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Conference Program

Speaker bios here.

All events will take place at Founders Hall Room 126 at George Mason University (3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201) unless otherwise noted. 

Find links for livestream of some of the sessions below. 

Friday, September 20

6:30pm
Registration 

7:30pm-9:00pm EDT (Free and Open to the Public) (Watch livestream) 
U.S. Policy and Palestine/Israel 20 Years After the Oslo Accords
This September marks 20 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The "peace process" has brought no peace and instead has allowed Israel to continue its oppression of Palestinians with full U.S. backing. With the failure of the U.S. government and international community to hold Israel accountable for its actions, and the new realities in the region that have transformed the question of Palestine in the Middle East, this panel will tackle next steps and opportunities to help Palestinians achieve freedom, equality, and justice.

Speakers: 

  • Khaled Elgindy is a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
  • Noura Erakat is a Palestinian human rights attorney, activist, and Co-Editor of Jadaliyya.
  • Josh Ruebner is National Advocacy Director at the US Campaign and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Saturday, September 21

8:00am
Breakfast and Registration

9:00am-10:30am
Welcome and Member Group Networking

10:45am-12:15pm
Joint Struggle against Israel's Role in Repression (Watch livestream)
This panel will address why joint struggle is a necessity for Palestine solidarity activists, its challenges, and how we can incorporate the intersectionality of different struggles to strengthen our education and BDS efforts.  

Speakers: 

  • Fahd Ahmed is legal and policy director of Desis Rising Up and Moving. 
  • Hatem Bazian is Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine.
  • Sara Kershnar is co-founder of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. 
  • Maria LaHood is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Lunch

1:00pm-2:15pm
Workshops

  • The Art of BDS Protest 
    Riham Barghouti, Andrew Kadi, and Sherry Wolf, Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel

    Adalah-NY has long been known for creative, musical, well-organized protests and we want to do a presentation that includes visuals and music to spread what it is that we do well and how others can expand on our creative efforts to build lively, well- attended and memorable protests too.

  • Billboards and BDS: How to Reach Thousands With Our Message to End Military Aid to Israel 
    Susan Schuurman, Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, and Mary Folsom, Upper Hudson Peace Action
    Hear from a grassroots activist from upstate New York who used billboards to reach hundreds of thousands of commuters with the message to end military aid to Israel. Then find out how you can get a matching grant to put up billboards in your local community.

  • Translating Experience into Action: Using Your Trip to Palestine/Israel to Launch or Deepen Your Activism 
    Mike Daly and Emily Siegel, Interfaith Peace-Builders
    The goal of this workshop is to examine the transformative power of travel to Israel/Palestine. Participants will examine things they can do before, during, and after the trip to make the most of the experience, looking particularly in detail at post-delegation strategies to share their story and build our movement. 

  • Understanding the Organized Anti-Palestinian Community in the United States 
    Abraham Greenhouse and Phan Nguyen, The Palestine Freedom Project

    Using case studies, role plays, and ordinary household objects, we'll explore the surreal but deadly serious world of those individuals and organizations who earn their living by trying to ruin our day. Learn what to expect, how to respond, and why they're not quite as powerful as you thought they were.

  • Building Power on Campus Through Coalitions
    Sasha Gelzin, Carlos Guzman, and Danya Mustafa, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and Yazeed Ibrahim, Students for Justice in Palestine-West
    During this workshop, students will engage in a facilitated discussion on coalition building. By examining the basic elements of coalitions, brainstorming potential event and campaign ideas, imagining points of political unity and strategizing long term collaborations, participants will leave with a stronger sense of how to build campus relationships. 

2:30pm-3:45pm
Workshops

  • Advanced Writing Workshop- How to get your Op-Ed and Press Releases Published
    Kristin Szremski, American Muslims for Palestine
    Drop the 'activist-speak' and jargon and learn what editors are looking for in press releases and op-eds. Did you know some papers publish press releases as articles? What's a 'to be sure' statement and why should you use it? Learn how to own your expertise and use it to get published.

  • What to do if Peace Talks "Succeed" -and How to Keep Our Movement for the Long Haul 
    Nadia Hijab, Al-Shabaka, Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, and David Wildman, General Board of Global Ministries
    20 years ago the so-called Oslo Peace Process led to an expansion of settlements and a Bantustanization of Palestine. Since then many in the US have continued to hope that any peace talks will lead to something. Join a discussion on what are the risks of so-called peace talks today. What if these talks result in the creation of something called a "Palestinian state" but inequality, lack of human rights and international law violations continue? How can we empower our member groups and supporters to keep pressing for human rights?

  • A Leaner, Meaner BDS: Practical Tools for Running- and Winning- a Community-Wide BDS Campaign 
    Andrew Meyer and Phan Nguyen, The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
    Employing case studies from several localized BDS campaigns, we will analyze what has and hasn’t worked. We will explore ways to handle the opposition, conduct outreach, avoid common pitfalls, eliminate the guesswork, and ultimately streamline the process in order to reach the final goal: winning. 

  • Academic and Cultural Boycott 
    Nada Elia and Sasha Gelzin, USACBI
    The lives of rock stars and actors dominate major U.S. media, making cultural boycott a pertinent focal point for the BDS Movement in the United States. Combined with Israeli society’s high regard for academia, the work of promoting the cultural and academic boycott of Israel has immense, untapped potential.  By targeting well-known artists, and denouncing academic collaborations with Israeli institutions, activists can build accessible, engaging and fun campaigns to challenge Israeli apartheid. This workshop will include a presentation on relevant campaigns, an outline, and analysis of tactics and an open discussion to brainstorm future efforts.

  • Congressional District-based Organizing of Church/Community Leaders
    Susan Nicholson and  David Zackon, North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice 
    Last year 15 national Christian leaders, including the head of the National Council of Churches, took the unprecedented step of urging Congress to examine US military aid to Israel. In this workshop, we will share our experience in organizing local support in a Congressional district in MA for this initiative.

4:00pm-4:30pm
Steering Committee Nominations Introductions 

4:30pm-6:00pm
Allies, Solidarity, and Anti-Racism/Bigotry Practices  
This panel will explore how bigotry, sexism, racism, and other forms of bias and privilege disrupt our organizing for justice in Palestine and will attempt to define mechanisms for managing these disruptions to build a strong movement. Panelists will offer examples from their own organizing that illustrate specific techniques and strategies. Participants will have an opportunity to identify challenges related to bias and privilege they have encountered, will discuss these issues in small groups, and report back to the conference. 

Speakers:

  • Nada Elia is a Palestinian activist and member of the Organizing Committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
  • Sydney Levy is Director of Advocacy at Jewish Voice for Peace.
  • Danya Mustafa is a Palestinian activist and serves on the steering committee of National Students for Justice in Palestine. 
  • Sandra Tamari is a Palestinian American BDS organizer with the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.
  • Sahar Vardi is the Israel Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee.

Dinner

7:30pm-8:45pm (Free and Open to the Public) (Watch livestream)
Justice for Human Rights Defenders
Under the international human rights system, governments are responsible for the protection of human rights defenders. This panel will detail and explore the actions and inactions of the US Government as the Israeli military has continued – as in the cases of U.S. citizens Rachel Corrie, Furkan Doğan, and others - to injure and kill human rights defenders with impunity.  The panel will provide an overview of US Government response and a space for envisioning next steps in the fight for justice.

Speakers:

  • Cindy and Craig Corrie are the parents of Rachel Corrie and are currently appealing the Israeli District Court's August 2012 verdict in their civil case against the State of Israel.
  • Maria LaHood is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

8:45pm-10:30pm (Free and Open to the Public) 
Entertainment
Join us for an evening session featuring a performance from the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" by Ashley Malloy, a dabke troupe, BDS singalongs from Dave Lippman, and Abe Foxhole of the Arab Defamation League, who will provide the Pro-Apartheid, Pro-Dispossession Point of View. We will also be honoring Rev. Michael Yoshii with the Damu Smith Memorial Activist Award. 

My Name is Rachel Corrie
Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie, as compiled by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner
This excerpt of the show follows Rachel from shortly after she arrives in Rafah, right up to a few days before her death. Rachel was part of the International Solidarity Movement, and it was through this group that she protected the destruction of water wells and the demolition of Palestinian homes by the IDF. As Rachel becomes more exposed to horrors of the Second Intifada, her hope, determination, and belief in the power of an individual is constantly challenged. These are her words.

Sunday, September 22

8:30am
Breakfast

9:00am-10:15am 
US Campaign Annual Report

10:30am-11:45am
Building Solidarity Across Black, Native American, and Palestinian Struggles (Watch livestream)
This panel will address how we can connect our work for Palestinian rights to those closer to home, particularly Black and Indigenous struggles against structural oppression in the United States. Panelists will explore how considering such links can inform our BDS campaigns and strategies, as well as how activists can recognize what is distinct about these struggles while making connections and acting in solidarity.

Speakers: 

  • Riham Barghouti is a Palestinian American and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
  • Robin D. G. Kelley is a UCLA professor and serves on the Advisory Board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. 
  • Melissa Franklin is a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma who co-organized the first Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine in 2009.
Lunch

12:30pm-1:45pm
Workshops

  • SodaStream: Bring the Boycott to Your Community
    Jennifer Bing, American Friends Service Committee- Chicago, and Shelley Fudge, Jewish Voice for Peace- DC Metro 
    Bed, Bath & Beyond? Bubbles? Boycotts? Nearly 40 member groups of the US Campaign are engaged in boycotting SodaStream– a carbonated beverage maker produced in an Israeli settlement industrial park. Touted as an “environmentally friendly” product made “in Israel”, community activists around the world are organizing local boycotts that challenge SodaStream’s misinformation and profits from Israeli military occupation.  Come to this workshop to learn about these creative efforts to educate and mobilize people to action.
  • Prolonged Occupation and Palestinian Children 
    Brad Parker, 
    Defence for Children International Palestine
    The objective of the workshop is to engage with US-based activists and organizations in order to expand the movement demanding respect for and protection of Palestinian children’s rights. The case studies and data discussed during the workshop will be taken directly from eyewitness testimony collected by DCI-Palestine’s fieldworkers and human rights monitoring and documentation unit. The workshop will also discuss concrete actions and ideas that workshop participants can take to join the fight to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian children.

  • The Jewish National Fund: Green Washing Apartheid 
    Sara Kershnar and Jonah Aline Daniel, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
    Posing as an environmental organization, the JNF has played a central role in the on-going displacement of Palestinians since 1901. This workshop exposes the JNF’s “green-washing” - using the guise of environmentalism to perpetrate land theft, environmental destruction and colonization, and introduces the international Stop the JNF campaign.

  • Know Your Rights! Legal & Tactical Strategies for Palestinian Rights Activists
    Dima Khalidi, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and Barbara Harvey, National Lawyers Guild
    What are your free speech rights when engaging in Palestine solidarity activism - on campus, on streets, or in other public venues? What are the limits on free speech and the rights to demonstrate, to erect a symbolic Wall, or to express your rejection of IDF speakers? What kinds of challenges can you expect to your boycott or divestment campaigns? What language makes a divestment resolution impervious to credible attack? Are boycotts illegal? Learn about common forms of legal repression of Palestinian rights activism, and how you can stand up for your rights.

  • End the Frustration, Learn facilitation! 
    Sasha Gelzin, National Students for Justice in Palestine
    Seemingly tangential to political activism, facilitation of meetings and calls are actually central to the success of group work. Do you often find yourself frustrated in meetings with unequal participation, unclear goals, unstructured and endless discussions? This workshop will be a space to examine the importance of democratic processes, assess what makes a good meeting and provide a toolkit for optimal meeting design.
2:00pm-3:15pm
Workshops

  • Anti-Racist Frameworks and Practices in our Palestinian Solidarity Work
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Catalyst Project

    How can anti-racist practices and projects strengthen our PSM work? This workshop highlights opportunities for joint struggle against various forms of racism, including anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism. We’ll discuss how the BDS targets we choose, internal dynamics and the messages we use can connect justice for Palestine with other liberation movements.

  • TIAA-CREF a Target for Divestment: Looking back...Moving Forward
    Riham Barghouti, Adalah-NY, Jennifer Bing and Daniel Kaplan, American Friends Service Committee, and Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace
    Activists around the country have been demanding that retirement fund TIAA-CREF divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. As a result, the largest documented sell-off of Caterpillar stock in the US took place (73 million dollars.) What have we learned from our campaign? What have you learned from your BDS activism? This is an opportunity to draw lessons from our work as we prepare for the next stage.

  • Building Allies for a National Direct Action Campaign 
    Kelly Delaney, International Solidarity Movement- NorCal Support Group

    This workshop is designed to leverage resources in order to build a truly national direct action campaign.  Discussions will also focus on how to identify natural allies and build coalitions with ally groups in order to increase the effectiveness of local or national campaigns against the occupation.

  • Organizing for Advocacy: Experience of US Church Activists
    M. Theresa Basile, United Methodist Kairo Response
    The workshop presents the lessons learned by activists in Christian denominations about: growing a movement, leading a campaign, responding to opposition, building alliances within the church and beyond, passing church legislation, dealing with defeat and victory, and maintaining momentum over time. With a primary focus on the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church USA, we also will consider actions in other denominations and the recent emergence of bolder ecumenical advocacy. This workshop should also be useful for those organizing in communities other than religious institutions.

  • Syrian Palestinian Refugees in the Context of the Syrian Conflict
    Nidal Betare, 
    Upper Hudson Peace Action
    This workshop will describe the situation of the Syrian-Palestinian refugees within the context of the Syrian conflict, and the difficulties they are facing in the light of the weak role of both the PLO and UNRWA. 

3:30pm-4:30pm
Closing and Steering Committee Members Announcement