After 70+ Years, Why Are Palestinian Refugees Still An Issue?

(Recorded March 4, 2022)

Listen to this conversation as a podcast

This webinar is Part 4 of an 8-part series of webinars. For more information regarding this series, and links to the other sessions, please click here.

Featuring Umar al-Ghubari (Zochrot), Hani Almadhoun (UNRWA USA) and Francesca Albanese (Georgetown University).

In this session we explored issues surrounding Palestinian refugees, including the plight of refugees inside and outside of Palestine, the role of UNRWA and the debate it engenders in Congress, and the Palestinian demand for a “Right of Return.”

Resources shared during the webinar

Umar al-Ghubari

Hani Almadhoun & UNRWA USA (& UNRWA)

Francesca Albanese

Other links

The Right to Return: Drafting Paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), December 11, 1948

Text of Israel’s Absentees’ Property Law

Text of Israel’s “Law of Return”

Intelligence brief from 1948 hidden for decades indicates Jewish fighters’ actions were the major cause of Arab displacement, not calls from Arab leadership – Report from the Israeli NGO Akevot

Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs – Haaretz

Book recommendation: Records of Dispossession – Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Michael R. Fischbach, Columbia University Press)

“U.S. envoy Haley questions Palestinian refugee numbers” – Reuters

“Palestinian Refugees: Myth vs Reality” – Resource produced by the Middle East Institute

UNHCR (Dec 2017): Applicability of Article 1D of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to Palestinian Refugees ; UNHCR 2009 statement on Article 1D

UNRWA chief seeks funding to avert financial collapse – Al Jazeera, Nov 8, 2021


Francesca Albanese is an affiliate researcher of Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut. She is the co-author, with Lex Takkenberg, of The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law: a Tale of Fragmentation and Opportunity (published by Oxford University Press in August 2020 – link to book). She worked as legal officer in the UNRWA Department of Legal Affairs and before, for OHCHR.

Umar al-Ghubari is a political educator and group facilitator with Zochrot, an NGO working since 2002 to promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, and the reconceptualization of the Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country’s inhabitants.  He worked in the informal education sector as a facilitator and afterwards as a regional coordinator in the Karev educational program. Prior to joining Zochrot in 2006 he was the coordinator of Youth Activities at the School for Peace at Neve Shalom/Wa’hat al- Salam. He was born in Mshierfeh (near Umm al Fahm) and currently resides with his family in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam.

Hani Almadhoun serves as UNRWA USA’s director of philanthropy.  Thanks to a university scholarship from the LDS Church he was able to earn his Masters in Public Administration and BA in International Studies and Latin American Studies at Brigham Young University. After his studies, Hani settled in Washington, DC where he fell into the world of fundraising for various causes that spoke to him, including civil rights and social justice groups for Muslim and Arab Americans and charities that serve the Palestinian people and other marginalized communities in the Middle East. In his personal capacity, Hani frequently shares updated stories from Palestine to increase awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people. After more than 15 years of fundraising at multiple organizations, Hani joined as Director of Philanthropy at UNRWA USA. Hani volunteers with a number of educational institutions (Marriott School of Management), health (PAMA, AMHP), and professional organizations (AFP and MUPPIES).