The July 22nd public forum "The World Stands with Palestine & the Palestine Struggle Against Zionism & for Self-Determination" took place in an atmosphere of overwhelming support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and against the brutal Israeli attacks. The forum, held at Joe's Cafe in Vancouver, Canada was organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO). The over-packed room was beyond capacity with around 100 people from very diverse communities, which demonstrated that the fight to free Palestine is an international struggle in the hearts of people around the world.
The participants were welcomed to the forum by the MC of the forum Janine Solanki, chair of MAWO, who introduced Aaron Mercredi to open the forum. Aaron, a Metis activist with the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) and Editorial Board member of the Fire This Time newspaper, gave a overall perspective to the over 66 year struggle of the Palestinian people, and connected this to the struggle of Indigenous nations in Canada who are also struggling for their land and rights in a country built on colonization. After the opening, participants watched a series of news video clips to get an update on the current situation in Gaza, as well as other clips which gave a view to the many protests all around the world demanding an end to the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
After the videos, everyone in the room was touched by the strong and defiant words of Walli Zaidan, a young Iraqi poet, who read her poem in honour of the Palestinian people. Following this beautiful poetry, the panel of speakers were invited up to the front. The speakers were Jamshed Abbas, a Pakistani Muslim community activist and social justice organizer; Mamdoh Ashir, a Iraqi activist and social justice organizer; Azza Rojbi, a Tunisian antiwar organizer and MAWO Executive Committee member; Ali Yerevani, a Iranian social justice organizer, Fire This Time & Battle of Ideas Press political editor and participant of the 1979 Iranian revolution and Noah Fine, a Jewish anti-Zionist, pro-Palestine antiwar organizer. All of the speakers spoke from their different experiences and backgrounds, especially the specific experiences of support for Palestine from their home countries. Overarching through the talks was the steadfast and uncompromising support for the right of Palestinian self-determination on 1948 borders.
As the forum was taking place during the month of Ramadan and many participants and speakers were joining from the Muslim community, the forum paused for Iftar, in order for those fasting to break the fast. After the Iftar, a group of Muslim participants joined together to pray. The forum continued after the 15 minute pause and after the speakers a discussion period followed. During the discussion period many participants spoke, including people from the Palestinian, Russian, Iraqi, South Asian, African and Indigenous communities. From those that spoke came the heartfelt outrage at the vicious and criminal attacks of Israel against innocent Palestinian people in Gaza, which after 15 days of bombing had hit a death toll of over 600, mostly women and children. The overall message of participants in the discussion was their will to continue organizing not only against the current Zionist Israeli attacks on Gaza, but also against the ongoing occupation of Palestine. The forum continued until 11pm and many people continued discussing together on towards midnight.
Before the forum closed, a Palestinian participant led the room in a minute of silence for the Palestinian victims of Israel's attacks on Gaza. The forum ended with the commitment of activists and supporters to continue organizing for an end to the Zionist Israeli occupation of Palestine.