An-Najah Organizes the 13th Jerusalem Day Conference
On Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, and under the Patronage of His Excellency, the Prime Minister, Professor Rami Hamdallah, An-Najah National University organized the 13th annual Jerusalem Day Conference titled: "The Status of Jerusalem in the Current Palestinian Context" at the Zafer Al-Masri Auditorium in the Old Campus.
The conference coincides with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
The conference started with a solidarity pause in support of Jerusalem and in protest against the Balfour Declaration in the presence of a number of prominent Palestinian figures.
The conference themes included the political scene in Jerusalem, Jerusalem in the media, Jerusalem from a cultural and literary perspective, the educational scene in Jerusalem and architecture in Jerusalem.
The conference included three sessions through which the participants presented a number of research papers on topics like the consequences of Israeli settlements on the future of Jerusalem, Jerusalem in Algerian poetry and the U.S policy towards Jerusalem.
In the opening speech, Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah, welcomed the attendees and praised the people of Jerusalem for their brave resistance against the Israeli occupation.
He extended his greetings to President Mahmoud Abbas and the Prime Minister, Prof. Rami Hamdallah who work hard to put an end to the distress of Palestinian people in Jerusalem.
He also stressed the importance of An-Najah Solidarity with Jerusalem and announced that the University will hold the Jerusalem conference annually.
In his speech, His Eminence, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, commended An-Najah for sponsoring conferences that support the Palestinian cause and stated that the Palestinians have lost Jerusalem since the issuing of the Balfour Declaration.
He also praised the Palestinian leadership and people for their great efforts in preserving the Palestinian identity and culture.
In turn, Lawyer Ahmed Rowaidi, Representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, talked about the organization’s role in preparing reports regarding the occupation practices in Jerusalem.
Mr. Munther Abu Ramouz, Representative of the Palestinian Vision Organization, briefed the attendees on the organization’s history and its goals to promote youth’s roles in Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also referred to organization projects that aim at enabling the youth to reach out to the world, such as the Promoting Change and Youth Leadership in Jerusalem Project (Hirak)*.
Engineer Adnan Al-Husseini, the Governor of Jerusalem gave a speech on behalf of Prof. Hamdallah through which he transferred the President and Prime Minister greetings to the conference participants.
He said: "The Palestinian catastrophe started in 1798 when Napoleon promised the Jews a national homeland in Palestine, if they supported his campaign to invade the East. Then in 1908, the British Prime Minister, after 10 years of Basel Conferences, promised to put the Jews in Palestine to divide the Arab countries apart. Finally, in 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued and formed the beginning of the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian people."
He also mentioned that Britain, today, celebrates the occasion of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration which increases the pain of the Palestinian people. He added that Britain should stop this celebration, apologize to the Palestinian people and restore their rights to put an end to the Israeli occupation and establish an independent state of Palestine. He also said that Britain should compensate the Palestinians for their suffering, displacement and losses.
The conference resulted in a number of recommendations; namely, working hard to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem and resist the Judaization of Jerusalem, supporting the inhabitants of Jerusalem and enriching the school curricula with historical, religious and civilization facts that promote the affiliation to the cause of Jerusalem as well as establishing a study and research centre in Jerusalem and reinforcing possible means of mutual scientific and cultural cooperation internationally.
The recommendations also included encouraging the writers and poets to make Jerusalem a top priority topic as the local institutions adopt and publish their literary and intellectual works, establishing a united Islamic-Christian party to defend Jerusalem, ensuring that the Jerusalem cause will not be isolated from its Arab and Islamic context and promoting the cause of Jerusalem through media in Palestine and the Arab and world countries in addition to exposing the occupation practices there and promoting the unity of Palestinians. Moreover, the participants recommended to continue to exert pressure on Britain and the international community to revoke the Balfour Declaration.
The conference was also attended by General Manager Akram Rajoub, the Governor of Nablus, in addition to other notable guests and attendees.
*Hirak aims to activate the roles of youth and CBOs/other groups in their communities and reinforce their ability to influence duty bearers and policy makers on the Palestinian level. Hirak seeks to create space to interact with and lobby Palestinian and international duty bearers by holding them accountable for their responsibilities towards the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem.