Statement of the Pan-Arab Caucus

June 5, 1997,

Boston, Massachusetts.

At a time when we find ourselves increasingly fragmented and lacking spaces in which we can collectively plan our futures, and while the problems that we face as Arab peoples continue to intensify in the face of Western hegemony, a group of activists, academics, students, and politicians met to discuss and renew our struggles as Arabs. On June 4 and 5, 1997, we held a 2-day workshop in Boston, Massachusetts in order to reframe our perceptions, language, and presentation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with particular emphasis on Palestine.

Among those present was Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and former head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference. After two days of discussions, the workshop participants agreed on the following points:

We reaffirm the right of all Palestinians to return to their homes, wherever they may be in Palestine, as enshrined in UN resolution 194. We need to remember that Israel is a colonialist state imposed on the Arab world against the will of the Arab people. Furthermore, its creation must be considered part of a long history of European interventions whose goal has been to fragment and exploit the Arab peoples. It is, therefore, important to recognize that any social, political or economic normalization attempts with Israel is legitimizing the further exploitation of our resources such as water, oil or agricultural products. Given the consistent 100 year history, goals, and implementation of the Zionist project and as long as Israeli society as a whole refuses to recognize the grave injustice it has perpetrated against the Arab peoples and continues to consider itself entitled to dictate their fate, we find it absurd to argue about particular partnership options with Israel. We do not find it useful to debate over a one state or two-state solution, nor do we find our salvation in pieces of paper, handshakes or grand declarations. We believe that we will only gain our freedom by developing and relying on our internal strengths. Given this context, our struggle should be directed towards rebuilding the "Palestinian house" in particular, and the "Arab house" in general.

This process should include:

a) Community building inside and outside Palestine, particularly by forging links amongst and between Palestinians in Palestine, in refugee camps in different parts of the Arab world as well as the larger diaspora.

b) Rebuilding ties between the Palestinian people and the rest of the Arab world, including ties between Palestinian refugees and their Arab host countries.

c) Articulating visions and institutions which would promote dialogue on issues of immediate needs and designing a process through which diverse Palestinian and Arab voices may be represented and vision of a Palestinian and Arab identity can be strengthened. In this vein it is essential that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, treated as third-class citizens by Israeli authorities and often neglected in deliberations be included. It is also crucial that Palestinian refugees in host countries, recuperate the representational mechanisms eliminated since the Madrid agreement.

d) Recognizing the bankruptcy of the current Palestinian leadership and the so-called peace process and creating a process that holds each and every one of us accountable to the integrity of our national aspirations. We have created the Pan-Arab Caucus, a committee of Arab activists and friends who seek to reformulate the framework through which a just and equitable solution in the Arab world could be realized.