DETROIT—The Huntington Place in Detroit was transformed into a space of resistance with the colors of the Palestinian flag adorning its meeting rooms for the People’s Conference for Palestine.

On May 24-26, over 3,500 people from across North America and other parts of the world convened to organize and strategize around liberation for Palestine.


Fifteen organizations united to form the conference’s steering committee. Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) organizers played a key role. Over 450 organizations and institutions endorsed the conference, and organizers fundraised over $200,000 for Gaza.

PYM organizers Mohammed Nabulsi, from occupied Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and based in Texas, and Laura Khoury, from occupied Jaffa and based in Montreal, served as emcees for the conference.


The gathering was organized after eight months of Palestinian genocide at the hands of Israeli forces and U.S. weapons.

Mr. Nabulsi described the conference as an important moment for the Palestinian movement in the diaspora. “Since the start of this war, we have been organizing relentlessly to bring this to an end.

We’ve poured into the streets in the millions, organized hundreds of protests and direct actions, disrupted campaign events, blocked bridges, shut down airports, and yet this war continues,” he said.

“The People’s Conference for Palestine provides us an important opportunity for all of us to reflect on the work that we’ve done so far and so that we may craft a path forward that truly brings this Zionist state and its military and its imperialist backers to their knees.” 

Organizers chose Detroit due to its long legacy of movement and activism and for Dearborn, Michigan, in Metro Detroit, being a majority-Arab city. They honored the history of Black, Latino and Indigenous struggle in Detroit and acknowledged the city as the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe.

“We gather here as a reaffirmation of our commitment to redeem every martyr, to free every prisoner, to replant every tree, to rebuild every home, hospital, university, mosque and church, and to liberate every inch of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” Mr. Nabulsi said. 

He also called out the U.S. government for attempting to sabotage the program by allegedly denying visas, initiating deportations and interrogations and confiscating cell phones and laptops.

“They think that borders matter to us as a people. What they don’t know is that we will find whatever way we can to speak to one another, to gather, to convene, to build shared politics, identity, vision and strategy and that no border, no government, no entity will ever get in the way of our liberation,” he said.

During the conference’s opening, a moment of silence honored the 40,000 Palestinian, Arab and Muslim martyrs killed since October 2023. Afterward, at least two dozen Palestinians paraded into the ballroom waving Palestinian flags.

The crowd stood on its feet to sing the Fida’i, the Palestinian national anthem. The anthem speaks of the determination of the Palestinian people and their longing for their home and honors the life of the Palestinian warrior.

The program

Sixteen sessions fell under four tracks that formed the conference’s focus.

“Track 1: The Student Movement” discussed the role and relationship of the student movement to the broader struggle for Palestinian liberation. Panelists discussed alternative education, confronting Zionism in higher education and cultivating revolutionary optimism.

“Track 2: The Battle of Ideas” looked at art, popular education, culture and media as means of resistance. Discussions included media lies, Palestinian literature and the role of the artist.

“Track 3: Confronting Zionism and Imperialism” exposed Zionism in various sectors of U.S. and global society. Panelists talked about the resistance of Palestinian women, cutting ties with Zionism in the workplace, the role of anti-Zionist Jewish organizing, law and an arms embargo.

Track 4: “Mobilizing to Organizing,” focused on growing and transforming the movement for Palestinian liberation. Topics focused on nurturing steadfastness, teaching organizing, the role of labor unions and how movements achieve transformation.

Plenaries tackled the war on Palestine, Palestinian resistance, the movement in North America, Zionism and U.S. imperialism, student resistance, uncommitted votes, internationalism and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.

Sessions garnered 150,000 views on BreakThrough News’ YouTube channel, an independent news platform that live-streamed the conference.

Palestinian resistance

As a keynote speaker during the conference’s opening, Yara Shoufani, a Ph.D. student at York University and an organizer with PYM, set the tone for the weekend. She acknowledged that the current phase of the struggle stands on the 100 years that Palestinian people “have resisted the Zionist enemy.”

She also spoke to the unimaginable loss experienced during those 100 years, including the loss of homelands and the ongoing ethnic cleansing and forced displacement, referred to as “the Nakba.”

“This loss characterized the Palestinian experience for the last 230 days. For the last eight months, we have witnessed an unrelentless genocide waged against our people in Gaza. We have awoken each day to news of death and destruction, horrific massacres, widespread famine, entire cities turned into rubble. Zionist prisons are bursting at the seams while our people face unspeakable torture,” she said.


Just two days after her words, on May 26, while the conference was still ongoing, Israel bombed and has continued to bomb Rafah, the southern Gaza city composed of displaced Palestinians living in tents. Social media footage depicted Israeli forces burning Palestinians alive and beheading children.

“Gaza has been transformed into the graveyard of the Merkava tank, the Nimr troop carrier, the D9 bulldozer and the occupation. Through our resistance, our people have exposed the Zionist entity for what it is. Through our resistance, the world now knows that Zionism is weaker than a spider’s web.

Palestine remains victorious not because our people remain undefeated and not because we do not know loss, but because despite all of that we have endured as a people and despite all of that our brave people in Gaza have withstood, our commitment to our struggle remains unshakeable,” Ms. Shoufani said. 

She called on the Palestinian diaspora to remain relentless in confronting Zionism. She noted that the path of revolutionary struggle requires discipline, commitment, sacrifice and organization and that organizing is the purpose of the conference.

“We are not simply here to discuss what has been done to the Palestinian people. We have long passed the point of solidarity with Palestinian victimhood. We are here to throw ourselves entirely behind the Palestinian revolution. We are here to commit to a role which must support the steadfastness of our people and drive the revolution forward,” she said.

Mr. Nabulsi, who has been organizing for over a decade, shared with The Final Call that most of his family lives in Al-Quds and that he has distant relatives in Gaza who are displaced from their homes. His family has experienced imprisonment and dispossession of their homes. His father’s side experienced the Nakba in 1948.

“We have this sort of full experience of the Palestinian struggle, and while it’s something that deeply affects us as a people, I think it’s something we’re able to channel into action more than anything,” he said.

U.S. complicity

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) made a surprise appearance at the conference on May 25. She welcomed attendees “to the most beautiful Blackest city in the country.” She spoke on the horrors happening in Gaza, from Palestinians being forcibly removed and children being deliberately targeted by snipers and starved to death, to the destruction of Gaza’s medical system and the over 100 journalists who have been killed.

Rep. Tlaib—first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress—also directly addressed President Biden. “President Biden, I hope you hear us loud and clear.

Attacking the authority of the International Criminal Court and interfering in the legal process is nothing more, nothing more than an attempt to prevent the genocidal maniac [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu and his senior Israeli officials from being held accountable for those crimes against humanity,” she said.

“You are an enabler, President Biden,” the Congresswoman expressed. “The International Court of Justice just ruled that the Israeli government must stop its invasion of Rafah. President Biden says what’s happening in Gaza is not a genocide. Where is your red line, President Biden?”

Congresswoman Tlaib also called out her colleagues in Congress for their silence and noted how many of them are more outraged over the protests on college campuses than the atrocities happening in Palestine.

“Many of my colleagues come whispering to me, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you said that.’ Why are you whispering? ‘Well Rashida, you know, I don’t support Netanyahu.’ Well, you just sent up $14 billion. No conditions,” she said.

“When I watch my colleagues one by one voting yes to send $14 million to the apartheid regime, those committing genocide, all I kept thinking about was that us, the United States, primary investors and funders of genocide, we’re literally co-conspirators. It’s shameful.”

Congresswoman Tlaib’s family is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank. She expressed the hardship of being in Congress surrounded by people using racist tropes.

“But I proudly hang the Palestinian flag in front of my congressional office,” she said. “I proudly walk as a Palestinian American woman, the granddaughter of sitti Muftiyah, sitti Shama, on that House floor, unapologetic.”

Art and culture

“Resistance” artwork was on display throughout the conference. Palestinian and Arab songs were interwoven throughout the sessions, keeping participants energized. 

Vending occurred during all three days. Booths included “Against Apartheid” art, a “from the river to the sea” coloring book, literature, natural honey, apparel, Palestinian home decor, African art and apparel, soap and henna. Several organizations also had booths, including Amnesty International, Jews United Against Zionism and the Yemen Liberation Movement.

Two cultural nights occurred on May 25 and 26. The first night featured vocalist Sana Moussa. The second night featured instrumentalist, vocalist and musical instructor Faud Foty.

“Palestinian music, national cultural production really work to solidify an understanding of our identity as a people, as a fighting people, as a people with deep, rich roots in connection to the land,” Mr. Nabulsi said. “It really helped to shape the consciousness of our people in a way that really brought them out of their homes and into the streets and gave them guidance on what it means to struggle on a spiritual level.”

Next steps

During the conference, PYM organizers announced a new campaign to advance the demand for an arms embargo by targeting the shipping and logistics company Maersk. They accused the company of being responsible for transporting the most weapons and weapons components to Israel since the beginning of the genocide. 

“This is the company that shipped 90 percent of the weapons that the U.S. used in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the company that is responsible for shipping thousands of weapons being used to massacre our people in Gaza,” Celine Qussiny, an organizer with PYM, said in a statement closing out the conference on May 26.

Conference organizers are planning to mobilize on June 8, which marks eight months of “U.S.-Israeli genocide” of the Palestinian people and marks the 54th anniversary of the occupation of Gaza.

“A month ago, Biden said that the invasion of Rafah was a red line. But now, the invasion of Rafah has continued for weeks, has expanded to the entire Gaza Strip, and Biden’s red line is nowhere to be seen. Instead of following through and stopping military aid to Israel, Biden has authorized billions more in weapons shipments to be used to kill and massacre Palestinians,” Celine Qussiny said.

“Biden can’t draw the line, but we can. On June 8, we will come together from across the country and surround the White House. Wearing red, and raising our demands high, we will show the world that we are the red line,” she continued. 

“We demand an immediate ceasefire, an immediate end to the siege on Gaza, the freedom for all Palestinian prisoners, and an end to the occupation of Palestine.”

Additional coverage from the conference will be in future editions of The Final Call.