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.
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 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 Civil; The Palestinian Minority in Israel under Military Ruleand its Legacy; Palestinians 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.
In mid-July, eight Palestinian researchers presented their work at Mada’s 2020 Conference for doctoral students. The conference was held in Nazareth at the Ramada-Olivie Hotel; due to Coronavirus restrictions the lectures were given in closed sessions with only the speakers and discussion participants in attendance. However, Mada set up a live video broadcast of the conference which was available for public viewing over Facebook and other social media sites. The speakers, all from the new generation of Palestinian researchers, presented their work and discussed it with academics, researchers and activists. The day’s program was made up of presentations of a variety of topics, such as architectural history, children’s literature, social work, and public health. The conference is a fantastic chance for Palestinian scholars to present their work to the community and interested public, and helps them on their way to developing their academic careers. It is also a great opportunity to see the diversity, dynamism, and high quality of contemporary Arabic-language Palestinian academia in Israel.
Proceedings opened with a welcome address from Dr Mohanad Mustafa, a member of the conference’s academic committee and general director of Mada al-Carmel, in which he outlined the aim of the conference: to stimulate the production of knowledge from Palestinian perspectives, employing rigorous research methods and written in the Arabic language, given that language itself is a critical part of knowledge and human life. He concluded by stressing the renewed importance of quality research and study, given the need to understand the transformations across society, politics, public health, and the economy that we are currently are living through.
The inaugural lecture of the day was given by Dr Nimer Sultany, lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Entitled “Academia between Neoliberalism and Resistance”, Sultany sought to address the issue of how we produce anti-hegemonic scholarship, meaning the production of knowledge that resists hegemonies of liberalism, capitalism and inequality, and helps to challenge injustice in all places.
The conference was split into two sessions, the first of which, entitled “Palestine: Historical and Social Approaches” was presided over by Dr Ayman Agbariya, head of the program of Society, Culture and Education at the University of Haifa. Four research projects were presented during this session. The first was entitled “The Influence of the Crusader Occupation on Religious Architecture in Palestine” from researcher Abd al Razziq Mattany, doctoral student at Ben Gurion University’s School of Architecture. Mattany reviewed the extent of Crusader influence by comparing religious buildings in Palestine to those in other parts of greater Syria that did not fall under Crusader occupation. Drawing on a chapter of his doctoral thesis, he discussed the development of mosque architecture in the Ajnaad (military districts of the early Caliphates) of Palestine and Jordan, from the Islamic conquests to the start of the twentieth century.
The second piece of research to be presented, entitled “Between the Mountain and the Sea: Sewer Networks and Neighbourhood Relations in Mandate-era Haifa”, came from Ahmad Mahmood, doctoral student in the department of Islamic Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Mahmood discussed the condition of the sewer networks as site of convergence between British colonial rule and the local administration of daily life, and the field of public health in the first decade of the Mandate period in Haifa.
The third piece of research presented came from Khaled Anabtawi, doctoral student of sociology and anthropology at the Geneva Institute in Switzerland. His presentation was titled “People’s Perceptions of Sectarianism: How does Political Sectarianism Produce its Sects Locally?” Anabtawi claims that when sectarian boundaries are drawn, affiliation to the group and to the wider collective shifts in a way which does not necessarily reflect the purported values of that sect. The group prioritises imagined social and political interests, particularly those of the elite, in discourse and in practice, and thus sectarianism turns into a key player in local politics.
The fourth and final contribution to the session came from Halima Abu Haneya, a doctoral student of sociology from Bir Zeit University, and was entitled “Socio-economic Transformations in Jerusalem’s Shuafat Refugee Camp: 1965-2018”. Haneya claims that the discrimination and tough conditions which the residents of Shuafat have undergone have paradoxically functioned as sources of strength, driving them to empower themselves in order to overcome their marginalisation, as if breaking a barrier of their fear of the coloniser. These challenges, and finding ways of responding to them, thus became constituent parts of a Palestinian toolkit of resistance and Sumud (steadfastness).
The second session of the conference carried the title “Identity and Practices in Diverse Palestinian Contexts”, and was presided over by Dr Khaled Abu Asbeh, lecturer and supervisor of the doctoral program in Education at the Arab-American University, Ramallah. There were also four presentations in this session, the first of which was given by Rola (Hamid) Abu Zaid O’Neill, who obtained a PhD in sociology from the University of Cork in Ireland. In her presentation, Abu Zaid O’Neill discussed the topic of “Women, Memory and the Nakba: A case study of Internally Displaced Palestinian Women in Israel” and the role of mothers and grandmothers in transmitting the Palestinian story, as well as how they turned stories and narratives into instruments for generating a sense of cultural belonging. Stories were also used to raise awareness of the Palestinian’s historical and national oppression, and to express the emotions and memories of the generation who experienced the Nakba.
The second presentation in the second session came under the title “Mechanisms of Oppression and the Experiences of Female Palestinian Lawyers in the Jewish state.” It was presented by Bana Shoughry, doctoral student at the Hebrew University’s school of law. Her work sheds light on the oppression experienced by female Palestinian lawyers on account of their gender and their nationality. She also discusses the tactics of resistance these women use to keep struggling for the issues they believe in.
This was followed by a presentation from Loay Wattad, PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University’s department of sociology. The title of his presentation was “Minority Literature for Minority Readers: A Comparative Analysis of Palestinian Children’s Books in the West Bank and Israel”. Wattad argues that engaging in critical readings of children’s books reveals their political import. Points of view found therein that are seen as ‘childish’ are often deeply original and can reveal unexplored and different political dimensions.
The final presentation of the day came from Leena Gnam Badram, PhD student from Haifa University’s school of social work. Her topic was “Between Religion and Secularism: Charting the Difference Between the Recommendations of Muslim Social Workers and Imams Regarding Marriage, Divorce and Child Custody Issues of Persons with Mental and/or Physical Disabilities”. She claims in her work that even though the Palestinian community in Israel is dynamic and ever-changing, the treatment of issues of mental health and learning difficulties is still massively informed by religion and tradition. This can include ineffective or problematic remedial treatments.
Web broadcasts of the conference attracted over 7000 viewers, many of whom left comments of appreciation and thanked to Mada for their efforts, with many praising the high quality of the speakers this year. One commenter had the following to say about the conference: “Language is a manifestation of the nation’s creativity. My respect to these students for presenting their research topics in Arabic- the significance of this should not be underestimated.”
This paper by Dr Khaled Khalil al-Shaykh Abdallah weighs up the idea of dissolving the Palestinian Authority in the instance of Israel implementing its plan to annex portions of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. It discusses four common positions on this idea: the first advocates dissolving the PA and formally handing over control to Israel, the second, not dissolving the PA under any circumstances, the third, keeping the PA but changing its role and function, and the fourth, reshaping the PA so that it resembles the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which preexisted it. The paper concludes by laying out the author’s expectations for what might happen if the PA was reformed or dissolved along the lines of the fourth position.
Mada al-Carmel have released an article in English responding to the American ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal for Israel-Palestine, colloquially known the ‘Deal of the Century’. Authored by Mada director Dr. Mohanad Mustafa, the article systematically analyzes the text and political import of US plan, and shows that it is a clear attempt to definitively kill the Palestinian national movement. Dr. Mustafa points out that the plan closely follows a number of right-wing Israeli talking points about a future so-called Palestinian ‘state’, which would be demilitarized, non-contiguous, economically dependent on Israel, and deprived of meaningful sovereignty.
This article was written and produced in collaboration with the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR), Ramallah.