Thousands Mark '100 Years Since Balfour' at Largest Gathering for Palestine in the U.S.

Thousands Mark '100 Years Since Balfour' at Largest Gathering for Palestine in the U.S.

More than 2000 people turned out for AMP's 10th Annual Conference in Chicago this year during Thanksgiving weekend! AMP Chicago Chapter organizers and members filled the halls of the convention center, leading the efforts, while large groups were shuttled in by AMP chapters in New Jersey, Wisconsin, and California, as well as participants who joined from all over the U.S. and Canada. This year's convention marked the one-hundred-year anniversary of the devastating Balfour Declaration, which set in motion Palestinians' continued struggle for human rights and self-determination. 

Events throughout the packed weekend included workshops, panel discussions, Arabic-language seminars, networking, a ladies-only fashion show, poetry, riveting entertainment, and debka, of course! The Youth Track also provided young people with inspirational and informative lectures focusing on issues of social justice, activism, and intersectionality in the movement for justice. Younger children got to participate in an exciting scavenger hunt and create beautiful arts & crafts inspired by Palestinian tradition. 

Main session programs featured a wide variety of prominent speakers who came from all over the world to attend the largest gathering for Palestine in the U.S. The conference was kicked off by an important panel led by Ahlam Jbara, Othman Atta, and Kareem El-Hosseiny on the mid-year elections and how Muslims can engage civically and create a shift in U.S. foreign policy. Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, AMP's National Policy Director, was joined by AMP Conference Chairman, Salah Sarsour, AMP Chicago Chapter President and co-chair of the Conference Program Committee, Nida Sahouri, and various imams from all over the U.S. to welcome conference goers, which was followed by an Arabic keynote address on the legacy of Balfour by Dr. Abuirshaid, Mohammad Al Ansari, and Dr. Rima Khalaf, whose report on Israeli apartheid was censored by the UN and international community.   

Media professor and Palestinian filmmaker Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb screened her groundbreaking film on the Nakba, and was later joined by AJ+ producer and host, Sana Saeed for a great discussion on Palestine in U.S. media including recent shifts in coverage. Ms. Saeed also joined Professors Hatem Bazian and Abbas Barzegar for an always relevant session on creeping normalcy and faithwashing. Other special sessions featured human rights defender Issa Amro, Code Pink activist Ariel Gold; Palestinian American activists Nadya Tannous and Ahmad Abuznaid, who were joined by African American studies scholar Taurean Webb, on intersectionality and working with Black and indigenous communities; USCPR policy director Josh Ruebner joined Dr. Abuirshaid to discuss Trump and Palestine, while a panel of Muslim leaders including Naeem Baig, Dr. Abdel-hafid Djemil, Abbas Naqvi, Wassim Kanaan, and Taher Herzallah discussed integrating BDS in Muslim communties. Dr. Abdallah Marouf and Sh. Kifah Mustapha gave a detailed presentation on Al-Aqsa; Dr. Mustafa Barghouti joined us via Skype from Palestine; and CAIR National Director Nihad Awad, USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal, and Dr. Manal Fakhoury led a session on Muslim political organizing; Farah El-Jayyousi, Shakeel Syed,  and Osama Ahmed gave a report back from the first AMP delegation to Palestine; finally, Tamim Al-Barghouti recited original poetry in an Arabic session to a packed ballroom.  

Rima KhalafNida Sahouri

Issa AmroMugs

Mikodebka

AMP gave special recognition to Dr. Fakhoury for her leadership, Dr. Rima Khalaf, and to Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi for her steadfastness in the face of vicious attacks. Dr. Abdulhadi gave an excellent English keynote address on Balfour, and later presented on her own legal battle against pro-Israel groups seeking to defame and censor her. For that discussion, she was joined by author and American-Israeli activist Miko Peled, who discussed the case of the Holy Land Foundation Five, Khalil Meek of MLFA, and Dima Khalidi of Palestine Legal. 

While the legacy of Balfour served as the theme of the conference, the latter part of the title proved the main focus with energetic particpants gathered in the service of justice for Palestine. With the 10th annual conference another major success, indeed we can affirm that the movement continues! 

Check out more photos from this year's conference in our slideshow. Videos of sessions will be posted soon on our website!