Faculty of Arts symposium retells Palestinian resistance experiences, marks 34th year of imprisonment for Georges Abdallah

The Cultural Committee in the Faculty of Arts at Birzeit University held its first symposium, entitled “Palestine Between Imprisonment and Freedom,” on Thursday, October 25, 2018. 

Featuring Ahmad Qatamesh, a Palestinian academic and writer, and Esmat Mansour, a Palestinian novelist, the symposium discussed the experience of imprisonment in Israeli detention centers as a political prisoner. 

Wasim Abu Fasheh, a professor of philosophy and cultural studies at Birzeit University, chaired the symposium and introduced the topic, highlighting the timing of the event, which marked the 34th year of imprisonment of Georges Abdallah, a Lebanese freedom fighter. 

Mansour, who was detained for 20 years in Israeli prisons, said that the symposium aims not only to raise awareness on Abdallah, but to raise awareness on all political prisoners imprisoned by the Israeli Occupation. 

“Georges Abdallah belongs to a time when the whole world was in conflict. A time when Palestine was the compass to which pointed the spirits of every freedom fighter in the world,” Mansour commented, adding that Abdallah has absolute faith in the righteousness of his cause.

Mansour further stated that Abdallah, despite the unsubstantiated charges levied against him and his subsequent imprisonment, never wavered, and stood fast to his beliefs. 

“It is difficult to live even for a day in prison,” remarked Mansour. “Georges Abdallah has been doing it for 34 years. He is facing isolation, exile, and imprisonment. And yet, he stands tall and calls for justice and Palestinian liberation.” 

Along similar lines, Qatamesh delved into the specialized unit that Abdallah was part of. He said that the unit, a revolutionary initiative by Wadie Haddad, included highly-trained and specialized members. 

“Haddad’s initiative also included a theoretical facet that helped unite people all over the world in defense of the Palestinian cause,” added Qatamesh. “The message he presented was that the Palestinian cause was a national liberation movement against imperialism. This drew a lot of anti-imperialist international activists.” 

Qatamesh noted that Haddad knew resistance without political action is not enough. What Palestinians did at that time, he added, was to reassert their existence in the face of the Israeli Occupation.