A Conference: Balfour’s Legacy: Confronting the Consequences

November 2 is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which committed Great Britain to the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine without consulting the indigenous population.  

The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine and The Trans Arab Research Institute are organizing an all-day conference in Cambridge, MA to mark the centenary.  

Balfour’s Legacy: Confronting the Consequences’ will be held on Saturday November 11, 2017 from 8 AM to 6 PM at the First Parish in Cambridge, 3 Church Street, in the heart of Harvard Square.  

The conference is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation at the door of $10 (or more if possible); lunch $5.

The aims of the conference

Zionism took various forms when it emerged in the 19th century as a response to a vicious and pervasive anti-Semitism and the example of European nationalism.   This conference will focus on ‘political Zionism’ as a settler colonial movement and Palestinian resistance to it.   It will highlight an historical record that rarely receives public attention, and examine its repercussions today. 

In the words of Rami Khouri, the distinguished Palestinian commentator who will be speaking at the conference, “The Balfour Declaration captures all the negative dynamics that have plagued the Arab world and parts of the non-Arab Middle East for the past century -- colonial interventions that displace indigenous people from their ancestral homeland, foreign political manipulations that reconfigure our lands and borders without consulting our people, and decision-making on the basis of the best interests of foreign capitals rather than local people. Balfour's century-long aftermath has made Palestine's usurped rights a constant source of radicalization and destabilization in the Middle East.”

Conference aims are to bring fresh thinking to US foreign policy, and to energize a push for peace with justice in the region, with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

The program

Conference speakers will examine how the Zionist Project was implemented in historic Palestine, and consider its long-term consequences for Palestinians, world Jewry, the United States, the United Nations and international law.  

Following an afternoon keynote address by Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, panels will focus on the potential for connecting struggles to build power and the challenges and opportunities of organizing for Palestinian rights in the Age of Trump.   

Action-oriented workshops will develop many of the themes laid out by panelists:  building solidarity campaigns, anti-BDS legislation and how to get involved in changing US policy, the future of Zionism, campus organizing and Israel’s water wars.

The plenary speakers and workshop presenters

Thomas Abowd, Tufts University
Susan Akram, Boston University Law School
Leila Aruri, UMass Amherst Students for Justice in Palestine
Elsa Auerbach, Jewish Voice for Peace -Boston
Nidal al-Azraq, 1for3.org

Ari Belathar, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston
Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah
Amahl Bishara, Tufts University
Anat Biletzki, Quinnipiac University
Gabriel Camacho, Project Voice, AFSC
Lawrence Davidson, West Chester University
Sara Driscoll, The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
Leila Farsakh, UMass Boston

Dalia Fuleihan, Boston University School of Law
Jude Glaubman, The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
Camila Hussein-Shannan, Boston Teacher Residency
Rami Khouri, Journalist, American University of Beirut and the Harvard Kennedy School
Jeff Klein, Massachusetts Peace Action
Yousef Munayyer,  US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Mahtowin Munro, United American Indians of New England
Nancy Murray, The Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
Hilary Rantisi, Harvard Kennedy School
Eleanor Roffman, Professor Emerita, Lesley University
Eve Spangler, Boston College
Tom Suárez, Author
Carl Williams, Attorney, National Lawyers Guild

Co-sponsors (list in formation)

1for3.org, AFSC Peace & Economic Security Program, Alliance for a Secular & Democratic South Asia, Arabic Hour, Andala Coffee House, Arlington Street Church Social Action Committee, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Boston University SJP, Cambridge to Bethlehem People to People Project, Faculty & Staff for Justice in Palestine, First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain, Friends of Mada al-Carmel,  Friends of Sabeel – New England, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston, Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine, Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine, Massachusetts Peace Action, Middle East Education Group at First Parish in Cambridge, National Lawyers Guild-MA, North Shore Coalition for Peace & Justice, Palestine Caucus at Harvard Kennedy School, Palestinian House of New England, Suffolk University Students for Justice in Palestine, The City School, Tree of Life Educational Fund,  Tufts University Students for Justice in Palestine, UMass Amherst SJP, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East - MA chapter, Unitarian Universalist MA Action Network, United for Justice with Peace, Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment, Western Massachusetts CodePink, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Young Abolitionists.

If you have a question about the conference or need more information, you can email the organizers at waterjusticeinpalestine@gmail.com.

We hope to see you there!