A Palestinian solidarity conference held in Sydney over May 14-15 brought together more than 200 people to discuss the campaign in Australia in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
The conference took place on the anniversary of al Nakba (“the catastrophe”) — as Palestinians call the day that marks their dispossession that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The opening morning of the two-day conference featured a line-up of prominent local and international speakers, including director of the Sydney Peace Foundation Professor Stuart Rees, author and independent journalist Antony Loewenstein, and representative from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions Ghada Abu Ghalyoun.
Ghalyoun, who lives in Palestine, spoke about life under occupation.
“I am the person who wakes up everyday and sees the separation wall, and the settlements, the roadblocks, check points, and the gates," she told the audience.
“We need your unity. Let us be united in order to end the occupation, to destroy that wall, and demolish obstacles Palestinians face every day.”
Samah Sabawi of Australians for Palestine also spoke, noting that encouragement and inspiration should be taken from the recent grassroots uprisings in the Arab world.
“We need to challenge this idea that we should rely on men in suits to bring change,” she said.
The conference also discussed strategies to strengthen the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting Israel in the aftermath of the debate about BDS in Marrickville council.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, who oppose the BDS, used The Australian on May 12 to criticise the conference and condemn Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon's involvement. Rhiannon spoke on Australian civil society and Palestinian solidarity.
The conference was sponsored by the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Cosmopolitan Civil Societies, an initiative of the University of Technology Sydney.