PITAPOLICY Attends 5th AMPalestine Conference in Chicago

Note: PITAPOLICY would LOVE to thank the La Kazbah establishment that has continuously supported our efforts by letting us blog endlessly from their restaurant. They serve the BEST Moroccan food in Washington, DC and are located at 2147 P Street, NW in Dupont Circle.

Chicago ~ PITAPOLICY attended the Fifth Annual AMPalestine Conference: A Movement United, which was held November 22-25 at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott.  Key speakers included: Max Blumenthal, Fellow at the Nation Institute; Michael Figura, Legal Fellow; Miko Peled, social peace activist; Naeem Baig,  Islamic Circle of North America; Remi Kanzai, poet and writer; Josh Rubner (@joshruebner) & Ramah Kudaimi (@ramahkudaimi), US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; Imam Zaid Shakir, Zaytouna College; Othman Atta, attorney and activist.  No conference would be complete without non US scholars and activists: Nadia Hijab,  Director of Al-Shabaka; Jamal Badawi, and others also shared their views.  Our point for this blog post may be summed in these tweets: ”

AMP stands for the American Muslims for Palestine and was co-founded by Dr. Hatem Bazian.  Bazian is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley and has served in this academic capacity prior to his current position as Chairman.  Bazian is the author of  Jerusalem in the Islamic Consciousness: A Textual Survey of Muslim Claims and Rights to the Sacred City. Recently, Bazian was named in the category for Social Justice as one of The Muslim 500; The World’s Most Influential Muslims by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

There were tons of excellent, witty, and informative tweets…but here are the few that sum up our experience:

BDS Movement=Civic Strategy Leveraging Cultural and Consumer POWER

PITAPOLICY focuses on political economy issues.  So it was of particular interest to notice the emphasis on the potential power of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel (BDS).  The BDS movement represents civic action at the most grass-roots level while representing a philosophy rooted in classic political and consumer power.  BDS is an academic, cultural, and consumer boycott of products and services that support the Israeli occupation.   If the critical mass needed for BDS succeeds through citizen using their consumer power to reject purchasing product, then a business makes a political statement.  Notice the current effort of the BDS movement  to dissuade Motorola and Ahava.  Also note that a fifth of Israeli exporters reported a drop in demand as a result of the boycott in the wake of the Gaza massacre.  Omar Barghouti is a foundering member of the Palestinian Civil Society BDS campaign, founded in 2005. Remember the footballers call to action to boycott playing if the Under-21 European tournament were to be held in Israel?

Social Justice Among Civil War in Syria

It was great to see how the social -justice conversation expanded to the conflict (burgeoning civil war) in Syria.  Dr. Mohyeddin Kassar, Dr. Mahmoud Kattab, Tawfeeq Alhalaq (Syrian broadcast journalist) and Iyad Alshorbaji (magazine editor) shared perspectives primarily in Arabic on the role of media on Syria: “The Media’s Role in the Syrian Movement”.  However, I could not help but voice my concern that the whole premise of organizing a panel on media is based on lack of adequate information sharing and publicity.  So I was a bit disappointed that English was not transcribed in a written statement or summarized after each of the speakers as a way to inform media people, like me, who write in English.  Here’s what PITAPOLICY gleaned:

Aside from the informative and variety of perspectives that are knowledgeable about advocacy, outreach, and history of Palestine, the only criticism I have is that the conference began on Thanksgiving Day, which limits opportunities for local media to attend on the launch of the conference.  I hope that I may attend the entire conference next year…if it starts the Friday after Turkey Day :).

****Note: #PITAPAL, Omar Baddar from the Arab American Institute, appeared on the Al Jazeera English’s The Stream program to discuss the Twitter war over the Israeli strikes on Gaza that started November 14th.  Here is the replay that highlighted some of the more popular hashtags in the social media world:

  1. #Gazzeattesaltinda (Turkish for Gaza Attack)
  2. #PrayforIsrael
  3. #HamasBumperStickers

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Filed under Analysis, PIDE (Policy, International Development & Economics), Politics

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