Conference Topics and Objectives
For nearly a century, the question of Palestine has been one of the most contentious issues facing the world. Near the end of the nineteenth century, political Zionism emerged and allied itself with major Western colonial powers (starting with the Balfour declaration issued by Britain in 1917) to propose what was considered by many to be the answer to anti-Semitism in Europe: Jewish self-determination in historic Palestine. This, however, resulted in the forced uprooting and brutal expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian people from their ancestral land in 1948. By 1967, all of historic Palestine had become totally occupied, and the Palestinian people were dispossessed, denied their basic human rights and political self-determination, and forced to live either under military occupation or in exile.
With dispossession, exile, alienation, and occupation, the Palestinians have struggled to assert their identity, gain their freedom, uphold their dignity, regain their inalienable rights, maintain their political unity, sustain their social cohesion, and defend their humanity. Multiple generations of Palestinians have been living in squalid refugee camps around the Middle East, and without any end to their plight in sight. This difficult and tragic struggle was further compounded by the geopolitics of the Cold War, as well as the complications of the post-colonial order and requisites of the strategic imperatives for the sustenance and expansion of hegemonic powers in the region.
This International Conference on Palestine is organized by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU) under the theme: “The Question of Palestine: Examining History, Geo-politics, and Future Prospects”. It will also be co-sponsored by two non-profit educational and charitable organizations in Turkey, which are focused on Palestine, namely, İrfandan Medeniyete Derneği (Association for Wisdom to Civilization) and Ümmet Vakfı (Ummah Foundation).
The conference will examine many aspects of the Palestinian issue and attempt to present a comprehensive analysis of the conflict through historical, political, legal, religious, and human rights dimensions. It shall also discuss some of the most pertinent challenges related to the Palestinian cause, including the issues of Jerusalem, the right of return, the illegal construction and expansion of settlements in the West Bank, the suffocating siege on Gaza, the denial of the Palestinians’ political and human rights, and the future of the Palestinian national project. The presentations will also examine the geopolitics of the conflict, and the essence of the struggle, namely the land and the people, spanning all geographical areas. In addition, the strategies and actions needed to confront repressive and exclusionary policies, and empower the oppressed and occupied, shall be explored and discussed.
Some of the most renowned academics, speakers, and voices of conscience from around the world are invited to speak in this conference, and engage the students, experts, and the public at large on these important issues. They will not only present enlightened and informed views on how to analyze the problems and unlock their complexities, but also to explore novel and practical ideas regarding how to empower people––in Palestine and around the world––toward realizing the essential elements for resolving the conflict and achieving the vital goals of justice, freedom, inclusion, and lasting peace.