Updated: September 14, 2009
Al-Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, a grassroots organization that opposes Israel’s right to exist, is responsible for coordinating numerous rallies, demonstrations and events to condemn Israel and its policies.
Al-Awda hosts an annual convention that regularly features extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. Its seventh convention — held in May 2009 near Anaheim, California, and well-attended by members of the Palestinian-American community in the U.S. — featured several controversial speakers, including British MP George Galloway who promoted Viva Palestina, a convoy to Gaza that had previously given money to Hamas. At Al-Awda’s 2008 convention, speakers accused Israel of plotting to ethnically cleanse and commit a Holocaust against the Palestinians and called for resistance against Israel’s alleged occupation.
Through its literature, public demonstrations and conventions, Al-Awda (Arabic for “the return”) promotes the Palestinian right of return and advocates for the establishment of a Palestinian state over all of the territory west of the Jordan River, including Israel. Speakers at events sponsored by Al-Awda regularly claim that Israel’s existence is illegitimate, Zionism is racism and that resistance against Israel “by any means necessary” is justified.
Al-Awda’s primary success lies in its ability to quickly mobilize American anti-Israel activists to join public demonstrations against Israel. In response to Israel’s military action in Gaza in December 2008, Al-Awda helped organize “National Day of Action” demonstrations that took place in more than 30 locations around the country. Many of the demonstrations, which were held in front of Israeli embassies and consulates, U.S. Federal buildings and elsewhere, were marked by offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, as well as expressions in support of terror.
Like many other grassroots groups around the country, Al-Awda has recently turned to social networking sites as a free and easy way to effectively promote upcoming events, announce new initiatives and rally individuals around their campaigns. One of Al-Awda’s Facebook pages, titled “Palestinian Refugees Right to Return,” currently has more than 65,000 members. In addition, various Al-Awda chapters have formed Facebook groups where members can learn about new events and engage with other anti-Israel activists via the groups’ discussion boards.