Osama Abuirshaid, Wesam Ahmed, and Rawan Damen speak on Nakba’s 75 Anniversary

This webinar delves into the historical events preceding the Nakba and exposes Zionist myths. Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, Wesam Ahmed, and Rawan Damen focus on these topics. They shed light on the complexities of the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. It also offers guidance on utilizing social media for activism. It also addresses Israeli accountability for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Lastly, the webinar examines U.S. policy regarding Israel/Palestine. Additionally, it explores ways to advance the cause within the United States.

Osama Abuirshaid, Rawan Damen Speak on Historical Context Regarding the Nakba

Rawan Damen provided an insightful discussion, shedding light on the history of the Zionist movement. According to Damen, many people mistakenly believe that the story of Zionism began in 1948 and spans only 75 years. However, she asserts that the true narrative goes back much further, over 220 years. To support this claim, Damen states, “In 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of the Levant, he invited Jews from around the world to settle in Palestine, making it the first political moment where the Zionist narrative was adopted by a political leader.” This historical event, although unsuccessful, marked a significant turning point.

Furthermore, Damen highlights that from 1799 to 1841, approximately 40 years later, there was an earlier British version of the Balfour Declaration. She reveals that a comprehensive plan to settle Jews in Palestine was proposed in a 40-page letter from the British Consul Charles Hadley Churchill to Moses Hayim, the leader of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom. This plan led to the establishment of the first British Jewish settlements in Palestine in 1860, albeit largely uninhabited.

Additionally, Damen emphasizes the belief in the Zionist cause during that time, stating, “Nevertheless, the British Foreign Office firmly believed in the plan, and during that time, Christian Zionists from France, Germany, Russia, and the United States were also establishing scattered settlements in Palestine.” This demonstrates the widespread support for Zionism and the efforts made by various nations.

Moreover, the Zionist movement gained further momentum in the early 20th century. Theodore Herzl’s book “The State of the Jews” and German initiatives played a vital role during this period. Damen notes, “The Zionist conferences had a common agenda of seeking public and political declarations supporting Zionism from world powers.” This illustrates the concerted efforts made to garner international recognition and backing for the Zionist cause.

Damen goes on to highlight the interactions between Herzl, the American Zionist movement, and British politicians, particularly Arthur Balfour. She mentions that Herzl urged members of the American Zionist movement to obtain a declaration from the American president,. This deemed it more important than numerous conferences held worldwide. These endeavors, along with meetings, discussions, and plans, eventually led to the establishment of the Palestine Land Development Company and the settlement of more Zionists in Palestine.

Between 1882 and 1907, around 2,000 Zionist Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine from Eastern Europe, establishing roughly 30 settlements. Damen underscores the growing influence of key individuals like Wiseman, who had close ties with British politicians and actively participated in shaping the Zionist movement. This culminated in the November 1914 meeting where the British government discussed Zionism, followed by the “Future of Palestine” document outlining detailed steps to create a Zionist entity in the region and accommodate four million Zionist Jews.

Lastly, Damen addresses the implementation of these plans during the British mandate in Palestine, with Herbert Samuel serving as the first British commissioner from 1920 to 1925. She acknowledges that this process involved the enactment of approximately 100 laws against the Palestinian Arabs, resulting in ethnic cleansing, massacres, and violence aimed at displacing the indigenous population. Damen emphasizes the importance of understanding the roots and history of this story, urging people to explore historians’ archives and gain a comprehensive understanding of Palestinian history.

In conclusion, Rawan Damen’s insights into the historical development of the Zionist movement challenge common misconceptions. By tracing the origins of Zionism back to the late 18th century, she reveals a longer and more complex narrative. The involvement of influential figures, political events, and international support underscores the multifaceted nature of this historical process. Understanding this broader context is essential for Palestinians, Arabs, Americans, and others seeking a comprehensive understanding of the history of Palestine.

Osama Abuirshaid on Reconstructing the Palestinian Narrative

Dr. Osama Abuirshaid discussed various important points. He emphasized the need for Palestinians to construct or reconstruct their narrative. Particularly within the American framework. He stated, “It is very important that we reconstruct our narrative because there is so much misinformation here in the United States.”

Furthermore, Dr. Abuirshaid highlighted the religious and historical components that play a crucial role in shaping the American Evangelical movement’s perspective on Palestine. He emphasized, “For the Evangelical movement, it’s not about politics, it is about religion. Therefore, it becomes even more important for us to reconstruct our narrative.”

Moreover, Dr. Osama Abuirshaid pointed out the significance of historical and religious narratives in countering the dominant Israeli narrative. He stated, “In the absence of a historical and religious narrative, we leave a void, allowing the other side to build their own narrative based on religious sensitivities. This is a major factor in American politics.”

Additionally, Dr. Abuirshaid discussed the Balfour Declaration in 1917 as a turning point in the United States’ policy towards Palestine. He explained, “The British government issued the Balfour Declaration, but it was only after securing the approval of the Woodrow Wilson Administration. The U.S. Congress later adopted the Balfour Declaration.”

Moreover, he highlighted the complicity of successive U.S. administrations in the Palestinian issue since 1917. He mentioned, “Each administration bequeathed complicity to the next, from Wilson to Truman to Johnson. This historical context is crucial in understanding the ongoing situation.”

Furthermore, Dr. Abuirshaid emphasized the need to shift both public opinion and policy in the United States. He said, “We need to be more enthusiastic, passionate, professional, organized, and educated. However, without a comprehensive narrative, we cannot bring about meaningful change.”

Lastly, Dr. Abuirshaid acknowledged the changing dynamics in American public opinion. Particularly among millennials and Gen Z. He mentioned, “According to consecutive public opinion polls, millennials and Gen Z show greater sympathy for Palestine. We need to invest in this shift to ensure future generations lead America with a different perspective.”

In conclusion, Dr. Osama Abuirshaid stressed the importance of reconstructing the Palestinian narrative, addressing historical, religious, legal, and humane aspects. He emphasized the need to connect the Palestinian struggle with parallel narratives, such as the Native American experience, in order to shape public opinion and ultimately influence U.S. policy.

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