Palestine takes centre stage at World Social Forum
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Palestine takes centre stage at World Social Forum

At the sixth meeting of the World Social Forum (WSF) in Caracas (24th -29th of January 2006), Palestinians struggling in their homeland joined with Palestinians from the Diaspora to ensure their message and calls played a central role in the gathering.

The WSF is the biggest gathering of global social movements, anti-war and anti-globalization groups. Five days of discussions, seminars and workshops on the different political and social struggles of people culminated in a united statement and actions plans for the Social Movements Assembly.

The calls of the Palestinian delegation focused on their right to self-determination, freedom and justice and the right of return. It highlighted the determination of Palestinians to continue resistance against the Occupation and Zionism, the racist colonial ideology driving the project of Palestinian expulsion. Palestinians and their supporters called for the isolation of Apartheid Israel as the most effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle. The call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) was already adapted in the last Social Movements Declaration in Porto Alegre in 2005.

The solidarity that was mobilized by the Palestinian presence continued on the progress made at previous social forums. The Social Movements Declaration of 2006, Caracas includes:

“For the Rights of the Palestinian people:

We support the Palestinian people’s struggle for justice, self-determination, the Right of Return of the refugees and a sovereign independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. Inspired by the South African struggle against Apartheid, we support the Palestinian Civil Society Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the colonial Zionist project of the state of Israel until:

1- Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall;
2- Palestinians enjoy all their fundamental social, political and economic rights of full equality;
3- the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties is implemented as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

We support:
– the Palestinian call for a global day of commemoration and struggle on the 15th of May (the 59th anniversary of the Nakba “catastrophe”), inviting all global movements to form civil missions to Palestine in these days.
– the 4th National and International Week of Action against the Apartheid Wall (9th – 16th of November).”
(Text in Spanish: )

The 18th of March was declared International Action Day against the War calling for the end of the Occupation in Iraq and Palestine:

“We refuse to accept the Occupation of territories by foreign troops and, consequently, demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the creation of a Palestinian independent state.”

Holding the conference in Venezuela, a country embracing ambitious social and political changes, clearly characterized the atmosphere of the Forum. Venezuela is at the forefront of challenging the American imperialist project in Latin America and gives hope to many movements in the continent and beyond. This was reflected by the huge participation from Latin America as well as the world. Around 150,000 people participated in the opening march and 55,000 participated in the seminars.

The conference was inaugurated by a huge march that went through the streets of Caracas and ended with speeches and music in the Square of the Heroes. Representatives from the movements leading various struggles in Latin America, and also from the across the world, were called to address the crowd.

Jamal Juma’, from the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, vowed that the Palestinian people would continue their resistance until the liberation of their land and the return of the refugees. He highlighted the necessity for unity among the struggles – from Iraq to Palestine to Latin America and Asia in order to achieve the wider goal of freedom.

In one of the five plenaries, entitled “Imperialist strategies, Militarization and People’s Resistance” the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign addressed the audience on the role of Israel and Zionism as active supporters of the imperialist project in Latin America and the dictatorships imposed cruelly upon its people. It highlighted Zionism’s role in provoking the war against Iraq and now the threats and destabilization made against Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Its influence was also discussed in countries that emerged from the Soviet Union.

The WSF in Caracas made an important step forward for Palestine in the efforts to link up with the Latin American movements and to unify the Palestinian people from the homeland and in the wider Diaspora. Moreover, it formed a clear expression of the need and will of the people to form stronger alliances against imperialism, oppression and war.