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May 12, 2014 0

Pro-“Resistance” Conference In Beirut Draws American Activists

A recent con­fer­ence held in Beirut to dis­cuss issues related to Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers fea­tured the par­tic­i­pa­tion of mem­bers of sev­eral Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist groups, as well as the atten­dance of at least three Amer­i­can activists.Arab-International Forum of the Solidarity Organizations Supporting Freedom Prisoners in the Prisons of the Zionist Occupation

For­mer U.S. Attor­ney Gen­eral Ram­sey Clark, a founder of the Inter­na­tional Action Cen­ter (IAC), report­edly brought an Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion to the con­fer­ence, billed in the Arab media as “The Arab-International Forum of the Sol­i­dar­ity Orga­ni­za­tions Sup­port­ing Free­dom Pris­on­ers in the Pris­ons of the Zion­ist Occu­pa­tion.” The Amer­i­can activists were joined by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine (PFLP) and Pales­tin­ian Islamic Jihad, as well as ambas­sadors from sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, Morocco, and Sudan.

The con­fer­ence took place at the Com­modore Hotel in Beirut on April 30. Maher al-Taher, the Polit­i­cal Sec­re­tary of the PFLP, spoke at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the con­fer­ence and deliv­ered greet­ings from the PFLP’s Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Ahmad Sa’adat who is cur­rently serv­ing a 30 year sen­tence in an Israeli prison for his role in lead­ing the PFLP. In his remarks, Al-Taher said, “Sa’adat’s mes­sage is to end the nego­ti­a­tions entirely; they have failed and this has been proven repeat­edly. We must develop a new strat­egy on the basis of Pales­tin­ian resistance.”

Char­lotte Kates, a long­time activist with Al-Awda and a coor­di­na­tor for the North Amer­i­can Net­work for the Stead­fast Sup­port of Pris­on­ers, also spoke at the con­fer­ence. Accord­ing to a news arti­cle about the con­fer­ence in The Ambas­sador, a daily Lebanese Arabic-language news­pa­per, she said: “We remain in sup­port of the cause, which the pris­on­ers have been killed and fought for…and top­ping it is the Right of Return and the lib­er­a­tion of their coun­try from the occupation…We are in sol­i­dar­ity with the pris­on­ers and in sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tin­ian cause, and we declare and stand by the side of the Pales­tin­ian and Arab resistance.”

Accord­ing to a news arti­cle about the con­fer­ence from Al Watan Voice, a daily Pales­tin­ian Arabic-language news­pa­per, other notable atten­dees of the con­fer­ence were Issa Qaraqe, the Pales­tin­ian Min­is­ter of Pris­on­ers’ Affairs and Fadwa Bargh­outi, the wife of impris­oned Fatah leader Mar­warn Bargh­outi. Dur­ing her address, Bargh­outi report­edly said, “We are here to revive the issue of the pris­on­ers and to expose the crimes of the Israeli occu­pa­tion in inter­na­tional forums.”

This is not the first time a con­fer­ence held in Beirut fea­tur­ing Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist groups has attracted West­ern­ers. In Jan­u­ary 2009 and 2010, sim­i­lar con­fer­ences were held in Beirut, which Clark and other Amer­i­can activists attended as well.

News reports indi­cate that this year’s con­fer­ence con­cluded with a series of pro­posed action steps, includ­ing an affir­ma­tion by par­tic­i­pants “that the Resis­tance option in all its forms is the short­est way to lib­er­ate the pris­on­ers from Israeli jails.” A sec­ond action step from the con­fer­ence report­edly called for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against “all for­eign com­pa­nies and states that pro­vide logis­tic, secu­rity, or admin­is­tra­tive sup­port” to Israel on issues related to deten­tion of pris­on­ers in Israeli jails.

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