Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, the University of Jordan (UJ) held on its main campus a three-day international conference (May 8-10, 2018) entitled "The Palestinian Cause - Whereto?", marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba.
The conference hosted informative papers, presentations and perspectives that shed light on the status quo of the Palestinian issue, with focus on Jerusalem, and what to do to move forward and bring about justice and peace. For decades, Jordan has been a key player in the pursuit of an equitable solution to the Palestinian issue and a staunch advocate of comprehensive and just peace for all in the region and for the globe.
Building on the positive Jordanian spirit and on its constructive role and sound vision in pushing for a fair settlement, at a time when security and peace are deteriorating both in the Palestinian occupied territories and the region, UJ made it possible for the participants to present informed views on lessons learnt, and on ways forward. To leverage the discussion, the Organizing Committee has called for papers and presentations zeroing in on specific themes within the following four overall spheres:
B. The political, legal, and economic dimension.
C. Heritage and culture: historic, religious, archeological issues, etc.
D. Civic pressure movements (Palestinian, Arab, and international) and media.
Over the course of 20 sessions, the conference included working papers, presentations and perspectives presented by more than 70 international and regional academics, researchers, political analysts and legal specialists from the United States, Europe, the Arab region and Jordan. Joseph Massad, Ghada Karmi, and Wadie Said were some of the most prominent international figures at the conference. Joseph Massad, author of Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan and Desiring Arab presented a paper titled “The Future of the Nakba”. Ghada Karmi, author of In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story, presented a paper titled “The Palestinian Right of Return after 70 years”. The sessions generally covered a myriad of topics focused on Jerusalem; the political, legal and economic ramifications of the occupation; the heritage and culture of the Palestinian people; and the civic pressure movements and media coverage of the Palestinian cause.
HRH Prince Hassan inaugurated the conference delivering a lecture on Jerusalem in which he called for increasing the world's awareness of the Palestinian issue and holding periodical meetings by the public and the private sector on the subject.
The prince stressed the importance of the Muslim awqaf and Christian endowments management in the holy city of Jerusalem, urging more efforts on the political level that benefit from the internationally recognized status quo of East Jerusalem as an occupied land, and intensifying the mobilization of Jerusalemites through cultural movements such as arts and "soft resistance" to refute Israeli claims.
Furthermore, Prince Hassan underscored the Hashemites’ role in the preservation of the city's holy shrines, referring to his great grandfather Sherif Hussein, who reconstructed Al Aqsa Mosque/AL Haram Al Sharif in 1924 at a cost of 39,000 Palestinian pounds or an equivalent to 24,000 golden liras.
UJ President Prof. Azmi Mahafzah, in his address, said the birth of the conference stems from UJ's commitment to the historic responsibility and national role towards the Palestinian issue. "UJ is keen to raise questions about the past, the present, and the future of Palestine and the city of Jerusalem," Mahafzah stated.
The President also pointed to the role of Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II as the protector of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
The event also included an art exhibition, featuring the work of 28 local and international artists that depicted the Palestinian cause, and challenges and concerns of the Palestinian people, in addition to plays, musical performances, and a poetry evening by famed Arab poet, Tamim Al-Barghouti.
Al-Barghouti recited poetry about the history of the Palestinian cause and the struggle, suffering and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
He recited his famous poem "Sixty Years", a poem titled "Servant" and others, concluding the evening with his long poem "In Jerusalem" which received the most enthusiastic response by the audience.
On the last day of the event, the preparatory committee of the conference issued a statement and several recommendations praising Jordan's role, led by His Majesty King Abdullah’s endeavours at the regional and international levels, in highlighting means to reach a just solution to the Palestinian issue.
Participants in the conference highlighted the importance of seeking a just and fair solution to the Palestinian issue, stressing that peace cannot be reached without considering justice as a prerequisite and without Israel’s commitment to all relevant international resolutions.
They reiterated the need to respect all Abrahamic religions, the rights of their followers and their holy places, calling for keeping such places away from political, ideological and racist conflicts.
The forum commended the stances expressed by all countries, peoples, individuals and institutions that support the rights of Palestinians and their right to peace, also praising the role of Palestinian refugees’ relief institutions inside Palestine and abroad, in their endeavours to empower and support refugees.
The conference suggested publishing the working papers discussed in the event, so as to make them available for those interested in the issue.
It also called for preparing a university text book, whether compulsory or as a reference at Jordanian and Arab universities, based on the outcomes of the papers presented, to keep students acquainted with developments of the Palestinian issue.
Participants also suggested preparing short video clips from some of the sessions to use them in integrated education materials related to Palestine, in addition to uploading these clips to Youtube.
Another recommendation included coordination with participants and other researchers to prepare a research book in English, so as to acquaint international researchers with the Arab world’s point of view on the Palestinian issue.
Finally, the participants discussed the possibility of holding the conference every three years to discuss developments and recent studies on the issue.