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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Thursday November 30th: Return of the Refugees: The Key to Peace in the Middle East

Return of the Refugees: The Key to Peace in the Middle East.

Cepal's 4th Annual Observation of the United Nations
Day of Solidarity with Palestinians.

An evening of debate, song and culture, featuring keynote speaker
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, and Montreal-based singer-songwriter Samia Odeh.

Thursday, November 30th, 2000
7:00 pm
Room 209, West Block, Parliament Hill

A reception, featuring Middle Eastern finger foods, will follow the event.

Admission is free (Donations accepted)

Spaces are limited.

This event is presented by CEPAL - the Canadian-Palestinian Educational

Co-sponsors include: the International Development Research Centre (IDRC),
The Middle East Discussion Group-Carleton University,
The National Council on Canada-Arab Relations,
Libby Davies, MP-Vancouver East,
Svend Robinson, MP Burnaby-Douglas,
Mark Assad, MP- Gatineau,
the Canadian-Arab Federation,
Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians,
the Islamic School of Ottawa.


"Return of the Refugees: the Key to Peace in the Middle East", an evening
event to mark the United Nations Day of Solidarity with Palestinians, will
be held on Thursday, November 30th at 7:00 pm in Room 237C, Center Block,
Parliament Hill, Ottawa.  World renown scholar Dr. Salman Abu Sitta will
provide the keynote address on the topic of the Right of Return.  Based in
Kuwait and London, UK, Dr. Abu Sitta is perhaps the key authority on
Palestinian Refugees right of return. His analysis argues that the return of
the refugees is the key to peace, and would, moreover, not cause serious
demographic shift in Israel.

The evening will also feature discussion by Palestinian experts Nahla Abdo,
of Carleton University and Dr. Atif Kubursi, of the National Council on
Canada-Arab Relations.  Cepal Summer 2000 Program volunteers, Annmarie
Crampton, Giulia El Dardiry, and Madalena Santos, will share their
experience of living and teaching in the refugee camps.

The event will also feature a performance by Montreal-based pianist, singer
and songwriter Samia Odeh, who will perform her hit single 'Soft Rain'

A reception, featuring Arabic finger foods, will follow the event.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed
by the United Nations each year in accordance with mandates given by the
General Assembly in resolutions 32/40B of 2 December 1997 and 34/35D of 12
December 1979.  The official day of solidarity is November 29th.  This date
was chosen because of its significance to the Palestinian people.  On that
date in 1947 the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to
be known as the Partition Resolution and provided the establishment of a
Jewish State and Arab State in Palestine, with a special international
regime for Jerusalem.  Of the two states intended by this resolution, only
one, Israel, has come into being.   According to Amnesty International,
Palestinians continue to account for the largest refugee population
currently dispersed throughout the world.


Dr. Salman Abu Sitta
Keynote speaker, Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta, is author of The Right of Return;
Sacred, Legal and Possible. Salman Abu-Sitta is a noted Palestinian
researcher whose work centres around Palestinian refugees and the Middle
East Peace Process.  His analyses of the various positions around this topic
and the implications of their implementation are well-respected and
oft-cited.  He problematizes the notion that returning refugees to Palestine
would displace existing residents in a presumed fully-populated Israel,
argues that such return is both feasible and legal, and explores
compensation as a part of a comprehensive approach to the Palestinian
refugee problem.

Other publications by the author include "The Register of Depopulated
localities in Palestine" and "A 1948 map of Palestine" illustrating the
villages and cities that were demolished (published by the PRC), and -work
published by the IDRC.  Dr. Abu Sitta is a former member of the Palestine
National Council, and currently resides in Kuwait.

Nahla Abdo
Dr. Abdo is a Professor of Sociology at Carleton University, where she
served on the Board of Governors for the Institute of Women Studies and for
the Institute of Human Rights. She also helped establish the Women Studies
Institute at Birzeit University. She is currently developing a Gender
Research Unit at the Women's Empowerment Project under the Gaza Community
Mental Health Program. She has published extensively in the area of women
and the State in the Middle East. Born in Nazareth, Nahla Abdo has studied
at Haifa University (BA, MA) and at the University of Toronto (MA, PhD).
Dr. Abdo, an activist and academic, has published extensively on women in
the Middle East.

Atif Kubursi
Dr.  Kubursi is a professor of economics at McMaster University and the
president of the National Council on Canada Arab Relations. Dr. Kubursi has
taught and lectured at Purdue University, Yale, and Harvard. He has lectured
extensively on the economic and political affairs of the Middle East. He has
written seven books, and published over 150 essays and articles. He is a
consultant for UNIDO, UNDP, and a host of other agencies and countries.

Samia Odeh
>From the age of three, Samia had a special affinity for the piano. Her
passion for music took her on a career of musical studies at McGill
University and led to much success as a classical pianist in Canada and
Internationally. But Samia's desire to connect more personally with her
audience led to her love of songwriting. With piano and voice Samia
demonstrated her strength as a singer-songwriter and consequently gained the
support of some key music industry players. The maturity of her songs and
the emotional honesty of her delivery have marked this young artist as a
promising new Canadian talent.  "Honest and intense" Samia has been
described by Top 40 radio as a natural and instinctive songwriter and
performer. As a pianist, singer, songwriter, Samia's influences include
Sheryl Crow, Alanis and Sarah McLaughlan as well as great British musicians
such as Sting, Seal and Annie Lenox. Together with producer, Stone Bassani,
Samia's debut CD, "Say Forever" is loaded with cool, creative and
imaginative songs.  Ms. Odeh will perform 'Soft Rain', a live piano and
vocal by Samia. It is set to the poem, "Soft Rain" by Mahmoud Darwish about
the pain of losing your home, family, land, and your basic human rights: The
song is dedicated to the injured children and teens presently caught in this

What is Cepal?
CEPAL - the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange - is a not-for-profit
organization founded in 1996 by young Canadians who share a deep commitment
to the respect of human dignity and human rights of all people.  CEPAL's
objective is to assist the Palestinian refugees in the pursuit of their
basic human rights by increasing their access to education and by raising
public awareness in Canada about their struggle.  In Canada, CEPAL works in
cooperation with a wide range of organizations such as the Centre for
Developing Areas Studies at McGill University. CEPAL is supported by
community organizations and individuals who donate their time and money.

Why Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon? The situation that confronts
Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon is worsening daily. As much of the world
focuses on the difficulties facing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza,
an even more dire situation of the Palestinian Diaspora in Lebanon is
largely forgotten.  Poverty, health crises and illiteracy are all on the
rise among Palestinians in Lebanon. Over 60 percent of Palestinian families
in Lebanon are living below the UN-established poverty-line, and they form a
greater percentage of UN-defined "hardship cases" than any other Palestinian
community (including Gaza).   A recent survey of war-widows in the Bourj
el-Barajneh camp, which contains a very high number of female-headed
households, revealed that nearly 80 percent of women are illiterate.  Nearly
every school is operating on double shifts, and 40 percent of the
Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon is now considered illiterate.  In
spite of this reality, most donor agencies believe that the Palestinian
issue in Lebanon is being "solved" and have been channeling their assistance
to the West Bank and Gaza.  As the Palestinian population in Lebanon sinks
further into political oblivion, they are leaderless and voiceless, stranded
in refugee camps that have no running water or electricity.

Why English-Language Training? CEPAL's English-language programs will not
solve the precarious predicament of Palestinians in Lebanon.  However,
English-language skills can open up options in a largely optionless future.
Noted author and anthropologist Rosemary Sayigh suggests 'sending volunteers
to work with Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon e.g. in children's summer camps or
teaching English'  is a key role North American NGOs should be playing

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