Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition was born out of the global Palestinian upsurge that began in the period leading up to the Al-Aqsa Intifada, or the “Second Intifada.”

Building on decades of Palestinian organizing that had taken place in diaspora, ever since the Nakba, the creation of the settler-colonial Zionist state and the violent dispossession of nearly a million Palestinian refugees in 1948, and then the Palestinian revolution’s upsurge since 1965-67, Palestinians around the world were re-asserting their national liberation movement in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Following the Oslo Accords of 1993, Palestinian activism in diaspora faced a crisis globally and within the United States. Hopes for advances – that would soon be thwarted by reality – as well as Palestinian disillusionment. However, by the late 1990’s it was clear that the promises of Oslo were indeed false. Settlements were tripling, and Palestinian refugees’ right to return seemed to be removed from the agenda of ongoing, and futile, negotiations. Palestinian rights to all of Palestine and a liberation agenda appeared marginalized.

In the refugee camps, and soon in the diaspora all over the world, Palestinian refugees, exiles, and displaced people begain to come together in what came to be known as the “right of return movement.” Just as tensions and struggle were building inside Palestine as settlement and oppression intensified, Palestinians outside Palestine held conferences, demonstrations and forums asserting their inalienable rights to return to their homes and lands in all of historic Palestine, to liberate their land and people, and to represent themselves, without the replacement of their voice by the so-called Palestinian Authority.

In 2000, Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition in New York formed, as did chapters across the United States. Al-Awda’s first national rally in Washington DC happened only weeks before the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in Palestine, and Al-Awda New York members swiftly organized, together with Palestinian community organizations, numerous marches, rallies, and events in solidarity with the Intifada and focusing on Palestinian refugees’ right to return home.

In April 2001, Al-Awda New York hosted a national rally in Union Square that drew thousands, following up with monthly Al-Awda cafes, actions and meetings from the heart of the Arab community in Bay Ridge to midtown Manhattan. Al-Awda organized rallies and demonstrations, commemorations of Palestinian events, and played a leading role in the growing anti-war movement against US wars on Afghanistan and later, Iraq, defending Palestine’s inclusion in these rallies as a central call and speaking from the stage at countless anti-war rallies of tens and hundreds of thousands of participants.

In 2004, Al-Awda hosted an international convention in New York City as well as art exhibitions, cultural tours and events that highlighted Palestinian cultural steadfastness and resistance. Al-Awda has continued its diverse work since that time, organizing Palestinian community get-togethers, Know Your Rights trainings, youth programs, cultural events, forums, and political discussions.

It organizes rallies and brought tens of thousands to the streets of New York in response to the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, and has continued to be in the streets demanding justice for Palestine.

Al-Awda’s co-chair, Lamis Deek, and Al-Awda’s members have played a key role in organizing the legal defense of targeted communities in the face of NYPD, FBI and other harassment and racialized profiling and intimidation of Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities.

Throughout this time, Al-Awda has consistently viewed Palestine as one plank in a global struggle for liberation, standing against Zionism as part of a united struggle against imperialism and settler colonialism everywhere. Over the years, Al-Awda has organized hand in hand with Black liberation organizations, Latin@ movements, Filipin@ organizations struggling for justice, South Asian community organizers, and international movements for justice, self-determination, and national and social liberation.

Al-Awda’s history continues today – and this lawsuit aims to halt this important work. Please support Al-Awda today.