans for Peace Now

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations