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Don't deny our rights: open letter to Mahmoud Abbas

Various undersigned

July 29, 2010

The following open letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose elected mandate expired in July 2009 and who has remained in power under controversial emergency laws, was issued on 22 July 2010:

We are Palestinians of diverse perspectives and affiliations -- scholars, intellectuals, artists, activists, trade unionists, human rights advocates and civil society leaders, inside historic Palestine and in exile -- who are united in our commitment to the fulfillment of the fundamental rights of all Palestinians, particularly our inalienable right to self-determination. This universally sanctioned right encompasses, at a minimum, freedom from occupation and colonization in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

During a 9 June meeting with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you reportedly said: "I would never deny [the] Jewish right to the land of Israel," a statement that you have yet to retract. We regard this announcement, which adopts a central tenet of Zionism, as a grave betrayal of the collective rights of the Palestinian people. It is tantamount to a surrender of the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live in equality in their own homeland, in which they have steadfastly remained despite the apartheid regime imposed on them for decades. It also concedes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

No Palestinian institution or leader has ever accepted an exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine, which is irreconcilable with the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people. Our rights inhere in us as a people; they are not yours to do with as you please.

We, as Palestinians urgently need a legally and democratically elected leadership that is responsible, capable and committed to the fulfillment of our national rights and aspirations to live in freedom, dignity and just peace in our ancestral homeland. We call on all Palestinians to immediately revive the democratic processes that our people have struggled so hard to build, so that we can designate leaders with an effective vision and strategy for achieving our rights as a people.

Initial Signatories:

Saleh Abdel-Jawad, Assoc. Prof. of History, Birzeit University (Ramallah); Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh, poet and academic (Jerusalem); Naseer Aruri, Prof. Emeritus, University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth); Mourid Barghouti, poet and author (Ramallah/Cairo); Omar Barghouti, commentator and human rights activist (Jerusalem); Ramzy Baroud, author and editor of the Palestine Chronicle (Seattle); George Bisharat, Prof., UC Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco); Haidar Eid, academic and boycott, divestment and sanctions activist (Gaza); Samera Esmeir, Assist. Prof. of Rhetoric, Univ. of California, Berkeley (Haifa); Wael Hallaq, Prof., Columbia University (New York); Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate (Washington, DC); Jamil Hilal, sociologist and author (Ramallah); Islah Jad, Assist. Prof. of Gender & Development, Birzeit Univ. (Ramallah); Hatem Kanaaneh, medical doctor and author (Sakhnin); Ghada Karmi, author and Fellow, Exeter University (Exeter); Nur Masalha, Prof. of Religion and Politics, St. Mary's Univ. College (London); Joseph Massad, Prof., Columbia University (New York); Jean Said Makdisi, author (Beirut); Saree Makdisi, Prof., University of California at Los Angeles (Los Angeles); Zakaria Muhammad, novelist (Ramallah); Karma Nabulsi, Fellow in Politics, University of Oxford (Oxford); Eyad Sarraj, psychiatrist (Gaza)

(alphabetical order - institutions for identification only)

Endorsers:

Mohammed Abu Abdu, Pal. Student Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) (Gaza); Bashir Abu-Manneh, Prof., Columbia University (New York); Mohsen Abu Ramadan, civil society activist and independent political commentator (Gaza); Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society (London); Abdefattah Abusrour, President of Palestinian Theatre League, Jerusalem - General Director of Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Society, (Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem); Majeed Al-Barghouthi, poet and writer (Amman); Musa Al-Hindi, Coord. Comm. member, US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN); Hala Al-Yamani, Assist. Prof., Bethlehem University (Bethlehem); Lubna Arikat, community activist (San Diego); Huwaida Arraf, attorney and human rights activist, New York; Khaled Barakat, writer and activist, Vancouver; Nasser Barghouti, human rights activist (San Diego); Diana Buttu, lawyer (Ramallah); Yasmeen Daher, lecturer at Birzeit University and human rights activist (Jaffa); Seif Da'na, Prof. of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Parkside (Parkside); Lamis J. Deek, attorney and human rights advocate (New York); Noura Erakat, human rights attorney (Washington, DC); Leila Farsakh, Assoc. Prof., University of Massachusetts (Boston); Jess Ghannam, Prof., University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco); Lubna Hammad, lawyer and human rights activist, Adalah-NY (New York); Rema Hammami, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Birzeit University (Ramallah); Nizar Hasan, filmmaker (Nazareth); Zaha Hassan, civil rights attorney and human rights advocate (Oregon); Kamel Hawwash, Assoc. Prof. in Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham (Birmingham); Monadel Herzallah, US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), San Francisco; May Jayyusi, Exec. Director of Muwatin, Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy (Ramallah); Ray Jureidini, sociologist, Cairo; Jamal Kanj, author, (Nahr el Bared refugee camp); Osamah Khalil, PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley); Suleiman Mansour, visual artist (Jerusalem); Dina Matar, academic, SOAS - University of London (London); Moammar Mashni, Co-Founder, Australians for Palestine (Melbourne); Mazen Masri, lawyer and human rights activist (Toronto); Fouad Moughrabi, Prof. and Head of Dept. of Political Science, Univ. of Tennessee (Chattanooga); Rana Nashashibi, activist, Coalition for Jerusalem (Jerusalem); Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Barrister, Palestine Legal Aid Fund (London); Mahmoud Oriqat, Engineer (San Diego); Mazin Qumsiyeh, Prof. (Bethlehem); Ahmad Sadi, Academic (Galilee); Grace Said, activist (Washington, DC); Dalal Yassine, lawyer and human rights advocate (Beirut); Raja Zaatry, journalist (Haifa); Elia Zureik, Prof. Emeritus of Sociology, Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario)

(alphabetical order - institutions for identification only)





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