This year’s Return Week is exceptional in form and content as it is loaded with positive implications for the Palestinians and their supporters. Western and non-Western standpoints regarding the Palestinian cause and Palestinians’ inalienable rights have seen a positive turn, as a result of rising changes in international politics, particularly following the Ukraine-Russia war. A global anti-Israel campaign continues to deplore the West's double standard policies on wars in Ukraine and Gaza, describing them as painful and infuriating. The war serves as a reminder of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, a resistance against the continuous illegal annexation of lands in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. A number of western countries have also shown unconditional and biased support for Israel and its occupation of Palestine. This pro-Israel, anti-Palestine lobby has been led by countries like Britain whose former Prime Minister heartlessly pledged to relocate British embassy to occupied Jerusalem city. We should not forget that this year’s event is a stark and painful reminder that over 8 million Palestinians have been turned into refugees since the Nakbha of 1948, when tens of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by Zionist militias. Again, Britain holds a historical and moral responsibility as it sold what “it does not own to those who do not have the right to own” through its notorious Balfour Declaration of 1917, pledging a national Jewish home on usurped Palestinian land. This year’s version of the Return Week sends a message to the entire world that the Palestinians will never ever forfeit their inalienable rights, particularly their right to return to their motherland and establish an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders. Until this dream comes true, the longest and most legitimate struggle in the world shall not come to an end.
December 2022 London, UK and ONLINE
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Oroub Al-Abed: Is a lead researcher in Jordan and co- investigator at the Centre for Lebanese Studies on several research projects studying several communities (locals and refugees) with intersectional approaches in the Middle East. She completed her PhD in Political Economy of Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Her research work has been focused on refugees and vulnerable minorities in the Middle East. She has taught several courses on development, livelihood and forced Migration issues and has consulted for several UN and international NGOs and published articles in the area of development ( ducation and employment) and forced migration in the Middle East. She published a book on Palestinians of Egypt, some work on Palestinian refugees from Gaza living in Jordan. Her book building on thesis studying the Palestinian origin Jordanians of East Amman is soon to come out and she is currently editing a book studying the limited options for youth citizens and refugees in the Levant.
Ramzy Baroud: Is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA).
Magid Shihade: Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor at Dar Al-Kalima University, Bethlehem, Palestine.
Lara Elborno: Is a Palestinian-American international lawyer and activist based in Paris though her family originally hails from Gaza and Yaffa. She dedicates a large part of her legal practice to human rights work including accompanying asylum seekers in asylum proceedings before French jurisdictions. She is also co-host to a weekly English-language podcast called the Palestine Pod which aims to support the Palestinian struggle for liberation against Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid.
Randa Siniora: Is the General Director of the Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC). She is a human rights and women’s rights activists with a professional experience in the field of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law for over 35 years. Earlier, she was the Senior Executive Director of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) from 2007 to 2015 and the General Director of Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man (2001-2005). Previously she also headed the Networking and Advocacy at the WCLAC and worked as a Legal Researcher and Coordinator of the Women's Rights Program at Al-Haq. (1987-1997). Randa Siniora was the first Palestinian woman ever to brief the UN Security Council on Women Peace and Security (WPS) in 2018. In 2019, she was selected among the 100 most influential people in gender policy around the world, one of the largest and most prominent global lists that was drawn from over 9,000 nominations to recognize and celebrate the hard work being done on gender policy by many around the world. Randa has an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex/UK and an MA Degree in Sociology-Anthropology from the American University in Cairo.
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey: Is a lifelong human rights and social justice campaigner whose activities have ranged from neighbourhood organising, through to national protest movement and parliamentary representation. Bernadette came of political age as a working-class Catholic in 1960s Northern Ireland, rising to prominence in the non-violent campaign for Catholic civil rights in British-controlled Ulster. She was elected to the House of Commons in 1969 on a civil rights ticket, making her the youngest ever female MP at 21 years-old. Over the next decades, inside and out of Parliament, Bernadette continued to agitate for equality in the North. She is currently chief executive of the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP) and was involved in its founding in 1997. STEP is a community development organisation that works with migrants in the Dungannon area.
Mark Ayyash: Is the author of A Hermeneutics of Violence (UTP, 2019). He was born and raised in Silwan, Jerusalem, before immigrating to Canada, where he is now an Associate Professor of Sociology at Mount Royal University. He is currently writing a book on settler colonial sovereignty in Palestine/Israel.
Rebecca Miles: Is Executive Director of the Nez Perce Tribe. Miles was elected to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC), the governing body of the Nez Perce Tribe, in May 2004. Miles was chosen Woman of the Year by the Washington State University Alumni Association in March 2006. She also received the National River Hero Award in 2007 for her work on Endangered Species Act-listed species in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Washington State University in 1997, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in 2002.
Bram Hanekom: Speaking on behalf of Africa4Palestine, He has been a lifelong activist for Palestine in South Africa, he has established himself as an activist for refugee rights, farm workers and youth. He serves on the board of several NGOs and was previously the director of the human rights organisation PASSOP. He has been actively involved in solidarity organizations campaigning for Cuba and human rights in Swaziland. His views, much like most in the Africa4Palestine movement, have been largely influenced by his life experience as a member of a family which fought against apartheid in South Africa.
Bernard Regan: Speaking on behalf of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, is the current secretary of the campaign, has led trade union delegations to Cuba, is trustee of the National Education Union and is the author of 'The Balfour Declaration: Empire, the Mandate and Resistance in Palestine (2018).
Asa Winstanley: Originally from south Wales, Asa Winstanley first travelled to Palestine at the end of 2004, volunteering with the human rights defenders of the International Solidarity Movement. He ending up working and volunteering in the occupied West Bank until 2007 and has returned many times since. He was media coordinator for the ISM and later wrote for and was an editor at the late Palestine Times, the first Palestinian English-language daily newspaper published in the occupied West Bank. He has been writing for The Electronic Intifada since 2009 and has been an associate editor there since 2012.
Annie O'Gara: Is an active member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the UK branch of the global Stop The Jewish National Fund Campaign. She is committed to BDS and is a founder of Northern Women for Palestine, a women's collective drawn from activists in cities across the North, which seeks to work with, and amplify the voices of Palestinian women partners.
Kholoud Al-Ajarma: Is a Palestinian refugee, anthropologist, and award winning photographer and film maker. She is a lecturer at the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Al-Ajarma has also worked in the fields of refugee studies, international migration, gender studies, visual culture, environmental justice, and knowledge production in the Arab region, Europe and Latin America.
Heidi Grunebaum: is a member of South Africa's Stop the JNF campaign.
Pablo Navarrete: Is a British-Chilean journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is the founder and co-editor of www.alborada.net, an independent voice on Latin American politics, media and culture. His first feature-length documentary ‘Inside the Revolution: A Journey Into the Heart of Venezuela’ was released in August 2009 by Alborada Films. He has spoken about and covered contemporary Latin American political issues for various media outlets, including the ‘BBC‘, ‘Al Jazeera English’, ‘HuffPost Live’ ‘Russia Today‘, ‘The Guardian‘, ‘The New Statesman‘, ‘Counterpunch‘ and ‘Open Democracy‘.
Ignacio Asfura: Is a Palestinian-Chilean Economist from the University of Santiago, he has a masters in International Development, and is also a member of the current Chilean president's Party, Gabriel Boric's 'Convergencia Social'.
Lujain Al-Saleh: Is a member leader of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, also known as AROC, based in San Francisco, California. AROC serves poor and working class Arabs and Muslims across the San Francisco Bay Area, while organizing to overturn racism, forced migration, and militarism. Along with Lujain's role at AROC, she serves as the East Oakland Clean Air Project Coordinator for Communities for a Better Environment, one of the preeminent environmental justice organizations in the nation. The mission of CBE is to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. Over the past decade, Lujain has lived in the Bay Area and worked on a wide range of campaigns and projects to improve public health in Northern California, Guatemala, and Mexico. Lujain holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science & Management and minors in Professional Writing and Middle East & South Asia Studies from UC Davis and a Master of Public Health in Global Health & Environment from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Gabriel Huland: Is a journalist and a PhD candidate at SOAS, University of London. His research looks at the coverage of the Syrian conflict in three American newspapers - the NYT, the WP, and the WSJ. He recently published For or Against War?: The Syrian Conflict on the New York Times Opinion Pages, in the Journal of Communication and Media Studies. Before moving to London, he lived in Spain, Costa Rica, and Brazil, where he grew up and has his family. He worked as the editor of Página Roja, an independent Spanish newspaper, and as a researcher at the Latin American Institute of Socio-economic Studies (ILAESE), in Brazil. His research interests include migration, international politics, labour movements, news framing, and media policy. He has good knowledge of Latin American, Middle Eastern, and European affairs.
Leonardo Schiocchet: Studied social anthropology in Brazil and acquired his PhD at Boston University. He specialises in Palestine and his research focuses on forced migration, refugee studies, rituals, affiliations, ethnicity and the relationship between the Middle East and Austria.
Amer Zahr: Palestinian Arab American comedian, speaker, writer, academic, and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He draws on his experiences growing up as a child of Palestinian refugees, performing and lecturing on topics like politics, society, culture, identity, Palestine, Islam, and more.
Maysa Daw: Palestinian Actress & Musician from Haifa, Palestine
Bashar Murad: Palestinian Musician from Jerusalem, Palestine
Izraa: Palestinian Musician currently based in Vienna, Austria