41This article by Nadim Rouhana and Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, entitled “Settler-colonial citizenship: conceptualizing the relationship between Israel and its Palestinian citizens”, has been published in the journal Settler Colonial Studies, electronically in 2014 and in paper in 2015. A slightly modified version of the paper was recently re-published in Arabic in a book by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Beirut.

The article seeks to re-examine the relationship between Israel and its Palestinian citizens. While accepting the procedural nature of their citizenship as settler colonial citizenship, it suggests an alternative reading, with settler colonialism as the central analytical framework to understand this complex relationship and its development. The article goes through the different historical phases of collective political experiences of the Palestinian citizens in Israel since 1948.

To view the article:

Settler-colonial citizenship: conceptualizing the relationship between Israel and its Palestinian citizens

On December 16th and 17th, Mada al-Carmel hosted a workshop for Palestinian PhD students and postgraduates on “Zionism and Settler Colonialism”. The workshop, held in Ramallah, took place as part of Mada’s PhD Program, a project launched in January 2015 aiming to help develop the next generation of critical Palestinian scholars by creating a space for Palestinian PhD students and postgraduates to share their ideas, advance their work, and receive feedback from experts in their respective fields.

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On the first day of the workshop, Mada director Nadim Rouhana presented the opening remarks. He noted the resurging importance of the settler-colonial framework, particularly after the failure of the Palestinian statehood project and of efforts to attain equal rights.

The first lecture of the day was given by Mahmoud Yazbak, Professor of Middle Eastern History. He presented a paper dealing with early Palestinian responses to Zionism based on analysis of the Arabic press from 1870-1917. He argued that while various Palestinian newspapers articulated strong critiques of the Zionist movement, there was relatively little organized Palestinian mobilization against Zionism throughout this period. He also sought to consider reasons why this may have been the case.

RanaBarakatThe next lecture was given by Rana Barakat, Professor of History and Archaeology at Birzeit University. Drawing upon her ethnographic research on the Nakba with displaced refugees, she raised the question of whether even critical renditions of Palestinian history end up telling the story of Zionism as opposed to those of Palestinians. Questioning the value of categorizing settler-colonial projects as “successful” (Australia, North America) or “failed” (South Africa, Algeria), she proposed the idea of a continuous Nakba as an alternative framing. She also critiqued the ways in which certain Palestinian narratives demonstrate a need for recognition – to prove that “we were here” prior to 1948. Her lecture sparked discussion on whether it would be desirable or even possible to tell the story of Palestine without focusing strongly on Zionism.

The following lecture was given by Patrick Wolfe, Distinguished Visiting Professor in Colonial Studies at Arizona State University for 2015. Discussing the analogy between Israel and apartheid South Africa, he elaborated on the differences between settler-colonialism and other forms of colonialism, proposing that the intent of pure settler-colonialism is to replace the indigenous population with a settler population, rather than to extract surplus from their labor. He remarked that South African delegations to Palestine found conditions in the West Bank worse than at home, because Zionism is based around a logic of elimination rather than one of exploitation. Noting the alignment between individual settlers and the Israeli state, he also argued that no hard-and-fast distinction could be made between civilian and military occupiers in the West Bank.

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The final lecture of the workshop’s first day was given by Ahmad Amarah, a member of the workshop and a PhD candidate at New York University, who discussed the ongoing reality of settler-colonialism in the Naqab. He argued that the concept of “terra nullius,” or no man’s land, has been used by settler colonialists to claim land at various times. He discussed the state’s use of legal means to facilitate Zionist dispossession of Palestinian Bedouin. He also remarked on the framing of settler-colonialism as a form of development or modernization, in contrast to the alleged primitivity and lawlessness of the Bedouin community.

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VJayThe second day began with a lecture by Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies at Trinity College and journalist at Frontline, al-Araby al-Jadeed, and The Hindu. He began by emphasizing the importance of approaching history from the “standpoint of the toilers” – those at the margins of society whose experiences are underrepresented in official records. Discussing the Oslo Accords and their stifling impact on Palestinian resistance, he argued that the Palestinian leadership’s capitulation mirrored the entire third world’s surrender to neoliberalism during the same era. He offered a critique of the dominance of NGOs over the Palestinian liberation movement and of the limiting impact of funders’ agendas. He also argued that international politics is entering a new phase of multipolarity, and that the Israeli state has been quicker to adapt to this change than the Palestinians.

The next lecture was given by Yehouda Shenhav, Professor of Sociology. He began by offering a critique of dominant strains in the Israeli left, which maintain faith in the discourse of peace negotiations and portray the conflict as an issue of inter-religious struggle. He went on to discuss the positionality of Arab Jews in relation to Israeli and Palestinian politics. Presenting the results of linguistic research, he noted that only a tiny fragment of Israeli Jews are fluent in Arabic. He suggested that increased knowledge of Arabic among Israeli Jews could greatly change political realities. A lively debate over this point ensued, with some noting that Israeli Jews in the military and other state institutions learn Arabic to better “know the enemy.”

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The workshop’s final lecture was presented by Gadi Algazi, Professor of History. He proposed that settlers are means within the project of settler-colonialism, noting that trees were planted on top of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages when not enough human capital was available. He noted divergences between “colonial entrepreneurs,” who seek to profit off of indigenous labor, and “pure Zionists,” who seek the elimination of the Palestinian population. He put forth a distinction between imperialism and settler-colonialism, arguing that Israel’s imperial project largely failed whereas its settler-colonial project succeeded. His lecture sparked discussion on the role of indigenous elites in facilitating continued Israeli colonization, as well as on the limitations of legal discourse as a means of attaining liberation.

As part of a series of workshops held by the PhD Program to work through critical readings on Zionism and settler-colonialism, Mada is planning a third workshop to be held in Amman in March 2016. The workshop will focus on culture and colonialism.

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On 24-25 July 2015, Mada al-Carmel — Arab Center for Applied Social Research hosted an academic workshop on Zionism and settler-colonialism at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah. This workshop, run by Mada General Director Professor Nadim Rouhana, was the first of six training and research events to be held on Zionism and settler-colonialism for Palestinian graduate students and recent post-doctorates. The workshop took place as part of Mada’s PhD Program, a project launched in January 2015 aiming to help develop the next generation of critical Palestinian scholars by creating a space for Palestinian PhD students and postgraduates to share their ideas, advance their work, and receive feedback from experts in their respective fields.

IMG_1313Professor Nadim Rouhana opened the workshop with a lecture presenting initial questions and observations on Zionism and settler-colonialism. He remarked that the Palestinian national movement viewed the Zionist project as a colonial project on a political and intellectual level from its outset, but at a certain stage, particularly after 1971, the terms of debate gradually shifted from anti-colonial liberation to statehood and sovereignty. The dominant Palestinian leadership, operating in complex circumstances in both the Arab world and internationally, played a role in this shift. However, he added that Palestinians, internationals, and even anti-Zionist Israeli researchers are returning to the framework of settler-colonialism today. Rouhana also offered an explanation of what distinguishes settler-colonialism from colonialism in general. Classical colonialism involves the exercise of economic, political, and military control and improves the geopolitical situation of the colonizer through the subjugation of the colonized, operating remotely through local agents; settler colonialism, on the other hand, aims to create its own political entity and settle the land as its new homeland, maintaining the same standard of living as in the metropole. He noted that while the logic of colonialism depends on subjugation, the logic of settler colonialism depends on the replacement of the indigenous population. Settler-colonialism does not intend to rule the “natives,” but to take their place without recognizing it as the homeland of its indigenous residents. Rouhana then identified various features of settler colonialism, arguing that they are fully consistent with the Zionist project. These features include:

1.       Dispossession of land and space, creation of a new geography and history beginning from the date of the colonizer’s arrival, and receipt of support and legitimacy from the academic sphere.

2.       The elimination of the indigenous population: initially through massacres and later through various other means.

3.       Structural violence – in which violence is not an event, but a continuous process occurring in the political, legal and cultural spheres. However, colonialism does not see itself as violent, but ruthlessly uses violence which is justified as a means of defending its land.

4.       A logic of justification distinct from that of colonialism, which justified its existence by bringing development and urbanization to the colonized. Settler colonialism uses other justifications, such as divine right and arrival into a virgin land.

Rouhana added that each instance of settler-colonialism is accompanied by a permanent state of fear as a result of acts of violence that were committed throughout its history.

Rouhana argued that settler-colonial projects could result in “victory”, through the total or near-total elimination of the indigenous population (as in the cases of Canada and New Zealand), or “defeat”, through either reconciliation (as in the case of South Africa) or expulsion and the return of the settler to his/her country (as in the case of Algeria).

Rouhana then attempted to consider where the Zionist project stands, pointing out three things that distinguish it from other settler-colonial projects:

1.       The Zionist project is ongoing.

2.       The Zionist movement is also a nationalist movement and has succeeded in building a nation.

3.       The Zionist project is grounded in religious justifications that are different from the justifications given for other settler-colonial projects. Religious justifications were not only used during the establishment of the project in its infancy, but remain salient today and are growing in importance.

In the second session, researchers and students discussed Zionism from a settler-colonial perspective. Participants raised a number of questions, including: What is our position as Palestinians in relation to victorious settlement projects? How do we define the Zionist project’s defeat? Would the removal of the state’s colonial nature and its conversion to a state for all its citizens be considered a victory? Participants also discussed the phenomenon of mental or epistemological colonization, debating whether it could be applied to the Palestinian case. Moreover, researchers and students considered the significance of the colonizer’s increasing violence and racism as a manifestation of force or fear, particularly in the Zionist case. They noted the possible role of a joint Palestinian and Mizrahi Jewish movement in resisting the Zionist project. Additional proposals were put forward on the need to consider security and military studies in order to understand the relationship between violence and the colonial project; the production of fear in the colonial project, which is necessary for its survival; and the colonizer’s success in producing forms of Palestinian subjectivity that are not conducive to resisting Zionism.image5

The second lecture was given by Dr. Munir Fakher Eldin, a lecturer at Birzeit University. He reviewed Palestinian historical readings of the Zionist project, considering how the analytical framework of settler-colonialism could be used productively by researchers and historians. During his lecture, he emphasized the importance of reconsidering the study of British colonialism, which established institutions and practices that formed a precursor for Zionism. By examining the case of the Bisan (Beit Shean) valley, however, he argued that the dynamics of the relationship between British colonialism and Zionism are complex, and cannot be reduced to the fact that British colonialism enabled Zionist expropriation through land laws. He ultimately contended that British colonialism should not be reduced solely to an enabler of Zionism. Fakher Eldin added that three explanatory frameworks have been used to consider the history of Palestine—the clash of civilizations (which implies a conflict between Palestinians and Jews); the framework of modern national civil society; and settler-colonialism—arguing that Palestinian academia is in conflict between the first and second paradigms.

The second day began with a lecture by Dr. Abdul Rahim Sheikh of Birzeit University. In this lecture, he presented a critical intervention entitled “Towards a liberal approach in Palestinian cultural studies,” arguing that in the local Palestinian epistemological context, there is no specialized field of “Palestinian cultural studies” situated within the colonial setting, but noting that there have been many attempts to create such a field. Accordingly, his intervention sought to provide a theoretical introduction to the field, its limits and conceptual problems, and the possibilities of using critical contemplation of the experience of the colonized to inaugurate methods that are free from colonial influence, in light of the lapse between the theoretical and the applied as witnessed in Palestine today. The intervention consisted of four segments. In the first segment, Dr. Sheikh presented a series of methodological questions on how cultural studies can serve us in developing better academic approaches to Zionism. In the second segment, he presented a cultural theoretical reading of the emergence of Zionism in a colonial context and the status of the Abrahamic faiths within that context.  In the third segment, he presented a cultural application of the theoretical intervention made in his upcoming book, “The Columbus Syndrome and the Exploration of Palestine: Zionist policies of naming and cultural engineering in Palestinian space,” to be published by the Institute for Palestine Studies at the end of 2015. In the last segment, he presented critical conclusions, a contemplation of the function of criticism, and criticism of criticism itself, noting that criticism can become merely a form of posturing in a post-colonial context.

IMG_1363The second session, entitled “Daily life under settler-colonialism in Palestine,” was opened and moderated by Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, and also involved the participation of doctoral students Rami Salameh and Maysa Eshkirat.

In her remarks, Shalhoub-Kevorkian argued that scholars under colonialism write about their lived experiences rather than theorizing abstractly. She noted that daily Israeli policies of colonialism are structural in nature rather than isolated events, and that these policies are attempts by the settlers to demand for themselves the status of the indigenous. She added that the theorizing of daily practices of intimidation is essential in understanding the Zionist colonial situation. She also spoke about Palestinian practices of maneuvering that challenge the violence of colonialism, such as smuggling the bodies of the dead, using alternative routes to avoid checkpoints and soldiers while going to school and returning home, etc.

Rami Salameh, a doctoral student at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, highlighted colonial policies that limit and restrict Palestinian freedom of movement, force Palestinians to undergo everyday practices of maneuvering in order to pass through checkpoints, and impose different spaces of movement on different groups of Palestinians. He noted that those who have a blue Israeli ID pass through a different checkpoint from those who have West Bank IDs, even in cases where two partners or a father and his children have different IDs. He added that it is difficult to analyze this context based on literature that refers either to hegemony or to resistance, arguing that states of command and control are also productive of subjectivities. This requires a review of space in a colonial context, where the colonial project has succeeded in producing various Palestinian subjectivities, distinguishing between Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel on the basis of their ability to move from place to place, as restrictions on movement are inscribed onto the Palestinian body. He added that civil society also reproduces these colonial contradictions. In his research, Salameh is rewriting the history of colonial space through people’s stories by conducting an ethnographic study to examine and analyze how the colonized Palestinian maneuvers within this system.3

The second intervention was made by Maysa Eshkirat, a doctoral student at SOAS in London. Eshkirat addressed the body and sexuality in light of daily Israeli policies of colonization. She noted that existing research does not adequately address the violence of the Zionist project – a colonial project aiming to expropriate all of historic Palestine and the Golan Heights. Eshkirat claimed that resistance to colonialism at the level of everyday life is absent from existing academic literature and argued that research should be part of the process of liberation in the Palestinian case. Eshkirat added that through her research, she aims to deconstruct or problematize the relationship between knowledge and colonialism. In the Zionist context, she noted that colonialism itself is imprinted onto the body of the Palestinian women in patriarchal terms. She ended her intervention by stating that what distinguishes Zionist colonialism from other cases of settler colonialism is that it faces strong resistance in spite of the fact that it represents the ultimate culmination of the European colonial mentality, delegitimizing the “other” and using quasi-religious justifications for its actions.

In the last session, each of the participants stated their future expectations from the workshop series, and the areas which they were interested in addressing in subsequent workshops. Participants proposed to consider the issue of indigeneity, the distinct articulations of settler colonialism in the 1967 and 1948 regions, and internal violence within the Palestinian community in the context of colonialism. Some participants also suggested inviting Jewish lecturers who oppose Zionist colonial thought.

At the end of the workshop, the group agreed to write research papers on the various issues that will be addressed in coming workshops.

Mada Al-Carmel – the Arab Center for Applied Social Research held its 2021 Annual Conference at Umm El Fahem Theatre and Cinematheque on July 31st. This year’s conference, entitled the “Political and Social Approaches between the Covid-19 Pandemic and the current uprising,” addressed and discussed the political and social implications of the current pandemic and the popular uprising on the reality, future and the challenges imposed on the Palestinian society in Israel. This conference is part of the academic activity through which Madal Al-Carmel Center seeks to generate focused knowledge on the Palestinian cause as well as showcasing the concerns of the Palestinian people. The conference showcased remarkable progress in its presentation, its knowledge approaches, its organization and its attraction of hundreds of researchers, on both the Palestinian and Arab world levels.

In his speech, Dr. Samir Subhi, Mayor of Umm Al-Fahem, welcomed the audience and and Mada Al-Carmel Center staff. He spoke from his position as a mayor, on fundamental problems that are facing the Palestinian community. Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, chair of the Mada Al-Carmel Board; spoke after the Mayor, where she encouraged research and editorial writing. She praised the path that Mada Al-Carmel is taking towards emancipating from the dominant theoretical formats and promoting Palestinian intellectual cognitive production that challenges and undermines the Israeli narrative. Dr. Ayman Egbarieh, lecturer at the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, and member of the Academic Committee of the Conference, chose to resort to art works by recalling the painting “The Triumph of Death” by the Dutch artist Peter Bruegel the Elder, to refer to the intersection between pandemics and wars, as apparent in the Palestinian reality. 

Dr. Mohanad Mustafa, General-Director of Mada Al-Carmel, gave an opening speech entitled: “The Political Orientation of the Palestinians in Israel after the Uprising,” where he reviewed the results of a poll conducted by the Center to understand the causes of the popular uprising and to understand the shifts in the political stances of the Palestinians in Israel following the uprising.

The survey shows that 60% of the participants see the events of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah as the central factor that caused the outbreak of the uprising. According to Dr. Mustafa’s analysis, these findings reveal the centrality of Jerusalem as a religious and a political national symbol, showcasing that these political practices are similar to other practices in other parts of historic Palestine. Jerusalem is the starting point in which the popular resistance started from, as it is a meeting point of the Palestinian people holding different political perspectives, and it is the place that holds the Palestinian amputation together. Another important result of the survey is that 48% of the participants consider that the role of the Arab parties in the recent uprising was minor. Mustafa explains that this uprising arose during a weak point in the Palestinian political status in Israel, and therefore the uprising took place without the direct or the indirect influence of the Palestinian political parties. The Centre plans to publish the remaining results of the survey with an analysis in the Annual Conference report in the coming days.

Professor Amal Jamal, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University and member of the Academic Committee of the Conference, chaired the first session entitled, “The Militarization of the Palestinian Community between the Corona Pandemic and the Current Intifada.” During the session, the representative of “Who Profits” Research Center, and political economy researcher, Hala Marshoud, presented a statement entitled “Israeli Security and Military response to the Pandemic: significance and implications”. She claimed that Israel’s settler colonial system attempts to militarize and nationalize all civil sectors. The crisis was exploited towards militarizing and nationalizing the health sector, through the intervention of military and police officers in civil matters, and through combating the pandemic using the Israeli security system and military agencies. This intervention exceeded to use intelligence units, and manufacture health and surveillance equipment by using the military knowledge in High-tech and Cyber companies, as well as the Israeli weapons manufacturing companies. 

Dr. Nijmeh Ali, Research Fellow at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Otago, New Zealand, shared a statement entitled “Militarized Technology for the Corona Pandemic: “Smart” Surveillance, big prison and “the Israelization of Surveillance”. Dr. Nijmeh tried through her statement to explore the impact of the application of comprehensive surveillance mechanisms, that have been used during the pandemic period, on future Palestinian behavior, linking it to a new type of weapon under technological authority, and connecting it to a new Israelization method amid militarized technology, which essentially aims at disciplining which she called the ‘Israelization of Surveillance’. 

Dr. Ali set forth the most important military manifestations of the Corona Pandemic: granting new powers to deploy soldiers in public spaces, expanding the powers of Shabak (the Israel Security Agency) – legally and legislatively, sorting military medical staff in active facilities, mobilizing army intelligence teams, and employing military technology. Further, Dr. Ali touched on the surveillance methods used in the recent popular uprising: internet censorship, digital safety: facing bans, using cameras, geographic positioning, filming and self-dissemination.

The Arab Deputy Sami Abu Shehada, Knesset Member for the National Democratic Alliance within the Joint List, commentated, noting that Israeli surveillance and espionage mechanisms that exist permanently, are an axiomatic of the regime, and the normal situation there. The Deputy explained the absence of any kind of separation between the society and the army in Israel, makes the State treat the army as the only institution capable of managing any kind of crisis.

Dr. Youssef Jabarin, jurist and former Member of the Knesset for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality within the Joint list, also offered a critique in the same session. Jabarin criticized dealing with the latest uprising by only focusing on military security methods rather than focusing on the civil methods that any democratic society has to adopt in dealing with civil and legitimate mass protests, even if these protests have taken on a national dimension.

The second session, entitled “Arab Education Amid the Corona Pandemic,” was chaired by Professor Sarab Abu Rabeea-Qwider, Lecturer at the Department of Education at Ben Gurion University, and member of the Academic Committee of the Conference. Taghreed Zubi, educational consultant and doctoral student in the Department of Education at the University of Haifa, shared a statement entitled “Arab Teachers’ Stances Towards Online Learning Amid the Corona Pandemic.” Zubi claimed that the whole teaching system was not ready for online learning, nor were teachers ready and able to teach using technology. This is particularly evident in the Arab education system, which suffers from weak technological infrastructure. In his intervention, “Arab Education in the Negev Amid the Corona Pandemic,” Khalil Dhabshah, Principal of ORT school in Kasifah town in Negev, revealed that tens of thousands of students in Negev have been dropping out of school because the vast majority of them are not ready and are not able to own the means for online learning. Students from Unrecognized Villages were the most affected by the closure of the education system, owing to the lack of infrastructure in these villages and the severe lack of any means of online learning. Further, the crisis revealed that Unrecognized villages lack any kind of services, because there are no responsible authorities or institutions formally formed to manage crises nor providing the necessary support and rationalization to thousands of families living under the Pandemic.

Mr. President Sharaf Hassan, Chairman of the Committee for Monitoring Arab Education Issues called on the civil society and Arab teachers to liberate themselves from the mental inability and to initiate, by calling for a change in the ideological and intellectual dimension of their learning process, their perception of their position and their role in challenging the difficulties caused by the Corona Pandemic. Dr. Hassan asked each teacher to see himself/herself as an intellectual and a responsible leader, not a tool for passing on materials identified only by the Ministry of Education. In the same session Nadeem Al-Masri, Chairman of the National Committee of Arab Parents of Students in Israel, stated that the Ministry of Education was not ready for any kind of emergency other than security related emergencies, and of course it wasn’t ready for the Pandemic. He also added that the Ministry of Education had dealt with the needs of Arab schools in the recent uprising through a policy of neglect, as students were not safe to travel in Arab and mixed towns. Arab schools lacked infrastructure, safe buildings, and shelters. Students were not provided with any kind of psychological or emotional support in the aftermath of the events. Almasri added that the Ministry of Education has also prevented experiencing freedom of expression, by preventing discussion about students’ identity or the current events.

The third and final session of the Conference entitled “Social Violence and Jerusalem Amid the Corona Pandemic,” was chaired by Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, President of Mada Al-Carmel Board. Lubna Elenat Khalayleh, PhD student on “Educational Management” at the Arab American University-Ramallah; participated in the session with a statement entitled “Violence against Women during the Corona Crisis.” Khalayleh stated that the problem of the increasing frequency of violence against women in the Corona Pandemic had been compounded by a number of factors; the conditions imposed by the Pandemic through social isolation and domestic confinement with violent men, in conjunction with the loss of livelihoods, pressure, economic and health concerns provided fertile ground for violence against women.

Mr. Bassam Hamdan, Director of the Social Services Section of Judeide- Maker municipality, commentated saying that the phenomenon of violence against women cannot be studied in isolation from the political, economic and security context. Men’s practices of violence against women are manifestations of the hegemony and domination of Palestinians by the Israeli repressive colonial regime. He called for a change in the approach and methods of intervention, the need to recruit the Arab man and the perpetrator for treatment and the request for assistance, rather than simply settling for only raising women’s awareness of their rights. He indicated that this could be achieved through the development of a comprehensive vision starting from schools and continuing onto the remainder of the social frameworks in each country.

Reham Samana, Master’s student in Literature and Intercultural Communication at the Arab American University in Ramallah, presented her statement entitled, “The Composite Exception within the Old City of Jerusalem during the Period of the Pandemic.” Samana noted that the Occupation had increased its colonial practices during the period of the Pandemic in the Old City of Jerusalem, as crises were often a fuel for the dominant power to increase its control over vulnerable groups. These practices were demonstrated by the increasing excessive colonial violence on the citizens and their place, such as partition, isolation, demolition, issuing fines and imprisonment. Samana claims that all these and other actions were aimed at fusing people’s consciousness, causing them to be easily defeated and be convinced of the futility of the struggle resulting in accepting such reality. 

In commenting on this statement, Dr. Suleiman Egbarieyh, who is responsible for the Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa file in the banned Islamic Movement in Israel, and the former Head of the Municipality of Umm Al-Fahem, stressed that the number of deportations of Palestinians from the Old City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque has been on the rise since the beginning of the Pandemic. He also noted that the shopkeepers had not had access to their shops because of the restrictions. Finally, he spoke of increasing rates of arrests and infractions during the pandemic as part of a policy of intimidation in the Old City of Jerusalem. 

In person attendance – 100 +

To watch the opening and first sessions: Number of viewers – 2800

To watch the second session: Number of viewers 680 

To watch the third session: Number of viewers 600 

The latest popular uprising by Palestinian citizens in Israel erupted during a complex political period in the country following four election cycles that failed to produce a sustainable working governing coalition between rival political factions. At the time of the uprising, long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heading a caretaker government that included him, the leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz, and a number of smaller parties. Today, that caretaker government is on its way out, to be replaced shortly by another coalition of political parties and forces opposed to Netanyahu, one that emerged from the latest parliamentary election last March.

The uprising was caused by the Palestinians’ feelings of disappointment and anger at events in Jerusalem and at having no influence in the Israeli political system nor involvement in the Israeli political context. This feeling of exclusion came to light in the wake of the Knesset elections of March 2020, when the Joint Arab List Alliance—which gained 15 seats in that round—recommended Gantz to form an alternate government instead of Netanyahu. Gantz, however, refused to form a government based on the list’s recommendation and preferred to join a government headed by none other than Netanyahu himself, despite his repeated promise not to join the latter in any cabinet. Indeed, he campaigned on a platform of replacing Netanyahu as premier. Such a rebuff dispirited Palestinian voters and contributed to an unprecedented decline in their participation rate in the March 2021 election, which was only 45 percent.

It must be emphasized that during the last four election rounds (from April 2019 to March 2021), the right-wing rhetoric that delegitimizes the Palestinian lists and voices was strengthened. This was despite the Palestinian parties’ secular discourse and their willingness to recommend a candidate from a Zionist party and to back an alternate government. Some Palestinians even supported an Israeli government headed by Netanyahu himself, as the leader of the United Arab List, Islamist Mansour Abbas, did after the last election.

Reasons behind the Eruption of the Popular Uprising

Many direct and indirect political factors led to the recent uprising among Palestinian citizens of Israel, which peaked around the events that occurred in connection with the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan. On May 7 alone, the Israeli police stormed the mosque compound, terrorized the worshipers, and used excessive force to disperse the demonstrators using rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. About 170 Palestinians were injured. Such use of force caused feelings of anger among Palestinians in Israel who actively pray at the mosque and have been subjected to repression, including frequent denial of travel there by the Israeli police. In addition to the Al-Aqsa events, multiple protests erupted in Jerusalem against attempts by settler Jewish associations to displace Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. This is part of the Judaization process of Jerusalem, which is also taking place vigorously in other areas of the city.

In a survey, over 60 percent of Palestinians in Israel said the cause of the outbreak of the Palestinian popular uprising was the events of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem.

Palestinian youth and citizens of Israel participated in these protests, which at times the Israeli police aggressively suppressed, arresting demonstrators. The Israeli security services had warned the government that an escalation in Jerusalem could lead to major protests in Israel, the occupied West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Jewish extremist groups had intended to organize a march in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 9, the day when Israel celebrates the occupation and the “unification” of the city. The Israeli government allowed the march to be organized in the tense atmosphere, a fact that helped to galvanize the Palestinians, especially since the overall purpose of the event was to assert Israeli control over Jerusalem.

In a survey by Haifa-based Mada al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research, over 60 percent of Palestinians in Israel said the cause of the outbreak of the Palestinian popular uprising was the events of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem (see Table 1).

Table 1

Causes for the Palestinian Uprising in Israel Percentage
Events of Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah 60.50%
Israeli police and state failure to control crime and violence 15.20%
Discrimination against Palestinian citizens 21.10%
Other 3.10%

Source: “Political Preferences of Palestinians in Israel after the Popular Uprising,” Mada al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research, 2021 (forthcoming).

The police crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem, and in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, exacerbated the feelings of rage by Palestinians at the police’s failure to address the violence and crimes against them in Palestinian society. Criminal and violent incidents have spread at an unprecedented rate in recent years, reaching almost 100 Palestinians killed in 2020 alone. Criminal gangs have circulated almost with impunity, without the police taking serious steps to confront them. In contrast, Palestinians are witnessing extreme security procedures by the police to suppress any peaceful political protest in which they participate.

Such security procedures reinforce the impression that the police are treating them as enemies. Indeed, they view the Israeli police as not having changed their policies and perceptions of Palestinian citizens, despite criticism in the wake of the October 2000 demonstrations, in which police killed 13 Palestinian citizens during the protests that erupted in Palestinian cities and towns in Israel. The general unwillingness of the police to fight crime in Palestinian society that numbers some 1.8 million people and their attempt to induce the Palestinians into violence while security forces suppressed their protests in Jerusalem were two main factors for the emergence of the feelings of anger. This is not to mention the “Jewish Nation-State Law,” enacted by the Knesset in July 2018, which officially stripped them of their collective rights as an indigenous group and recognized Israel as the “historic homeland” of the Jewish people. In addition, the law included no mention of any principle of equality among all citizens in the State of Israel.

The most violent protests erupted in the mixed cities, the historically Palestinian cities where most of the population was displaced in 1948 and a few Palestinian neighborhoods had remained.

The most violent protests erupted in the mixed cities, the historically Palestinian cities where most of the population was displaced in 1948 and a few Palestinian neighborhoods had remained. Palestinian groups and areas there have been marginalized, discriminated against, and turned into enclaves of poverty in cities that now have predominant Jewish majorities. Protests in these cities, namely in Lydda, Jaffa, and Akka, erupted due to inequality similar to that of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem. In both cases, the same Judaization practices, which aim at restricting the Palestinians and settling religious Jewish families with extremist agendas, in order to impede and displace Palestinians from their homes. This similarity between what is happening in Jerusalem in general, and Sheikh Jarrah in particular, which has gained great media and international attention, alongside the policies of Judaization of mixed cities in Israel, are two contributing factors that explain the reasons behind the violent protests that occurred in these particular cities compared to other Palestinian towns in Israel.

The State’s Reaction to the Uprising

The Israeli state’s reaction to the popular uprising in Palestinian society has been violent. The arrests of and crackdown on activists continue to date, despite the end of the protests. The state dealt with the protests in a security manner, without actually considering the simple, civil affairs question: what caused the popular uprising, especially after years of political and economic integration attempts of Palestinians into the state?

These security procedures permitted the use of lethal suppression strategies such as rubber-coated metal bullets and sometimes live ammunition, killing two young Palestinians, one shot by the police and one shot by a Jewish resident. Not only did the government decide to bring border guards—units that work in the West Bank to suppress Palestinian protests there—into Palestinian towns, the state also decided to expand police power to deal with the protests by placing checkpoints and concrete barriers at the entrances of the towns, imposing curfews,, inspecting all vehicles, and imposing arbitrary fines on citizens as part of collective punishment.

Accompanying this security repression, some Israeli journalists participated in incitement against Palestinians. In one interview, an Israeli journalist threatened Arab citizens with a “second Nakba” as well as urged the police to take a more violent stance on the protests. Another journalist demandedi that the police should kill every citizen who assaulted a Jewish settler, saying “they must count their death,” meaning Palestinians.

Many violent Israeli Jewish groups emerged during the uprising. Some of them were armed and aimed to hunt down Palestinians, even though the Palestinian protests were mostly peaceful.

Many violent Israeli Jewish groups emerged during the uprising. Some of them were armed and aimed to hunt down Palestinians, even though the Palestinian protests were mostly peaceful. In addition, the violence attributed to Palestinians that accompanied the protests was not systematically organized but the police quelled it with extreme repression. In contrast, groups of settlers from settlements in the West Bank were organized for “defending” Jews in mixed cities. Many extremist Jewish groups who got involved were affiliated with racist organizations such as Lehava, a racist anti-miscegenation group that believes in the purity and superiority of the Jewish race. Lehava members attacked Palestinian shops in Jewish majority cities and chased and beat Palestinian citizens, killing a young man. All this occurred without the police undertaking any security procedures to halt the violence, and sometimes these groups were free to move even though the police knew about their practices and intentions.

After the events ended, the police launched a campaign called “Law and Order.” According to the campaign statement, they would hold anyone involved in the protests accountable. Indeed, the police, in cooperation with the Internal Security Service (Shabak), began and continued to arrest hundreds of Palestinian youth, including minors. Some of them have been released, but a large number continues to be detained after hundreds of indictments were filed against them.

The popular uprising accompanied many procedures aimed to persecute Arab employees in private as well as public companies. Many of those who expressed political positions on Facebook were illegally fired. When the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel announced a strike protesting police repression on May 18, Arab strikers were threatened with dismissal if they did not continue to work.

No Lessons Learned

This popular uprising among Palestinians in Israel has been the largest protest since the events of October 2000. The reasons for the uprising indicate that the State of Israel may not have learned many lessons since that time, despite the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the events. Rather, its discriminatory policies continue and police treat Palestinian citizens as enemies rather than as citizens. After the return to government of the Israeli right in 2009, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the state continued to incite against Palestinian citizens, prosecuting their political leaders, curtailing political action, delegitimizing parties and working to lessen electoral participation in Knesset elections, and allowing crime and violence against them to reach alarming levels.

The legislation of the Jewish Nation-State Law of July 2018 constitutionally and explicitly was enacted to announce that the state is Jewish and therefore it could not provide equality for its Palestinian citizens. As in 2000, the events in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque were provoked by factors that triggered the Palestinians and brought out the anger and frustration that had accumulated over the years, in a protest that accompanied the aggression against the Gaza Strip. This is unmistakably the uprising of the Palestinian youth, who were the most involved, as they are suffering from frustration, discrimination, and loss of hope for a life of dignity and genuine equality.

Mohanad Mustafa is the General Director of Mada al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social research, Haifa, Israel.

Mada al Carmel- The Arab Center for Applied Social Research, has concluded the sixth seminar group of its Higher Education Student Support program, in which eleven Palestinian students from all over the country participated. The program was run and academically supervised by Dr Mohanad Mustafa, general director of Mada al Carmel, and coordinated by Dr Areen Hawari, a researcher at Mada. The support program aims to foster Palestinian PhD and Masters’ students who work in Israeli universities, and give them a space in which they can discuss their studies and research in their mother tongue. Mada seeks to provide a context in which students can express themselves and their ideas freely. Mada’s workshops and seminars make a valuable contribution to the effort of building a new generation of scholars who can counter, critique and work to reverse dominant trends in Israeli academia.

In addition to the workshops, discussion groups and debates that the students participated in, the seminar also hosted prominent Palestinian academics, giving the students a chance to become personally acquainted with them and to learn from their experiences. Students can benefit from hearing constructive feedback on their work from established Palestinian academics. Among the academics who participated were Doctor Yasmin Zahir, Doctor Sami Muhajna, Prof. Khawla Abu Baker, Prof. Amal Jamal, Doctor Ayman Aghbariyya, Prof. Mina Khoury Kasabry, and Doctor Taghrid Yahya Younis. These academics gave advice to the students on different topics, such as the process and challenges of writing PhD theses, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, getting work published in academic journals, what comes after your doctorate, and other such topics. Guest lecturers also participated in workshops where they discussed the various stages and waypoints in the development of their careers. They also stressed the political, social and national aspects of their jobs, for example the social responsibilities that come with being a researcher, the role of the intellectual in resisting hegemonic academic approaches, and the importance of producing justice-centred scholarship.

Participants expressed to Mada just how important these spaces are, which bring together Palestinian doctoral students from both sides of the green line. This helps to build a communicative intellectual network between Palestinians living in different contexts. It also exposes participants a taste of professional academia, and exposes them in the recommendations of researchers who work in it. One participant, Loay Weted, commented on the experience, saying “the real bonus I got out of the program was meeting Palestinian academics. Before they were just names that I’d read or heard, but today their faces became familiar to me, and I got to build a personal relationship with that name. This gap between me and them suddenly closed, a gap that had been enforced by their position in academia, or them belonging to a different generation, or by the elitism that is so characteristic of the academic sphere. Today I feel as though I have become part of this academic community, that this community is ready to accept me into it, and that there is a space for me here.”

Another participant, Aisha Muslimani, a student from Jerusalem, also shared her thoughts on the program: “Interacting with Palestinian students who live in Israel, having lacked that experience in Jerusalem, especially in my studies at the Hebrew University- I was shocked by the feelings of discontinuity I had about our different experiences. The program enabled me to fill these gaps in my experience and helped to get past those feelings of discontinuity. There is no doubt, in my view, that this program is valuable and enriching.”

Mada al Carmel Center is aiming to develop and expand this project by starting up a workshop for undergraduate students as well, and is launching a questionnaire to seek advice on what the best kind of seminar would be for students starting this year. Dr Mohanad Mustafa, general director of Mada, said that “we aim with this project expansion to create a department for training critical, professional researchers ranging from the undergraduate stage all the way up to doctoral level. The work is made up of research and training workshops, which are participated in by quality Palestinian researchers and critics of all different ages. We will be launching an undergraduate seminar in social sciences, to meet with our PhD seminar group, which this year we expanded to include Masters students. All these groups will also be involved in our workshop on Zionism and settler colonialism. These efforts will help us build a department through which students can develop their research abilities, and be exposed to the experiences of Palestinian academics, all in cause of supporting well-rounded Palestinian intellectuals.”

On June 22, 2019, Mada al-Carmel – The Arab Center for Applied Social Research – held its annual academic conference in Nazareth entitled “Transformations in Political Participation in the last Two Decades and a Glance Towards the Future.” Dozens of academics, university students, politicians and activists participated in the conference. The conference included academic presentations based on research papers presented to the conference.

 

The conference was opened with a welcoming opening session, moderated by Ms. Einas Odeh- Haj, the Associate Director of Mada al-Carmel. Ms. Odeh- Haj stressed the importance of the conference and its theme in the current political situation, stating that the recent parliamentary elections and the decline in voting percentages has reaffirmed the need for a collective political project where the joint list would be at its core and the parliamentary action would be one of its constituents. Mr. Mohammad Barakeh, Head of the Higher Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel, gave a short speech in which he pointed out the importance of the meeting between politicians and academics in scientific conferences, stressing the role of the Follow-up Committee and the founding steps it has taken in recent years. Mr. Mudar Younis, Mayor of Arara, and Chair of the National Committee of Arab Local Authorities, also spoke about the advantages of local politics and local leadership transformations in local governance. He indicated that despite the positive changes in the qualities of local leaders on a personal level, they still rely on the traditional bases in the local elections. The last speaker of the session, Dr. Johnny Mansour, member of Mada al-Carmel’s board, welcomed the attendants reaffirming the importance of the papers to be presented at the conference, the value of the dialogue resulting from such conferences and the role of Mada al-Carmel in approaching the Palestinian political reality with academic tools that benefit the community and political leadership. As well as the relevance of the conference as an academic forum in Palestinian society to discuss its affairs.

After the opening, the first session of the conference was moderated by Ms. Areen Hawari, a researcher at Mada al-Carmel. Dr. Ameed Saabneh, a lecturer at Haifa University and a member of the research committee at Mada al-Carmel, presented his analytical paper on the opinion poll conducted by Mada al-Carmel on political participation. Dr. Saabneh analyzed the attitudes of the Palestinian public through a socio-economic approach, indicating that there are two major trends within the Palestinian society: the collective approach, which sees the organization of Palestinian society as the most important formula for improving the status of the Palestinians; and the individualistic approach which favors integration in Israeli society. He pointed out that the higher the educational level of the individual, the higher the tendency for the collectivist approach. This is contrary to the prevailing impression that the Palestinian middle class tends towards integration and assimilation in the Israeli society. 

 

Professor Mohammad Amara, a lecturer at the Beit Berl Academic College, commented on Dr. Saabneh’s paper by saying that there is a need to take the Israeli political context and its changes in the past decade into consideration when interpreting the survey results, and not to be satisfied with just the class or economic educational approaches. Dr. Mtanes Shehadeh, Knesset member from the Alliance of the National Democratic Assembly and the United Arab List (Balad-Ra’am), said that the poll explains much of the political behavior of the Palestinian society in the recent elections. This is because the people see parliamentary action as an important political option, but it sees collective action as an option that must accompany the parliamentary option, including the organization of the society outside the parliament.

The second session, which was moderated by Dr. Hanin Majadele, a lecturer at the Al-Qasemi Academic College of Education, discussed the subject of political organization. Dr. Mohanad Mustafa, General Director of Mada al-Carmel, presented his paper on the political organization among the Palestinians in Israel between the policies of hope and cynicism. He explained that the policy of hope is reflected in three points; collective political action, collective political organization and the development of a collective political project. The more society advances in achieving these three demands, the more hope people have, and their political participation and involvement with politics increases, and vice versa..

 

First discussant, Mr. Muhammad Khalayleh, a PhD student at Haifa University, commented on the paper by saying that there is a decline in the public’s trust in the various political institutions in Palestinian society, which confirms the policy of cynicism, stressing that the future vision documents (issued by the Palestinians in Israel more than a decade ago) were not translated into collective political action after they were published, as they remained elitist perceptions that did not reach the general public. Aida Touma-Suleiman, Knesset member from the Alliance of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and the Arab Movement for Change (Hadash-Ta’al), pointed to the need to give hope to people by reforming the Joint List. The List had comprised a policy of hope for people when it was established in 2015, and there is a need to develop a discourse that addresses people’s expectations from the Joint List.

The last session was moderated by the activist and lawyer Ali Haider. Dr. Hunaida Ghanim, director of the Madar Center for Israeli Studies, presented her paper which addressed the Palestinian political discourse since the publication of the future vision documents. Dr. Ghanim referred to the dialectic of nationality and the homeland, the changes in Israeli society and their impact on the Palestinians in Israel and their behavior and political thought, particularly the rise of the national-religious discourse in Israeli politics.

 

Mr. Awad Abdel Fattah from the Campaign for One State and the former General Secretary of the National Democratic Assembly, commented on the paper stressing the importance of rethinking the approach of Israel as a settler-colonial state. Finally, Dr. Mansour Abbas, the head of the Balad-Ra’am Alliance, commented on the paper by saying that it was essential to adopt a political and parliamentary discourse that addresses the current political reality, even if this necessitates connecting with new sectors of Israeli society and building partnerships with them in order to advance the interests of the Palestinian society. 

 

It should be noted that the conference booklet, which included the papers presented at the conference, was distributed to the attendees. The conference was funded by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, and was prepared by an academic committee composed of Dr. Muhannad Mustafa, Ms. Einas Odeh-Haj, Dr. Ameed Saabneh and Dr. Rawia Abu Rabia.

Mada’s PhD program holds its Fourth Workshop on Colonialism and Zionism

The fourth workshop, held in Ramallah on July 29-30, 2016, dealt with the Palestinian National Movement’s reading of Zionism. In its opening, Professor Nadim Rouhana sowra11stressed the importance of returning to the settler colonial framework in the approach to Zionism and the conflict with it. He pointed out that Palestinian political thought has historically viewed Zionism as a colonial project, but that the shift towards the state project, especially after 1974, led to a political turning point in dealing with the conflict. It became presented as a struggle between two groups vying for the same homeland, in parallel with Israel’s continued settlement activities in the occupied territories in 1967 and also within the Green Line.

In the beginning, before dealing with the Palestinian National Movement, Professor Ilan Pappe, director of the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Palestine Studies and a member of the Middle East Humanities research cluster, presented the introductory lecture on Zionism. He said that Zionist settler colonialism is a path and not a structure, therefore it is difficult to find its properties, rather we must look at the logic that motivates the project, which is the logic of genocide linked to the logic of demonization of the locals.

Mr. Daoud Talhami gave a lecture on the regional surroundings and combatting Zionism. At the outset, he said that in spite of the fact that the Palestinian people are the first victims of the Zionist project, the latter also targets the Arab and non-Arab surroundings, through its inherent geographic expansion. However, the most dangerous aspect of this project, is the regional imperialist role played by the Zionist state in the region.

swra2 The third lecture was given by Professor Samih Hamouda from the political science department at Birzeit  University. He said that the Islamic trend, like the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) trends, suffers from a  weakness in theorization and methodological thinking. Then he argued that Hamas’s discourse mixes between  the religious and political, viewing the Jews in essence, while the Islamic Jihad does not view Zionism as an  extension of the Jewish groups in history, but as organically linked to colonialism.

This was followed by a lecture on the Israeli Communist Party, given by Mr. Abdel-Latif Hussari, a member of its  intellectual department. He still sees the party as an important component of the Palestinian liberation movement.  He said that the party’s ideological roots appeared as a combination of thought of immigrants who arrived in  Palestine with Marxist ideas in parallel with communists who grew up in the Palestinian city. He also mentioned  the various divisions then the unity among the party, such as the split between Arabs and Jews in 1943, and the  formation of the National Liberation League, because the Arabs rejected the parallelism between the nationalism of a movement struggling against oppression and the nationalist tendencies of a nation practicing oppression.

The first session on the second day was a reading of the national movement inside Israel of Zionism, presented by Dr. Mohanad Mustafa, a lecturer at the College for Academic Studies and a researcher at Mada al-Carmel.  Dr. Mustafa argued that political Islam inside Israel approached Zionism from a historical perspective through the wide Islamic paradigm in all its components. The national movement, on the other hand, approached Zionism from an ideological perspective relating to its colonial project in Palestine, without marginalizing its relationship, i.e. Zionism, with the overall colonial project in the Arab region.

The next session was on the Israeli Communist Party and its approach to Zionism. This session was given by Dr. Mahmoud Muhareb, lecturer at Al-Quds University/Abu Dis, on the emergence of the Communist Party in the ranks of the Jewish settler movement and not the indigenous population. Dr. Muhareb said that the Arabs were admitted to the party, at the request of the leaders of the Communist International (Comintern), but the party, sentimentally, was close to the settlement project, and spoke on behalf of the Jewish proletariat. On the other hand, Zionist practices and its alliance with colonialism were one of the factors that distanced the party from Zionism.

Speaking in the final session, which was entitled identity and the Palestinian narrative under Zionism, were two members of the workshop on their research. Heba Yazbek, a doctoral student in sociology at Tel Aviv University, spoke about the displaced inside the Green Line and how they tell their story. Dr. Manar Makhoul, coordinator of the political monitoring project at Mada al-Carmel, spoke on the development of identity inside Israel under Zionism, through the review and analysis of more than seventy Palestinian novels written inside the Green Line.

At the end of each lecture, there were comments and room for discussion by several dignitaries, including Palestinian political leaders such as MK Haneen Zoubi; Mr. Walid Taha, a member of the regional political bureau of the Islamic Movement; and lecturers including Dr. George Giacaman of Birzeit University.
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16 PhD-students participated in the second Mada al-Carmel PhD conference, and six grants were allocated to PhD students

Opening-1On April 15th-16th, the conference for Palestinian PhD students was held in Nazareth, which was organized by Mada al-Carmel – the Arab Center for Applied Social Research. This was the second conference that Mada al-Carmel held for PhD-students. Palestinian students studying at local and foreign universities participated in the conference and presented their research. They also listened to discussions from senior scholars – who took turns chairing the sessions – and from the public.

Ms. Einas Odeh-Haj, the Associate Director of Mada al-Carmel, opened the conference by saying that it aims to stimulate academic dialogue and the exchange of expertise, and that it is the continuation of Mada’s overall efforts towards the goal of supporting a new generation of Palestinian researchers. She added that the idea of the conference comes as  “a challenge to the partition policy suffered by Palestinians. It is an attempt to create an intellectual framework which overcomes geographical and political barriers and contributes to developing a research agenda”. Dr. Manar Mahmoud, the coordinator of the conference, addressed its importance and the preparations that preceded it, including the formation of an academic committee that worked on reviewing and evaluating the submitted applications as well as selecting the conference’s participants. Professor Michael Karayanni from the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University, and a member of the conference’s Academic Committee, discussed the importance of standing on an academic stage and speaking in Arabic in a supportive atmosphere, emphasizing the importance of learning from each other and exchanging expertise.

Jomhor-3Opening-2

Jalse-1following the opening, the sessions of the conference began, and were divided according to the research topics of the participants. The first session was about gender, led by Dr. Taghreed Yahia-Younes from Tel-Aviv University. Three students participated in this session:

  • Ferial Khalifa – Women’s Islamic Activism: Various issues and theoretical approaches
  • Dina Zbeidy – Love, Age, Magic and Mothers: Marriage issues in the discourse of civil society and refugees in Jordan
  • Lana Sirri – Islamic Feminism: A response to conditional sisterhood

The second session discussed colonial perspectives and was led by Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian from the Hebrew University, who is also the Director of the Gender Studies Program at Mada al-Carmel. The participants of this session included:

  • Wassim Ghantous – Outsourcing Settler-colonialism: Israel’s outsourcing of control to private security companies, individual settlers, and the Palestinian Authority
  • Taher al-Labadi – War by Other Means: A political economy of colonialism in Palestine
  • Muna al-Dajani – Farming as Resistance under Occupation

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The third session revolved around social studies and was led by Dr. Sami Mahajneh from the Arab Academic Institute Beit Berl. The participants of this session included:

  • Sinyal Attamneh – Occupational Aspirations among Young Palestinian Females in Israel Living in Poverty: The potential of mothers’ contributions
  • Adeem Massarwa – Serious Physical Violence among Arab-Palestinian Adolescents: Normative beliefs as a mediator, parental communication as a moderator
  • Ahmad Badran – Stratification Consequences of Educational Choices: Elementary school choice by Palestinians in Israel

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Jalse-4On the second day, the fourth session of the conference dealt with the topic of planning, led by Professor Yousef Jabareen from Technion. The participants included:

  • Kais Nasser – Planning Challenges among a Conservative Minority Community: The case of the Arab-Palestinian Minority in Israel
  • Ahmad al-Atrash – Spatial Planning Strategies Towards Sustainability in the Geo-Political Context of Present Day Palestine: The case of Bethlehem

Jalse-4The topic of identity formed the core of the fifth session, which was led by Professor Michael Karayanni. Three participants contributed in this session:

  • Firas Khatib – Palestinians in Israel and the Arab Satellite Channels: Identity, continuity and journalism practices
  • Hama Abu Kishk – The Discourse of the Arabic Blogosphere
  • Ramez Eid – Counted Voices: Anthropology and the value of local democracy in the neo-liberal state

The last session revolved around history and was chaired by Dr. Manar Hassan from Ben-Gurion University. It included three talks:

  • Himmat Zu’bi – Control and Surveillance: The elimination of the Arab landscape of Haifa 1948
  • Heba Yazbak – The Re-narration of History; When the Subaltern Speak: The case of internally displaced Palestinians in 1948
  • Ameer Fakhoury – Identity Strategies among Arab Christian Citizens of Israel: Keepers of Arab identity or guardians of Israel’s border?

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The conference lasted for two days and along with these sessions it also included workshops with the participating students. The first workshop revolved around the process of writing and completing a PhD dissertation. It was led by Dr. Ayman Agbaria from the University of Haifa and a member of the Academic Committee of the conference. The second workshop addressed challenges that students face after their PhD, including work and publication. It was chaired by Professor Michael Karayanni.

The first day concluded with an awards ceremony for PhD students, where six grants were allocated in the presence of Dr. Ayman Agbaria, who is also a member of the Awards Committee. The students who received grants are:

  • Adeem Massarwa, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
  • Firas Khatib, from SOAS in  the University of London
  • Haneen Naamneh, from the University of London
  • Himmat Zu’bi, from Ben-Gurion University
  • Abed Kana’ane from Tel Aviv University
  • Lana Tator, from the University of Warwick in Australia

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Phd Student Support Program

Mada’s work can only be carried out with the participation of thoughtful, well-trained, effective Palestinian scholars in the social sciences and humanities. Mada provides a supportive home for young Palestinian academics and senior scholars who face alienation at Israeli universities and colleges. They meet at academic forums, seminars, and workshops, exchange ideas in their native language, learn new theoretical approaches, and benefit from support for their individual work and overall development as scholars.

PhD Program

Palestinian students in Israeli universities face discrimination and barriers to their education on myriad levels. The climate of the Israeli university—through its architecture, language, staff, professors, and curricula—promotes Israeli-Jewish hegemony and exclusivity at the expense of Palestinian students and their educational experience. Arabs are typically a minority in the classroom, and the classes are taught in a language that is not their mother tongue, with few opportunities available for students to express themselves or explore academic literature in Arabic. At the same time, many among the Jewish majority, who typically serve in the army before attending university, regard Palestinian students as a ‘security threat’ to be feared and mistrusted. Meanwhile, fields of study that could potentially legitimize a Palestinian claim to the country are often omitted from the curriculum of many relevant courses.

As a result of systemic discrimination throughout the entire trajectory of Palestinian students’ educational experience, and even more as a result of the hegemony exercised by the state over all Israeli education, the Palestinian community in Israel lacks the infrastructure for nurturing independent, bold, authentic intellectual leaders and scholars. For the year 2011-2012, only about 4.4% of PhD students in Israeli universities were Arab. Furthermore, there are few spaces available for this small number of Palestinian PhD students to congregate together as an academic community, leaving them vulnerable and subject to marginalization.

In January 2015, attempting to address the unmet needs of Palestinian PhD students, Mada launched its PhD Program. The program aims to provide an alternative and compensatory intellectual space for Palestinian PhD students – a space where their research can grow and where they can contribute to developing an intellectual agenda for a new generation of scholars. In this space, Mada will provide Palestinian PhD students with an intellectual climate that is not generally available for Arab students within Israeli academia, as well as the opportunity to be trained in critical thinking, to receive exposure to alternative literature and ideas, and to share their research and ideas in a dynamic academic discussion with other top-tier students and established scholars.

Mada’s PhD program consists of four components:

1.    PhD Grants Program

State grants and scholarships for post-graduate degrees at Israeli institutions are often unfavorable to Palestinian students. In many cases, completion of army service is taken into consideration along with the student’s financial situation and academic performance. Palestinian citizens do not enlist in the army and are therefore excluded from some forms of financial support that are available for Israeli Jewish students. Many other scholarships available in Israel are from Zionist organizations who only offer support to Jewish students.

This renders Mada’s goal of providing grants for deserving Palestinian PhD students all the more critical. Mada awards PhD grants to a number of Palestinian students each year on a competitive basis of need and merit. The grants cover tuition and some living expenses. In return, recipients will engage in Mada’s activities. In addition to its economic impact, financial support from an Arab organization such as Mada through the Galilee Foundation has symbolic and moral value for a Palestinian student who is enrolled at an Israeli institution.

2.     Research Presentation Seminar Program

Palestinian PhD students in Israeli universities do not have the chance to discuss their dissertations in their mother tongue, meaning that they are only able to develop expertise in speaking or writing about their topics in Hebrew or English. Moreover, Israeli institutions generally do not offer seminars in which students can actively talk and receive feedback about their own research from others who share an interest in their field.

Addressing these issues, Mada organizes a monthly seminar where graduate students can make presentations and solicit feedback about their own research from their peers, the seminar leader, and another scholar whose work relates to that of the student. Some meetings feature invited guest speakers who address particular topics of interest; others are dedicated to critical readings and discussion of foundational texts in the social sciences and humanities.

3.      Workshop: Readings in Zionism and Settler Colonialism

As a leading Palestinian academic institution in Israel, Mada provides a unique space for students to participate in discussions that could not take place in Israeli academia, due to the ideological boundaries within which Israeli universities operate and the limited selection of critically oriented classes which they offer. Mada’s workshop on Readings in Zionism and Settler-Colonialism offers an opportunity for Palestinian students to gain familiarity and fluency with important academic literature dealing with Zionism as a settler-colonial movement.

This program consists of a series of 2-day workshops coordinated by Professor Nadim Rouhana (Mada’s General Director) and Ms. Areen Hawari. The workshops thus far have featured lectures from renowned Palestinian, Israeli, and international scholars whose work relates to settler-colonialism. Participants include postdoctoral and PhD students from across Palestine.

The First Workshop (July 2015)

The Second Workshop (December 2015)

The Third Workshop (April 2016)

The Fourth Workshop (July 2016)

4.     Annual Conference for PhD Students

In order to provide a space for Palestinian students to practice academic presentation skills in their native language in a supportive and friendly atmosphere, Mada will hold a major conference each year for Palestinian PhD and post-doctoral students. The conference will also be open to others who are undertaking research on Palestine. Five senior Palestinian academics will be invited as special guests. The conference will offer opportunities for networking and the exchange of ideas, as well as a climate of solidarity and support for the next generation of Palestinian scholars. Prior to the launching of the PhD Program, Mada held a first of a kind conference for Palestinian PhD students in Nazareth in August 2011. The second conference was held in April 2016.

Mada al-Carmel’s First Conference for Palestinian PhD Students (August 2011)

16 PhD-students participated in the second Mada al-Carmel PhD conference, and six grants were allocated to PhD students (April 2016)

Galilee Fellows

With financing from the Galilee Foundation, Mada initiated its Galilee Fellows project in the 2009-2010 academic year. Six scholars were selected for participation by a selection committee, representing various academic disciplines. They were as follows:

Nabih Bashir, Department of Jewish Studies, Ben-Gurion University.
Hatem Darawshi, Program of Social Psychology, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University
Taiseer Khatib, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa.
Kareem Nassar, Department of Occupational Therapy, Haifa University
Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University.
Lana Zreik, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Haifa

In addition to receiving a modest fellowship, the scholars met on a monthly basis for seminars with an advanced scholar serving on Mada’s Academic Advisory Committee. In the seminars, academic readings (provided in Arabic translation where possible) were discussed in Arabic. The fellows found these seminars a unique and singular opportunity to meet with Palestinian peers and develop an academic discourse in their native language. The seminars helped to break the isolation they experience at Israeli universities and initiate them into the international community of Palestinian scholars.

Haifa Declaration as an Educational Project

Mada al-Carmel has initiated a new program entitled Collective Rights and the Political Future. The program is based on the Haifa Declaration and what has been achieved through it, as well as what has been accomplished through the Collective Rights program over previous years. The Haifa Declaration is a consensual document that comprises a collective view relating to the vision held by Palestinian citizens of Israel of their collective future. The declaration emerged as the outcome of prolonged deliberations held over the course of years by a group of intellectuals and political activists, who formed the members of the General Assembly of the document. The group drafted the Haifa Declaration in the hope of contributing to the generation of an open, free public debate on the basic issues that concern this segment of the Palestinians.

The Collective Rights and the Political Future program is composed of several projects, one of which focuses on the educational field. This project aims to develop the contents of the declaration, its appendices and additional materials into educational and pedagogical materials, and to deliver it to the younger generation of secondary school pupils, university students and youths. For that purpose it will be transformed into an empowering educational program that stimulates discussion and debate within workshops that will be formed as part of the project, either separately or in cooperation with existing groups. Through these activities the students will discover the challenges that the Palestinian community faces, promote their involvement in the basic issues that confront their society, and be encouraged to play a participatory role in proposing a future vision of their reality, stating from and drawing on the Palestinian historical narrative. They will thereby challenge the policies of ignorance, national nihilism and Israelization that the ruling institution is attempting to impose on our students through the existing curricular educational programs imposed on our schools.

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