Thoughts on the Istanbul Palestinian Diaspora Conference

PNN/ Bethlehem/
By Mazen Ramahi- Head of the Palestinian Communities’ Union in Europe/ 

It is a must to pay a tribute to all Palestinians, or non-Palestinian -regardless of their political affiliation-  who work to support the Palestinian cause, win over public opinion, and strengthen the presence of Palestinians in the diaspora, especially those in Europe, who work in accordance with the the laws that supervise this entity.

I speak now from Europe, where I have filled as Head of the Palestinian Communities Union in Europe. During the last decade, Europe has witnessed many festivals and conferences organized by different organizations, including the Palestine Liberation Organization and its affiliated organizations, in addition to others outside of the PLO,  who all work towards serving the national Palestinian interest, even in times of disagreeing with it.

Many of these festivals were attended by national figures and members of the PLO factions. However, we are now seeing the same people organizing a conference in Istanbul entitled the “Palestinian Diaspora conference.” When I read the invitation that was sent to the Palestinian Community in Istanbul, I was appalled to find that the purpose of this conference is to create an alternative or parallel body to the PLO, which is a dangerous and unprecedent move even when assuming good intentions from this move, and assuming that the organizers are unaware of the nationally and international value of the PLO, and are unappreciative of the sacrifices made by the Palestinian people of all backgrounds, whose only legitimate representative and home has become the PLO.

Some believe that the institutions of the PLO have become old or disconnected, which it is, but would it be an appropriate solution to find an alternative to it, as suggested by this conference? Or would the solution be solving the issues on a national and public ground that serves a national interest, by reviving the PLO institutions to suit everyone, since it is imposed on us in the meantime.

The continued attempts to circumvent the legitimacy of our Palestinian institutions, regardless of their nature and circumstances  or the criticism around it, and in this case I mean the PLO- the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, are only attempts that are inevitably doomed to fail, and I have no doubt that this conference will be also have a similar fate of failure, since our Palestinian history testifies to the failure of numerous attempts to circumvent the PLO, whether from inside or outside the Palestinian tissue.

Therefore, I call on the organizers of this conference to learn history and benefit from it. Also, there are some questions that need to be answered, including: Who is funding this conference? Why is it going to be held in Istanbul?

In midst of all this, we should also check the performance of the PLO leaders and their  responsibilities towards dealing with the Diaspora and national frameworks, not out of self-flagellation is as ringing the alarm of danger, as if Palestinians were not   partners in the homeland. The neglect, marginalization and lack of representation of the Palestinian people in the PLO institutions, and in the absence of a Diaspora framework.

Finally, we are an integral part of the Palestinian people is part and we acknowledge that our homeland deserves the best from us, and we confirm that the PLO is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people wherever it is.