Back to PLO Bulletin 1-15 September 1979



On August 17-19, over 400 delegatess representing Palestinian organizations and communities in the U.S. and Canada met in Washington D.C. for the Constitutional Convention of the Palestine America Congress. The meeting was an important step in the ongoing campaign by Palestinians in North America to join together in a strong, united voice. Conference participants met at a critical juncture in U.S. policy towards the Middle East and towards the Palestinian people and used their time effectively both to adopt strategies for the future and to take immediate action, including an August 18 demonstration in front of the White House to protest U.S. policy and affirm that the "PLO is the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."

This slogan in fact was the heart of the common program and constitution adopted by the conference, which confirmed the conference's adherence to the resolutions of the Palestinian National Congress, the Palestinian National Charter and PLO policy. Delegates reflected the conviction of Palestinians in North America that they are part of one Palestinian nation.

The August conference came after six months of preparation following an initial conference in December 1978 at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City. The same hotel was the scene of an important Zionist conference thirty-seven years before, in May of 1942, that launched a massive and successful organizing drive in the U.S. For the first time in public, Zionist delegates had proclaimed that their goal was a Jewish State in Palestine. The Zionist conference recognized that the key to Zionist success was winning the support of the U.S. and the resulting campaign reached all levels of American society - from unions and farming associations to Congress and the Presidency. The overwhelming success of this campaign, which coincided with a U.S. drive to become the major power in the strategic and resources-rich Middle East, resulted in the almost unqualified support of the U.S. for the Zionist state.

The meeting of the Palestine America Congress shows that Palestinians in North America are determined to break this stranglehold on American public opinion. In fact, the meeting itself demonstrated that cracks are already appearing in the public consensus in support of Zionism. Two American Black leaders delivered solidarity speeches at the meeting and in turn, the conference sent a cable of support to a meeting of Black leaders held the same weekend in Virginia. The forced resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Andrew Young, in the wake of a brief meeting with PLO representative Zehdi Tarazi, was criticized and attributed to "Zionist pressure on the U.S. Administration." The conference called for meetings with Black organizations in the coming months, with the aim of holding joint activities.


A message of support from Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, called on conference participants to intensify their efforts to show the truth to American public opinion and to expose the U.S. and Zionist offensives against the Palestinian people. Arafat said that the recent events have exposed the biased position of the U.S. Administration on the side of the Israeli aggressors. This position, he added, is a continuation of the policy of former U.S. administrations "which created Israel in our homeland, and supported it with money and arms since its establishment." Arafat said that there are several truths about the Palestinian revolution and about the just Palestinian cause, about Israeli racism and its ties with the U.S. policy, and about the extent of the U.S. administration's support for Israel, all of which are unknown to most of the American people, among whom the Palestinians in America live. He went on: "It is your duty to make the truth reach the U.S. citizen so that we may gain more friends for our cause."

Karim Khalaf, mayor of Ramallah/Occupied West
Bank addressing Palestine American Congress
The oppression of the Palestinian people was brought home to the conference in an address by Mayor Karim Khalaf, mayor of Ramallah on the occupied West Bank, who described the situation of Palestinians in the occupied land, noting that 36% of the land occupied in 1967 has been confiscated for Israeli settlement. Khalaf, who also reviewed the number of conferences held inside the occupied land in defence of Palestinian rights, condemned U.S. policy and declared that the "self-rule" conspiracy will never be implemented because the Palestinian people are united in resisting all attempts to impose an unjust solution on them.

The conference of the Palestine America Congress is intended to be the first step in escalating the campaign to stop Israeli aggression, backed by the U.S., against the Palestinian people and their national rights. To this end, the official Founding Congress of the organization will be held in January, 1980. An Executive Committee, consisting of thirteen members, was elected to coordinate activities.

The upsurge of activity by Palestinian organizations is augmented by an increase in activity by solidarity and support groups in the U.S., including a conference sponsored by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in mid-September in Washington and an upcoming conference on "Israel's International Role" to be held by the Palestine Solidarity Committees in the U.S. The American people, which confronted the U.S. government over the war in Vietnam in protests that involved over half a million people at one time, have another role to play in bringing peace to the Middle East and justice to the Palestinian people.


The General Secretary of the French Communist Party, Georges Marchais, has described the policy of Israel in South Lebanon as "criminal", and expressed his concern regarding the situation in the Middle East as a result of Israeli aggression against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in South Lebanon. He said, after arriving on 27 August for a visit to Algeria, that the democratic forces which support peoples' independence have the urgent task to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, and demand an end to Israel's aggression. Marchais also condemned the Camp David accords, saying that the Egyptian-Israeli treaties will solve nothing, and he called for real negotiations to recognize the national rights of the Palestinian people.


In a communique issued on 28 August 1979, the Palestinian Council in North America condemned Zionist intervention in U.S. internal affairs which led to the resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Andrew Young. The communique called for more unity with democratic and progressive American forces, and strongly objected to the pressures which led to the acceptance of Young's resignation, considering it a reflection of a Zionist veto against Arab rights. The communique concluded with an invitation to the leaders of minorities in the USA for a meeting to discuss a new alliance for the sake of progress and liberty.


A group of Palestinian and Lebanese children participated in an international children's assembly which took place in the Bulgarian capital Sofia from 15 to 25 August 1979. All the participating children came from South Lebanon and Palestinian camps and were selected as representatives of Palestinian and Lebanese children and on the basis of various talents. The assembly gathered children of all continents and was attended by UNESCO in the framework of the International Year of the Child. The programme included exhibitions of children's drawings, readings of poems and stories written by youngsters, concerts with recitals by young composers and singers, tours of Bulgaria, children's festivals and festive processions. Over 80 countries and about 1,100 children participated in the assembly, entitled "Banner of Peace". The children introduced about 4,000 works of music, literature and sculpture they composed, wrote or created themselves. At the final meeting in Sofia's Freedom Parka monument of bells was unveiled, for which all participating countries donated a bell.


The General Secretariat of the International Federation of Arab Unions has called on the Arab states to shoulder their responsibility regarding what is taking place in South Lebanon, and to adopt a firm stand regarding U.S. imperialism, the main supporter of Israel. This was stated in a communique issued on August 28, 1979, in which the world public, and all the progressive and peace loving forces the world over, were called upon to condemn Israeli attacks on South Lebanon and to give all possible material and moral support to the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples.

Palestine - PLO information bulletin has been archived online as a project of New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine.

Originally published by The Palestine Liberation Organisation Unified Information as a bi-monthly information bulletin with copy permission granted via the notice "Partial or total reproduction is freely permitted by 'Palestine Bulletin'"

Contact us: New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
(973) 954-2521

New Jersey Solidarity
344 Grove Street, Suite 131
Jersey City, NJ 07302