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Palestine solidarity organizing highlighted at UNAC conference

By Jim Byrne

Sana Wazwaz, from MN American Muslims for Palestine, speaking on the UNAC conference panel presentation on Palestine solidarity organizing across the U.S.  | Fight Back! News/Ashley Taylor-Gouge

St Paul, MN – Over 400 anti-war activists attended a three day conference organized by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) from April 5-7. The conference was held in Saint Paul with the theme “Decolonization and the Fight against Imperialism.”

Topics of the panels ranged from the U.S./NATO war in Ukraine, climate justice, sanctions, the U.S. encirclement of China, the struggle against U.S. imperialism in Africa, and organizing in solidarity with Palestine and its heroic resistance to Zionist occupation.

Friday night’s opening plenary from the Twin Cities Free Palestine Coalition highlighted the diverse support for Palestine from local movements of immigrants’ rights, labor, students, community control of the police, anti-war and Muslim organizations.

Cassia Laham of the UNAC administrative committee explained, “It was so inspiring to hear from leaders of the grassroots movements on the ground. Hearing from their firsthand experience leading and organizing mass mobilizations on behalf of the Palestinian cause was inspiring for all aspiring and current activists. Their analysis of the present resistance to genocide and occupation and they're hopefulness for a free Palestine left the audience filled with hope as well.”

Saturday morning’s plenary saw Husam Marajda from U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and Taher Herzallah from American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) condemn Israel's genocide in Gaza and its terror campaign throughout occupied Palestine.

Meredith Aby, an activist with the MN Anti-War Committee stated, “It was helpful to have Marajda and Herzallah give us their analysis about Israel’s attacks on Palestine and the tasks of the movement. Many of us in the room have been organizing protest after protest, week after week, so it was helpful to take the time to hear serious analysis of the regional and U.S. domestic impact of Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestinians.”

The conference hosted a special international guest, the Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.S., Lautaro Sandino. He spoke about the numerous gains in improved livelihood and economic development the Sandinista government and Nicaraguan people have achieved in the face of U.S. intervention and sanctions.

Audari Tamayo, co-chair of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said after the panel, “Recalling his time as a guerrilla in the mountains, Lautaro Sandino, the Nicaraguan ambassador, urged us to resist and mobilize, and if we get tired, to mobilize again. Ambassador Sandino reminded us that creating change is no easy task and requires utmost effort, a sentiment shared by revolutionaries from around the world who dared to struggle and won. Nicaragua has stood proud in the fight against imperialism, and we will take the lessons learned by those who have been on the front lines and never get tired of mobilizing!”

Saturday afternoon's workshop on Palestine solidarity organizing across the U.S. shared stories from seven different cities. Organizers from Dallas-Fort Worth, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, Denver, Milwaukee, Tucson and Minneapolis discussed the successes and challenges in building mass movements in solidarity with Palestine.

“We are working to strengthen the Palestine solidarity movement by finding dynamic ways to organize in support for the united front of the Palestinian resistance,” explained Emerson Wolfe of Palestine Solidarity Grand Rapids.

As other presenters covered topics on stopping Cop Cities, banning nuclear weapons, and explaining the U.S. imperial maneuvers to encircle and provoke a war with China, a plenary on defeating repression rounded out the program on Saturday.

From FBI entrapment of Muslims,to the FBI raids on the Anti-War 23, to the campaign to free Simon Trinidad, Hands Off Uhuru struggle and celebrating the victory of a freed Alex Saab, the crowd appreciated the sharing of experiences in defending our movements from repression in the final plenary of Saturday.

“As Dallas-Fort Worth Anti-War Committee members are facing charges for our work, it was very relevant to hear from people like the Anti-War 23 grand jury resisters and the Uhuru Movement members fighting back against political repression and to directly ask their advice,” explained Jo Hargis, of the Dallas-Fort Worth Anti-War Committee (DAWC).

The conference proved to be a consolidating moment for a movement that has seen a massive influx of young people from diverse backgrounds since October 2023, when Israel’s latest aggression on Gaza began. A unity resolution passed by the conference on its final day pledged to continue building protests in the streets for Palestine along with all countries targeted by U.S. imperialism and its proxies.

Conference attendees also unanimously agreed to support related progressive causes like immigrant rights, the fight against racist policing and militarized occupation inside U.S. borders, and freeing political prisoners.

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