CONFERENCE RELEASE: Palestinian Shatat Conference convenes in Vancouver for Return and Liberation

May 15th, 2013 – In an effort to unite the Palestinian community through adherence to fundamental principles predicated on return and liberation, Palestinian activists and their allies in North America convened on unceded Coast Salish territories at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada from May 3 – 5, 2013.

With the firm belief that Palestinians in the Shatat should be actively engaged and invested in advancing the Palestinian cause as we commemorate 65 years of Nakba, participants discussed various issues, including, among others, accurate and accountable representation, defining the relationship of Palestinians in North America with Palestinians inside Palestine and the refugee camps, and finding methods to confront Zionist settler colonialism inside and outside of Palestine.

According to Khaled Barakat, a member of the organizing committee of the conference, “at a time when the right of return is under attack and Palestinian land is under threat from occupation attacks and so-called ‘land swaps’, the voice of Palestinians in shatat must be raised. The conference is a critical step towards addressing these concerns, and a new forum to engender positive changes in the Palestinian national liberation movement.”

The program of the conference included workshops spanning various topics, such as strengthening Palestinian organizing in the Shatat, Palestinian shatat participation and leadership in the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, forging joint struggles with justice movements in North America, gender and queer issues, combating Zionism and normalization, the centrality of the right of return to Palestinian liberation, discourses on national unity and addressing issues regarding representation and the Shatat’s relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The conference, which featured Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled, who greeted conference attendees for a one-hour presentation via Skype in which she called for Palestinian national unity on the basis of resistance and struggle for return and liberation saluted the Palestinian prisoners in their fight for freedom and liberation, and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the Palestinian national liberation movement.

Conference participants included members of Idle No More, as well as other longtime indigenous activists; conference participants dined on bannock donated by Indigenous chefs and a Wet’suwet’en drum group introduced Khaled. According to Omar Shaban, director of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) at UBC, “it is important to recognize, over and again, that this conference was held on unceded indigenous territory, and that the struggle of the Palestinian people in the Shatat is incomplete without recognizing and joining the struggle of the indigenous people of Canada and the United States.”

Throughout the various discussions which spanned various points of views, political perspectives and diverse ideologies, attendees vowed to continue the conversation on forging a united front against Zionist colonization in Palestine. Conference participants formed a follow-up committee, which will be releasing a proposed action plan for Palestinian mobilization in the North American diaspora in the coming weeks.

For more information please contact:
Omar Shaban

To get involved with these initiatives and the follow-up work of the conference, please contact

The points of unity of the conference and its follow-up committee are as follows:

May 2013 marks the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, and the 65th year of the ongoing struggle for Palestinian refugees’ return and the liberation of Palestine.

1. The Palestinian people are one people and our cause is one cause. Our objective is to revive the Palestinian national liberation movement and build the national institutions of the Palestinian people based on popular participation and direct democracy, in order to achieve the liberation of the land and people of Palestine and the implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return their homes.

2. The conflict with the settler colonialist state of Israel will only be resolved through the dismantling of the racist settler colonial nature of the state, meaning decolonization from Zionism, in all its forms, social, economic and political.

3. The right of return is the first and foremost step to the exercise of our right to self-determination.

4. Based on history, language, culture and geography, Palestine is an integral part of the Arab world and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.

5. Palestine is part and parcel of international resistance to colonialism, settler colonialism, imperialism and Zionism. The Palestinian people’s struggle is the struggle of an indigenous population directly connected to national liberation movements around the world facing the same powers, including the struggle of Indigenous peoples of North America, where this conference is taking place.

6. This effort is part of the struggle to achieve the basic right of Palestinians to elect our representatives in a democratic manner, and to overcome all obstacles being placed in front of our people in Palestine and in the shatat. As Palestinians in shatat, we have a right to representation and raise the voice of the shatat in our national liberation movement.

7. Palestinians have the right to resist injustice and occupation in order to achieve the liberation of their land and people.

8. The governments of the United States and Canada are directly responsible for apartheid, colonization and occupation in Palestine, through their diplomatic, political, military and economic support for the state of Israel. We recognize the US and Canada to be settler colonies built on indigenous lands.

9. We have the responsibility to confront the role of the US and Canada, hold the governments of the US and Canada accountable, and to build alliances with oppressed peoples and communities in North America.

10. We recognize the leadership and central role of Palestinian women in the national liberation movement, in this initiative, and in political representation.


Kevin Neish photography of Gaza, Palestine on display at conference

Over lunch on Saturday, May 4, Victoria human rights activist Kevin Neish will present photography of his recent 5 week tour of Gaza. Kevin Neish says, “Amidst the Israeli forces’ rockets, hijackings, kidnappings, shootings and blackouts, the Palestinian people of Gaza carry on with their lives. In Arabic they are called ‘Sumud’, in English it’s steadfast and unyielding.” He documented his trip with photographs and essays at

Since 1989, Mr. Neish has volunteered as a  human rights observer in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Palestine, first in the West Bank and now Gaza. He survived the Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

Palestinian children in Beit Hanoun, Gaza
Palestinian farmers working their land in the “buffer zone” face occupation gun towers
Mural in Gaza City
Mural in Gaza City
Gaza's woman fisher, Madleen Kolab, protesting at sea
Gaza’s woman fisher, Madleen Kolab, protesting at sea


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Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America


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Return and Liberation, the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, will take place in Vancouver, Canada from May 3-5, 2013, at the University of British Columbia. Panels, workshops and cultural events include “Looking Back, Forging Forward: Palestinian Organizing in the Shatat,” “Palestinian Representation and the Right of Return,” “Palestinian Perspectives on Solidarity and BDS,” “Repression and Resistance: Palestinian Civil and Political Rights,” “Organizing on the Cultural Front,” “The Role of Palestinian Students and Youth” – and much more. Speakers and workshop facilitators include Rabab Abdulhadi, Karma Nabulsi, Issam Yamani, Loubna Qutami,

Abdelrazzaq Takriti, Mezna Qato, Ramzy Baroud, Nada Elia, Dina Omar, Mostafa Henaway, Lamis Deek, Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj and many more.

More than that, this conference is a unique opportunity for Palestinians in shatat and their allies to join in this historical gathering to re-examine our history and build together towards a free future for our people and land by putting an end to Zionist colonization and normalization everywhere throughout the Palestinian and Arab homeland. Join us to plan, discuss and learn from each other about our homeland and how we can become active participants in reviving our movement.


Journal Ads

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Reach our attendees and supporters – and help to support the conference – with your message and content with a Journal Ad in the conference program. Full-page, half-page and quarter-page ads are available from $150 and up. Ads will be distributed in person to all attendees and online. Sign up for your Journal Ad online or email us at support@

Travel Details

Travel Details

Learn more about travel directions to Vancouver and the UBC Campus, accommodations and public transit at our Logistics and Accommodations page.

The main airport in Vancouver is YVR (Vancouver International). Please note, if you are travelling from the US, you may find it more affordable to fly into Seattle (SEA) or Bellingham (BLI) – buses are available to Vancouver. 



This conference relies on the grassroots to support and fund our efforts. Your donations make this conference possible and sponsor Palestinian youth and students to attend and participate in the conference! Donate today and receive a premium from Palestine Online Store – Ghassan Kanafani cards, DVDs on Palestine and more. Donate online here!

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Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America

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Flying from out of town? Travel tips for conference-goers

If you are flying into Vancouver, the closest airport to fly into is YVR (Vancouver International Airport). Driving and transit directions from YVR to UBC are available at Google Maps  and TransLink Trip Planner.

Please note, if you are travelling from the US, you may save money by flying into Seattle (SEA) or Bellingham (BLI) airports. It is a few hours’ trip from Seattle, but often worth the time if you are looking to save! 

 These airports are accessible by Quick Shuttle bus directly to Vancouver, by car, or by other bus services from Seattle itself, such as BoltBusGreyhoundQuick Shuttle and other bus services.



Help support the Conference – buy a Journal Ad!

Return and Liberation: The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, taking place May 3-5, 2013 in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia, will bring Palestinians together to discuss the future of the Palestinian cause and the direction of the struggle, through plenaries, workshops, cultural expression and more!

Full details about this unique conference bringing together the Palestinian community – as well as registration – are available on our website,
The conference program will feature journal ads promoting and supporting the programs, work and activities of businesses, community groups and others. Buying an ad is both act of support for the conference’s work to organize and unify Palestinian efforts in North America, as well as a means to raise awareness of the work of your own organization.
There will be hundreds of people in attendance, and through our outreach and promotion, thousands of people will view our program. We hope that you can attend and help spread the word about the conference! To buy a journal ad online, please visit our site:
Reach all conference attendees – and thousands more through online distribution and our attendees’ outreach with your message, information or products, and help to support the convening of the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America with a Journal Ad.
Costs and Dimensions:
Full page ($500):     W 5.25″ x H 8.25″
Half page ($250):     W 5.25″ x H 4″
Quarter page ($150): Landscape – W 5.25″ x H 1.875″
Quarter page ($150): Portrait – W 2.5″ x H 4″
Please email with any questions about ad specifications!
Payment: Payments can be made online at, or send a cheque to:
Palestine Cultural Society
405-2050 2nd Avenue West
Vancouver, BC V6J 1J4
Please note “Journal Ad” in the memo line.
Order Form: Please submit your journal ads to in PDF or EPS format

Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj to be featured at Shatat Conference

nisreen hajajOrganizing Committee of the Shatat Conference is delighted to announce that Palestinian singer Nisreen Hajaj will be featured at Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, May 3-5, 2013.

Nisreen Hajaj, is a Palestinian singer/performer who began her musical career at age 16. Nisreen is the winner of several awards including LBCI Studio El-Fan in 2006 for the Arab World Category. In 2008, she also won the Golden Medal in the FIDOF Competition on the National Lebanese Broadcasting Station. Nisreen studied five years of music at the National Lebanese Conservatory including Oriental and Modern Chanting, Byzantine and Syriac and also the ‘Oud. In 2008, Nisreen joined Ferqat Haneen Lel Ughniyah Al-Felasteeniyyah and sang for Palestine, the homeland she was deprived of. She is a member of The General Union of Palestinian Artists in Lebanon. Today, Nisreen returns to perform on stage for Palestine, and pledges that she will keep on the fight for justice through her voice and music.

To register for the conference, please visit

nisreen2  nisreen4

Keynote presenters announced for Shatat Conference

Seven keynote panelists for Return and Liberation: Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America have been announced by the organizers. These speakers include the following presenters:

rabab-abdulhadiRabab Abdulhadi Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University

hanna-kawasHanna KawasChair, Canada Palestine Association and Co-Host, Voice of Palestine

karma-nabulsiKarma NabulsiFormer PLO representative; professor, St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. 

camilia-odehCamille Odeh

Founding Director, Southwest Youth Collaborative and longtime Palestinian organizer

loubna-qutamiLoubna Qutami

General Coordinator, Palestinian Youth Movement

Abdel-TakritiAbdel Razzaq Takriti
Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield, England and author
issam-yamaniIssam Al-Yamani
Executive Director, Palestine House and longtime Palestinian activist

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: Save with the special Early Bird rate!

May 3-5, 2013
University of British Columbia
Unceded Musqueam Territories
Vancouver, BC, Canada


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Registration is NOW OPEN for the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America! This conference – which will take place at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on May 3-5, 2013 – will bring together Palestinian and Arab organizers, activists and community members to discuss our collective role as Palestinians in our liberation movement and assert our voice as Palestinians in shatat/exile.

There is more information about the conference at our website, This conference is being organized from the ground up, and will benefit from the active involvement and participation of Palestinian organizations and organizers across North America. The conference will include facilitated workshops, plenary discussions, conversations, and presentations – it welcomes your participation, your voice, and your active involvement in reclaiming the voice of the shatat.

Register early and save! Early bird special: March 11 – March 24: $25
Early Registration: March 25 – April 7, $35
General Registration: April 8 – April 22, $45
Late Registration: April 23 – May 1, $55
Registration closes on May 1st.

We will soon be posting accommodations information. If you have any questions, or require solidarity housing, please email us at

Highlights of the program include the two KEYNOTE PLENARIES:

PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATION: 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?

LOOKING BACK, FORGING FORWARD: Strengthening our Organizing in the Shatat

This 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?

This is a critical time for the Palestinian people and the national liberation movement, and this conference is an opportunity to connect, build and mobilize our people in North America. Conference participants will not only gain knowledge, but are expected to commit themselves to collectively and democratically working together to re-build and revive our national liberation movement.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAYConfirm the special Early Bird Rate!

Conference to take place at University of British Columbia

The Organizing Committee of the Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North America is pleased to announce that the Conference will take place from Friday evening, May 3 through Sunday afternoon, May 5, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, on unceded Musqueam territories.

The host organization for the conference is Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at UBC (SPHR – UBC).

Conference sessions will be soon forthcoming with more details, and will include plenaries, workshops and cultural events.