Every year, Mada’s conference focuses on an aspect of Palestinian life and reality in Israel- this year’s conference is entitled “The Palestinian Political Sphere – Leadership Transitions and the Role of Parties: Organization vs. Representation”. Mada al Carmel’s 2020 annual conference had been due to take place in March, but the Coronavirus pandemic forced the center to postpone it. When rescheduling it for October, the center took the decision to spread the conference’s three sessions over three different days in order to more effectively adhere to public health regulations, with the sessions being broadcast online.

A range of prominent academics, politicians and activists will take part, and will discuss the seven different research papers being presented at the conference. These papers are to be distributed in a collected volume by Mada al-Carmel, free of charge. The conference will be opened by Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, head of Mada al-Carmel’s managerial board, and the inaugural address will be given by Dr Mohanad Mustafa, general director of Mada. He will lay out the scope and framing of the conference, and the landscape of contemporary political shifts and transitions.

The first session of the conference is entitled “Shifts in Political Leadership and Discourse” will commence at 10am on Friday, 23rd October. The session will be chaired by lawyer Ali Haider, an academic and human rights activist. In it, Professor Amal Jamal, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University, will present his paper entitled “A Paradigmatic Analysis of Palestinian Elites and Leaders in Israel: How Have Sudden Changes Affected Representativeness?” Dr Mansur Nsasra, lecturer in International Relations at Ben Gurion University, will also be presenting in this session. His paper is entitled “Changes in the Palestinian Political Landscape in Israel after Oslo”. These two papers will be followed by a talk from Dr Heba Yazbek, an MK for the Balad party in the Joint List.

The second session of the conference will start at midday on Saturday 24th, and will be entitled “Economic Approaches and the Role of Parties”. The session will be chaired by Dr Ramez Eid, a researcher and lecturer in Political Anthropology and Human Rights. In the session, Dr Sami Miaari, lecturer at Tel Aviv University, Oxford University, and director of the Arab Economic Forum, will present his paper on how economic changes affect Palestinian Arab voting behaviors in Israel. Following this,  Mohamed Khalayleh, researcher at PhD student at Haifa University, will present his paper “Reviewing the Power of Political Parties in Local Politics: Between the Constant and the Variable”. Dr Said Suleiman, an independent researcher and lecturer in the field of Geography, will discuss his paper, reviewing the role of Arab parties in nurturing political participation. Representative Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Knesset from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) in the Joint List, will conclude the session with a discussion of the three papers.

The third and final session, “A Feminist Approach and Post-Politics” will take place on Sunday, October 25, at 6:00 pm. The session will be chaired by a member of the Research Committee at Mada Al-Carmel, Dr. Ayman Agbari, with the participation of Khaled Anabtawi, a PhD student in sociology and anthropology at the Graduate Institute in Geneva with his paper “Approaches to the Question of Palestinian Politics in Israel: A Reading of Crises and Transformations” Dr Areen Hawari, researcher and coordinator of the Postgraduate Student Support Program at Mada al-Carmel, will present her her paper “The Religion and Politics of Leaders in the Islamic Movement: A Feminist Approach”. Providing comment on these two papers will be Mrs. Heba Harish Awada, an educational consultant, social activist, and researcher.

For the conference program (in Arabic), please click here.

The fortunes of Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza, across areas of economy, society and politics, are intrinsically tied to any changes that are taking place in Israel. This is largely in accordance with the content of the Oslo Accords, as well as the Paris Protocol. The Protocol served as an addendum to the accords, and formalised existing economic and trade relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories. A global Neoliberal turn set in from the late 1970s, accompanied by the retreat of left-wing parties and the advance of a freemarket-oriented political right. This turn played out in Israel from 1977 onwards, when swathes of the Israeli electorate started to turn their backs on a long-dominant Labor left in favour of Menachem Begin’s Likud party. The Palestinian Authority has similarly adopted a neoliberal economic approach since its inception in the mid-90s. This paper is part of Mada al-Carmel’s series of papers entitled “Israeli Neoliberalism” and was authored by Lamis Farraj. It explores how the tendency of successive Israeli governments to maximise the role of the private sector impacted the lives of Palestinians living the the occupied territories, and how political and economic relations with Israel came to change.

For nearly two decades from the 1980s until the mid-2000s the post-Zionist movement revealed the tensions and contradictions inherent in the official, state-backed narrative of Zionism. This article, by Hani Ramadan Talib, focuses on the following two main questions: What is does ‘post-Zionism’ really mean, and what role does it have to play?

This article is part of Mada al-Carmel’s ongoing Israel Studies series.

Read the article in Arabic here.

This paper uses data collected by local, national, and international organisations to compare the Israeli health system with the health systems of other OECD countries. It also discusses the existence of a clear ‘health gap’ in Israel between the country’s Jewish citizens and its Palestinian citizens. Examining public health in Palestinian communities across Israel, the paper’s author Saeed Salman argues that decades of structural marginalization and insufficient resource allocation have manifested in a poor level of health service provision and access in these areas. This has of course impacted these communities greatly in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

This paper was co-authored by Mada al-Carmel’s Politics Unit.

Read the full text (in Arabic) here

Mada al-Carmel is constantly looking to expand the scope of its work, and to incorporate new critical and disciplinary perspectives into its practices. Its newly launched project, which will focus on orally narrated personal autobiographies of Palestinians in Israel, is the latest demonstration of this ethic. This project will seek to assess Palestinian politics and history in Israel through the testimonies of those who have managed to remain in their historic homeland, through the long years since the Nakba of 1948. Mada will publish papers, articles and analyses as part of this project, all of which will methodologically prioritise the personal observations and experiences of interviewees and contributors. A self-reflexive mode is key to this work, and a process of digging down into the memories of those involved can bring us new understandings of the events and circumstances through which the contributors lived.

As part of this new project, Mada recently published a paper entitled “The Arab Student Movement in Israeli Universities: A Personal Narrative” authored by the Palestinian writer and prominent figure Amir Makhoul, former head of the In-Country Union for Arab University Students, and former head of the Arab Students Committee at the University of Haifa. In his paper, Makhoul goes over history of Arab student movement up to the present day through narrating his own personal experiences and discussing his involvement in the movement. Makhoul discusses how the student movement emerged, its external influences, the environment in which it was initially operating, and how it was viewed by the Israeli establishment. He also reflects on what it was like to be in a position of leadership offers his own thoughts on the current state of the movement today, and the challenges that it is currently facing.

Mada also recently published an article by former general secretary of Balad, Aoud Abd-al-Fatah, in which he compares the Palestinian situation to the historic struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Over the coming weeks Mada will publish a variety of articles from prominent members of the Palestinian community in Israel. Dr Mohanad Mustafa, director of Mada al Carmel, commented on the importance of the project: “This new project aims to evaluate the political experiences of the Palestinians in Israel through the stories of those who have lived them first-hand. It fits into the wider framework of Mada’s mission to contribute to debate on the politics and history of the Palestinian community in Israel. We are not writing about these people, rather they are writing about their experiences in a way which provides new perspectives on the Palestinian experience as a whole. The papers released in this series are not mere propaganda. We are seeking to integrate these personal autobiographies into our academic research.”

This new approach of integrating theoretical and analytical approaches with personal reflections is a constituent part of Mada’s ongoing development as a research institute. The center is interested in providing diverse content to its readers and followers, which encourages the generation of new critical discourses on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Mada’s other recent activities include two online lecture series, “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” and “Israeli Neoliberalism”; the latter of which will be the subject of an upcoming special issue of Jadal journal. The center also recently made its online back catalogue of e-books available for free download, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Mada al-Carmel.

Mada al-Carmel has recently launched a new project which centers on Palestinian autobiographical writing. By inviting community members and activists to write about and reflect upon their own experiences, Mada hopes this project will offer up fresh perspectives on the significant political and historical events which have shaped Palestinian life in Israel.

In the paper “The Arab Student Movement in Israeli Universities: The clash between the Land Day generation and the ruling establishment”, Amir Makhoul, a Palestinian writer and leader, who previously held the position of President of the In-Country Union of Arab University Students, draws on his personal experiences in the student movement. Makhoul also offers an analysis of the state of the student movement today, noting the huge array of challenges that the movement now has to confront.

To read the paper, please click here.

To commemorate the twenty-year anniversary of its establishment, Mada al-Carmel has made available its entire catalogue of published resources. PDFs of books, position papers, articles, essays, reports and surveys have been uploaded to Mada’s website, where they can be browsed and downloaded freely. Included are titles such as the book Arab Druze in Israel: Theoretical and Critical Readings; 70 Years of the Nakba; Palestinians in Israel: Readings in History, Politics and Society; Land Day: Between the National and the CivilThe Palestinian Minority in Israel under Military Rule and its LegacyPalestinians in Israel and the Civil Service Project; The Health of Arab Women in Israel. These books contain numerous articles from a range of Palestinian academics and researchers.
In recent months, Mada has been intensifying its research efforts and activities in order to better promote Palestinian perspectives in Israel, and to provide a fuller account of the needs and experiences of Palestinian citizens of Israel. We are constantly seeking to develop and expand our research activities, and we hope that making our full library available will lead to the further dissemination and promotion of Palestinian academia in Israel.
To access the texts mentioned above and more, click here.
  

Following the announcement of the Israeli-Emirati peace deal, Mada al-Carmel convened a seminar on Zoom entitled “Palestinians in Israel and the Israeli-Emirati Peace Deal: Discourse and Implications”. The seminar was chaired by Dr. Mohanad Mustafa, General Director of Mada al Carmel, who pointed out in his opening address that most of the seminars and articles put out since the announcement of the peace deal have only focused on the impact of the deal on the Palestinian cause and on the general regional atmosphere. He said that there had been a lack of serious discussion on the impact of the deal on Palestinians in Israel. Dr Mustafa added that this normalisation deal denies the complexities of the Palestinian narrative, and endorses Zionist perspectives on the Palestinians. He concluded that the repercussions of the deal are compounded by the fact that it has come during the era of the most right-wing government in the history of Israel, and in the midst of an increase in the hardships faced by the Palestinian community inside Israel.

After Dr Mustafa’s introduction, the first speaker of the seminar was Dr Fadi Nuhas, a researcher in Israeli national security affairs. He investigated the question of how Egyptian civil society responded to normalisation with Israel in 1978. How would confronting this new instance of normalisation be different? Nuhas outlined the reasons which heighten the seriousness of this normalisation deal, for example, the absence of proper civil institutions in the Emirates will make it harder for Emiratis to oppose normalisation. This makes for an essential difference in the Egyptian and Emirati cases. Egyptians responded to normalisation after the Camp David Accords, and the Palestinian issue was a point of contention between the Egyptian regime and population. This meant that the Egyptian regime had tread carefully in its dealings with Israel. In other words, the peace deal with Egypt, which came after several wars, was confined to a state level and did not reflect popular feeling. Israeli normalisation with the Emirates similarly takes place at the level of state, security and economy. Nuhas summed up by saying that it is not possible to rely on civil society today, but that there are still some powerful groups in the Arab world who continue to support the Palestinian cause.

Next to speak was Dr Honaida Ghanem, director of the Palestinian Center for Israel Studies (MADAR). She addressed the following question: “What repercussions does the peace deal have for Palestinians in Israel, as part of a wider question of what the deal means for the Palestinian cause?” Dr Ghanem addressed such aspects as politics, identity, the nature of Palestinian subjugation in Israel, and others. Ghanem said that we are witnessing the gradual transformation of the stance of the Arab world, which is moving from viewing Israel as its opponent, to viewing it as being able to play a central role in regional alliances. This agreement, which brings together capitalist trade interests, will lead to the marginalisation of the Palestinian cause and will further establish Israel as an empire in the region. All this comes at a time of great weakness in formal Palestinian politics, which is in a state reminiscent of the situation which existed on the eve of the Nakba. There is a lack of vision, a lack of a clear stance, and a lack of audacity from the Palestinians inside Israel. There is the additional concern that the financial support which the Emirates have promised to the Palestinians will be leveraged influence the Palestinian national agenda, and that the Palestinians in Israel will be instrumentalise to weaken the Palestinian national cause.

The final speaker was Dr Ibrahim Khateeb, a political researcher and staff member at Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies. He addressed the question “How can we characterise reactions to the Israel-Emirati peace deal at the levels of Palestinian popular and political discourse in Israel?” Khateeb notes that the degree of rejection of the deal by the Palestinians and by Palestinian political parties varies according to regional position and differing political agendas. Nevertheless, the prevalent stance amongst the Palestinian population in Israel is one of resistance to normalisation. Khateeb indicated that popular reactions to the deal were less severe than expected. It’s no different with the political parties who have not adopted clear positions on the agreement. It’s clear that there is plenty of opposition from the Palestinian community in Israel to normalisation, but the limited nature of that opposition tells us that the Palestinians in Israel are in something of a transitionary phase. They may well end up as mere supporters of the Palestinian cause, rather than being a part of it.

The seminar ended with a panel discussion. Unfortunately, it did not go as smoothly as planned- several anonymous participants on the Zoom call tried to disrupt and hijack the discussion, in an attempt to prevent discussion of the peace deal and its implications. Their efforts had quite the opposite effect, as the speakers became even more determined to be heard in the face of this unwelcome intrusion. Their responses to the disruption were perhaps best expressed by Dr Ghanem, who declared: “But I’m going to talk!”

The seminar was a great success, despite these efforts to disrupt it. There was a good level of public engagement, with over 50 participants on the call. The chat section hosted discussions between participants throughout the various speakers’ presentations. A stream of the call hosted on Facebook garnered over 1600 views in 24 hours, indicating strong public interest in this topic. It also demonstrates the important contribution that groups like Mada al-Carmel make, in terms of facilitating engagement with and access to well respected analysts and researchers on issues which are affecting the daily lives of Palestinians in all contexts, including in Israel.

In recent years, there has been an unusual sort of race between Arab states (especially those in the Gulf) in pursuing a policy of normalization with Israel, with various nations having secret diplomatic channels with the ultimate aim of establishing official relationships. Practical steps towards normalization have notably accelerated- these steps have variously taken the form of meetings, invitations, visits, and public statements. These have occurred alongside the emergence of a particular category of intellectuals and public figures calling for normalization. Such figures have made repeated calls for the establishment of diplomatic ties, and have openly questioned and cast doubt over Palestinian rights.

On the 13th of August, it was announced that official relations had commenced between the United Arab Emirates and the state of Israel. This process of normalizing ties was evidently not disrupted at all by the recent unilateral actions taken by Israel and the United States towards the Palestinians.

 

 

Mada has concluded its most recent series of workshops on Zionism and settler colonialism, six sessions of which were convened over the past year and a half. These workshops are run for training and research purposes, primarily for the benefit of Palestinian postgraduate students participating in Mada’s PhD student support program. The main aim of these workshops is to study Zionism as a settler colonial project, and to help the participants to develop and express their own academic ideas and critical writing on the topic. The workshop serves an important function by acting as a space where Palestinian researchers from both sides of the green line can meet, debate, read texts, listen to lectures and produce papers together.

The workshop series is headed up by Professor Nadim Rouhana, a research associate at Mada, and coordinated by Dr. Areen Hawari, who is also the coordinator of the PhD student support program. The first three workshops of this series were conducted face-to-face, but after the introduction of Coronavirus restrictions the remaining sessions were held over Zoom. Mada strove hard to maintain continuity and minimise the disruptions brought by the pandemic.

Prof. Rouhana said of the workshops, “It’s important to remember that this is the third workshop series that we have put on, meaning that we have provided support to a huge number of Palestinian PhD students over the years. We have created a space for critical thinking and writing about Zionism and settler colonialism, and we work to link our intellectual output to wider anticolonial and antiracist scholarship around the world. This kind of discussion on Zionism was considered to be relatively new when we launched the first iteration of the workshop in 2014; today, it seems to be more dominant in academic and intellectual discourse, and even feature in progressive political discussions. We are very happy to have made a contribution, however small, to this development.”

The workshops included lectures on Zionism and colonialism, Israeli society, and modern Palestinian history. These were given by internationally renowned Palestinian academics and researchers from both sides of the green line, including Dr. Areej Sabbagh Khoury, Dr Hunayda Ghanem, Prof. Amnon Raz Krakotzkin, Prof. Nadim Rouhana, the lawyer Suhad Bishara, Dr. Ahmed Amara, Dr. Awad Mansour, Dr. Saleh Abdel-Gawad, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Dr. Hammamet Zoabi, and Dr. Mohanad Mustafa.

Prof. Rouhana also said that Mada is working in partnership with a section of the workshop participants and guest researchers to publish a book; this will contain new research contributions on different aspects of the study of Zionism and Israel. Students will contribute research that they have previously presented and discussed in the workshops under the supervision of participating academics. The book will be published by the year of this year, and will contain academic articles from a variety of disciplinary approaches, including history, social and political science, anthropology, gender studies and cultural studies. The articles will contain a variety of Palestinian perspectives on Zionism and the colonization of 1948 Palestine, and will also address questions on the effectiveness of the Palestinian national resistance.

The workshop series has clearly had a great effect on the thoughts and ideas of its participants, judging by feedback received. One student, Mai Hammash, commented that “the diverse geographic and academic backgrounds found in the workshop group greatly helped me expand my critical knowledge. I am now better acquainted with the methods and paradigms of Zionist colonization- in ideological terms, as well as in terms of direct violence. It shed light on a lot of ideas and practices for me.

Participant Amir Mershi added that “the workshop brought me together with intellectuals, researchers, and leaders in a single space. It was like being in house of knowledge for me. During the meetings we debated together, exchanged ideas and experiences, and I became acquainted with a range of critical tools and theories that all Palestinians should be acquainted with. This workshop introduces us to ourselves afresh, in order to both preserve and develop our identities as Palestinians working in the academic arena.”

Mada is always striving to further develop its work. Plans for the next series of workshops on Zionism and settler colonialism are already in the pipeline. This series will be entitled “Zionism and the Palestinian national movement: Memoirs of the colonizer and the colonized”. The series will focus on the implications of memoirs published by Zionist and Palestinian intellectual, political and military leaders, taking them as focal points where we can study the nature of the confrontation between colonizer and colonized.

The center will publish more details on the new lecture series in the coming weeks.