Palestinians and supporters of Palestine gathered in Vancouver’s Grandview Church on Saturday, 15 January for a discussion of the Palestinian liberation movement and its next steps forward. The event focused on the development of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path movement (Masar Badil), which launched in November 2021 after conferences in Madrid, Beirut and Sao Paulo.
The event was organized by the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in Vancouver, together with the Palestinian Youth Movement, Canada Palestine Association, BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle. Khaled Barakat, coordinator of the Masar Badil follow-up committee and Palestinian writer and activist, and Hanan, student organizer and activist, spoke about their experiences attending the conference in Madrid as well as the political orientation and framework of the movement, especially its commitment to the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.
Charlotte Kates, Samidoun international coordinator, opened the event, thanking the church for its longstanding commitment to social justice issues and providing space for movements, including the movement for justice in Palestine. She noted that the event is taking place as one of the opening events for the international Week of Solidarity to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners, with events and actions taking place in the U.S., France, Ireland, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Palestine and elsewhere.
Hanan, a Palestinian student organizer, spoke about her experiences attending the conference, connecting with other Palestinian youth and students across borders, and sharing resources for organizing and political education with many other young Palestinians with various experiences of struggle. She noted that the conference was a place for Palestinians inside Palestine, in the refugee camps, in Europe and in North America to come together, especially alongside the parallel events in Beirut and Sao Paulo, expanding the circle of participation. She spoke about the collaborative and committed atmosphere of the event, the lessons participants learned from one another, and the ongoing activities being undertaken by the coordinating group of students and youth following the conferences.
Khaled Barakat discussed the political framework of the movement in the context of the development of the Palestinian liberation movement. Specifically, he reviewed the mass mobilization of Palestinians during the great popular Intifada and the prior development of the Palestinian revolution — and how that progress was forcefully brought to a halt through the so-called “peace process,” including the 1991 Madrid conference and the 1993 Oslo accords signed in Washington, DC.
He discussed the need for a Palestinian alternative path to the domination of Oslo and the Palestinian Authority, to the detriment of the Palestinian people, their land and their rights. In particular, he emphasized that a small class of Palestinian capitalists, seeking benefits from a subservient alliance with the Israeli occupation, were exercising a monopoly over the Palestinian political scene and official institutions, meaning that Palestinian popular classes and the movements that represent them must take an alternative path, centering the right to return and liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. He noted that colonizers had always sought a complicit group from among the oppressed population to serve as their agents, even though this sector does not represent the interests of the people who continue to give their lives for justice, self-determination and liberation.
The event concluded with a discussion about organizing and building upcoming initiatives of the Masar Badil, including a Palestinian student conference and a march for the right to return and freedom of the prisoners in November 2022. All were encouraged to participate in upcoming activities for Palestine in Vancouver, including the demonstration next Saturday, 22 January at 2:00 pm at Commercial-Broadway Skytrain station, calling for freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners.