Source: Al-Awda International Convention

As you know, after the announcement of the Oslo hoax in 1993, all of us were shocked at the degradation of the most fundamental Palestinian Right: the Right of Return. This Right is the only way to reverse the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and to repeal forever the racist policies of Zionism.

Salman Abu Sitta

Right of Return committees sprang up everywhere: in American and European cities, then in refugee camps in Palestine and ring countries. Conferences, seminars, demonstrations, maps, booklets and other media means spread the word: the Right of Return is sacred, legal and possible; compensation is not a substitute for return, but a corollary to it.

In April 2000, the time was ripe to hold a major conference in Boston where many of the activists who knew each other by face or only by name, met in one place. Many of the faces here today were present in Boston.

A quiet young man I saw sitting in the lounge of a Boston hotel was none other the dynamo of this movement: Zahi Damuni. It would take a long time to list all the wonderful people, active in this movement, whom I knew before or met for the first time in Boston. But two names deserve a special mention: my late friends Edward Said and Ibrahim Abu Lughod.

Ten years later, you are here today as a proof that the struggle continues with strength and the determination to achieve the Right of Return is stronger than ever. Ben Gurion must now turn in his grave when he predicted that "the old will die and the young will forget". The old passed the keys to their children and the young are more articulate, competent, confident and worldly than their parents ever were.

Although many present here today were also present in Boston, it is remarkable to note that those who were children ten years ago are now here, young men and women who took their place in the movement.

Let me assure you that our Right of Return will materialize. No doubt about that. This is because evil has always its own seeds of destruction. The world is now more aware of Israel's racism, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Its own sponsors are finding that Israel is a burden, a liability. It is like a pyramid standing on its apex. It cannot stay in this position without a strong hand supporting it in this peculiar position. But the hand will get tired one day. The pyramid will last for thousands of years if it rests on its base. That is the base of justice.

But let us not wait for external factors to help us. The first and foremost rule is that you should never ever give up your Right of Return. If you do, God forbid, you lose not only your home but also your identity and humanity, you and your future offspring. Second, you must work relentlessly for the Right of Return as if it should happen tomorrow. It will need this kind of determination. Third, in order to be effective we must be united. Those who work for Palestine should always be united. And those who split for personal or party motives are working for themselves.

Fourth, this movement, for it to have legal, diplomatic and political power at the UN and world parliaments, must strive for a new elected Palestine National Council, which truly represents 11 million Palestinians and which will produce new, competent and dedicated leadership which defends Palestinian rights vigorously and gains the confidence, support and respect of all Palestinians.

These are realizable aims. For 93 years since Balfour, we have been struggling for our freedom and our homeland. We did not surrender. We will never surrender. So keep on the struggle. God bless you. God bless Palestine.