In recent weeks Prof. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian, the chair of the Law Faculty at the Hebrew University, hit the news when the George Washington University (GWU) Professional Psychology Program held an event in September 2022 which featured her, among others. In her presentation, Shalhoub-Kevorkian said that Israel uses its humanitarian aid to distract from its “oppressive power.” Shalhoub-Kevorkian also argued in support of Palestinians throwing stones at Jewish Israelis as a form of “violent resistance” against Israel. In her lecture, she “examines the framing, production and performance of security regimes that create and encourage systems of racialized oppression,” as quoted in the event’s flyer. Jewish students filed a complaint, and now GWU is investigating.
Not wasting any time, the GWU Institute for Middle East Studies, together with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program, is hosting a webinar, “Gender, Violence, and the Geopolitics of Feminism,” also titled “Gender, Violence, and Governance Feminism,” on February 2, 2023. This webinar is the “kickoff event of Spring 2023 to celebrate 50 years at GW! We will feature Lila Abu-Lughod and Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian who will share their expertise.”
The two speakers are, “Lila Abu-Lughod is a Professor of Social Science within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University in the city of New York. Her work, strongly ethnographic and mostly based in Egypt, has focused on three broad issues: the relationship between cultural forms and power; the politics of knowledge and representation; and the dynamics of women’s and human rights, global liberalism, and feminist governance of the Muslim world. Current research focuses on museum politics in Palestine and other settler colonies, security discourses and Islamophobia, and religion in the global governance of gender violence. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Global Chair in Law- Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on trauma, state crimes and criminology, surveillance, gender violence, law and society. She studies the crime of femicide and other forms of gendered based violence, violence against children in conflict ridden areas, crimes of abuse of power in settler colonial contexts, surveillance, securitization and social control. the author of numerous books among them “Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case Study” published in 2010; “Security Theology, Surveillance and the Politics of Fear”, published by Cambridge University Press, 2015.”
Earlier work by Shalhoub Kevorkian includes the following abstract in a journal of Criminology: “Colonial and settler colonial dispossession is performed through various forms of violence, justified by cultural, historical, religious and national imperatives. In this paper, I define one of these forms of violence as the occupation of the senses, referring to the sensory technologies that manage bodies, language, sight, time and space in the colony. This paper analyses the parades, marches and festivals performed in the Palestinian city space of occupied East Jerusalem; shares the slogans, chants and graffiti used by Israeli civil, religious and nationalist entities; and explores what is lived, seen, heard, felt and smelled by the colonized to uncover the political violence implicated in the occupation of the senses.”
Last year, IAM reported that Shalhoub Kevorkian espoused fake news about Israel. IAM reported that in her co-authored article, “Colonial Necrocapitalism, State Secrecy and the Palestinian Freedom Tunnel,” she argued that “the very existence of the Palestinian endangers the colonial state” of Israel, “their death is necessary for the survival” of Israel. “Necrocapitalism” is “operationalized through violent policing of Palestinians.”
For Shalhoub-Kevorkian, necrocapitalism is the “means of accumulating capital and profit from the death” of Palestinians, where “profit flows from visible and invisible violence, as well as the killing of the colonized, as a state of fear generates continuous insecurity, which in turn generates a demand for security goods.” Because “Israel is one of the top arms exporters in the world.” As with other writings in the genre of neo-Marxist, critical theory, this egregiously convoluted article is full of made-up words like “necrocapitalism.“ To the extent that one can fathom Shalboub-Kevorkian’s reasoning, Israel became a leading economic power because it kills Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel achieved its position because of its outstanding capacity for innovation in Information Technology. Here is something to enlighten her, written in 2022 by Sheikh Riad, a Bangladeshi blogger, programmer, and web developer:
“Science and technology in Israel are one of the country’s most developed sectors. Israel spent 4.3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on civil research and development in 2015, the highest ratio in the world. In 2019, Israel was ranked the world’s fifth most innovative country by the Bloomberg Innovation Index. It ranks thirteenth in the world for scientific output as measured by the number of scientific publications per million citizens. In 2014, Israel’s share of scientific articles published worldwide (0.9%) was much higher than its share of the global population (0.1%). Israel is home to major companies in the high-tech industry and has one of the world’s most technologically literate populations. As mentioned earlier, there are more than 4,000 tech companies in Israel, including some of the world’s largest companies. Israel has 60 of the world’s top 500 tech giants with research centres and new technology centres in Israel!”
He speaks of Tel Aviv, as “one of the largest technology centres in the world, right next to Silicon Valley in the United States in terms of tech startups. Israel is even number 3 on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, which is made up of shares of US-based tech companies, with only the United States and China topping the list. Israel is also behind the list of combined technology companies of Germany, Spain, Italy and France! The most surprising thing is that a large part of Israel’s income comes from this technology sector. The money earned from the research and development sector of big companies including IBM, PayPal, Cisco, Amazon, Facebook and the import of technology is 12.5% of Israel’s GDP!”
Clearly, Shalboub-Kevorkian and the Middle East Institute who invited her as the opening event for celebrating the 50th anniversary of GWU demonstrate the bankruptcy of the advocacy-driven Middle East scholarship. It has created a false narrative replete with obscure jargon totally disconnected from reality. Bashing Israel is its only achievement.
Jewish students say anti-Zionist professor created hostile environment
A psychology professor at George Washington University allegedly dismissed concerns that her hostile anti-Zionism was antisemitic, and retaliated against Jewish students who complained
By Arno Rosenfeld January 13, 2023
An Israel advocacy group is alleging that an anti-Zionist George Washington University professor created a hostile environment for Jewish students who support the country. StandWithUs filed a federal complaint against the school Thursday, arguing that Zionism is an integral part of Jewish identity.
The filing claims that Lara Sheehi, who teaches a mandatory course on diversity, discriminated against several Jewish students because of their Israeli and Zionist identities in her class during the fall semester.
“It’s not your fault you were born in Israel,” Sheehi allegedly told one student after she introduced herself.
Much of the complaint focuses on Sheehi’s disagreements with students over whether hostility toward Israel and Zionism is antisemitic. Many pro-Israel organizations, including Hillel, have argued in recent years that institutions such as universities must treat Zionism — support for a Jewish state in Israel — as an integral part of Jewish identity, and one that is protected from discrimination in the same manner as race, religion, gender and other protected categories.
Opponents of this approach say that Zionism is a political ideology that must be open to debate, and that shielding it from criticism will have a chilling effect on Palestinian activism.
In its account of Sheehi’s course, which is mandatory for psychology students at George Washington, StandWithUs wrote that it had identified an extreme case of a faculty member’s hostile anti-Zionism leading to discrimination against students.
“A professor singling out and targeting Jewish and Israeli students for adverse treatment because of their identity is textbook antisemitic discriminatory conduct,” Roz Rothstein, the head of StandWithUs, said in a statement.
Julia Metjian, a spokesperson for George Washington, said the school was aware of the complaint.
“George Washington University strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred,” she said in an email. “The university also recognizes and supports academic freedom, and the right of all members of our community to speak out on issues of public concern.”
The organization’s civil rights complaint, which was filed with the Department of Education, highlights an optional guest lecture for the class delivered by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem who has generated controversy over her research on the Israeli military.
Complaint stems from lecture
At the lecture, Shalhoub-Kevorkian “demonized Israel, and Israelis in general,” according to the complaint, and claimed that Israeli philanthropy and humanitarian aid was meant to cover up human rights abuses. It also said that she defended the act of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
During the first class following the talk, the complaint states that several Jewish students told Sheehi they believed Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s lecture was antisemitic, with one saying she “felt like it was an excuse to bash Jews.”
Sheehi reportedly responded that “in no uncertain terms, anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.”
“There are many people who say that Zionism in and of itself is an antisemitic movement,” she allegedly responded. “Why? Because it locates that Jewish folks are that much more different that they need to have a space unto themselves.”
The complaint states that Sheehi, the author of Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine, had previously made a series of remarks on Twitter that included hostile anti-Zionism, including: “Israelis are so f****ing racist” and “F*** every person who is not yet an anti-Zionist.”
(The Twitter account referenced in the report has since been taken offline. It did not include Sheehi’s name, but it repeatedly referenced her authorship of the psychoanalysis book, which won a 2022 Palestine Book Award.)
Elsewhere, Sheehi has said that psychoanalysts must actively practice anti-Zionism.
She graduated from the American University of Beirut in 2006 and received her doctorate from GW in 2010, during which time she was also active in the “campus anti-war network,” according to her LinkedIn profile. She has been teaching at the school since 2016.
When an Israeli student described her fear of “terrorist attacks” in Tel Aviv, Sheehi allegedly said that the use of that term was Islamophobic.
StandWithUs, which mostly focuses on campus Israel advocacy, also claimed that Sheehi retaliated against two of students who raised concerns with university administrators about Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Sheehi’s overall attitude toward Israel and antisemitism.
The report states that Sheehi subsequently claimed that the students had called Shalhoub-Kevorkian a terrorist, wrote “combative” journal entries for the class, and that they were racist. The students were then informed that the university had initiated disciplinary proceedings against them, and asked them to detail what they did wrong.
The complaint claims that George Washington violated the civil rights of the Jewish students in Sheehi’s class by failing to address her behavior. StandWithUs is calling on the school to investigate the student complaints and use the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism to adjudicate them.
Anyone can file a complaint with the Department of Education, and it is not clear whether the agency will investigate further.
Arno Rosenfeld is an enterprise reporter for the Forward, where he covers antisemitism, philanthropy and American Jewish institutions. You can reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @arnorosenfeld.
Complaint alleges George Washington U prof. discriminated against Jews, Israelis
StandWithUs has launched a complaint against George Washington University over its failure to deal with Professor Lara Sheehi’s alleged antisemitism.
The George Washington University, in the United States capital of Washington, DC, was accused by pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs of providing a pervasive, hostile, and discriminatory environment for Jewish and Israeli students in a complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Right on Thursday.
StandWithUs further claimed the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
The program in question is the university’s Professional Psychology Program, whose facilitator of the program’s mandatory diversity course prof. Sheehi was accused by StandWithUs of denying Jewish and Israeli students “the right to an equal educational opportunity.”
The complaint alleges that Israeli and Jewish students who came forward about their experience were punished for speaking out, with the letter claiming Sheesi slandered students’ reputations to other faculty members and launched excessive and irregular disciplinary procedures against them.
The complaint further claims that Sheehi invited a guest lecturer who invoked antisemitic tropes about Jews being dishonest and using their influence for nefarious purposes. The guest speaker, who was identified as Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian by the Jewish Journal, “expressed support for violence against Israeli civilians,” as per the complaint.
As written in the complaint, “when the students raised concerns about the antisemitic harassment they were experiencing, Sheehi denied that what the students had experienced was antisemitism and distorted the Jewish students’ comments to accuse the Jewish students of attacking other identity groups.
Sheehi has been writing in support of the Palestinian cause for many years, according to her academia.org page, which serves as an open repository of free-to-read academic articles. These include: “The will to Live in Palestine (2021),” “Psychotherapeutic Commons in Liberated Palestine (2021),” “Enactments of otherness and searching for a third space in the Palestine-Israel matrix (2016)” and “The settlers’ town is strongly built: Fanon in Palestine (2020).”
Professor’s acts are ‘textbook antisemitic conduct’
Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs CEO and co-founder, noted that “a professor singling out and targeting Jewish and Israeli students for adverse treatment because of their identity is textbook antisemitic discriminatory conduct.”
“A professor singling out and targeting Jewish and Israeli students for adverse treatment because of their identity is textbook antisemitic discriminatory conduct,”Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder
“This is a dangerous and unacceptable trend on far too many campuses, especially as this discriminatory treatment increasingly originates from faculty and too often goes unchecked by administrators.
“It is imperative that university administrators take an unequivocal stand against antisemitism and in support of Jewish students, in both word and deed,” Rothstein added.
“In our 2022 Antisemitism on US College & University Campuses Report, GW was rated a ‘D’ with many Jewish students stating GW administrators do not take their safety seriously and often do not feel comfortable sharing their Jewish identity with others due to the climate on campus,” Executive Director of StopAntisemitism Liora Rez told the Jerusalem Post. “George Washington University is miserably failing its Jewish students and it is a relief to see legal action being taken. Jewish students deserve an environment free of anti-Jewish bias to learn and flourish; with Jew-hating professors like Lara Sheehi and clubs like SJP being allowed to spread their bigotry and cause havoc on campuses nationwide, this is nearly impossible to achieve.”
JTA – George Washington University says it has launched an investigation into whether a psychology professor displayed antisemitic behavior in his interactions with Jewish and Israeli students in the latest row over the state of Jewish life at the university in Washington, D.C. Was it or not
The investigation was prompted by a federal complaint filed by the pro-Israel watchdog group StandWithYou, citing graduate psychology students who were targeted last fall by their professor because of “their Jewish and Israeli identity.”
The group’s complaint, filed with the US. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights quotes Professor Lara Sheehy as saying to an Israeli student on her first day, “It is not your fault that you were born in Israel.” It is alleged that Jewish students felt targeted by a guest speaker Shehi had brought to class, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for comments she advocated throwing stones at Israelis as a form of resistance. Was. The complaint alleges that when the students brought their concerns to Shehi, he accused them of Islamophobia.
It has been said in the complaint that after this the meetings held with the higher officials in the university did not yield satisfactory results.
In a statement last week, GWU President Mark Righton said the university would open “an investigation by a third party” into the complaint’s “claims of discrimination and retaliation against unnamed students in the GW curriculum.” A GWU spokesperson previously told The Forward that the university “strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred” and also “recognizes and supports academic freedom.”
The Department of Education has yet to weigh whether it will open its own investigation, as there have been similar complaints of campus antisemitism in recent years.
The university, whose Hillel opened a new kosher cafe this week, has been the flashpoint of several incidents over the past few years highlighting Jewish student life. Groups posted anti-Zionist fliers near Campus Hillel and Jewish students rallied in 2021 following vandalism at a Jewish fraternity in which a replica Torah was damaged.
But during the 2021-2022 academic year, Jewish students from across the political spectrum told Forward that they found claims of rampant antisemitism on campus exaggerated. Some said they felt the continued involvement of pro-Israel groups was counterproductive.
A graduate of the American University of Beirut, Shehi is professor of clinical psychology and co-author of “Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine”. The events described in the StandWithUs report allegedly occurred in Sheehy’s required diversity training course for GWU’s psychology graduate students.
A Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy organization filed a Title VI complaint Thursday with the Department of Education alleging that a professor was antisemitic toward Jewish and Israeli students in a graduate-level psychology course during the fall semester.
StandWithUs filed the complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, alleging Lara Sheehi, an assistant professor of clinical psychology, created a “hostile environment” for Jewish and Israeli students within her Diversity I course, part of GW’s Professional Psychology Program. The complaint alleges faculty and administrators “retaliated” with “disciplinary proceedings” against students who raised concerns about hostile conduct from Sheehi throughout the fall and a guest speaker and course materials that addressed the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The complaint alleges that the University violated Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any “educational program or activity” that receives federal funds like GW.
“Jewish students informed the University about the harassment and discrimination they were experiencing,” the complaint alleges. “George Washington, however, failed to take prompt and effective steps to end the harassment and eliminate the hostile environment.”
The complaint calls on the University to null the “disciplinary proceedings” against the students who raised concerns and provide them with an alternative method of receiving course credit “out of Sherri’s orbit and influence.” The complaint also urges GW to investigate the discrimination allegations, institute mandatory bias and sensitivity training and use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism to identify discrimination claims.
Sheehi, who has worked at GW since 2016, also taught a section of the Third Year Psychotherapy course in the Professional Psychology Program during the fall semester, according to the University’s schedule of classes. Sheehi is not scheduled to teach any classes this spring, according to the schedule of classes.
Sheehi did not return a request for comment.
Interim University President Mark Wrighton issued a statement to the GW community Friday saying a “third party” will investigate the claims, but he did not comment on the details of the allegations.
“I want to be clear that we reaffirm that the George Washington University strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred, discrimination and bias in all forms,” Wrighton said in the statement. “We remain committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment where all feel safe and free of harassment, hostility or marginalization.”
University spokesperson Julia Metjian declined to comment on Sheehi’s employment status. She also declined to comment on StandWithUs’ allegation that students who complained about Sheehi were subjected to “disciplinary proceedings” or what the third-party investigation of the complaint’s claims will entail.
Metjian deferred to Wrighton’s public statement in response to The Hatchet’s questions.
Progressive organizations, like Jewish Voice for Peace, have criticized StandWithUs for its reported ties to the Israel government through its work with the government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the country’s marketing materials.
“They are allegations and reflect the advocacy group’s perspective,” officials said in a now-expired Instagram story posted Thursday on GW’s official account. “The University will respond to OCR regarding any complaint it may receive from OCR.”
The complaint states that after a student said she was from Israel on the first day of the fall semester when Sheehi asked students in the course to share where they were from, Sheehi responded by saying, “It’s not your fault you were born in Israel.”
The complaint alleges that students continued to experience discriminatory actions at the Professional Psychology Program’s speaker event in September featuring a presentation from Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, the chair of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During the presentation, Shalhoub-Kevorkian said Israel uses its humanitarian aid to distract from its “oppressive power,” a statement that students believed played into antisemitic stereotypes of Jewish people “using money for nefarious purposes,” according to the complaint.
Shalhoub-Kevorkian also allegedly argued in support of Palestinians throwing stones as a form of “violent resistance” against Israel during her presentation.
“It examines the framing, production and performance of security regimes that create and encourage systems of racialized oppression,” Shalhoub-Kevorkian said of the presentation in the flier for the September speaker event. She did not return a request for comment.
In the class following the speaker event, one Jewish student told Sheehi the presentation made her feel “vulnerable and unsafe” because she believed it “targeted” Israeli and Jewish people, according to the complaint. Sheehi allegedly replied by saying “in no uncertain terms, anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.”
The complaint states that students in the program received an email from a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences vice dean Oct. 22, which stated officials were aware of the criticism of Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s presentation and planned to host a discussion between students and faculty to address students’ concerns.
“As an institution of higher learning, we encourage robust debate on issues that impact our global society, but it is our expectation that all community members engage respectfully with one another, even when discussing issues that implicate deeply held beliefs,” the email states, according to the complaint.
The complaint states the Jewish students also raised concerns to Sheehi about three class readings, which included references to racist treatment against Arab and Muslim people and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The students said the readings portrayed Israel and Jewish people in a negative light “within the greater context of antisemitism in the class,” according to the complaint.
The complaint states students were frustrated that there were reportedly no required class materials covering antisemitism in their Diversity I course.
The complaint alleges that Jewish students from the course shared their criticisms of Sheehi with a staff member from the Professional Psychology Program in early October. They asked to fulfill the program’s diversity course requirement through other means, submit their classwork to another professor and invite a speaker to the program to give a presentation on antisemitism, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that the staff member allegedly told the students that he would sit in on Sheehi’s course, allow the students to submit their course work to him and invite a guest speaker to host a presentation on antisemitism. Later that month, he allegedly walked back those promises.
StandWithUs alleges that a student met a CCAS dean Oct. 26 and shared a joint letter signed by other Jewish students in the course explaining their “grievances” with officials from the school. The student reportedly told the dean that Jewish upperclassmen in the program reported they had also experienced antisemitism in Sheehi’s course years prior, according to the complaint.
The CCAS dean allegedly described the conflict as the result of “deeply held beliefs” and told the student who met with the dean that they could submit a bias report. In a separate Oct. 30 email to the student, the dean said they could either remain enrolled in the course or withdraw.
The complaint alleges the program’s faculty voted to subject the students who shared criticism of Sheehi with program staff members and the dean to “disciplinary proceedings.” The faculty allegedly threatened to place a “permanent negative mark” on the students’ academic records if they refused to explain “what harm they caused.”
A staff member from the psychology program refused a student’s request to appeal the disciplinary proceedings, the complaint states.
Carly Gammill, the director of StandWithUs’ Center for Combating Antisemitism, said the OCR will decide if it has the authority to examine the complaint before determining if the allegations constitute a Title VI violation. If a Title VI violation is found, the office will launch an investigation and consider terminating federal funding or referring the case to the Department of Justice, according to the DOJ.
“If and when a full investigation is open, then we would be notified of that, the University would be notified of that,” she said. “Then their investigation would proceed according to their protocols.”
Join the WGSS program for our kickoff event of Spring 2023 to celebrate 50 years at GW! We will feature Lila Abu-Lughod and Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian who will share their expertise on “Gender, Violence, and Governance Feminism.”
After submitting your RSVP, you will receive the Zoom connection details via email the week of the event.
Lila Abu-Lughod is a Professor of Social Science within the Department of Anthropololgy at Columbia University in the city of New York. Her work, strongly ethnographic and mostly based in Egypt, has focused on three broad issues: the relationship between cultural forms and power; the politics of knowledge and representation; and the dynamics of women’s and human rights, global liberalism, and feminist governance of the Muslim world. Current research focuses on museum politics in Palestine and other settler colonies, security discourses and Islamophobia, and religion in the global governance of gender violence.
Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Global Chair in Law- Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on trauma, state crimes and criminology, surveillance, gender violence, law and society. She studies the crime of femicide and other forms of gendered based violence, violence against children in conflict ridden areas, crimes of abuse of power in settler colonial contexts, surveillance, securitization and social control. the author of numerous books among them “Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case Study” published in 2010; “Security Theology, Surveillance and the Politics of Fear”, published by Cambridge University Press, 2015.
The George Washington University Professional Psychology Program is pleased to announce our September 2022 Brown Bag presentation
Sponsored by The Psychoanalysis and the Arab World Lab Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian
Global Mental Health “Expertise”, “Therapeutic” Military Occupation and its Deadly Exchange
How can we map, connect and trace the securitization of transnational mental health “interventions” and “collaborations”? How can the suffering of refugees, the wounding following natural disasters, or the smell of
decomposing bodies mobilize broader international possibilities not only to promote the emotional well-being of those affected, but also to serve a securitized apparatus maintaining and exporting colonial occupation?
My talk parcels out the broad range of questions on global mental health, sovereignty, security, and the resulting “deadly exchange” that arise when analyzing the cunning of global mental health programs. It examines the framing, production and performance of security regimes that create and encourage systems of racialized oppression.
Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian- a Palestinian feminist, is the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Global Chair in Law- Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on liberation psychosocial intervention, critical trauma studies, state crimes and criminology, securitized surveillance, gender violence, law and society and genocide studies. She is the author of numerous academic articles and books among them “Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case Study” published in 2010; “Security Theology, Surveillance and the Politics of Fear”, published in 2015; “Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding”, published in 2019; all by Cambridge University Press. She also co-edited two books, the latest entitled: “
In-person and on Zoom Friday, September 30, 2022 2:00 PM — 3:50 PM 1957 E Street, NW, Room 113
When Politics are Sacralized: Comparative Perspectives on Religious
Claims and Nationalism”, CUP 2021, and is completing an edited volume with Lila Abu-Lughod and Rema
Hammami entitled: The Cunning of Gender Based Violence”, to be published with Duke University Press in 2023.
Professor Gadi Algazi is a Tel Aviv University expert on European history from 1350 to 1600 and the Minerva Center for German History director. Algazi, a longtime political activist, abused his position to promote his politics, as IAM repeatedly reported before.
In the current academic year, Algazi is a research fellow at the International Center of Advanced Studies “Metamorphoses of the Political” (ICAS:MP), a German institution based in New Delhi, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. ICAS:MP was created in honor of Maria Sibylla Merian, the German 17th-century naturalist, and Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali Nobel laureate.
ICAS:MP is an Indo-German research collaboration of six Indian and German institutions. According to its website, ICAS:MP “critically intervenes in global debates in the social sciences and humanities.” For those unfamiliar with the jargon, using the term “critically” suggests following the neo-Marxist, critical scholarship.
While fellows are expected to use their field of expertise, true to character, Algazi seized upon the opportunity to present Israel in a negative light.
In his research, Algazi will look at Israel’s first years when hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants found themselves in transit camps. While some camps were transitory tent compounds, other camps became “the nuclei of poor neighborhoods and peripheral townships with a lasting impact on the landscape of inequalities in the country.” To Algazi, the early 1950s were formative for “the making of class divisions in Israel.” According to Algazi, “Arab Jews” stayed for several years with little access to worthwhile education or work. “For many Jewish immigrants, this was the site where notions of citizenship and politics, dependence and solidarity were forged.” To justify his research topic, Algazi claims that historians usually treated those Jewish immigrants as “objects of government policies, at best as unruly, tumultuous crowds.”
Algazi’s study looks at the social history of one of the largest camps located near an established agro-town on the border of the West Bank.
Algazi writes that the camp was mainly populated by Iraqi Jewish immigrants, in “walking distance from refugee camps, which had been set up just two or three years earlier as a provisional shelter for Palestinians expelled from this very same agricultural region. Chronically unemployed, camp dweller were subject to tight control by government agencies, the security services and the local elite. Nevertheless, within months of arrival, they started a series of protests that soon spread beyond their isolated camp.”
Algazi declares he seeks “to understand the rise and demise of this movement.” He then launches into a conspiracy theory, writing about the “suppressed event – the secret military operation, in which the camp was dismantled.”
Algazi traces “the forgotten protests and their violent suppression – locally, in the impoverished neighborhood which arose at the same site, and in the different camps to which the banished where relocated. Finally, I follow the main protagonists – the families who led local protests and the party boss whom they confronted – into the 1960s, seeking explanations for the suppression of the memory of these early revolts.”
Algazi should note that by now, the history of early immigration to Israel is very well covered. It is widely known that the new state of some 650,000 people in 1948 was under extreme duress. It had to defend itself from the Palestinians, who rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and their Arab allies, who invaded the country. At the same time, Israel had to absorb about a million and a half immigrants, Holocaust survivors, and Jews from Arab countries. Both groups posed a considerable challenge to the state: the Holocaust survivors, most of whom survived concentration camps and lost their families, were penniless and deeply traumatized, unable to be helped by the skeletal mental health system. The Jews of the Arab countries were expelled with only a suitcase. The Iraqi Jews, arguably the most wealthy of the Jewish communities in the Middle East, were also subjected to bloody pogroms.
Looking at the broader issue of absorption of a traumatized and pauperized population, Algazi trivializes the subject by adopting a nebulous conspiracy theory of nefarious military misdeeds. He is also egregiously wrong by blaming the government for creating class divisions in Israel. Like his neo-Marxist, critical scholarship peers, he is unwilling to admit that the market economy developed in Israel favored the better-educated Jews.
As a historian of medieval Europe, Algazi is unqualified to research a subject that touches on many aspects of social and political economy, immigration, and absorption, among others.
Of course, as a radical activist, Algazi is not perturbed by a lack of skill since the real purpose of his work is to denigrate and demonize Israel. What is more perplexing is the involvement of the German government, which finances the ICAS:MP. Supporting scholars who use their academic positions to push a political agenda is not a good return on their money.
PROF. GADI ALGAZI A TRANSIT CAMP ON THE BORDER01 January 2023 to 30 June 2023 Research Description:During Israel’s first years, hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants found themselves in ‘transit camps’. Some camps were indeed transitory tent compounds, but others became the nuclei of poor neighbourhoods and peripheral townships with a lasting impact on the landscape of inequalities in the country. The early 1950s were a formative period in terms of the making of class divisions in Israel. While immigrants, mostly of European descent, typically spent less than a year in a camp, others, especially ‘Arab Jews’ from all over the Middle East, stayed for several years with little access to worthwhile education or work. For many Jewish immigrants, this was the site where notions of citizenship and politics, dependence and solidarity were forged.Historians have usually treated them as objects of government policies, at best as unruly, tumultuous crowds. The study is a social history of one of the largest camps, located on the very border between Israel and the West Bank. It was set up near an established agro-town. The local elite controlled the town council, the labour exchange, welfare services, local companies and credit providers and had direct access to political patrons in Israel’s government. The camp, on the other hand, was populated mostly by Jewish Iraqi immigrants, in walking distance from refugee camps, which had been set up just two or three years earlier as a provisional shelter for Palestinians expelled from this very same agricultural region. Chronically unemployed, camp dweller were subject to tight control by government agencies, the security services and the local elite. Nevertheless, within months of arrival, they started a series of protests that soon spread beyond their isolated camp. I seek to understand the rise and demise of this movement, the making of a short-lived collective subject. At the heart of this microhistory story lies a suppressed event – the secret military operation, in which the camp was dismantled, and its inhabitants dispersed in seven different locations. I trace the afterlife of the forgotten protests and their violent suppression – locally, in the impoverished neighbourhood which arose at the same site, and in the different camps to which the banished where relocated. Finally, I follow the main protagonists – the families who led local protests and the party boss whom they confronted – into the 1960s, seeking explanations for the suppression of the memory of these early revolts.Bio:Gadi Algazi is professor of history at the Department of History at Tel Aviv University and currently director of Minerva Center for German History. He is serving in the editorial board of Past and Present, co-editor of the Hebrew historical quarterly Zmanim, and earlier was senior editor of History & Memory: Studies in the Representation of the Past. His main fields of interest are the social and cultural history of Western Europe between 1350 and 1600, historical anthropology, especially the history of family, kinship and gender, the social history of science, colonialism and settler societies.
The M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’ (ICAS:MP) is an Indo-German research collaboration of six Indian and German institutions funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). ICAS:MP combines the benefits of an open, interdisciplinary forum for intellectual exchange with the advantages of a cutting-edge research centre. Located in New Delhi, ICAS:MP critically intervenes in global debates in the social sciences and humanities. Bringing together more than 70 scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and through its innovative modular and network structure, ICAS:MP generates sustainable research cooperation among leading social science and humanities scholars from India, Germany and other countries who investigate similar research problems rather than necessarily the same region. Scholarly exchange and joint exploration within ICAS:MP are defined by a shared interest in examining the shifting boundaries, historically contingent content, and intellectual lineages of the twentieth-century ‘political’. It is thus not another initiative to strengthen ‘Area Studies’, but rather serves as a centre of advanced international research.
In mid-December, Haaretz published an article by Prof. David Enoch, which was taken from the website of the Faculty of Law, Hebrew University: “In Praise of Boycott Measures (also Academic).” Enoch spoke in favor of a boycott against Israel because “the State of Israel has an interest in being decent, to stop pursuing a policy of oppression and apartheid, to be saved from the anti-democratic jaws that grip its neck. If there is a chance that boycotts will help with that, great.”
Enoch complains that “only in Israel can one argue in the name of democracy for the arrangements that perpetuate the occupation and violent oppression of millions of people for 55 years, without any intention of ending a situation in which the governed have no influence over their rulers…. the reality of the lives of millions of people deprived of any political and legal rights who live under occupation and oppression.”
He argues, “The demand by those of us who still insist on fighting the occupation, on putting up with the decision of the oppressive Jewish majority – ostensibly because of democratic principles, and without any saying to the millions under the occupation – is hypocritical and ridiculous.”
For Enoch, “the basic justification for the boycott measures is as simple as it is convincing: the occupation will probably not end until it is very inconvenient for the Israelis to continue. Of course, there are measures that cannot be justified for this reason as well (such as, for example, terrorism against innocent citizens). But boycott measures are non-violent measures, and given the horrors of the occupation and oppression, and the fact that the State of Israel shows no intention of reaching a reasonable solution, certain boycott measures are completely legitimate.”
He then moves on to discuss the academic boycott. For him, “the decision not to come to Israel for an academic conference that ignores the reality of the occupation… will be justified.” Notably, Enoch justifies a boycott of Ariel University, writing, “Even if the boycott law states otherwise, there is no point in thinking that the right to boycott Ariel University is the same as the right to boycott Tel Aviv University or Haifa University.”
He then argues that the boycott of the academy specifically is not justified, “although the academy is involved in the occupation, but in general, it is not involved in the occupation any more than the extent to which every Israeli is involved in the occupation (and when the involvement of an academic unit is indeed more central, as for example when it comes to Ariel University, boycott measures are indeed more justified).”
Regarding the academic boycott, “I don’t think anyone can seriously think that the professional plight of a number of academics will shock the Israeli public or the decision makers until they reconsider their support for the occupation. There is, therefore, no point in singling out an academic activity that is particularly worthy of a boycott. But there is also no point in distinguishing it as particularly protected from justified boycott measures. I hope that the State of Israel will face more and more boycott measures of various kinds. I hope they will mainly be more effective measures – ones that will burden financially, especially business elites, which will make it difficult for Israelis to show their faces in the world, and those that will harm Israeli representation in world sports. Then, as part of the non-violent boycott struggle against Israeli policy, the thought that the academic circle should be exempted from the consequences of the struggle seems to me ridiculous and somewhat narcissistic. Under such circumstances, I would welcome an academic boycott.”
Two things stand out in Enoch’s views. First, typical of all writings of radical leftist critics is a total decontextualization of Israeli-Palestinian relations to prove that Israel alone is to blame for the prolonged state of affairs. Had Enoch paid more attention to the history of the conflict, he would have known that the Oslo Process was a genuine effort by the Israeli Labor leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to reach a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat and the PLO. The Iranian theocratic regime was dead set against the move. It has used its Islamist proxies, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as peace spoilers. Helped by the Revolutionary Guards, they launched waves of suicide bombings in which thousands of Israelis were killed and wounded. The extreme violence undermined the Israeli faith in the Oslo peace. A large and growing body of literature on this and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is available, should Enoch be interested in learning.
Second, As IAM discussed before, Enoch supports the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. The so-called Declaration is a ploy of the radical academic left, centered around the Van Leer Institute, to provide an alternative to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, a document that 38 countries adopted. IHRA has become the first line of defense against the growing antisemitism in the United States and other western countries.
Quite shockingly, the World Zionist Organization – Department for the Struggle against Antisemitism and the Boosting of Jewish Resilience, invited Enoch to its annual conference, “Challenges of Fighting Boycotts Against Israel,” in December 2022. The organizers apparently did not know that Enoch supports the boycott.
Moreover, just a couple of weeks ago, Enoch won the Hebrew University President’s Award for an Outstanding Researcher, the Israel Pollak Prize in Memory of Prof. Yoram Ben-Porath. Enoch, of the Faculty of Law and the Department of Philosophy, is “recognized as a leading thinker and researcher in moral philosophy, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law.
Awarding Enoch the President’s Award is highly problematic. Israel has accepted the IHRA definition, which argues that singling out Israel, as per the calls to boycott Israel, is an act of antisemitism. There is also the 2011 Boycott Law that makes advocating BDS illegal. Clearly, it is a slap in the face of numerous Jewish organizations worldwide that struggle against BDS. Sending mixed messages is detrimental to the fight for IHRA.
דיונים על צעדי החרמה שונים שמופעלים או שיופעלו נגד ישראל – הן בזירה האקדמית, הן באופן כללי יותר – יוצאים מהנחות מוצא שחשוב לאתגר.
הנחת מוצא שגויה אחת כזו היא שמדובר באיום שלמדינת ישראל יש אינטרס עליון להילחם בו. חרמות כאלה דווקא משרתים את האינטרס האמיתי של המדינה. הם לא משרתים את האינטרס של קבוצות מסויימות בתוכה, של השלטון שלה, אולי אפילו לא את האינטרס שלה כפי שזה מובן על ידי רוב אזרחיה. אבל זה לא משנה דבר – למדינת ישראל יש אינטרס להיות הגונה, להפסיק לנקוט מדיניות דיכוי ואפרטהייד, להינצל מהמלתעות האנטי-דמוקרטיות שלופתות את צווארה. אם יש סיכוי שחרמות יעזרו בכך, מהטוב.
הנחת מוצא שגויה שנייה היא שמדינת ישראל היא דמוקרטיה צודקת, ושעל כן נסיון להתערב בפעולותיה פסול (ואולי גם אנטישמי). אלא שרק בישראל אפשר לטעון בשם הדמוקרטיה להסדרים שמנציחים כיבוש ודיכוי אלים של מיליוני אנשים כבר 55 שנה, ללא כל כוונה להביא לקיצו מצב שבו לנשלטים אין שום השפעה על שולטיהם. הדרישה לאלה מאיתנו שעדיין מתעקשים להיאבק בכיבוש להשלים עם הכרעת הרוב היהודי המדכא – לכאורה מכח עקרונות דמוקרטיים, וללא פתחון פה למיליונים הנתונים תחת הכיבוש – צבועה ומגוחכת.
במילים אחרות: אולי אם רצונכם שאנשים הגונים ברחבי העולם (ורבים מהתומכים בצעדי החרמה, גם אם לא כולם, הם אנשים הגונים) יפסיקו לראות בנו מצורעים מוסרית, כדאי שנפסיק להיות מצורעים מוסרית.
ההצדקה הבסיסית לצעדי החרמה היא פשוטה כשם שהיא משכנעת: ככל הנראה לא יבוא קץ לכיבוש עד שלישראלים יהיה מאוד לא נוח להמשיכו. מובן שיש אמצעים שאי אפשר להצדיק גם מהטעם הזה (כמו למשל טרור נגד אזרחים חפים מפשע). אבל צעדי החרמה הם צעדים בלתי אלימים, ובהינתן זוועות הכיבוש והדיכוי, והעובדה שמדינת ישראל לא מראה שום כוונה להגיע לפתרון סביר, צעדי החרמה מסויימים הם לגיטימיים לחלוטין. המשמעות של הכחשת טענה זו היא של עם תחת דיכוי אין זכות לפעול בדרך כלשהי – גם בלתי אלימה – כנגד מדכאיו. אדם הגון לא יסכים לעמדה כזו (וגם לא לצביעות שכורכה בהכרזה על צעדים בלתי אלימים ומדודים בהחלט כ”טרור משפטי” או “טרור כלכלי”).
ואם כך הם הדברים באופן כללי, מה אפשר לומר באופן ספציפי על החרם האקדמי?
ראשית, יש לומר שאין כזה דבר “החרם האקדמי”. יש צעדי החרמה שונים, עם הבדלים חשובים ביניהם. כך, למשל, ההחלטה שלא לבוא לישראל לכנס אקדמי שמתעלם ממציאות הכיבוש היא סוג אחד של צעד, וההחלטה לסרב לשפוט בכתב עת אקדמי בינלאומי מאמרים שכתבו ישראלים היא החלטה אחרת. בנסיבות רבות הצעד הראשון יהיה מוצדק, והשני לא. בדרך כלל יהיה מועיל יותר לדון בצעדים השונים ובשאלה באילו תנאים הם מוצדקים, מאשר בשאלה הכללית הרבה יותר מדי מתי חרם אקדמי מוצדק.
באופן דומה, יש להבחין בין צעדי החרמה אקדמיים של ישראל, לבין צעדי החרמה חלקיים, למשל, של אוניברסיטת אריאל. הנסיון לטשטש את ההבחנה בין צעדים כאלה הוא עוד ניסיון להתעלם מהקו הירוק, ועימו ממציאות חייהם של מיליוני אנשים נטולי כל זכויות פוליטיות ומשפטיות שחיים תחת כיבוש ודיכוי. גם אם חוק החרם קובע אחרת, אין שום טעם לחשוב שדין החרמת אוניברסיטת אריאל כדין החרמת אוניברסיטת תל אביב או אוניברסיטת חיפה.
צעדי החרמה אקדמיים הם תמיד בעייתיים – הם עלולים לפגוע במדע, בקריירות של א/נשים צעירים/ות, אולי אף בקולגיאליות אינטקטואלית כלשהי. לכן אין להקל ראש בנקיטתם. יש לוודא שאין נזקם מרובה על תועלתם. לכן ייחודה של האקדמיה דווקא לחרם אינו מוצדק: אמנם האקדמיה מעורבת בכיבוש, אבל באופן כללי היא אינה מעורבת בכיבוש יותר מהמידה שבה כל ישראלי מעורב בכיבוש (וכשהמעורבות של יחידה אקדמית אכן מרכזית יותר, כמו למשל כשמדובר באוניברסיטת אריאל, אכן צעדי החרמה מוצדקים יותר). ואינני חושב שיש מי שיכול ברצינות לחשוב שמצוקתם המקצועית של מספר אנשי אקדמיה תזעזע את הציבור הישראלי או את מקבלי ההחלטות עד שישקלו מחדש את תמיכתם בכיבוש.
אין, אם כן, טעם לייחד פעילות אקדמית כראויה במיוחד להחרמה. אבל גם אין טעם לייחדה כמוגנת במיוחד מצעדי החרמה מוצדקים. אני מקווה שבפני מדינת ישראל יעמדו יותר ויותר צעדי החרמה מסוגים שונים. אני מקווה שהם יהיו בעיקר צעדים אפקטיביים יותר – כאלה שיכבידו כלכלית, בעיקר על אליטות עסקיות, כאלה שיקשו על ישראלים להראות את פרצופם בעולם, כאלה שיפגעו בייצוג ישראלי בספורט העולמי. ואז, כחלק ממאבק החרמות בלתי אלים במדיניות ישראל, המחשבה שיש לפטור את המעגל האקדמי מהשלכות המאבק נראית לי מגוחכת,וגם נרקיסיסטית משהו. בנסיבות כאלה, אקבל צעדים רבים מאוד של החרמה אקדמית בברכה.
ברכות חמות לפרופ’ דוד אנוך על זכייתו בפרס פולק לזכר פרופ’ יורם בן-פורת לחוקר מצטיין מטעם נשיא האוניברסיטה העברית.
פרופ’ אנוך מוכר ומוערך כחוקר והוגה מוביל בפילוסופיה של המוסר, פילוסופיה פוליטית ובפילוסופיה של המשפט, בישראל ובעולם.
טקס הענקת הפרס נערך בתחילת שבוע שעבר בהשתתפות הנהלת האוניברסיטה והפקולטה, ורבים.ות נוספים.
Warmest Congratulations to Prof. David Enoch for winning the Hebrew University President’s Award for an Outstanding Researcher, the 2022-2023 Israel Pollak Prize in Memory of Prof. Yoram Ben-Porath.
Prof. Enoch, of the Faculty of Law and the Department of Philosophy, is recognized as a leading thinker and researcher in moral philosophy, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. The award was granted earlier in the last week at a ceremony attended by the leadership of the University and Faculty, and many others.
December 11, 2022: Beyond blarney Movers and shakers in Israeli society.
By Greer Fay Cashman
The Jerusalem Post,
THERE IS no doubt that antisemitism in its diversity keeps Jews actively engaged in fighting it and in forming local, national and international networks for the exchange of information about increased verbal and physical aggression against Jews, means of combating such manifestations and what is needed to protect Jewish communities from assaults. Strangely, the social negativism that brings all this about helps to identify and develop Jewish leadership potential, which finds outlets not only in the struggle against antisemitism and boycotts, but also in other avenues of Jewish life and even in the broader community. If all the antisemites realized that what they do helps to develop Jewish leadership – they might stop delegitimizing and persecuting Jews. On Thursday, December 15, the World Zionist Organization and its Department for the Struggle against Antisemitism and the Boosting of Jewish Resilience, will hold its annual conference on the Challenges of Fighting Boycotts Against Israel.
The event, which will be held at the ANU Museum on the campus of Tel Aviv University, will examine the situation from legal, economic and social perspectives. There will be three separate panels, with panelists including inter alia several academics such as Prof. Rafi Melnick, the president of Reichman University, Prof. Oded Murdoch of Ariel University, Prof. Asa Kasher, emeritus professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and one of Israel’s most consulted experts on ethics, and Prof. David Enoch, of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law.
The day’s discussions will be summed up by Mark Regev, the head of the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy at Reichman University, and Prof. Albert Pinhasov, the rector of Ariel University.
Regev who writes a weekly column for The Jerusalem Post, is a former Israel ambassador to the UK, where he frequently encountered antisemitic and anti-Israel attitudes.
One of the highlights of the event will be a one-on-one discussion on the legitimacy of a boycott in which Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a British-born lawyer by profession, will talk with controversial American lawyer Prof. Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus of the Harvard University Law School.
Education – Ph.D. in philosophy, New York University, May 2003. – B.A. in philosophy, Magna cum Laude, Tel Aviv University, March 1993. – LL.B. (in law), Tel Aviv University, March 1993.
Prof. Sari Hanafi, the President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), published a letter to members in late December 2022. Hanafi recalled how the year 2022 was “particularly violent and challenging for most regions in the world.” He mentioned various cases, including “the intensification of the settler colonial Israeli project in the Occupied Palestinian territories.”
Hanafi is a Syrian Palestinian who moved to France to pursue an academic career. He returned to Lebanon as a Professor of Sociology at the American University of Beirut.
Hanafi was elected as President of the ISA in 2018.
ISA’s 20th conference will convene in Australia in June 2023. Hanafi explains that the conference would feature two presidential panels with “particular interest in connecting sociology to moral and political philosophy.” One is titled “Liberalism, the Other and Religion.” Two philosophers and two sociologists would debate this theme. One is the “Palestinian philosopher Azmi Bishara” who argues that “comprehensive liberalism can be promoted if its basic values, like civil liberties and individual autonomy are reproducible in the context of the prevailing culture.”
Describing Azmi Bishara as a “Palestinian philosopher” is a gross misrepresentation of who Bishara is. He is a Former Member of Knesset who represented the Balad Party in 1996, 1999, 2003, and 2006 elections. In the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War, Bishara visited Lebanon and Syria. Israeli authorities suspected Bishara of supplying Hezbollah with coordinates for targeting military and civilian sites in Israel for large sums of money. Before he could be charged with acts of treason and espionage, Bishara fled Israel to Qatar, where he resides to this day. In 2012 he was again accused of transferring millions of Israeli shekels from Qatar to Jordan in suitcases. The money was collected by visiting Balad members who transferred the suitcases to Israel. Thirteen Balad members were caught and faced charges.
Yet, for Hanfai, Bishara is a “political philosopher.” This should come as no surprise because Hanafi has a long history of anti-Israel work. In 2014, Hanafi postulated in an article that “humanitarian organizations deprive refugees of their political existence by treating them as only bodies to be fed and sheltered.” Humanitarian Law refers to them as “protected people,” but practices focus mainly on “victims” or “survivors.” By classifying people as victims or even as survivors, the basis of humanitarian action is shifted from rights to welfare.”
Hanafi then added that “I have been very interested in demystifying the depoliticization of humanitarianism since the beginning of the Second Intifada. In 2003 in Jerusalem Adi Ophir and I co-organized a two-day workshop on ‘The Politics of Humanitarianism in the Occupied Territories’ for international, Palestinian and Israeli human rights and humanitarian organizations. Scholars and practitioners presented their different visions, generating much discussion and even some tension. The debate was so absorbing that Peter Hansen, the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees, who came just to present a paper, stayed for the whole workshop. When I became research director of the program ‘Policy and Governance in Palestinian Refugee Camps’ at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), I helped to organize lectures with practitioners from international and local organizations, further contributing to the debate on humanitarianism.”
He explained that in a 2009 book, co-edited with Adi Ophir and Michal Givoni, “My choice to work on The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2009) with anti-colonial Israelis Adi Ophir and Michal Givoni was unpopular in Lebanon, and I faced a smear campaign from some leftists. At the time, I thought that constructing a healthy conception of the conflict and collaborating with anti-colonial Israelis was more important than my popularity. I hoped that working with dissident Israelis would send a strong message that the Arab–Israeli conflict has nothing to do with religion but revolved around a classical colonial project waged by Zionist ideology, which we could collectively oppose, whether we were Arab or Israeli.”
Hanafi is typical of pro-Palestinian activists who use their academic positions to bash Israel. This development has become prevalent in the United States, where the Middle East Studies Association passed a resolution supporting BDS. The Pro-Palestinian activists also recruit Israeli academics to bolster their arguments. It is troubling to see that the same anti-Israel spirit also pervades other important international associations.
December 2022 President’s Perspective The year 2022 was particularly violent and challenging for most regions in the world. To cite a few, I think of Russia’s war in Ukraine which has driven 7 million people to seek refuge across Europe; deadly floodings in Pakistan and wildfires in the USA induced by climate change; the intensification of the settler colonial Israeli project in the Occupied Palestinian territories; wars in Yemen and Syria. At the same time we have seen more and more social movements and protests against all sorts of injustice: widespread protests across many cities in Iran against the imposition of the veil in the street, and in other countries against the vertiginous rise of populism and authoritarianism. When we chose the theme for the next ISA World Congress, Resurgent Authoritarianism: Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies, authoritarianism was not as spread as it is now, including in the Global North. Its growth is facilitated by the gradual symbolic thickening of public culture through combinations of extreme nationalist and religious fervor, particularly when the political liberal project is replaced by a national conservative project and the public reason becomes incapable of dealing neither with a unified conception of justice nor with different conceptions of the good in society. With more hierarchical polarization in society, we live in a time when reasonable public debate is often impossible. In this context, the International Sociological Association’s mission and activities are particularly important. Let me highlight some of them. XX ISA World Congress of Sociology in Melbourne, 2023 We will finally meet in person. The date of this XX ISA World Congress of Sociology was changed after considering many questions: Should it be online, hybrid or in-person? Who cannot make it? Who is still fearful of coming too close to others? This will be a historical moment as a major in-person event, after almost three years of online meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We envisaged different scenarios, but the outcome is for now most encouraging, with 7,126 submitted abstracts. 66% plan to present in person and 34% virtually. The program coordinators did a great job assessing the submissions, accepting 6,408 abstracts from 124 countries. In comparison with the previous Congress (in Toronto, 2018), the number of accepted abstracts has increased by 19%. We invite all those who were accepted to register before March 22, 2023, the deadline for presenters’ registration. Let me remind you that in addition to the regular Research Committee/Working Group/Thematic Group (RC/WG/TG) grants to attend the congress, the ISA has a Solidarity Fund targeting student membership: Each RC/WG/TG can allocate ISA membership grants for up to 3 students from category A countries and up to 5 students from category B and C countries.
The Congress program has been the subject of many meetings of the Program Committee. Eight plenaries will deal with four themes: secularism from the perspective of postsecularity or multiple secularities ; authoritarianism, particularly in its brutalizing version and its effects on knowledge and post-factuality; populism and its different local forms of a global phenomenon and an invitation for an intersectional approach to understanding the construction of the “people”; and neoliberalism, that generates so many inequalities, jeopardizing both individual and collective rights to life. But let me highlight here the two presidential panels. The two presidential panels are conceived with a particular interest in connecting sociology to moral and political philosophy. In the first one, entitled “Liberalism, the Other and Religion” two philosophers and two sociologists debate this theme. French philosopher Cécile Laborde defends minimal secularism while Palestinian philosopher Azmi Bishara argues that comprehensive liberalism can be promoted if its basic values, like civil liberties and individual autonomy are reproducible in the context of the prevailing culture. For Brazilian-Belgian sociologist Frederic Vandenberghe the sociological critiques of social injustices and social pathologies basically adhere to the repertoire of “liberal communitarianism.” Sometimes it veers more towards the communitarian pole of identity and authenticity, and sometimes towards the liberal pole of autonomy and justice. Finally, for Australian sociologist Anna Halafoff the role of religion is in both enabling and resisting this anti-cosmopolitan terror manifested in the rise of religious nationalism.
The second panel is about “Building a Just Post-COVID-19 World.” The surreal atmosphere of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fault lines in trust among human beings, among countries, between citizens and governments, and is pushing us to raise big questions about ourselves, our social relationships, and life more generally. This crisis moment would be an occasion to actively engage in addressing this new reality and the attendant rampant uncertainty. While this global crisis may have prompted fresh strategies to reinforce exploitation, dispossession, and neoliberal capitalism, and increased the reach of our greed and selfishness, it has also given us an opportunity to explore and provide new ways of understanding and reclaiming our social justice and humanity. Didier Fassin points to the unlearned lessons of the pandemic focusing on public health and social inequalities. For him, the health crisis revealed the flaws of public health in most countries and the depth of social inequalities within and between countries. Eva Illouz is interested in fear as the anti-democratic emotion that post-COVID time reveals. Afe Adogame, with his Ghanian sensitivity, unfolds the nexus between religion, science, and pandemics that plays out in myriad ways. While science challenges the legitimacy and potency of religion in offering protection, healing, security, and hope, religion in turn confronts the efficacity and authority of science as a panacea. Finally, in the face of the impact of COVID-19, Li Peilin argues that modern world-systems theory, the Cold War theory and clash of civilizations theory are incapable of understanding regional conflicts and the threat of world economic recession; he thus calls for a post-western sociology, a more inclusive sociology to contribute to the establishment of a world order of peace.
RC/WG/TGs selected papers for so many interesting panels, including Integrative Sessions and Sessions by National, Regional, Linguistic and Thematic Associations, Ad Hoc Sessions, and professional development sessions. I would like to thank the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) headed by Dan Woodman and all members of the Program Committee and Program Coordinators for the great work they have been doing. We ended up by a wonderful program, with most speakers planning to attend in-person. Needless to say, Melbourne is an amazing place to meet: it’s a vibrant and friendly city, with public art, many parks and great food and coffee and some affordable accommodation options. We hope to see you all there in late June 2023! Global Dialogue Magazine Following Michael Burawoy’s editorship, and that of Brigitte Aulenbacher and Klaus Dörre, I would like now to welcome the new editor of Global Dialogue Breno Bringel, a most renowned Brazilian political sociologist. We wish him and his assistant editors Carolina Vestena and Vitória Gonzalez Rodriguez all the best in their editorial work. Founded in 2010 and now translated into more than 15 languages, ISA magazine Global Dialogue has been instrumental in connecting sociologists all over the world. I would like to thank Brigitte Aulenbacher and Klaus Dörre as well as their assistants for consolidating it as a vibrant publication. XVII ISA International Laboratory for PhD Students The 2022 Laboratory for PhD Students in Sociology around the theme Precarization and Resistance: Environment, Everyday Life and Citizenship was organized jointly by the ISA, the Arab Centre for Research and Political Studies, the Centre for Economic and Social Researches and Studies, and the Research in Enlightenment, Modernity and Cultural Diversity Lab, Tunis El Manar University. It took place in Tunis, Tunisia, September 5-11, 2022. This Lab was held successfully despite Tunisia’s current difficult economic and political situation. The quality of this Lab was confirmed by the students’ own evaluation. I would like to thank all those who have been involved in the Lab, particularly Mounir Saidani, member of the ISA Executive Committee and head of the Local Organizing Committee of the Lab, and Executive Committee members Bandana Purkayastha and Geoffrey Pleyers. I am glad to inform you that our support to early-career sociologists continues. In Melbourne, a pre-congress seminar will be organized for the winners and finalists of the ISA Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists, which will gather 15 junior sociologists from 14 countries. 5th ISA Council of National Associations Conference On the theme Social Transformations and Sociology: Dispossessions and Empowerment, the Council of National Associations conference took place in Nova Gorica, Slovenia on November 21-24, 2022 with the participation of over 60 delegates from national associations and collective members of the ISA. The conference, organized on the invitation of the Slovenian Social Sciences Association was an academically and socially vibrant event thanks to Filomin Gutierrez, ISA Vice-President for National Associations, and Borut Roncevic, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and to the LOC particularly warm hospitality. Nominations of candidates for the election of the ISA Executive Committee 2023-2027 The World Congress is the occasion for electing the ISA President, 4 Vice-Presidents, 8 representatives of the Council of National Associations and 8 representatives of the Research Council, who will constitute the next Executive Committee. Please send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31, 2023. For more details and nomination forms see https://www.isa-sociology.org/en/about-isa/election-of-the-isa-executive-committee. Other News In our last Executive Committee meetings we took many important decisions: • The 2025 ISA Forum of Sociology will be in-person. A call for bids was issued. • The collective membership of the Russian Sociological Association will be suspended until the end of the war on Ukraine. • The ISA has endorsed many statements concerning human rights violations: the Iran protests, in support of the public statement issued by the Iranian Sociological Association; the call to action of Birzeit University to reject Israeli measures against academic freedom; ISA statement on the Russian military offensive happening in Ukraine; ISA endorsement of the code of conduct for United Nations interactions with civil society organizations. • ISA signed the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) recognizing the need to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. The idea to write the declaration was developed in 2012 at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco. It has become a worldwide initiative covering all scholarly disciplines and all key stakeholders including funders, publishers, professional societies, institutions, and researchers. We encourage all individuals and organizations who are interested in developing and promoting best practice in the assessment of researchers and scholarly research to sign DORA. And Finally Much of what is accomplished by the ISA is the result of all the hard work and diverse contributions of our members. I also take this opportunity to thank all Executive Committee members, our four Vice-Presidents, Filomin Gutierrez, Eloísa Martín, Geoffrey Pleyers, and Sawako Shirahase, as well as ISA Executive Committee members, ISA editors, ISA Executive Secretary Izabela Barlinska, Lola Busuttil and Juan Lejárraga for their work and dedication to the Association. I would like as well to welcome Cecilia Delgado-Molina, our Social Media Manager and forthcoming ISA Executive Secretary (starting from August 2023). Cecilia holds a PhD summa cum laude in Sociology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and completed research stays in Argentina, Germany, and the United States. She held a postdoctoral position at the Autonomous University of Barcelona Research Group in the Sociology of Religion (ISOR), in collaboration with the University of Birmingham. She has experience in university-community partnerships, public funding, financial administration, and staff management. Additionally, she has expertise in web design, digital communication, and social media networking. She is a member of the ISA since 2012 and serves as the RC22 (Sociology of Religion) interim secretary, for which she recently redesigned the website and newsletter. Finally I wish you all the best for the holiday season and for a new year which I hope will bring better news for the world and not only for the human…
In this article, the author surveys his own career to illustrate some of the dilemmas of research, especially when it assumes a critical and public face. He shows how his work on Palestinian refugees, their socioeconomic rights, their right of return and their camps evolved toward complex forms of traditional and organic public sociology. The article concludes with reflections on one of the major dilemmas researchers face: conducting public research without losing its critical edge, even toward the deprived groups it seeks to protect. The moral of the story: good scientists are not always popular.
In the Arab world, the profile of the intellectual is well known: typically, he or she is a theorist who talks about tradition, modernity, authoritarianism, democracy, identity, Arab unity, globalization and so on but avoids stepping into society to conduct empirical research. Even social scientists are often guilty of pontificating like philosophers, raising questions rather than offering concrete answers (Hanafi, 2012).
It is even rarer to hear professional social researchers speak in the public sphere.1 This is due not only to the absence of their products in the mass media or newspapers but also to the difficulty of conducting fieldwork in the Arab world, given the authoritarian regimes and the lack of research capacity. Social research agendas in the Arab region – the choice of topics and sometimes the methodology – are often driven by donor interests or by the urgency of immediate social problems. There are important exceptions to this rule, and it is to some of them that I have turned for guidance and inspiration. In this article, I survey my own research trajectory to illustrate some of the dilemmas researchers face while doing research, especially when it assumes a critical and public face.
Damascus, Cairo and Ramallah: Crawling toward public sociology
In 1994, I finished my PhD in France. It examined engineers as a socioprofessional group in Syria and Egypt. My first inclination was to extend my investigations to other middle-class occupations in these same countries, but as a Palestinian and former president of the General Union of Palestinian Students in France, I became involved in many debates concerning the emerging peace process, known as the Madrid Process. As prospects for a new Palestinian entity improved, I decided to study the contribution of the Palestinian diaspora to the construction of this entity.
Clearly, my choice of topic was related to how I saw my engagement in the public sphere. I discussed the project with Philippe Fargues, the director of the French Centre d’études et de documentation économique juridique et sociale in Cairo (CEDEJ). Together we wrote a research proposal dealing with two features of the diaspora: its demography and its economy. It is worth noting that the European Union was only interested in the economic aspect of this research, while the French Foreign Ministry was attracted by the demographic question. The upshot was two fascinating projects. Since I was most interested in the economy, I dealt with this aspect, publishing two academic books and many articles.
At that time, I was not aware of the importance of writing for a large public. At most, I talked to journalists from time to time. I was afraid to give out information that was not grounded in scientific research. I had little experience in presenting my research, but I quickly learned to draw policy implications from my findings. I was approached by a Palestinian deputy minister in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation in Ramallah, who had read my 1997 book, The Role of Business People in the Diaspora in the Construction of the Palestinian Entity. He wanted me to help him establish a Directorate of Expatriate Affairs in his Ministry. I found myself in a dilemma: should I accept a grant from the Ford Foundation to pursue my research or should I suspend my career as a researcher in order to work as a policy advisor, applying the knowledge I had accumulated. I opted for the latter, at that time believing that the Oslo Peace Process would result in the termination of the occupation. This project lasted one year. The Directorate was successfully established, and two conferences were organized, each bringing roughly 150 Palestinian business people from all over the world to the Palestinian territories.
However, I found the relationship between the domineering prince and the dependent researcher to be tumultuous, so I returned to CEDEJ for three more years to pursue research on two fronts: to continue my analysis of the question of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora and to investigate the relationships among donors, international organizations and local NGOs in the Palestinian territories. Again, I was motivated by a deep desire to conduct research that would be useful for the emerging Palestinian entity. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that donors were mainly interested in funding NGOs and were reluctant to support unions and political parties. Moreover, the donors were keen on NGO style research centers outside and disconnected from universities. Here I found myself with another dilemma: conducting research funded by NGOs, through a research center that not only has NGO status but is one of the leading organizations in the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGOs).
The result of my research was a manuscript (written with Linda Tabar) that criticized both the donor community and local NGOs. It was sent to two reviewers: one an academic and one an NGO leader from PNGOs. The former was very positive, but the latter was not. The director of the research center was also unhappy since he feared that my research might reinforce ‘the general climate of criticism of NGOs waged by the Palestinian National Authority.’ The manuscript was sent out again to three new reviewers. All reports recommended publication, and it became my first real encounter with public sociology. I was invited to many places to present our research. I learned how to be careful with my lectures, tailoring them to audiences with a balance of criticism and provocation. I found myself in the middle of a milieu where small NGOs appreciated my research while the bigger ones were unhappy with my results. I learned how to interpret the audience’s smiles and scattered laughter and not to be easily intimidated. I learned a lot from these talks on the basis of which I revised my analysis.
After three years conducting professional and public research at CEDEJ, I was hired to be the director of a research and advocacy center called the Palestinian Center for Diaspora and Refugees (Shaml) in Ramallah. At this center, I conducted research on subjects such as the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees, the debate over their right of return and the political negotiations with Israelis over this matter.
Most of my critical research was not published in Arabic but in English. This gave me international and regional visibility but at the expense of visibility in the locality in which I was working. I was also actively experimenting with creative and rights-based solutions to the Palestinian refugee problem. I developed concepts such as the extra-territorial nation-state, the distinction between the right of return and the possibility of return, and between right of return and rites of return. My main audience was academic and policy circles. Only subsequently did I realize that writing in Arabic more than likely would have got me into a lot of trouble.
It was very difficult to continue living in Ramallah with a tourist visa, as in early 2004 the Israeli authorities started to limit my visa to one month at a time, which meant I had to leave and return every month. I felt I had exhausted my time in Palestine, so I sought a new location. I left Palestine to assume a teaching position at the American University of Beirut. It was here that I discovered the problem of researchers who publish globally but perish locally (Hanafi, 2011). From then on I vowed to translate all that I produced into Arabic so as to help generate debate with the broader public as well as with policy makers.
Beirut: Time for confrontations
Worn out by the intensity of the Second Intifada (2000–2005), I moved to the American University of Beirut where I founded the monthly Sociology Café, which aims at creating a forum for informal discussions between students, professors and the public on critical issues of life in Lebanon and the region. An invited speaker usually initiates the discussion. Since 2006, I have co-organized 52 sessions with Ray Jureidini and then Nabil Dajani. Lebanese newspapers often report on the debates produced in these monthly encounters.
In terms of research, I decided to move into urban sociology and work in the slums of Beirut. I wrote a proposal to study Hay al-Sulom in the southern suburbs with a small component to compare it with Beirut’s infamous Shatila refugee camp. Alas, one donor agency offered me funding but only to study the Shatila camp. At first I was disappointed, but it wasn’t long before I found myself again in the middle of a debate about Palestinian socioeconomic and civil rights. The context is important. In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees do not have some basic rights such as the right to work or to own property, even though they have been living there for 65 years.
In 2005 there were two important issues: first, the liberation of Lebanon from Syrian tutelage and, second, the establishment of the Lebanese–Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC). The latter functioned as an agency attached to the Prime Minister’s cabinet and was heavily funded by many donors seeking to improve the situation of Palestinians in Lebanon. In this vein, the Swiss embassy mobilized a Swiss humanitarian agency to fund a workshop composed of Palestinian and Lebanese experts to assess the need for Palestinians to receive more vocational training. In this way, the agency argued, refugees would be able to work as qualified workers without changing the existing legal framework that bars them from work, denying them access to any profession and even to the formal labor market. I was a participant in this workshop and spoke vehemently against its rationale and against working within the framework of existing rights. Tensions rose, and there were many clashes between the Palestinian and the Lebanese participants. The Swiss agency then called for two ad hoc meetings: one with Palestinian experts and another with Lebanese experts. In the meeting, the representative of the Swiss agency told me that I was politicizing the process and she argued that her agency is a humanitarian one and therefore cannot address the right to work for the Palestinian refugees. After heated arguments, she threatened to withdraw the funding. I replied cynically that there were many refugee communities in Africa that deserve more attention than the Palestinian refugees, and we would be glad to divert the funding to them. One member of the Palestinian delegation was unhappy with what I had said and asked me to use ‘I’ instead of ‘we.’ My comments criticized the donor community for their dichotomous thinking: relief vs. development and humanitarianism vs. politics.
Humanitarian organizations deprive refugees of their political existence by treating them as bodies to be fed and sheltered. Humanitarian law refers to ‘protected people,’ but current humanitarian practices focus mainly on ‘victims’ or at times, to appear more positive, they refer to them as ‘survivors.’ By classifying people as victims or even as survivors, the basis of humanitarian action is shifted from rights to welfare. In disaster areas – the spaces of exception – values of generosity and pragmatism obscure the rights and responsibilities of refugees, which would endow them with their own agency.
I have been very interested in demystifying the depoliticization of humanitarianism since the beginning of the Second Intifada. In 2003 in Jerusalem Adi Ophir and I co-organized a two-day workshop on ‘The Politics of Humanitarianism in the Occupied Territories’ for international, Palestinian and Israeli human rights and humanitarian organizations. Scholars and practitioners presented their different visions, generating much discussion and even some tension. The debate was so absorbing that Peter Hansen, the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees, who came just to present a paper, stayed for the whole workshop. When I became research director of the program ‘Policy and Governance in Palestinian Refugee Camps’ at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), I helped to organize lectures with practitioners from international and local organizations, further contributing to the debate on humanitarianism. When Karen Abu Zeid, the successor Commissioner General of the UNRWA, was invited as an IFI guest, she, too, recognized the tension between the political and the humanitarian. For her, ‘This tension is manifested in a variety of ways. One of its most striking manifestations is the contrast between the readiness of states to fund emergency responses, compared to their failure to address the questions of international law and politics that cause these emergencies. That tension is clear in the way in which the urgency to resolve underlying questions of justice and peace for Palestinians is somehow divorced from the challenge of providing for their human needs.’2
So far I have described my advance toward public sociology, but I was now keen to undertake a more organic public sociology on two fronts: contributing to the Right to Work Campaign for the Palestinian refugees and engaging with the governance system in the refugee camps, based on research in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Right to work campaign
I was writing a lot in right-wing and left-wing newspapers in Arabic and in English to reach different audiences and to understand the opposition to Palestinians having rights to work and property. I wanted to demonstrate that the issue is not only a sectarian one. Yes in Lebanon there are many sectarian divides in politics but there is almost a consensus that opposes extending these rights to Palestinians, including among both Sunnis and Shiites. All are more than happy to exploit Palestinian laborers in the black market. Religion does not tell us everything. Indeed, social stratification might reveal more than religion.
I was invited to give a talk by the Hezbollah think tank, and I had many meetings with members of its Political Bureau to persuade them to take a real stance to change the discriminatory laws. The Palestinian ambassador charged me, along with Sakher Abu Fakher, with negotiating on his behalf with the governmental coalition (March 14 Coalition) for changing the labor laws. The grim result of this experience was increased disillusionment with the politicians’ double language.
In January 2011, I proposed the march as a form of protest. It had been used effectively in 1983 in France by second generation immigrants of Algerian origin demanding better integration, both socially and in the labor market. I initiated the first contact with a group of associations (from various political tendencies) to organize a March for the Socio-economic and Civil Rights of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. We met every week and, by the end, we had gathered support from 102 associations, unions and representatives of youth movements of Palestinian and Lebanese political parties and factions. The June 2010 march brought around 6000 Palestinian and Lebanese from all over Lebanon to Beirut.
This civil society initiative was received with a lot of suspicion from several Palestinian political factions. For many, civil society organizations should conduct advocacy campaigns or provide services, but they should not mobilize constituencies, because that is the exclusive function of political parties. As one said, cynically, ‘Civil society organizations can be coopted easily by foreign powers; they should not take the lead in mobilizing demonstrations.’ Hamas and the pro-Syrian coalition withdrew suddenly from the organization of the march. Subsequently, Osama Hamdan, one of the leaders of Hamas, added that their withdrawal was in part due to a newspaper interview where I referred positively to the 1983 Marche des beurs in France. They considered this a call for the integration of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon, which would undermine the right of return.
Here one can see how social science in the Arab world is doubly delegitimized – from above by the political leaders and from below by religious leaders (among others). Hamas leadership was simply opposed to the linking of the Palestinian march to an historical one in France. I was also surprised how many right-wing Lebanese politicians used the term ‘integration’ in a pejorative way. In an interview, Amin al-Jamyel, the head of Phalange Party, declared that ‘issuing a new law in favor of easing the entrance of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon is one step toward their integration which I denounce.’
In short, it was very challenging to engage a public that is not used to dialogue with social science scholars. This does not mean abandoning the project but rather investing time and energy into being subtle and careful in transmitting social science. Intermingling with the public inspires a deeper understanding of reality. It would have never occurred to me to theorize the Israeli colonial project as a ‘spacio-cidal’ project had I not constantly felt claustrophobic in the West Bank as Israel reduced it to many small Bantustans all divided from one another. I learned how to use the term ‘integration of Palestinian refugees’ without implying any antagonism to the right of return. I learned to avoid using the term ‘governance’ in Arabic as people would confuse it with ‘government.’ A high ranking officer of the Internal Security Forces threatened to arrest me for using ‘governance’ in the title of an IFI workshop. For him, the governance of camps is the business of the state only.
I also learned to be patient with practitioners who were not accustomed to postponing normative claims until they were empirically supported. Thus, I invited three members from the popular committees of the camp to discuss a working paper I produced for IFI: ‘Governance of the Palestinian Refugee Camps in the Arab East: Governmentalities in Quest of Legitimacy.’ Two of them said it was the first time they had been invited to such a seminar and they were especially grateful. However, they were very defensive when I suggested that the popular committees had lost legitimacy with the general camp population. The chair of the session, a faculty member at the American University of Beirut, told me how difficult it was to organize a discussion between practitioners and academics. It required a strong chair to keep the session on track.
Negotiating the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp
While I was doing my research on the governance system in the refugee camps of Lebanon and beyond, Fatah al-Islam, a radical militarized group, gained control of the Nahr el-Bared camp (NBC) in the north of Lebanon. The Lebanese Army responded with armed intervention, expelled the militia, destroyed two-thirds of the camp and brought the remaining part under total military control. There was fierce controversy over the reconstruction of the camp and its administration. Prime Minister Siniora declared that ‘Nahr el-Bared would be a model for other camps,’ and very soon foreign intelligence services became consultants to the Lebanese political and military authorities.
The government’s plan for a new, modern and secure camp left no place for traditional social fabric and living patterns. When the plan was reported in the press, it provoked resistance from the community, which had not been consulted. In Baddawi camp, where most of the NBC residents had taken refuge, a spontaneous grassroots initiative emerged with the goal of formulating a counter-plan. It was energized by the widespread conviction that NBC’s destruction and the government’s reconstruction plans were politically motivated. Named the Nahr el-Bared Reconstruction Commission for Civil Action and Studies (NBRC), the group immediately attracted activist academics and technicians from beyond Nahr el-Bared with prior reconstruction experience in Lebanon. The result was an expanded and diverse network that included architects and planners who contributed their diverse knowledge and experience to the local committee, empowering the community to oppose the state’s project.
The real dynamo of this initiative was Ismael Sheikh Hassan, an urban planner and community activist. We both wanted urban planning from below with full community participation, but we differed over the role of the urban planners. I drew on my knowledge of Jenin camp, where the political commissars exercised a heavy influence. I wanted urban planners to play a more proactive role by informing public discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of different options. Sheikh Hassan favored community voices over urban planners. However, we shared the view that urban planners should counter-balance the power of the political commissars. In addition, Sheikh Hassan, like other Palestinian activists, had a historically rooted mistrust of UNRWA and was reluctant to cooperate with the agency. Based on my knowledge of the reconstruction of Jenin in 2002, I, on the other hand, thought that UNRWA could make a great contribution to community participation. After a long discussion, a delegation of the NBRC did meet UNRWA, and the latter was delighted with the NBRC’s progress in planning the reconstruction.
However, persuading the Lebanese authorities to accept the NBRC/UNRWA as an interlocutor was a painful process. Here I used my cultural and social capital as a professor at AUB. Initially, the Lebanese–Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) refused any Palestinian interlocutor under the pretext that if we called on the PLO Hamas would be upset, and vice versa. We asked the LPDC to accept the NBRC as a civil society initiative, but they refused. I called the head of UNRWA, Richard Cook, to report that we would not cooperate with UNRWA unless the NBRC was present. Cook called the LPDC, but they continued to refuse our incorporation. They said that they would accept me alone as an individual but not as representative of the NBRC. I refused to go under this label. UNRWA threatened to withdraw from the process. Finally, I was invited as a representative of the NBRC, and after the first meeting a more technical delegation from the NBRC continued to meet with the Lebanese authority in charge of the reconstruction. After the battle, protracted negotiations began between the various Lebanese actors and the NBRC/UNRWA. Security-related issues raised by the military dictated all spatial and design considerations. Nonetheless, thanks to the UNRWA–NBRC partnership, the planning process did incorporate some of the interests of the Palestinians.
The Vienna Document: A model of exclusion
From the start of the battle, UNRWA had shouldered the burden of the NBC residents’ immediate relief, but the reconstruction anticipated from the outset would inevitably require massive international funding. On 7 June 2007, scarcely two weeks after the military incursion was launched, the Lebanese government held its first meeting with UNRWA representatives to plan an international donor conference to rebuild the camp. The conference was ultimately set for June 2008 in Vienna under the sponsorship of Austria, Lebanon, the Arab League, UNRWA and the EU. In preparation for the event, the Lebanese government drew up what came to be known as the Vienna Document, a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction plan including cost estimates, for presentation to the donor-participants prior to the conference.
The camp’s physical reconstruction was only one aspect of the Lebanese government’s vision and in fact took second place to ‘Establishing clear and effective governance in NBC.’ This included ‘enforcing security and rule of law inside NBC through community and proximity policing’ (Government of Lebanon, 2008: 46). To this end, the document requested US$5 million in donor funds for ‘Capacity building and technical assistance to the (Lebanese) Internal Security Forces (ISF) aimed at introducing community and proximity policing into NBC’ (Government of Lebanon, 2008: 48).
A major flaw in the document’s proposal for ‘transparent and effective’ camp governance is its problematic reading of the latter as purely a security issue, which flies in the face of the widely accepted contemporary discourse on good governance and its necessary components of administration, community representation and economic development. By proposing policing as the main component of governance, the plan reduces the Palestinian refugees to the status of ‘security subjects’ and frames the camp as an ‘insecurity island.’ The document uses the attractive term ‘community policing,’ with its connotations of community empowerment and citizenship action, but the policing it describes is performed exclusively by the police.
This one-sided decision making was reinforced by the PLO’s exclusion from the formulation of the Vienna Document’s security-related sections. The document makes a point of stating that the ‘above security arrangements for NBC were agreed upon with the Palestinian Liberation Organization’ (Government of Lebanon, 2008: 51), but Abbas Zaki, PLO ambassador to Lebanon, told me that he had not been consulted about the security issue in the camp. I informed Ismael Sheikh Hassan, who joined Zaki to protest to the LPDC, but the document was not altered.
Without doubt, the PLO’s weakness makes this kind of exclusion possible, but it is risky to pursue and secure funding for a one-sided vision of governance in a Palestinian camp, which moreover is planned as a prototype for all the Palestinian camps in the country. This is especially the case when the solutions proposed are not based on a critical review either of NBC’s pre-conflict situation or on the failures of the Palestinian and Lebanese sides that precipitated the rise of Fatah al-Islam in the first place.
Sheikh Hassan and I wrote a piece called ‘Constructing and governing Nahr el-Bared camp: An “ideal” model of exclusion’ for the Journal of Palestine Studies (in Arabic). We wanted to explain the whole story of NBC: its destruction, looting, reconstruction and the plan to establish a mode of governance based exclusively on security. Even though the journal is based in Beirut, the piece did not generate debate. I called a friend at al-nahar newspaper, which is very widely read by supporters of the government coalition. After its publication there, the LPDC replied to me in a very harsh and impolite way. Several journalists wrote to criticize my writings, and I responded with other articles. However, debate was not without intimidation. The head of the LPDC, who is also the president of the American University of Beirut Alumni Association, talked with the administration of my university, the chair of my department and other colleagues. He tried to convince them to denounce my writing, arguing that it might harm the relationship between the University and the Lebanese authority. I was supported by my university, but my friend Ismael Sheikh Hassan was arrested because of his writing about Nahr el-Bared, which suggests that critical public social science can be a dangerous proposition.
Between critical and public social science
One of the major dilemmas researchers face is to conduct public research without losing their critical edge even toward the deprived groups that they seek to protect. Good scientists are not always popular. Louis Pasteur, who saved many through his invention of vaccines, failed to be elected to the Senate in France. I do believe that sociologists’ commitments should be expressed by their choice of topics and how they disseminate their knowledge beyond writing for academic journals. But as regards the research process, once a topic is chosen, fieldwork is fieldwork and should follow its path in the most objective way possible. Of Bertolt Brecht’s committed art, Adorno (1980) said that Brecht ended by doing bad art and bad politics. Criticisms addressed to the community being studied should be considered a way of strengthening it, rather than weakening it; knowledge of weaknesses should be empowering.
I should confess here that sometimes things are very complex. There have been occasions when I have not published the results of fieldwork because they violate the immediate interests of international solidarity groups who have come to Palestine to support people under siege. I am not an advocate of activist research (Hale, 2006) that is politically aligned to the cause of its object, but I do align myself with subjects when their rights are violated. This alignment can become political in the sense of making political compromises. For instance, when defending the Palestinian right of return to their place of origin, I found myself advising people on tactical matters of the more immediate survival of Palestinian refugees. ‘Surrendering,’ to use Wolff’s (1992) term, to the group you are studying can be generative of a deeper scholarly understanding and beneficial to the research, on condition that the researcher does not lose sight of their primary commitment to critical thinking. Researchers may be loyal to a political party or to an ideology, but this should be seen as different from loyalty to the academic sphere.
My choice to work on The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2009) with anti-colonial Israelis Adi Ophir and Michal Givoni was unpopular in Lebanon, and I faced a smear campaign from some leftists. At the time, I thought that constructing a healthy conception of the conflict and collaborating with anti-colonial Israelis was more important than my popularity. I hoped that working with dissident Israelis would send a strong message that the Arab–Israeli conflict has nothing to do with religion but revolved around a classical colonial project waged by Zionist ideology, which we could collectively oppose, whether we were Arab or Israeli.
I had imagined that writing about my research trajectory would be easy, but it has not been, especially because I don’t want to fall into the trap of heroism, celebration or victimhood. Engaging in public sociology and dealing with critical issues is like crossing a minefield, even as it offers a sense of commitment to the society (through the choice of a topic which is relevant to society) and a sense of justice (helping victims to resist their oppressors). At the heart of this precarious engagement is Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of sociology as a martial art, in which sociology disarms people of their common sense, their ideologies, their folk understandings – in short, their self-deceptions. The question, then, is whether scholars should be in front of the people or behind them, whether they should comfort them (a sort of populism) or remind them of the complexity of social phenomena. In this biographical essay, I have shown how I dealt with the complexity of the Palestinian right of return, their socioeconomic rights and their rights to the city, at the same time that political factions and commissars (including leaders of civil society organizations) were focusing almost exclusively on the right of return. To forge ahead of the people when the overwhelming political and social pressures are holding them back is a hazardous operation indeed.
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Here I am using Michael Burawoy’s (2005) typology of knowledge: professional, critical, public and policy.GO TO FOOTNOTE
From her speech for the Host and Donors Meeting, held in Amman on 11 December 2006.GO TO FOOTNOTE
Adorno T (1980) The autonomy of art. In: O’Connor B (ed.) The Adorno Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 239–263.
Government of Lebanon (2008) A Common Challenge, A Shared Responsibility: The International Donor Conference for the Recovery and Reconstruction of the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp and Conflict-Affected Areas of North Lebanon, Vienna, 23 June.
Sari Hanafi is currently a Professor of Sociology at the American University of Beirut and editor of Idafat: the Arab Journal of Sociology (Arabic). He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Sociology and the Arab Council of the Social Sciences. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters on the political and economic sociology of the Palestinian diaspora and refugees; sociology of migration; politics of scientific research; and transitional justice. Among his recent books are: The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (edited with A Ophir and M Givoni, 2009) (English and Arabic), The Emergence of a Palestinian Globalized Elite: Donors, International Organizations and Local NGOs (edited with L Taber, 2005) (Arabic and English) and the forthcoming, Knowledge Production in the Arab World (with R Arvanitis)
ISA endorses Birzeit University’s rejection of Israeli measures against academic freedom
The new Israeli settler regulations about the “Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region,” give Israel the absolute right to select which academics and students may be present at Palestinian universities, as well as set arbitrary criteria on which fields of study are permissible and what qualifications are acceptable. These sweeping draconian measures attack the right to education, academic freedom, and the autonomy of Palestinian universities. Birzeit University’s statement calls on all academics, academic organizations to join in their fight against this proposed procedure, and for their sovereign right to be a university.
Birzeit University rejects Israel’s most recent attempt to constrict the fundamental right of Palestinians to education and to undermine the academic freedom and autonomy of Palestinian universities. Scheduled to take effect in May, 2022, the “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region” grants Israeli military immense powers to isolate Palestinian universities from the outside world, and to determine the future course of Palestinian higher education.
The new directive invests the Israeli military the absolute right to select which international faculty, academic researchers and students may be present at Palestinian universities, including academics and students of Palestinian origin but without residence documents, living and working in Palestine. The Israeli military will impose their own arbitrary criteria on which fields of study are permissible and what qualifications are acceptable. It requires each applicant to submit to interrogation at an Israeli diplomatic mission in the country of origin, while imposing stiff monetary bonds on those selected for entry. Further, the directive sets a low ceiling on the number of foreign teachers and students (100 and 150 per year, respectively), and limits the duration of employment to five non-consecutive years, thereby denying sustainable hiring and promotion of faculty. Consequently, some current faculty and students who do not hold residency permits may be forced to leave and academic programs face the inability to recruit new hires and undertake collaborative scholarly research and exchanges. Plainly put, the directive puts Palestinian Universities under siege and divests them of basic control over their academic decisions.
The attack on the right to education and academic freedom that these proposed procedures embody are part of the ongoing assault on Palestinian institutions of higher learning since their establishment. Birzeit University students, faculty and employees have suffered for decades under a relentless Israeli military campaign that includes forced closures (one of them shut down the university for over four years), campus incursions, intimidation, and imprisonment. Such actions are inseparable from the racist and multilayered system of apartheid and persecution which denies the Palestinian people their most fundamental rights, including to freedom of expression, and the pursuit of scientific advancement and development.
We call on all academic and human rights organizations to join us in refusing these procedures, and demand that governments worldwide hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for this clear violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), the right to education enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966).
This moment is dangerous for the future of Palestinian higher education, but it is also a moment to join together for justice, freedom, and equality. Palestinian universities, like all universities, are places of knowledge production that connect scholars and students across the globe and inspire them to imagine and build a better future for all.
Support our efforts to defend the Palestinian people’s right to education, free from duress, intervention, and political persecution. Work with us to break the siege that these regulations impose on Birzeit and other Palestinian universities. Accept our invitation to teach and learn in Palestine. Help us exercise our basic right to education and to preserve the institutional autonomy that we built over the decades despite all obstacles.
Hanafi reflects on lack of Arab contribution in social sciences
Rayane Abou Jaoude| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: While Syrian-Palestinian sociologist Sari Hanafi’s election last week as the first ever Arab vice president of the International Sociological Association is a reason to celebrate, it is also a bitter reminder of the lack of Middle Eastern participation in the social sciences. While the ISA boasts up to 7,000 members, only five Arabs from Lebanese and Saudi associations attended this year’s World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, Japan, compared to 76 from Israel, 16 from Iran and 45 from Turkey.
“It’s not cultural, it’s got nothing to do with the Arab Islamic culture, it’s something to do with the institutional culture,” said Hanafi, a professor and chair of Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut.
He said that academic institutions needed to offer more support to those studying social sciences, and that Arabs themselves needed to be more involved in their fields of research.
“It is very rare to find people who are really relevant locally and carry out conversations with their peers in the discipline,” he told The Daily Star.
Although he acknowledged the lack of financing was another reason preventing greater participation, he said that did not need to be a hindrance. He also pointed to the fact that papers could be presented in one of three languages: English, French, or Spanish, and that papers for one of ISA’s two journals, International Sociology and Current Sociology, could be submitted in Arabic.
“There’s really no excuse … It’s a question of resources but it’s also a question of awareness,” he said, adding that it was about promoting the importance and purpose of social sciences.
“The presence of Arabs is not only extremely important scientifically if we want to engage in science and technology in the world,” he said. “It’s also … to say there’s a message we want to deliver to the world.”
Hanafi, also a member of the Arab Sociological Association and the Arab Council for Social Sciences, said he was hoping to bring in at least 10 Arab members during his four-year mandate.
Growing up at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus and coming from a lower middle class family, the sociologist originally enrolled to major in civil engineering at Damascus University to please his family, but decided to obtain another degree in sociology in 1987 for his own sake.
“I was at that time very politicized; I wanted to change the world,” he laughed.
Hanafi left to study in France after he got a scholarship, getting his Master’s degree from the University of Strasbourg and then his doctorate from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris in 1994.
“Why France? Because I like Michel Foucault, I like Gaston Bachelard, and I’m interested in the philosophy of science. So I completed my studies in sociology in France and now I would say I am not only incapable of changing the world, I can barely understand my surroundings,” he joked.
Hanafi said his work in France made him more aware of how the state encouraged its citizens to study and learn, how it listened to their expertise, and its support for organized discussions, all of which was largely lacking in the Arab world.
Despite having now conducted approximately 40 consultancies for NGOs and the U.N. on various topics, he said none of them were for an Arab state or organization.
“This shows that we have a real problem here, that social sciences are not taken seriously by the decision-makers,” he said.
Hanafi said conservative religious groups were looking to delegitimize the social sciences in the fear that they may show evidence contrary to their ideals.
“In times of turbulence, in times of identity crises, in times of uprisings, you need to rationalize the public’s afflictions. You need to bring expertise to that,” he said.
Yet while he can be very critical of Arab societies, he maintains a long-standing commitment to the socioeconomic rights of Palestinians refugees. Hanafi, who also holds French nationality, lived in the West Bank’s Ramallah until Israel began limiting his stays and eventually asked him to leave.
“I had barely any time to pack my stuff. I was a visiting professor for a while in France until I applied to different places and I got in at AUB. And I am so happy to be here, it’s a very interesting place to be in the Arab world,” he explained.
“There is time for research, for freedom of expression, at least at my university, but unfortunately less and less from Lebanon, which was an oasis of freedom of expression. I am very worried of the increasing censorship in Lebanon.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 25, 2014, on page 4.
IAM questioned in September, “Is the BDS Movement Winding Down?” It seemed so at the time. Now the Palestinian Authority is stepping up its efforts to boycott Israel.
The Meir Amit Center on Intelligence and Terrorism reported on a conference (first reported by the Palestinian Wattan TV) titled “Towards a Global Front to Combat and End Israeli Apartheid.” It took place on December 11, 2022. The Palestinian National Anti-Apartheid Committee met in Al-Bireh near Ramallah. The conference was organized by the PLO Anti-Apartheid Department, which was appointed in July 2022. The conference was coordinated with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Justice, various NGOs, the PA human rights organization, and the BDS movement. As stated by the organizers, its objective was to unite all the groups acting against “Israeli apartheid.” Its overall aim is to merge and coordinate anti-Israeli activities.
One of the speakers was Professor Ilan Pappe. According to the Wattan report, “The historian and Professor Ilan Pappe expressed his rejection of all violations against the Palestinian people, and considered that the settlement project in Palestine is not an ordinary project. He noted that “the occupation is trying to colonize any place and get rid of the population, and this ideology does not disappear with the passage of time, but rather works to cleanse the geographical area of its inhabitants and repeat the crime of 1948. Pappe added: Unfortunately, the racism of the occupation is dealt with in a special way and is not held accountable, like other countries, despite its crimes.”
The conference is the first step in a broader Palestinian campaign to bolster the BDS movement. The Palestinian National Anti-Apartheid Committee recommended the “establishment of a united global front to combat Israeli apartheid and stressed the need to create a Palestinian, Arab and international alliances which would form the foundation for the front.” In addition, the committee voted to launch a campaign to prevent the passage of laws banning “resistance to the Zionist occupation and its racism.” It also “called for developing strategies and tactics, headed by the ‘popular resistance’, in which Palestinian organizations and sources of power would participate, wherever they were located, such as calling for the establishment of a monitoring center of representatives from the PLO, the PA foreign ministry and forces operating within Israeli Arab society.”
For those who are unfamiliar, using the words “Popular Resistance” means violence and terrorism against Israel.
In preparations, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation arrived Jordan in November 2022 to establish an Arab parliamentary coalition to “counter Israel’s apartheid.” The call was made at a meeting in Petra, bringing together Nayef Qadi, the Chairman of the Jordan Senate’s Palestine Committee; Ramzi Rabah, the PLO Executive Committee member; Sinan Shqdeeh, the head of Anti-Apartheid Committee at the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC); and, Maher Amer, the Director of the Anti-Apartheid Department of the PLO. The Jordan News Agency reported the meeting. Qadi said, “Jordan, under His Majesty King Abdullah II’s leadership, places the Palestinian cause at the forefront of its internal and external priorities, and views the issue as ‘sacred to the Jordanian people’. He noted that Jordan has a “firm and continuous” position in “support of the Palestinian cause and rights of the Palestinian people, foremost is ending Israel’s occupation, settling the conflict through the two-state solution and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian homeland with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1997 borders.” Qadi noted that Hashemite custodianship over Jerusalem’s holy sites is a “historical reality and a national and Islamic duty” that “cannot be abandoned, adding that pressures that Jordan has faced over more than 70 years did not affect the Kingdom’s position on national rights of the Palestinian people.” In addition, he expressed readiness to “support any ‘serious’ Palestinian move aimed to enable Palestinian people restore their legitimate rights, calling on achieving internal Palestinian unity, whose divisions affect efforts to serve the Palestinian cause.” For his part, the Palestinian delegation’s head, Rabah, said that “the Palestinian move comes at an ‘important’ stage aimed to establish an Arab parliamentary coalition to oppose Israeli apartheid.”
The new campaign plans to lean heavily on the existing BDS infrastructure in the West. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) published on December 6, 2022, an article on the involvement of Palestinian students in US campuses titled “Education for Liberation,” The BNC stated that, in the US, “We started with 500 schools already, and we are aiming to reach 100 thousand students per year.” The BNC stated that the “Palestinian youth have disproportionately contributed to our decades-old liberation struggle.” According to the BNC, For years, “Aside from the basic curriculum, students learned from teachers, parents and each other the rich heritage of Palestinian popular resistance, including sumud (steadfastness), organizing protests and strikes, and boycotting the oppressor’s products, when feasible. It is that long heritage of rooted popular resistance, along with international anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, that eventually inspired the BDS movement in 2005. Connecting our liberation struggle not just with other justice struggles but also with the absolute need to end international complicity in Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, the BDS movement was the clearest manifestation of a global, Palestinian-led intifada of sorts. Decolonizing our minds is at the heart of this intifada.”
The BNC noted that the effort to mobilize Palestinian students started five years earlier. In 2017, the BNC, partnering with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, launched “Education for Liberation,” a strategic campaign to engage students and communities in the struggle for “freedom, justice and equality.” It was “Providing community-based training to hundreds of teachers on BDS principles, strategic nonviolent campaigning, and supporting youth initiatives, the campaign has so far impacted over 125,000 students and their wider communities. Student-led BDS campaigns have mushroomed in more than 500 schools… to mobilize wide boycotts of Israeli products and support for local products.”
The BNC has also been working with students to build “BDS Student Clubs” in leading Palestinian universities to “offer a space for education and action geared towards local campaigning and international outreach. After participating in intensive, interactive BDS workshops, BDS clubs’ members organize campus- or community-based campaigns focused on the academic, cultural and economic boycott of complicit institutions and corporations. They mobilize students, faculty and workers’ support to make their universities apartheid free, ensuring that their procurement policies and activities are in harmony with the consensus-based guidelines of the BDS movement.”
As can be seen, a new wave to boycott Israel was announced by the Palestinian Authority, described as another “intifada.” They recruit Israeli university professors such as Ilan Pappe to make it successful. IAM would provide updates on the new BDS campaign.
The conference “Towards a Global Front to Combat and End Israeli Apartheid.” Wattan TV, December 11, 2022.
Historian Ilan Pappé (Watan TV, December 11, 2022). The Meir Amit Center wrote that Prof. Pappé is “an extreme leftist who was born in Israel but lives in the UK and is part of the BDS movement”.
A conference was organized by the Anti-Apartheid Department of the PLO in Al-Bireh The First National Conference against “Apartheid”… Raising awareness and unifying efforts to confront Israeli apartheid 11.12.2022 03:59 PM
Watan: Participants in the first national conference against apartheid stressed the need to build a national strategy to confront the apartheid state, develop the means and tools to be used to end the apartheid system, and achieve accountability for the apartheid state.
They recommended supporting international efforts at the grassroots and trade union levels and working to launch an international coalition against “apartheid”, in a way that strengthens the BDS movement and strengthens the circle of alliances with all Arab and international official and popular sectors to support the Palestinian cause.
This came during the first national conference against apartheid, which kicked off today, Sunday, in the city of Al-Bireh, with the participation of members of the Executive Committee of the PLO, ambassadors, consuls, representatives of diplomatic missions, thinkers, activists, and researchers.
The conference, which was organized by the Anti-Apartheid Department of the PLO, in cooperation with the NGO Network, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization, the Boycott and Divestment Movement (BDS), and the Ministry of Justice, included three sessions, on “Zionism and Apartheid,” and “ International accountability and international law, prospects for confronting the Israeli “apartheid” legally, and the “international campaign to isolate and punish Israel”.
The conference aims to enhance societal awareness of the “apartheid” system, by defining concepts, defining apartheid as a tool of Zionist colonialism, and uniting the efforts of all active institutions to oppose and confront it, in order to achieve accountability for the apartheid state.
At the opening of the conference, Ramzi Rabah, Head of the Anti-Apartheid Department in the PLO, explained that the occupation is still practicing the harshest forms of abuse against the Palestinian people.
Rabah told Watan that the conference is being held for the first time to combat apartheid amid the occupation’s expansion of its crimes. Adding: The conference responds to the growing international movement against the Israeli “apartheid”, and the occupation seeks to deport the Palestinian people by withdrawing Jerusalemite identities, confiscating lands, legalizing killing, and giving the green light to settlers to kill Palestinians.
During the opening session of the conference, Fatah deputy head Mahmoud Al-Aloul said that combating “apartheid” is one of the most important issues that we seek to address, specifically in the presence of an Israeli government that has committed all crimes against the Palestinian people. Adding: We seek to unify the Palestinian word in order to reach a deterrent mechanism for the occupation, and therefore there must be a strategy to confront “apartheid”, and the world is still practicing deafness, in front of all the crimes that are practiced against us. Pointing out that “the occupation went crazy when we went to the international courts to hold the occupation accountable for its crimes.”
Al-Aloul pointed out to Watan that the importance of the conference lies in the fact that it is held to combat “apartheid” and the unprecedented occupation practices of arrest and killing, confiscation of freedoms and lands, and displacement in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
“We are here to answer several questions, the first of which is how to fight apartheid, and how to enhance societal awareness of the apartheid system,” said Muhammad Baraka, head of the Supreme Follow-up Committee for the Arab Masses.
Baraka added, in his interview with Watan, that humanity believes that it ended the “apartheid” file when it fought it in South Africa, but that Israel is still practicing this policy against the Palestinian people, and it must be shed light on it. Stressing the need for the conference to clarify the actual steps to combat “apartheid”.
Rima Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Women’s Union, told Watan, “At this stage in which we are witnessing the steadfastness of the Israeli fascist right of the government, we need to discuss all the measures that are being taken, and the issues that we will face, in order to develop a strategy for struggle and resistance, benefiting from the international report.”
She added, “I think that the conference serves to raise awareness among the Palestinian society and the elites about the manifestations of apartheid that we are witnessing.”
The historian and Professor Ilan Pappe expressed his rejection of all violations against the Palestinian people, and considered that the settlement project in Palestine is not an ordinary project. Adding: The occupation is trying to colonize any place and get rid of the population, and this ideology does not disappear with the passage of time, but rather works to cleanse the geographical area of its inhabitants and repeat the crime of 1948.
Pappe added: Unfortunately, the racism of the occupation is dealt with in a special way and is not held accountable, like other countries, despite its crimes.
For his part, South African Ambassador Sean Benfeldt said that the Palestinian struggle is still continuing, and no solution has been reached to the Palestinian issue. Adding: We noticed during the celebration on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian Player, that the demands are still not fulfilled and justice does not exist, so the Palestinian people must be redressed and this injustice must stop, and we continue our support for the two-state solution and we will intensify efforts to achieve this.
In his interview with Watan, Benfeldt indicated that this conference is important, with all these indications that seem to have deep repercussions in Palestine and the Palestinian future. Expressing his belief that “the more we relate to the future and discuss it, the better it will be.”
He said: In the state of South Africa, we are committed to the two-state solution on the borders of the 67 lands, East Jerusalem as the capital, and the return of the refugees.
Overview On December 11, 2022 the Palestinian National Anti-Apartheid Committee met for the first time. It was organized by the PLO anti-apartheid department, appointed in July 2022 and chaired by Ramzi Rabah, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).1 The meeting was held in coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of justice, various NGOs, the PA human rights organization and the BDS movement.2 Its objective, as stated by the organizers, was to unite all the groups acting against what they claimed was “Israeli apartheid.” So far it is unclear what prompted the establishment of the department at this time but apparently its overall objective is to merge and coordinate anti- Israeli activities. The meeting was attended by several PA government ministers and members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, as well as diplomats serving in the PA, Israeli Arab representatives, and Palestinian and Israeli academics. The committee recommended the establishment of a “united global front” to combat “Israeli apartheid” and stressed the need to create Palestinian, Arab and international alliances which would form the foundation for the front. In addition, they voted to launch a campaign to prevent the passage of laws banning “resistance to the Zionist occupation and its racism.” They also called for developing strategies and tactics, headed by the “popular resistance” [popular terrorism], in which Palestinian organizations and sources of power would participate, wherever they were located, such as calling for the establishment of a monitoring center of representatives from the PLO, the PA foreign ministry and forces operating within Israeli Arab society. The Palestinians have often claimed that Israel conducts a “policy of apartheid” for the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria, comparing themselves to the non-while population in South Africa. According to the Rome Accords of 2002, apartheid is considered a 1 See the Appendix for the department and its employees. 2 Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement. The Palestinian committee to “fight apartheid” and slander Israel meets for the first time to discuss policy December 18, 2022 2 207-22 crime. The Palestinians base their claim on international human rights organizations such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, which often issue reports claiming the measures used by Israel in the PA territories are “apartheid” (Wafa, March 14, 2022). For the PA, libeling and slandering Israel around the world and in the UN is an important component of its “popular resistance” strategy. It is a useful tool in the political, propaganda and lawfare campaign it wages against Israel and a way of exerting pressure not only on Israel but on the rest of the world and UN agencies. So far, the PA has made use mainly of the claims raised by human rights organizations against Israel. Establishing a PLO department dedicated to “apartheid” is perhaps a sign that the PA intends to institutionalize and expand its activities and to coordinate activities and groups to unify their policies and the tone of their public statements. The Palestinian National Anti-Apartheid Committee The meeting in al-Bireh and its objectives On December 11, 2022, the PLO’s anti-apartheid department held a meeting in al-Bireh, attended by the representatives from the PA’s ministry of justice, NGOs, the PA human rights organization and the BDS movement. Present were members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, and PA government ministers including Muhammad al-Shalaldeh, the minister of justice, and Mai al-Kayla, the minister of health. Also in attendance were foreign ambassadors, consuls and representatives, among them Khalil Atiya, deputy speaker of the Arab Parliament and a member of the Jordanian House of Representatives; the South African representative to the PA; Arab Israelis such as Muhammad Barake, chairman of the Israeli Arab Monitoring Committee; Palestinian and Israeli academics, among them Prof. Ilan Pappé (an extreme leftist who was born in Israel but lives in the UK and is part of the BDS movement). 3 207-22 The meeting in al-Bireh (Watan TV, December 11, 2022). The day-long meeting was divided into three sessions: the Zionist movement and apartheid; international responsibility, international law and horizons for lawfare and confrontation with “Israeli apartheid;” and the international campaign to isolate and punish Israel. According to Ramzi Rabah, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and head of the PLO’s anti-apartheid department, the objectives of the meeting were to establish an international coalition that would work to “end apartheid,” operate in the international arena through political channels and with human rights organizations and civilian society, and to increase awareness of Israel’s [alleged] “apartheid regime” as one of the tools used by the “colonialist Zionist occupation.” He stressed that the objective of the meeting was to strengthen the currently-needed collaboration with all local, regional and international antiapartheid institutions because of the formation of an extremist right-wing government in Israel (Wafa, December 11, 2022). Right: The South African representative to the PA speaks at the meeting. Left: Extreme leftist historian Ilan Pappé (Watan TV, December 11, 2022). 4 207-22 PA minister of health Mai al-Kayla (Watan TV, December 11, 2022). Recommendations The meeting voted on a number of recommendations, including the following (Watan TV, December 11, 2022; Ma’an, December 12, 2022). The creation of Palestinian, Arab and international alliances which would form the foundation for the global front against “Israeli apartheid.” Launching campaigns to prevent the passing of laws banning “resistance” to “the Israeli occupation and its racism” [anti-terrorism laws]. Developing strategies and tactics in which Palestinian organizations and sources of power would participate, wherever they were located, led by the “popular resistance” [popular terrorism]. Establishing of a monitoring center composed of representatives from the PLO, the PA foreign ministry and forces operating within Israeli Arab society. The center would monitor the actions of Israel’s “apartheid regime,” document them and establish a digital archive to preserve them. Establishing an international coalition of legal institutions and human rights organizations to lobby against Israel and persecute it in international and legal forums. Establishing an official and Palestinian, Arab and international campaign to determine that “the racist, fascist political parties that constitute the government of the apartheid country” are “terrorist organizations.” Positions of the meeting’s participants The speakers at the meeting were harshly critical of what they termed were Israel’s “criminal, racist policies,” and stated the need to fight them in various arenas. Many expressed concerns over the future Israeli government: 5 207-22 Deputy Fatah chairman Mahmoud al-‘Aloul stated the need to confront “Israel’s crimes and fascist regime” through “popular resistance” [popular terrorism], by increasing global diplomatic efforts in the various UN agencies and by using lawfare to universally isolate Israel (“the occupation”) and its racism. He claimed the “new extreme right government” brought great danger with it, as was already evident in the demands issued by new ministers to give them additional authority, such as the Galilee and Negev portfolios. He stated it obligated them to prepare for a confrontation with Israel. As to Israel’s [alleged] “apartheid,” he listed such things as building new roads for the settlers, stealing water, keeping the bodies of shaheeds and Israel’s treatment of [Palestinian] prisoners in its jails (Wafa, December 11, 2022). Mahmoud al-‘Aloul speaks at the meeting (Wafa Facebook page, December 11, 2022). Sanan Shaqdih,3 chairman of the Palestinian National Council’s anti-apartheid committee, speaking via Zoom, stated the need to appoint Arab, international and regional committees, and to form a broad international coalition of organizations, political parties and countries which supported the rights of the Palestinians (Wafa, December 11, 2022). Khalil Atiya, deputy speaker of the Arab Parliament and a member of the Jordanian House of Representatives, called the meeting an opportunity to unite efforts to deal with all aspects of the “apartheid Israeli regime.” He said establishing the PLO’s antiapartheid department was a strategy in the fight to expose “Israel’s crimes” and the first step towards ending the occupation and the establishment of an independent 3 A Palestinian-America. In reports issued in 2014 and 2015 he was representatives as the coordinator of the coalition of organizations boycotting Israel in the United States, and in reports from December 2022 as a member of the PLO’s Central Council. 6 207-22 Palestinian state. He said the position of the Jordanian House of Representatives was to do everything it could to support the Palestinians (Wafa, December 11, 2022). Some of the participants presented position papers expressing the opinions of the groups they represented (Wafa, December 11, 2022). Muhammad al-Shalaldeh, the PA minister of justice, presented a position paper entitled “International laws and UN resolutions related to the fight against apartheid, the demands for implementing them and forcing Israel to obey them” as the main avenues of the legal campaign. He said the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) of 1973, the Rome Accords,4 and Article 7 of the ICC convention all strongly condemn the crime of apartheid. He stressed the need to prove the crime of apartheid to prosecute Israel in the ICC, and called for complaints to be presented to the ICC’s chief prosecutor and to the European human rights court, and claims of war crimes to be made to the legal systems in European countries whose laws allow was criminals to be prosecuted. Shawan Jabarin, director of the al-Haqq institute, presented a position paper entitled “Apparatuses for using reports from international organizations to prosecute the Israeli apartheid state,” which stated the importance of creating a unified, focused Palestinian discourse on the issue. Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS national committee (BNC), presented a position paper entitled “The strategy of the international campaign to boycott the colonial apartheid state,” which stated that along with local and international partners, they were waging a campaign to exert pressure on the UN to investigate “Israel’s crimes.” He added that in 2020 they had called on the international community to commit itself to ending the apartheid regime and demanded support for efforts to revitalize the UN’s anti-apartheid committee. Muhammad Aboushi, chairman of the Palestinian NGO network’s board of directors, presented a position paper entitled “The role of international institutions and aid committees in enlisting energy [sic] for the fight against racism,” which stated that local NGOs were operating to defend the Palestinians’ legitimate rights and that the villages which were damaged by settlers had to be provided with services such as paving roads, waging campaigns for support and documenting Israel’s crimes, etc. 4 The Rome Accords signed on July 17, 1998, established the International Criminal Court (ICC). 7 207-22 Ramzi Awda, general secretary of the international campaign to combat Israel’s occupation and apartheid, presented a position paper entitled “The elements of the strategy of the national campaign to confront apartheid,” which stated legal strategies, such as presenting anti-Israeli suits in international courts; media strategies [propaganda] to increase public awareness of the “apartheid regime” and combat it; and a strategy for swaying world public opinion by creating knowledge [sic] and convincing international academics of the seriousness of the regime. Husam Arafat, deputy head of the PLO’s department of human rights and civilian society, presented a position paper entitled “Launching a national coalition against the racist occupation,” which stated that increased social awareness of apartheid as a tool of the colonial occupation was an urgent, necessary task at the Palestinian, Arab, regional and international levels. He said what was needed was to construct a national strategy to confront Israel (“the apartheid state”) by exploiting the international trend to condemn apartheid; to develop means and tools for use in the campaign to end and prosecute apartheid; to strengthen and expand the circle of coalitions and alliances with official and popular Arab and international sectors which supported the Palestinian cause in order to exert pressure on the UN and Security Council to revive the anti-apartheid committee and to implement the UN resolutions relating to the Palestinian cause. To undertake such actions he recommended establishing an international coalition against Israel racism. Taysir Khaled, head of the PLO’s national office to “defend and the land and resist” the settlements,5 presented a position paper entitled “The colonialism of the settlements lays the foundations for an apartheid Israel,” which stated that through the settlements, Israel was constructing an apartheid regime in the Palestinian territories which was similar to some aspects to the apartheid regime in South Africa, for example, discrimination in the allotment of water resources, in infrastructure programs, the destruction of Palestinian buildings and assets, restrictions on freedom of movement, discrimination in the legal system, etc. He called for the establishment of an international coalition and the end of the evasions of Karim Khan, the ICC’s 5 The PLO’s national office to defend and the land and “resist” the settlements is a department established in 1996 on the initiative of Taysir Khaled, a former member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s political bureau. Its office is located in Nablus. 8 207-22 chief prosecutor, regarding initiating a criminal investigation of Israel (website of the PLO’s national office to defend and the land and “resist” the settlements, December 12, 2022). Appendix The PLO’s department of anti-discrimination and apartheid The PLO’s department of anti-discrimination and apartheid was established in July 2022. It is headed by Ramzi Rabah, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). According to Rabah, the department was established by the PLO’s Executive Committee and is responsible for publicizing “Israel’s crimes” locally and internationally, especially regarding the “apartheid regime” Israel continues to consolidate in Judea and Samaria and “historical Palestine” [the Arabs living in Israel] (Dunia al-Watan, July 5, 2022). The department’s logo (department Facebook page, November 27, 2022). Since its founding, the department has worked to create connections and to coordinate with all relevant local and international groups, including the various popular and civilian organizations, solidarity movements, human rights organizations and boycott committees. Its objective is to construct a broad international coalition that will exert pressure on international organizations and the international community to punish Israel for its [alleged] “crimes” and formulate a combined legal and media [propaganda] plan of action. One of the department’s first steps was taken on July 4, 2022, when Ramzi Rabah met in PLO headquarters in Ramallah with a delegation from the BDS secretariat to discuss increased collaboration and coordination (Dunia al-Watan, July 5, 2022). 9 207-22 The department is headed by Ramzi Rabah Farid (at birth named Farid Boutros Maroun Sarwa) (al-Hadath, March 22, 2021; website of the Palestinian Central Election Committee, 2006). He is 71 or 72 years old, Christian and a member of the DFLP’s Central Committee. In February 2022 he was appointed by the PLO’s Central Council to the Executive Committee, replacing Taysir Khaled, who died (Wafa, February 7, 2022). In an interview he claimed his family came from Biram in the Upper Galilee.6 He said he began his activities in Lebanon in 1966, and in 1969 joined the ranks of the DFLP, and was one of the organization’s founders in Lebanon. In the 1970s he filled various roles in the organization in south Lebanon. After the PLO left Lebanon he remained behind with all the DFLP leaders. From there he went to Syria and between 1992 and 1996 was in charge of the DFLP’s Syrian branch. Until 1998 he was in charge of the organization’s branches abroad. At the end of 1998 he went to the Gaza Strip and had various leadership functions until 2010. From the Gaza Strip he went to Judea and Samaria where he had a role in the popular organizations (NPA website, April 14, 2022). Ramzi Rabah, interviewed during the meeting in al-Bireh (Watan TV, December 11,2022). Other department members: Dr. Maher Amer: department general manager (Petra, November 24, 2022; PLO website, December 9, 2022). He is a DFLP member (Dunia al-Watan, March 10, 2022). According to his Facebook page, he studied at al-Najah University in Nablus. 6 Biram was a Maronite village whose residents were displaced during the War of Independence and not permitted to return. 10 207-22 Dr. Maher Amer (right) in Brussels at the meeting which founded the European-Palestinian Initiative against Apartheid and the Settlements (Dr. Maher Amer’s Facebook page, June 10, 2022). Shadi Zahed: head of the department’s public relations unit (Petra, November 24, 2022). According to his Facebook page, he studied at al-Najah University in Nablus. Shadi Zahed (his Facebook page, May 28, 2022).
Palestinian delegation calls on launching parliamentary coalition against Israel’s apartheid
Amman, Nov. 23 (Petra)-A Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation on Wednesday called on establishing an Arab parliamentary coalition to counter Israel’s apartheid.
The call was made at a meeting which brought together Chairman of the Senate’s Palestine Committee, Nayef Qadi, with PLO Executive Committee member, Ramzi Rabah, head of Anti-Apartheid Committee at Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), Sinan Shqdeeh, and Director of the Anti-Apartheid Department, Maher Amer.
Qadi said Jordan, under His Majesty King Abdullah II’s leadership, places the Palestinian cause at the forefront of its internal and external priorities, and views the issue as “sacred to the Jordanian people”.
Jordan has a “firm and continuous” position in support of the Palestinian cause and rights of the Palestinian people, foremost is ending Israel’s occupation, settling the conflict through the two-state solution and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian homeland with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1997 borders, he said.
Qadi noted Hashemite custodianship over Jerusalem’s holy sites is a “historical reality and a national and Islamic duty” that cannot be abandoned, adding that pressures that Jordan has faced over more than 70 years did not affect the Kingdom’s position on national rights of the Palestinian people.
In addition, he expressed readiness to support any “serious” Palestinian move aimed to enable Palestinian people restore their legitimate rights, calling on achieving internal Palestinian unity, whose divisions affect efforts to serve the Palestinian cause.
For his part, Palestinian delegation’s head, Rabah, said the Palestinian move comes at an “important” stage aimed to establish an Arab parliamentary coalition to oppose Israeli apartheid. //Petra// AG 23/11/2022 15:35:14
We started with 500 schools already, and we are aiming to reach 100 thousand students per year.
Palestinian youth have disproportionately contributed to our decades-old liberation struggle. Their role reached an unprecedented height during the intifada that broke out in 1987 against military occupation and settler-colonial oppression. Soon after, and as part of its relentless attack on Palestinian education Israel gradually shut down all Palestinian universities and schools in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Colonizing Palestinian minds with hopelessness was Israel’s main objective.
Palestinian educators and students, however, insisted on the right to education by devising alternative “underground” learning spaces – in homes, in mosques and churches, in community centers’ basements – in an inspiring wave of mass defiance of the occupation’s brutal repression. Aside from the basic curriculum, students learned from teachers, parents and each other the rich heritage of Palestinian popular resistance, including sumud (steadfastness), organizing protests and strikes, and boycotting the oppressor’s products, when feasible.
It is that long heritage of rooted popular resistance, along with international anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, that eventually inspired the BDS movement in 2005. Connecting our liberation struggle not just with other justice struggles but also with the absolute need to end international complicity in Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, the BDS movement was the clearest manifestation of a global, Palestinian-led intifada of sorts.
Decolonizing our minds is at the heart of this intifada. In 2017, in partnership with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) launched Education for Liberation, a strategic campaign to effectively engage school students and communities in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
Providing community-based training to hundreds of teachers on BDS principles, strategic nonviolent campaigning, and supporting youth initiatives, the campaign has so far impacted over 125,000 students and their wider communities. Student-led BDS campaigns have mushroomed in more than 500 schools, creatively using art, poetry, dabke (folk dance), music, theater, film and other media to mobilize wide boycotts of Israeli products and support for local products.
We have also been working with committed college students to build “BDS Student Clubs” in leading Palestinian universities to offer a space for education and action geared towards local campaigning and international outreach.
After participating in intensive, interactive BDS workshops, BDS clubs’ members organize campus- or community-based campaigns focused on the academic, cultural and economic boycott of complicit institutions and corporations. They mobilize students, faculty and workers’ support to make their universities apartheid free, ensuring that their procurement policies and activities are in harmony with the consensus-based guidelines of the BDS movement.
We are under no illusion about what more horrors await our people with the rise of overt fascism to Israel’s power. Yet we believe in our people’s, particularly our youth’s, unshakable resolve to resist all oppression and to intensify the struggle for our inherent, inalienable rights. We also believe that your meaningful solidarity is indispensable for this struggle to prevail.
In 2012, the Israeli Council for Higher Education almost closed down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University because of its activist nature. The Evaluation Committee of the Council found that instead of offering a core curriculum, the courses were essentially an extension of the political agenda of many of the faculty. The Department promised to change its curriculum, but the strong pollical orientation has persisted. Dr. Hagit Keysar, currently a postdoc at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at Tel Aviv University, who completed her doctorate in the Department in 2017, is a case in point.
Keysar was inspired in 2011 by the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), an activist group in the United States formed to document the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico. She joined them and met Jeffrey Warren, one of the co-founders of the Public Lab, during her research for her MA degree, “Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography in Jerusalem.” Warren was invited to give a series of workshops for the Mamuta Art and Media Center where she studied. One workshop they organized with Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem in the neighborhood of Silwan who expressed interest in creating their own high-resolution aerial photographs to visualize the intricate details of “spatial and political violence” experienced on a daily basis. “For the people we worked with in Silwan, DIY aerial photography was seen as a tactic that had the potential to disrupt the mechanisms of surveillance and visual control that order and organize the visibility and publicity of the conflict in Palestinian Jerusalem,” she wrote.
According to her Ph.D. thesis, “Prototyping the civic view from above” is both a “critique and a creative practice that examines political questions relating to DIY aerial photography by conducting critical analysis and ethnographic research. The present research aims to critically examine these circular relations between tools, issues, and communities; to experiment with these practices and analyze them in a setting of urban-political conflict. The possibility for a civic view from above is considered here within its historical and theoretical contexts; it is examined in relation to existing strata of civic views from above, which are inseparable from the history of military aerial visualization and power.” She wrote. The main purpose of her research is to “experiment with and analyze how DIY aerial photography, as part of a broader set of practices termed by Public Lab as ‘civic science,’ functions in the context of urban and ethno-political conflict in Israel/Palestine.”
She explains that “Public Lab’s idea of civic science establishes connections between public participation in science and the production of knowledge commons by opening the material, social, and literary processes and tools for creating scientific knowledge.”
Keysar further explains that her research follows the parameters of “engaged ethnography,” which essentially means that the research-activists create a certain reality that fits their political goals. In her words, “this work demonstrates various forms of involvement within political and activist arenas that need to be critically addressed.” Adding further, “it demonstrates the production of spaces of collaboration within changing contexts of scientific and political activism.” Consequentially, “activism, as these cases demonstrate, is oriented toward the creation of critical alternatives.” In plain English, the “space” which they produce can be used to bash Israel.
Keysar, a loyal follower of the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm, expands her dissertation to include an attack on “the neoliberal logic, in which ideas and practices of free market and an open and competitive environment are seen as stimulating innovation and economic growth and therefore pushes toward minimizing state intervention and regulation.” This should come as no surprise. While the activist scholars have been normally preoccupied with critiquing Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, they have a long history of protesting the neoliberal economy, which helped Israel to become a “thriving First-World Economy in a Third World Sea.“
Keysar recently talked at Leiden University in the Netherlands on “Spatial Testimonies, Spatial Photography: Aerial imagery and photogrammetry in spaces of conflict and colonization.”
Unlike many of her peers, Keysar freely admits that she is an academic activist, which she discusses in her dissertation. More than a decade after the Council of Higher Education tried to impose a reform, the Department of Politics and Government is still graduating activists. The Council needs to revisit the issue.
Talk by Ariel Caine & Hagit Keysar: Spatial Testimonies, Spatial Photography: Aerial imagery and photogrammetry in spaces of conflict and colonisation | 20 October 2022 | 17:30- 19:30 | Leiden [Register to join]
Jerusalem is a city famous for its walls. The walls of the old city, the infamous separation wall. Yet less known is an invisible wall that encapsulates the old city and its surroundings. Centred on the Haram al-Sharif and spanning approximately 3km in diameter. This is what is known as a “Geofence”, a cylindrical digital barrier extending from the ground and up into the skies, set to prevent drone flights into or take-offs within the area. The volume of this technologically restricted zone follows the geographic coordinates of an already present regulatory No-Fly Zone (NFZ), enforced by the Israeli security apparatus for more than two decades.
In the eyes of the Israeli state, the corporate geofence is a sort of panacea. It attempts to give a definitive, albeit partial, solution to the question of sovereignty in this territory. Its technical invisibility and ‘remote neutrality’, allows it to sink below consciousness. However, as a navigational technology it has real-world effects. It reconstructs space in a machine-readable format. Territory altered by machines for machines. Terra ex machina.
In this talk we look into the volatile space of Jerusalem through the prism of the geofence. To begin with, we investigate this new invisible technology of aerial and terrestrial control and continue by contrasting it with tactical forms of resistance, balloon/kite photography, that subvert its technological, epistemological, and ontological standing.
How can we make visible an invisible barrier and its effects? How can we materialise and conceptualise this NFZ and its connected infrustructures?
Ariel Caine is a Jerusalem-born artist and researcher. His practice centres on the intersection of spatial (three-dimensional) photography, modelling and survey technologies, and their operation within the production of cultural memories and national narratives. Ariel is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at the ICI Berlin, undertaking his project “Architectures of the Sensed: Models as Augmented Sites for Resistance”. He received his PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London where from 2016–21 he was a project coordinator and researcher at the Forensic Architecture Agency. In 2021–22 he received a postdoctoral research grant from Gerda Henkel Stiftung as part of the speculative cameras and post-visual security projects at Tampere University (Finland).
Hagit Keysar is a researcher and activist, working and teaching in the fields of science and technology studies, critical data studies and digital urbanism. Her research and creative work concern the politics of data and digitization and the political potentials of community-driven science and technology for articulating rights in situations of conflict and colonisation. She has recently been a research fellow at the Weizenbaum institute for the Internet society, Berlin (2019), a postdoc fellow of the Minerva Stiftung (2019-2021) in Berlin’s Natural History Museum and she is currently a postdoc at the Minerva center for Human Rights at the Tel Aviv University.
When and Where
20 October 2022, from 17:30 to 19:30 LIPSIUS building | Room 003 Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden
חגית קיסר / Keysar Hagit מבט העל האזרחי: צילום אוויר עצמאי בישראל- פלסטין, Prototyping the Civic View from Above: Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography in Israel- Palestine, בהנחיית: פרופ’ חיים יעקובי, ד”ר מיכל גבעוני, פרופ’ מרדכי חקלאי London University College
My research and experiments with DIY aerial photography in Palestine-Israel focuses on civic science in spaces of civic inequality mostly in East/West Jerusalem. It shifts away from the focus on environmental issues; though the environment is always there within a range of systemic rights abuse, from discriminatory urban planning, through land expropriation to forced displacement. I work with communities, NGO’s and local institutions entangled in urgent issues who find it relevant and inspiring to create their own, high quality, local scale aerial photography. Some of the collaborations presented here are activist projects oriented towards a particular issue, workshop or event such as the cases of Beit Safafa and Silwan. Other projects present long term collaborative work which is made possible through ongoing collaborations with affected communities, funded through partnerships with NGO’s and academic programs such as the work we do in west Jerusalem with the civic architecture unit in Bezalel, and the work in the Negev (south of Israel) with Zochrot and Forensic Architecture, and the research collaboration with Dorit Naaman in Qatamon. These collaborations always start with a spark in the eye, a shared imagination, rather than an organized idea on what DIY aerial photography is good for. As an activist and a researcher that work within a space of civil inequality and entangled in it as a privileged citizen, this shared imagination is invaluable. It creates a certain common ground for building up a collaboration that is not entrapped and defined by unequal power relations but on outdoor, hands on and even fun activity and shared concerns between researchers, activists and communities. This is not to say that unequal power relations become a solved problem, this is far from being a reality. But it does mean that we can start imagine new kinds of collective and public actions through technological engagement. The projects presented here are initial threads of thoughts and actions for investigating these ideas.
How can you map what cannot be seen on a map and is in constant change and movement? This lecture presents a strand from doctoral research dealing with open source participatory mapping practices and do-it-yourself methods, through a focus on the independent creation of aerial photographs by residents of Jerusalem as a case study for the political and spatial consequences of this type of civic-technological action in a conflicted urban space. Practices for creating aerial photographs independently using accessible and simple tools have been developed during the last four years dealing with The Public Lab by an expanding group of activists, technologists and scientists called in the development of citizen science practices with the aim of expanding the possibilities of research and action around issues of health and environmental justice in local contexts. This study seeks to expand the theory and practice of citizen science focused on challenging and reshaping the concepts and practices of science, to examine the ways in which open technology, do-it-yourself tools and citizen science practices open up the possibility of re-examining the formation of public action and political space. The question and the problem is, how to insert the obvious fact of movement, change, uncertainty and conflict into the map, when we understand that in geography everything is in motion. 1 In the mapping I will present here, which was made jointly by residents, activists and professionals, the map makes it possible to represent, give validity and visibility to burning and worrisome local and planning issues. The mapping process becomes a space of engagement and meeting, where points of contact are created between local issues, residents, professionals and technological activities. Through a phenomenological examination of the mapping process, which is a sort of theoretical and practical laboratory, I will present two test cases in Jerusalem, one in the Kiryat Yuval neighborhood and the other in the Beit Safafa neighborhood. I will raise a number of questions and thoughts about how independent mapping practices and the possibility of producing high quality aerial photographs on a local scale come together and contribute to a discourse that seeks to imagine and create a space for public action that goes beyond the limitations imposed by the professional political system and its institutions.
My research and experiments with DIY aerial photography in Palestine-Israel focuses on civic science in spaces of civic inequality mostly in East/West Jerusalem. It shifts away from the focus on environmental issues; though the environment is always there within a range of systemic rights abuse, from discriminatory urban planning, through land expropriation to forced displacement. I work with communities, NGO’s and local institutions entangled in urgent issues who find it relevant and inspiring to create their own, high quality, local scale aerial photography. Some of the collaborations presented here are activist projects oriented towards a particular issue, workshop or event such as the cases of Beit Safafa and Silwan. Other projects present long term collaborative work which is made possible through ongoing collaborations with affected communities, funded through partnerships with NGO’s and academic programs such as the work we do in west Jerusalem with the civic architecture unit in Bezalel, and the work in the Negev (south of Israel) with Zochrot and Forensic Architecture, and the research collaboration with Dorit Naaman in Qatamon.
*** These collaborations always start with a spark in the eye, a shared imagination, rather than an organized idea on what DIY aerial photography is good for. As an activist and a researcher that work within a space of civil inequality and entangled in it as a privileged citizen, this shared imagination is invaluable. It creates a certain common ground for building up a collaboration that is not entrapped and defined by unequal power relations but on outdoor, hands on and even fun activity and shared concerns between researchers, activists and communities. This is not to say that unequal power relations become a solved problem, this is far from being a reality. But it does mean that we can start imagine new kinds of collective and public actions through technological engagement. The projects presented here are initial threads of thoughts and actions for investigating these ideas.
The work presented here developed from my MA thesis which focused on municipal practices in enforcing the planning and building policies in Jerusalem, which have been creating a major housing crisis for Palestinians in the city. I was looking to investigate how these mechanisms work and are sustained, but due to the political sensitivity of the issue I wasn’t granted any access to the everyday activities and people in the enforcement department. Being a student and not interested in any particular case, I obtained a permission to”only” browse the photographs in classified buildings files. Inspectors, who are also the photographers and are in charge of compiling the files, treat the images as univocal pieces of evidence of a crime committed.
For me, the photos were multilayered sources of information for investigating seemingly mundane practices in enforcing the law and turning it into a living reality. The exhibition “Snapshots” traces the Jerusalem Municipality’s visual practices of surveillance and enforcement of planning policies in Jerusalem. It presents an ethnographic journey made with the photographs I copied from the files in the Archive. Observing the photographs I could retrace practices, events and patterns in the work of inspectors which I was initially not authorized to interview. Later, based on the interpretive work I did, I got a permission to discuss the photographs with inspectors and on a separate route I searched for the photographed Palestinians, to include their knowledge and voices in the ethnography I was looking to create.
De-archived, these photographs compiled with interpretations and conversations, are not anymore a copy of their source. Rather, in presenting the photography along with its extended ethnography I was seeking to interfere and engage with the authority that produced them, enable this visual documentation to regain its political potential as sources of evidence, interpretation and influence. The exhibition I presented in the Zochrot Gallery made it possible to view the visual mass of administrative documentation open and spread like a panoramic landscape that calls for a collective as much as personal and singular interpretation. The archival intimacy which hides injustice and oppression with a guise of impartial legal procedures was disrupted, and the private (classified) space became open to a public. The photographs, de-archived and represented openly in the gallery, were creating a space in which we are all authorized – to access, view, interpret and question the acts of the state.
Prof. Ariella Azoulay, formerly of Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv Universities, is among the most radical Israeli scholar-activists and a supporter of BDS. She worked with her partner Prof. Adi Ophir in the Minerva Center, Tel Aviv University, on the so-called Lexicon for Political Theory that boasted a litany of Israel’s alleged sins of colonialism, apartheid, and such. After leaving Israel, Ophir and Azoulay were invited by the Middle East Center at Brown University by the then Director, Prof. Beshara Doumani, a notorious Israel-basher with a long list of publications demonizing the Jewish state. Azoulay also holds a dual appointment as a Modern Culture and Media professor at the Department of Comparative Literature.
To fit the tenor of the Middle East Center, Azoulay remade herself into “an Arab Jew” and a “Palestinian Jew of African origin.” To bolster her new identity, she also added the Arabic name of Aisha, as in Ariella Aisha Azoulay. The “Palestinian Jew” conveniently omitted the fact that she was born and lived in Tel Aviv, Israel. But it was her old work in Israel that served as an admission ticket to the Ivy League school. Azoulay describes herself as a photographer, lexicographer, archivist, and curator who adheres to the principle of the “civil contract of photography.” In her view, the “civil contract” is founded on a new political-ontological understanding” of the photographic act. Translated into standard English, this piece of critical, post-modern jargon essentially means that pictures are a way to rehabilitate subjects who are victims of Western imperialism and colonialism. Since Azoulay believes that “imperialist logic pervades our thinking about other people, objects, nature and time itself,” there is a need to “decolonize the past.”
Azoulay put her “civil contract” idea to good use when working as a Lexicographer at Minerva. At the time, Ophir produced work that claimed that the Nazi evil was on the same ontological plane as Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Azoulay mounted exhibitions in the West that aimed at creating a visual link between the Holocaust, the Nakba, and the subsequent treatment of the Palestinians. In one picture Azouly posted in an exhibition, a group of Palestinians engaged in a scuffle with the IDF.
Azoulay’s caption is very telling: “In this act too, Palestinians are the ones who will be arrested. This time, however, they force the Israeli soldiers to chase them as if they were chasing (Jewish) prisoners under the Nazi regime. The soldiers can insist that these are only Palestinians, but the photographic act preserves the meaning with which Palestinians wanted to imbue the situation.”
The goal is clearly to create a link between the Israeli soldiers and the Nazis.
In another case, Azoulay defended Anat Kam, an IDF soldier who copied 2000 or so secret documents and leaked them to the press. Kam was charged with espionage and endangering the state’s security and was sentenced to four years in jail. Azoulay claimed that the IDF files were part of the “public archive” and that the “archivist” Kam was wrongfully imprisoned.
At Brown, she put her “civil contract” photography to another use. In a 2021 co-edited work, she discussed images from Palestine taken by travelers, claiming that “Those images, in which the beautiful and beloved country of Palestine is captured before its systematic colonial destruction.” She then invites viewers to become “time travelers in a time machine of sorts, to think what does it mean to look at these images not as hints of a pre-colonial time but rather as hints of the reversibility of the colonial projects, markers of repair?“ Repair, in her eyes, means the erasure of the State of Israel.
However, she also broadened her mission to include decolonizing into museums, which, in her belief, are major repositories of colonial and capitalist imagery. She also pursued her other task, to focus on marginalized women. In her words, her project wanted to develop a “universal language of citizenship and revolution” in response to the “universal language of power.”
It comes thus as a surprise that Azouly did not participate in two events in the Middle East Center devoted to the recent protest in Iran following the killing of Mahsa Amini and the widespread demand to abolish the chador. In the ongoing riots, hundreds were killed and thousands arrested; two were already executed. Certainly, the developments in Iran – where a brutal Islamist theocracy has terrorized its people and marginalized women – do not fit the radical left’s paradigm of Western colonization and oppression. If this is the case, Azoulay would not be the first to close her eyes to the horrendous violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. After visiting Tehran in 1979, Michel Foucault, the “founding father” of post-modern, critical theory, wrote that the revolution ushered by Ayatollah Khomeini might signify a new “political spirituality” with the potential to transform the world.
Foucault, a homosexual, never rebuked the regime for executing gays in public.
The singular obsession with Israel and the refusal to confront brutal regimes like Iran delegitimizes and discredits radical leftist scholarship.
The Israeli Social Science List recently published a Call for Papers for a conference titled “Conceptualizing Specters of Ruination, Resilience and Regeneration.”
The Call for Papers explains who is behind it. “The workshop is a conclusion to the research project “Cities lost and found: The social life of ruins”, funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation.” It will take place at the Central European University (Vienna) on May 19-20, 2023.
The workshop is “Framing urban ruination as a multi-dimensional process.” This workshop “seeks to address the politics and social life of loss in cities today. Remnants of slum clearing, memories of past massacres, colonial settlements, as well as gentrified spaces of renewal and heritage districts for touristic consumption are but some of the specters that haunt contemporary cityscapes. Derived from the general antinomy of creation and destruction… this workshop will facilitate critical discussions on modernity’s urge to build and destroy.”
Prof. Daniel Monterescu of Urban Anthropology at the Central European University Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology in Vienna has published this call. He was awarded €375,000 by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, in 2019, for three-years research into the links between destruction and renewal. The project is entitled “Cities Lost and Found: The Social Life of Ruins in Israel/Palestine, 1882 to the Present.” It traces the urban histories of ruination and recovery in Israel and Palestine. “Torn by a century of conflict and war, our cities are haunted by the ghosts of the past. A relational history of urban loss is therefore a fruitful approach to make visible how ruins of previous urban lives come back to haunt the living in uncanny ways on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.”
Monterescu focuses on Jaffa and Hebron, where he finds “forced displacement, physical return, and yearnings for future reunion with the imagined homeland.” He says, “In the current political deadlock in the Middle East I believe it is essential to look at history from the perspective of ruination and absence as a way to bridge rival histories and acknowledge colonial realities.” For him, “Shared memories of loss can create common ground for future recovery.”
In an interview on “Lost Cities,” Monterescu said that the project “primarily examines developments in Jaffa and Hebron, as two places of longing for Palestinians and Israelis. Both cities have distinct and separate histories as well as significantly different status today. Before the founding of the state of Israel, Jaffa was a major cosmopolitan city, also known as the Bride of the Sea and the Bride of Palestine. It experienced the mass exodus of its Palestinian population who were forced to flee during the 1948 war. Jaffa was then relegated to the slums of Tel Aviv, which has, however, experienced a dramatic gentrification process since the 1990s. In the aftermath of the 1948 war, Jaffa was annexed to Tel Aviv and placed within Israel’s recognized international borders thus making its remaining Palestinian resident Israeli citizens.”
On the other hand, for Monterescu, Hebron “is in the occupied West Bank and has become a focal point for Israel’s contemporary colonization campaign. Since 1997, Hebron has been divided to two asymmetrical loci: H1 which is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and H2 which is under direct control of Israel’s military. While the differences between Jaffa and Hebron are significant, both are entwined in the same political and cultural process of loss and recovery. Since the early 1920s both experienced moments of collective violence between Jews and Arabs who cohabited these places, and as the violence spiraled all over Palestine, both cities were impacted, some might say irrevocably, by the dynamic of violence and destruction. We understand the scientific importance of the project as one which problematize the banalization of the representation of memory and loss through which the stories of Jaffa and Hebron have been told.”
In Hebron, he explains, “Jews were expelled in 1929 after a horrific massacre, a painful memory for Israelis, but also one where we can learn how brutal is Israel’s contemporary military occupation. H2 is a small part of the city where 30,000 Palestinians and 800 Jewish settlers reside. Since 1996, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (RHC) has been fighting the destruction of the city, which resembles a ghost town at its heart. Hebron displays two opposing forces: on the one hand, Israel moves to cement the area as a place which is lost for Palestinians (restriction of movement, prevention of reconstruction) while manipulating the Jewish historical tragedy to claim legitimacy for controlling H2. On the other hand, Palestinians are clinging to their lived place by rehabilitating the ruined urban space. The process of colonization is very intimate, and it takes place house by house, street by street. It is a double process of ruiniation of Palestinian cities, where settlers return to occupy houses formerly inhabited by Jews.”
For those unfamiliar with the language of critical theory, here is a little synopsis. The theory is part of a paradigm change that took over the social sciences, known more broadly as the neo-Marxist, critical, or postmodern theory. Essentially an amalgam of various schools of thought, it shared a critical element. It rejected positivism – a belief in the neutrality of social science and an empirical-based research methodology – on the grounds that it represented the view of the “hegemonic, capitalist classes.” The new methodology called for a more subjective view of reality and a predisposition for political activism to push for social justice. The research was constructed as a means for proving the inequality created by the capitalist and imperialist system.
Conveniently for academic activists, the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm tends to decontextualize history. There is no need to mention the actual history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no need to mention the 1947 UN Resolution that divided Palestine into a Jewish and Palestinian area. There is no need to mention that the Palestinians rejected the Resolution and, with the help of Arab states, started a war that they had the bad luck of losing.
Montersescu is a poster boy for the new paradigm. One should note that the wording of the call for paper; it mentions that “this workshop facilitates “critical discussions.” In a manifesto-style article, Monterescu explained that the Central European University, funded by George Soros, relocated to Vienna after being forced out of Hungary. In his view, it radicalized the faculty that is now “taking a leading role in the formation of a new academic elite which speaks “truth to power.”
As for this “new academic elite,” it is amply supported by a network of progressive funds, such as the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg, Minerva Stiftung, and Van Leer Foundation, not to mention the George Soros foundations, which, as reported, their projects indicate a strong anti-Israel bias. Katharina Konarek discussed the involvement of the German Foundations in “The Role of German Political Foundations in Israel and the Palestinian Territory,” published by the Palestine-Israel Journal.
Monterescu’s Ph.D. was awarded by the University of Chicago in 2005. His supervisor was Prof. John Comaroff, an anti-Israel activist who later signed a call to boycott Israel. On his Ph.D. committee was Rashid Khalidi, another anti-Israel activist and a supporter of the boycott of Israel.
Last year, Tel Aviv University Minerva Center for Human Rights invited Monterescu to discuss his “critical” views of Jaffa. As can be expected from a “critical” scholar, he failed to mention the skyrocketed crime rate in Jaffa that was diminished by modernization.
Monterescu is aware of being described as a self-hating Jew, as his article in Haaretz indicates.
It is more than a coincidence that the current academic view of Israel is very bleak. Phrases like “an apartheid state” a “Nazi-like violent oppressor of the Palestinians” dominate the analysis and feed into the mainstream discourse. Locked into an epistemic bubble of their own making, these “new academic elites” became totally detached from the new international reality in which Israel has collaborated with moderate Arab countries against the growing menace of Iran.
As for the latter, IAM has a suggestion for Daniel Montersescu and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Why not study the “lost cities” of Iran, which were degraded by the ruthless and corrupt clerical regime that kills its citizens fighting for civil freedoms? Maybe Monterescu can advise how “to find” them.
———- Forwarded message ——— From: ariel handel Date: Thu, Dec 1, 2022 at 5:17 PM Subject: [SocSci-IL] קול קורא לכנס: CONCEPTUALIZING SPECTERS OF RUINATION, RESILIENCE AND REGENERATION To: Social Sciences List <email@example.com>
CONCEPTUALIZING SPECTERS OF RUINATION, RESILIENCE AND REGENERATION
CALL FOR PAPERS
Framing urban ruination as a multi-dimensional process, this workshop seeks to address the
politics and social life of loss in cities today. Remnants of slum clearing, memories of past
massacres, colonial settlements, as well as gentrified spaces of renewal and heritage districts for
touristic consumption are but some of the spectres that haunt contemporary cityscapes. Derived
from the general antinomy of creation and destruction, these city-forms shed light on what we
term “modalities of ruination”: ranging from apocalyptic dystopias to nostalgic utopias of return
and redemption. Envisioning cities as both repositories of memory and material networks of
social action, our workshop explores the contentious relations between revival and loss.
We invite participants with a range of comparative, interdisciplinary and innovative perspectives
to rethink how ruination and recovery operate as images, events and structures. By bringing
together scientists and practitioners, documentarists and artists, this workshop will facilitate
critical discussions on modernity’s urge to build and destroy.
We welcome papers and creative interventions that engage with the following non-exhaustive
1. When do cities, sites and traditions become ‘lost’, and how can visual and narrative
forms represent the temporality and spatiality of urban ruination and recovery?
2. How do artistic interventions affect and represent the temporality and spatiality of
3. How are past urban ruins made invisible or conversely commodified into presence, and
how should we engage them as emblems of transgression, trauma and revival?
4. Does the representation of loss call for a special kind of ethics in documenting
techniques, and what should an ethic of recovery look like?
5. Can representations, narratives, materialities and memories of loss create a common
ground for future recovery?
6. What kind of recovery mechanisms could possibly address the intangible loss of urban
traditions, structures and social tissues?
The workshop is a conclusion to the research project “Cities lost and found: The social life of
ruins”, funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation. It will take place at the Central European University
(Vienna) on May 19-20, 2023.
Travel and accommodation expenses are available for eligible candidates.
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio (100 words) to
How is the destruction of cities objectified, both by the state and by communities of Jewish settlers? Using the example of the coastal metropolis of Jaffa and the regional hub in the West Bank, it is amongst others this question that Prof. Dr. Daniel Monterescu focuses on in his research project, which is funded within the special program Lost Cities of the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Within the scope of the new interview series, we asked Professor Monterescu about the project itself but also its scientific and societal relevance: Why is it scientifically worthwhile to deal with the topic? Where do the researchers see areas of relevance for the society?
“Problematise the banalisation of the representation of memory and loss”
L.I.S.A.: Dear Professor Monterescu you are working on a research project, which is funded within the special program Lost Cities of the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Could you briefly explain the scope of your project? Why is it scientifically worthwhile to deal with the topic?
Prof. Monterescu: Our project “Cities Lost and Found: The Social Life of Ruins in Israel / Palestine, 1882 to the Present” looks at the concept of loss, trauma and recovery by focusing on the convoluted and conflicted story of two urban hubs in Palestine and Israel. The research group comprises of a team of anthropologists, sociologists and geographers with the aim to uncover the ambivalent heritage of lost cities and the material traces of bygone communities that reincarnate local memories as they lend themselves to contemporary projects of mythification, commodification and gentrification. The project, which is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation as part of the “Lost Cities” programme, primarily examines developments in Jaffa and Hebron, as two places of longing for Palestinians and Israelis.
Both cities have distinct and separate histories as well as significantly different status today. Before the founding of the state of Israel, Jaffa was a major cosmopolitan city, also known as the Bride of the Sea and the Bride of Palestine. It expereiced the mass exodus of its Palestinian population who were forced to flee during the 1948 war. Jaffa was then relegated to the slums of Tel Aviv, which has, however, experienced a dramatic gentrification process since the 1990s. In the aftermath of the 1948 war, Jaffa was annexed to Tel Aviv and placed within Israel’s recognised international borders thus making its remaining Palestinian residents Israeli citizens. Hebron on the other hand, is in the occupied West Bank and has become a focal point for Israel’s contemporary colonisation campaign. Since 1997, Hebron has been divided to two asymmetrical loci: H1 which is under the jursidiciton of the Palestinian Authority and H2 which is under direct control of Israel’s military. While the differences between Jaffa and Hebron are significant, both are entwined in the same political and cultural process of loss and recovery. Since the early 1920s both experienced moments of collective violence between Jews and Arabs who cohabited these places, and as the violence spiraled all over Palestine, both cities were impacted, some might say irrevocably, by the dynamic of violence and destruction.
We understand the scientific importance of the project as one which problematise the banalisation of the representation of memory and loss through which the stories of Jaffa and Hebron have been told. We criticize the convention that situates dynamics of loss and ruination within a narrative of modern progress to rethink what loss means in the present continuous, whereby people continue to cling to the very places deemed as obsolete. We conceptualize how memory of loss (of one’s city and home) is mobilized as a tangible, active tool against forces seeking to solidify the act of destruction. By doing so, our project seeks to rethink how communities which are basically traumatized by ongoing, almost cyclical, process of violence, articulate their sense of loss and their hopes for recovery and for future reconciliation.
“Destruction and reconstruction can be well researched as a lieu de mémoir”
L.I.S.A.: In your project, you look at lost cities and their influence on local memories as well as objectification. Can you briefly explain an example of this?
Prof. Monterescu: One example we discuss is the Slope Park project (Midron Yaffo Park) in Jaffa which was opened for the public in 2010. It is an open space recreation area providing a bucolic scenery of green lawns, palm trees and the Mediterranean sea. It has been a popular meeting place for Tel Aviv Israelis and West Bank Palestinians who are allowed to travel here on certain public holidays. For these Palestinians it is the only opportunity to spend free time on the beach. A popular and happy place, but at the same time a bitter and sad one. The park was created on a landfill where garbage and debris were dumped. Much of the old city and other neighborhoods such as Manshiyya was destroyed in the 1950s and 1960s because these spaces, which had been abandoned by the Palestinians, were perceived as a slum and the process of decay was not stopped.
The tragedy is that Palestinians who come here today to enjoy a fresh breeze are walking on the rubble of their ancestral homes. In this place, destruction and reconstruction can be well researched as a lieu de mémoir. Through the park we can see how Jaffa tells a story of loss and forced migration, but also a story of contrived coexistence. For the Israelis it is a story of destruction and reconstruction, for the Palestinians a story of the lost Golden Age. In our work we think of the park as a historical warning against the commodification and taken for grantedness of the political present. In this case, we see how ruins are touristified and we show that they are always contested in arts, social mobilizatoin and memory. In short, how Jaffa is a an example of commodification of a history of ruins.
In the case of Hebron, Jews were expelled in 1929 after a horrific massacre, a painful memory for Israelis, but also one where we can learn how brutal is Israel’s contemporary military occupation. H2 is a small part of the city where 30,000 Palestinians and 800 Jewish settlers reside. Since 1996, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (RHC) has been fighting the destruction of the city, which resembles a ghost town at its heart. Hebron displays two opposing forces: on the one hand, Israel moves to cement the area as a place which is lost for Palestinians (restriction of movement, prevention of reconstruction) while manipulating the Jewish historical tragedy to claim legitimacy for controlling H2. On the other hand Palestinians are clinging to their lived place by rehabilitating the ruined urban space. The process of colonization is very intimate, and it takes place house by house, street by street. It is a double process of ruiniation of Palestinian cities, where settlers return to occupy houses formerly inhabited by Jews.
Daniel Monterescu Awarded Three-Year Research Grant by the Gerda Henkel Foundation
December 13, 2019
Daniel Monterescu has been awarded 375,000 euros by the Gerda Henkel Foundation for his research into the links between destruction and renewal. The project, titled Cities Lost and Found: The Social Life of Ruins in Israel/Palestine, 1882 to the Present, traces the urban histories of ruination and recovery in Israel and Palestine.
Monterescu’s research frames ruins as multi-dimensional public, social, and cultural problems. For the new project, a team of sociologists and geographers will aim to uncover the ambivalent heritage of lost cities and the material traces of bygone communities that reincarnate local memories as they lend themselves to contemporary projects of mythification, commodification and gentrification.
“Torn by a century of conflict and war, our cities are haunted by the ghosts of the past. A relational history of urban loss is therefore a fruitful approach to make visible how ruins of previous urban lives come back to haunt the living in uncanny ways on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides” Monterescu notes.
In cities like Jaffa and Hebron, for Monterescu, a figure of loss resonates with “forced displacement, physical return, and yearnings for future reunion with the imagined homeland in ways that are abstract and concrete, symbolic and spatial”.
According to him, it is crucial that we are able to come to terms both with the cities now lost forever in the region, and the potential urban worlds that may yet be created, for future generations. “In the current political deadlock in the Middle East I believe it is essential to look at history from the perspective of ruination and absence as a way to bridge rival histories and acknowledge colonial realities. Shared memories of loss can create common ground for future recovery.”
Daniel Monterescu’s three-year research was among the two projects funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation’s “Lost Cities” programme.
Danel Monterescu is Associate Professor of Urban Anthropology at CEU’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. The project follows up on previous research by Monterescu into urban Israel/Palestine, resulting in Jaffa Shared and Shattered, published by Indiana University Press in 2015 and Twilight Nationalism, published by Stanford University Press in 2018.
Radical leftist media always looks for ”Useful Idiots,” a term associated with Lenin. This time they found Dr. Yonatan Mendel from the Department of Middle East Studies at BGU. His incessant anti-Israeli tenor was covered by IAM under the title “Pro-Palestinian Propagandists at Ben Gurion University: Yonatan Mendel as a Case in Point.”
Mendel’s latest article concerns how the last Israeli elections will affect the Palestinians.
Mendel completed his doctoral studies in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge. His thesis examined “the history of Arabic studies in Jewish schools in Palestine/Israel from 1935 to 1985, and focused on the politicization and securitization of the language. His research deals with topics such as language policy and war, security considerations and language planning, and the interrelationship between political conflict and foreign language studies in Israel/Palestine.” His book, The Creation of Israeli-Arabic: The Political History and Securitisation of Arabic Language Studies in Israeli-Jewish Society, is based on his thesis.
Mendel was a fellow of the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, as stated in the Annual Report of 2015/16. As well known, the billionaire prince spent a small fortune creating academic centers in prestigious Western universities to promote Muslim-Christian understanding. However, incidentally or not, some of the centers nurtured scholars whose animosity toward Israel has stood out.
As an expert in Arabic, Mendel charges Israel with Orientalism, a term he borrowed from Edward Said. His views of Israel are incredibly dim, as seen in a video recording by the anti-Israel media outlet Middle East Eye.
Mendel’s scholarship is based on the assertion that Israel only uses Arabic for security reasons. This is fallacious. There are hundreds of Arabic teaching schools, including in Arab towns, for Israelis to learn.
Mendel co-authored an article, “The Language of Jewish Nationalism: Street Signs and Linguistic Landscape in the Old City of Jerusalem,” published by Palestine Studies. Mendel co-edited a book, From the Arab Other to the Israeli Self: Palestinian Culture in the Making of Israeli National Identity, with Ronald Ranta. The book “sheds light on an important cultural and ideational diffusion that has occurred between the Zionist settlers – and later the Jewish-Israeli population – and the indigenous Arab-Palestinian people in Historical Palestine.” Mendel spoke in a radio program, “Foul Language: The Politicization of Arabic Teaching in Israeli Schools.”
He co-edited a book, Language, politics and society in the Middle East: essays in honour of Yasir Suleiman, withAbeer AlNajjar, published in 2018 in honor of their mentor Professor Yasir Suleiman. “This collection acknowledges his contribution to the field of language and society in general, and to that of language analysis of socio-political realities in the Middle East in particular.” Suleiman, a Palestinian Arab, is the founding Director of the Centre of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University. He is the Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa’id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies.
Mendel came to aid the convicted Israeli-Arab poet Dareen Tatour, who posted on Facebook and YouTube a video of herself reading her poem titled “Resist, My People, Resist.” The video includes footage of masked Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at IDF soldiers. It was published in October 2015 during the deadly Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis. She was arrested a few days later, and the prosecutors said her post was a call for violence. The judge delivered a 52-page verdict detailing a literary analysis of the text and video and the Arabic word “shahid” (“martyr”). Mendel, one of the experts, testifying in favor of Tatour, told the court in March 2017:
“The Israeli hears ‘shahid’ and sees an aggressor. The Palestinian sees a victim. That’s a big difference. One sees an attacker blowing up a bus, the other sees a child shot by soldiers.” However, the judge ruled that “the aforementioned violent video does not include images of casualties and victims or legal protests. The video reflects only violent resistance/uprising throughout.”
Mendel has been rewarded by the London Review of Books (LRB), which published 23 of his articles. According to the group Just Journalism, LRB has a pronounced anti-Israel bias. Their report states: “The LRB consistently portrayed Israel as a bloodthirsty and genocidal regime out of all proportion to reality, while sympathetic portraits abounded of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and British government, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Mendel is a good fit for LRB. While attacking Israel, he and his activist-academic peers have never had a bad word to say about the severe problems Palestinian society is experiencing, including honor killing, targeting of LGBTQ, and the skyrocketing crime in the Israeli-Arab sector. While bashing Israel is all the rage, these topics go undiscussed.
Not surprisingly, Mendel is singing praises of the Department of Middle East Studies at BGU. In a short bio he posted on the Department’s website, he says that being employed there “feels as though I have won the lottery.” He is not the only one. A few years ago, Prof. Haggai Ram, a veteran member of the Department, wrote a book Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession. He explains that Israel’s focus on Iran’s nuclear project is a diversion to cover up its real anxiety, the challenges that the Mizrahi and orthodox population pose to the hegemonic Ashkenazi elite. The Iranian media and radical-leftist groups in the West highly praised the book.
The Just Journalism report created a storm when it was revealed the British taxpayers, through the Arts Council of England, supported the propaganda of the LRB. The public who funds Ben Gurion University deserves to know that their money supports anti-Israeli propaganda.
First came the jokes. Black humour as a natural response to frustration and disappointment. ‘How was it yesterday?’ my Tel-Avivian neighbor, also a leftist, shouted from his balcony, wearing shorts and no shirt, sipping his morning coffee the day after the elections. ‘Not great’, I shouted back, continuing my brisk walk toward the kindergarten. ‘You should have had great fun voting’, he said, with a knowing emphasis on ‘great fun’. ‘Why is that?’, I asked. ‘Because’, he replied, delighted to have reached his punchline, ‘it was your last time!’
The Israeli elections of 1 November were indeed rather shocking. For the first time since its establishment in 1992, Meretz (the left-Zionist party) was ousted from parliament, as was Balad (an Arab-Palestinian party striving to make Israel ‘a state for all its citizens’). Simultaneously, we witnessed the spectacular rise of the national-religious list, composed of the Religious Zionism party led by Bezalel Smotrich (arrested in 2005 along with five other right-wing activists for plotting to ‘blow up cars on the Ayalon highway’, according to the Shin-Bet deputy chief) and the neo-fascist party Otzma Yehudit (‘Jewish Strength’) led by Itamar Ben-Gvir (convicted in 2007 of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization). Their joint platform was backed by almost 11% of Israeli voters and received 14 seats. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likkud party won 32 seats, while current PM Yair Lapid’s supposedly centrist outfit Yesh Atid picked up 24. The Labor Party – the leading political force during Israel’s first three decades, and a major player thereafter – came away with only 4.
Of course, Israeli democracy was nothing to brag about before the latest elections. The country’s so-called ‘change government’, which lasted from June 2021 to November 2022, was largely comprised of parties from the centre and centre right, who united in opposition to Netanyahu and viewed his ongoing corruption trial as a national disgrace. Their coalition also included the last remnants of the Israeli left and, controversially, the United Arab List. Its domestic agenda revolved around good governance, stabilization of the political system and passing a state budget for the first time in three years. But when it came to the occupation, the siege of Gaza and the refusal to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, it was not much different to the previous Netanyahu administration. Israel’s Zionist straitjacket may allow some room for debate on internal issues, but its confines are clear.
The most reactionary Knesset in history will now be sworn in on November 15. Yet this should not be read as a fundamental shift to the right. It is rather the outcome of various strategic manoeuvres on Netanyahu’s part as well as long-term processes within Israeli society. Such factors can be elaborated by analyzing the recent history of two political groupings: the Jewish religious parties on the one hand, and the Arab-Palestinian parties on the other.
Starting with the former: Netanyahu will most likely form his government out of the following components: Likkud (32 seats), Religious Zionism (14 seats), Shas (the Sephardic orthodox party, 11 seats) and Yahadut Hatorah (the Ashkenazi ultraorthodox party, 7 seats). The incoming PM can easily assemble this 64-seat bloc, in a parliament of 120 members, with the automatic support of all three Jewish religious parties (representing Mizrahi and Ashkenazi alike), which are now considered ‘natural allies’ of the Zionist right. Yet this is by no means a natural situation. It is the result of Netanyahu’s long-term plan to bring religious, orthodox and even ultraorthodox parties – which are in large part non-Zionist – into his political project, by framing it as quintessentially ‘Jewish’. The old saying goes that ‘the Torah has seventy faces’, but Netanyahu and the hard-right have given it only one. For religious parties, the latter is now a close collaborator while centrists and leftists have become the ultimate anti-Jewish Other – which, in the long run, leaves little hope for another changing of the guard.
Secondly, and no less cannily, was Netanyahu’s strategy vis-à-vis the Arab parties and Palestinian citizens of Israel. During his previous time in office, he both deepened Israel’s divide-and-rule approach to the Palestinians – precipitating the total disintegration of the Arab Joint List – and succeeded in cementing a fanciful association between the Arab parties and terrorism, thereby discrediting their criticism of the occupation. After United Arab List joined Lapid’s fragile coalition, Netanyahu (and the right in general) endlessly reiterated the claim that the new government was ‘reliant on supporters of terror’. The effectiveness of this smear showed how entrenched the discourse of ‘terrorization’ had become, thanks in part to other Zionist political actors from the putative centre and left (Lapid, for example, is currently refusing to meet with the leaders of the Arab parties Hadash and Ta‘al). Through such rhetoric, Netanyahu established a comprehensive formula which meant that every Arab-Palestinian would be required to prove that he or she is not a terrorist. Such delegitimization had a clear strategic aim, making it almost impossible for Arab-Palestinians to voice their opinions, and destroying the conditions for a stable centrist or centre-left coalition.
In other words, by coding the religious parties as right wing, and the Arab parties as terrorists, Netanyahu has rendered any joint coalition of Jews and Arabs unthinkable. What makes this strategy so successful, and so dangerous, is its apparent irreversibility. Over the next four years, the government will take extraordinary steps to lock in its hegemony. It plans to introduce an ‘overriding clause’ that will enable the parliament to overturn Supreme Court rulings, effectively abolishing the separation of powers and ensuring that Netanyahu’s trial will end without conviction. Netanyahu will also exploit the impotence of international law, along with Israel’s warm relations with the new authoritarian right in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, to realize the dream of a de facto annexation of Area C in the West Bank.
Despite what my neighbour said, it is most likely that we will meet again at the ballot box once the new government has completed its term. But the question is what options we – let alone the Palestinians – will have, after four more years of Netanyahu and Religious Zionism.
With Arabs still excluded from large parts of Israeli society, Said’s arguments are as relevant now as they ever were
Tue 17 Jun 2008 15.00 BST
The 30th anniversary of Orientalism has brought with it numerous publications aiming to weaken Edward Said’s project. As I see it they seek to disqualify the writer rather than engage with his arguments, and do not contribute to scholarly debate about his work. I would like to bring forward a contemporary political debate to remind us that Orientalism’s political arguments are still alive and kicking.
As a journalist in Israel, my home country, I frequently found Orientalism to be an effective tool for understanding Israeli discourse, knowledge-construction and the media’s work. In a society which gathers around the army as its focal point and which sees Judaism as a national identity, the Jewish-military discourse emerges almost naturally.
Within this discourse, which becomes the society’s common sense, certain (positive) behaviours are linked to the Jews, and certain (negative) behaviours are linked to the Arabs. Giving the media as an example, one needs to remember that within Israeli common sense, the themes of violence, aggressiveness, propaganda and incitement are Arab-oriented, while self-defence, response, restraint and morality are Jewish-Israeli-oriented, and rarely represent Arab behaviour or ways of thinking.
Following this, and in order to understand how a hegemonic Jewish discourse is being shaped in a country with 1.4 million Palestinian citizens (who can speak Hebrew and are educated in the state’s schools and universities), it is indeed helpful to come back to Orientalism. According to Said:
“In discussions of the orient, the orient is all absent, whereas one feels the orientalist and what he says as presence … We must not forget the orientalist’s presence is enabled by the orient’s effective absence”.
The process of producing sociopolitical knowledge about Arabs in Israel could prove the validity of this notion, mostly due to the fact that within the Israeli spheres where this knowledge is being made, Arabs are not allowed.
Despite the fact that one-fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs, the establishment has always preferred to understand the region through Jewish-Zionists’ eyes and to assume the task of representing the same Arabs.
The prime ministers’ advisers for Arab affairs, emissaries dealing with Arab delegations, thinktanks seeking political solutions concerning the Palestinians, the media’s Arab affairs correspondents and Israeli-Arabic radio, television and newspapers outlets have practically been controlled, run and presented by Jews from the state of Israel’s very beginning. Interestingly, due to the sensitivity (or even danger) of adding indigenous “Arab” knowledge and understanding to the Israeli-Jewish perception of “the Arabs”, the Palestinian citizens of Israel emerged as being more suited to “non-Arab” positions. For example, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Universities, there are no Palestinian citizens of Israel who are regular lecturers in the Middle East faculties, but, surprisingly, they can be found in the faculties of medicine, pharmacy, education, law, sociology and others. Taking high schools as another example for knowledge-construction, it is interesting to note that teachers of the Arabic language in Jewish-Israeli schools are rarely Arabs; an Arabic supervisor from Israel’s ministry of education explained their absence by saying that Arabic is the least suitable subject to be taught by Arabs.
These examples show that knowledge about the other was constructed in Israel not only by ignoring it geographically or politically, but also personally. This assisted with the creation and preservation of a discourse which was and still is Jewish and Zionist-oriented, and that immunises Jewish society from being challenged by different or opposing ideas.
The discourse described here cannot explain all processes in Israeli society, but deals with “big practices” that are the general themes in Israeli society. Indeed, out of 160 participants in the 2007 Herzliya conference, addressing Israel’s strategic challenges in the region, one could find two Palestinian citizens of Israel; in the department of Arabic at the Hebrew University there has been one permanent academic staff member who was an Arab during its 82 year history; and Israeli Channel 2 actually has one Arab correspondent in Gaza.
However, these exceptions prove the rule since this hybridity, of Palestinians who penetrate Jewish-controlled spheres, is essentially a western-Jewish notion that emerges from its own complexity, understanding and limits. At the end of the day, the minimal presence of the Arab-east in western-Jewish hegemonic discourse in Israel does not make it any less absent.
(In my review of “Ruins of Lifta”, I mentioned that historian Hillel Cohen was among those interviewed and alluded to his book “1929: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” that appears to be an important contribution to “revisionist” literature.)
LRB, Vol. 38 No. 19 · 6 October 2016 Divide and divide and divide and rule by Yonatan Mendel
1929: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Hillel Cohen, translation by Haim Watzman Brandeis, 312 pp, £20.00, November 2015, ISBN 978 1 61168 811 5
Ten minutes into Elia Suleiman’s film The Time That Remains, the Palestinian city of Nazareth officially surrenders to Israeli military forces on 16 July 1948. In the town hall, the Israeli commander reads out the bill of surrender to the gathered Arab-Palestinian notables. It’s in Hebrew and they don’t understand a word. The commander tells the mayor to sign the document, and then to join his soldiers for a ‘historic photo’. A military cameraman points his camera at the soldiers. But when the black and white photo appears on screen it isn’t the soldiers we see: it’s the puzzled group of Arab-Palestinian figures at the other end of the room, ordinary people, onlookers. They, and others like them, are central figures in the work of Hillel Cohen. Neither the conventional ‘winners’ nor the stereotypical ‘losers’, they play a part in the grand political story which, though crucial, is often overlooked.
Cohen was born in 1961 into a National Religious family; his father was of Jewish Afghan origin, his mother of Jewish Polish descent. As a teenager he lived in a settlement in the West Bank. He left school at 16 and began to explore the neighbouring Palestinian villages. He made friends, learned Arabic, and by being there found out about the lives of Palestinians under the occupation. He worked as a floorer before beginning his academic career. He reads the Bible but no longer considers himself ‘religious’. He goes ‘more often to Hebron than to Tel Aviv and more often to Bethlehem than to Haifa’. He believes in a one-state solution (at least in the long term) and supports Israeli human rights organisations such as Anarchists against the Wall and Hamoked, which works with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories whose rights have been violated by Israeli policies. He writes in Hebrew – unusually for an academic, he doesn’t have an international audience primarily in mind. In half a dozen scholarly books covering the history of Palestine and Israel from 1929 to 1967 and beyond, he has consistently written about ordinary people, something no other Israeli historian has managed to do.
Cohen identifies 1929 as the year that gave birth ‘to the Zionist military ethos’. The Arab-Israeli conflict probably doesn’t have a ‘year zero’ – its roots go back at least as far as the 19th century – but 1929 should certainly be seen as a landmark. Between 23 and 29 August that year, 133 Jews and 116 Arabs were killed. Hundreds more were injured. The worst violence was in the Old City of Jerusalem and near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Cohen shows how the violence was connected to the threat – real or imagined – of a change in the status of a religious site that served as a symbol of political hegemony. In the 1920s, the Western Wall in Jerusalem was a Jewish prayer site in an Arab area where ‘Jews were allowed to pray … on the condition that they not disturb the residents of the neighbourhood, and on the understanding that they not claim title to the site.’
On 15 August 1929, following months of tension, Jewish demonstrators marched to the Wall, raised the Zionist flag, sang the Zionist anthem and claimed ownership of the site. The effect on relations between Jews and Arabs was dramatic. There was an Arab counter-demonstration the next day, which within a week had escalated into full-blown anti-Jewish riots. (More recent violence in Jerusalem has also been a consequence of Israeli attempts to change the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site. The Second Intifada was sparked in 2000 by Ariel Sharon’s decision to visit the site to prove Israeli sovereignty; and the latest cycle of violence in Jerusalem follows 15 meetings at which the Interior Committee of the Knesset discussed changing the site’s status to allow Jews to pray there.)
Drawing on a wide range of sources, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, Cohen argues that neither side includes in the history it tells itself the massacres and murders committed by its own members. He juxtaposes Hebrew and Arabic accounts of particular incidents – for example, the murder of the Palestinian ‘Awn family in Abu Kabir village by a Jewish policeman named Simha Hinkis – and shows how Jews and Arabs described them at the time, and how they have been remembered, and forgotten, since. In Biladuna Filastin (‘Our Homeland Palestine’) Mustafa Dabbagh describes the murders of the ‘Awn family and the way Hinkis mutilated their bodies: Jewish newspapers didn’t report the crime at all, and when they covered the trial referred to the murder as the ‘Hinkis incident’.
The division between the two communities – Jewish Zionists on one side and Arab Palestinians on the other – ‘grew ever more salient’, Cohen argues, ‘as national identity grew stronger’. At the beginning of the 20th century, many of the Jews in Palestine, not to mention the wider Middle East, had no Zionist national aspirations. The riots of 1929 changed that. ‘No other factor was more influential in bringing the established Jewish communities in Palestine and the new Zionist community together under a single political roof.’
After 1929 tension was no longer between the indigenous population (Arab Palestinians, including Jews) and European Zionist immigrants, but between Arabs and Jews. In Israel today, descendants of Mizrahi Jews (or Arab Jews) tend to have more anti-Arab views than the rest of the Jewish population. This has a lot to do with the narrow range of identities ‘allowed’ by Zionist European ideologies, according to which an Arab cannot be a Jew and a Jew cannot be an Arab. The 1929 attacks on Mizrahi Jews, who spoke Arabic and dressed in Arab clothes, marked a moment of dramatic change.
Mazal Cohen was a Jewish woman murdered in Safed on 29 August 1929. Her brother spoke at her funeral:
For a quarter of a century I have spoken their language, perused their books, learned their way of life, observed their ways and manners, yet I did not know them … Who injected into your inner beings this twisted spirit, to stride with drawn swords at the head of a bloodthirsty throng and to lend a hand to murdering innocent people who lived with you securely for generations, who just yesterday were your companions and friends? … You always said that you considered native-born Jews to be your brothers, that you would love them, that you would respect them, because you share a single language and way of talking with them, and that you bore a grudge only against those who came anew … And how is it that you, the murderers of Safed, beset like beasts of prey solely those inhabitants of the city who have been integrated there for generations, turning their homes to heaps of ruins, mercilessly killing women and the old and the weak, who never did you any harm, taking the lives of people whose mother tongue is your language, and whose way of life is yours, different from you only in religion? … I have lived among you for a quarter of a century, I have been your guest, I have attended to your confidences and thoughts, and I did not know you.
This was the moment at which the possibility of a unified Arab-Jewish identity, or even a shared Arab-Jewish life, disappeared, perhaps for ever. The Zionist movement had succeeded in associating itself with all Jews, no matter whether they were European or Mizrahi, supportive of Zionism, indifferent or opposed to it. From now on Jews would see Arabs, all Arabs, as their enemy, and vice versa.
Theodor Herzl envisaged Israel as a ‘rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation against barbarism’. In the 1930s, some 57 Jewish settlements were established in a project called ‘Homa u-Migdal’ (‘A Wall and a Watchtower’), in which new villages were built in Palestine with two prescribed features: they were surrounded by a fence, and there was a guard tower in the middle. Jewish Israeli society still sees itself and its position in the world through the prism of security. Ehud Barak used to call Israel a ‘villa in the jungle’. Benjamin Netanyahu has said: ‘We need to secure our villa, the State of Israel, with fences and barriers from all sides, to protect it from the wild beasts that surround us.’ Military service is compulsory, and generally regarded as the highest contribution to the ‘common good’. The security establishment is also key to the Israeli economy: Israel, with a population of only eight million people, is the world’s seventh biggest arms exporter.
Cohen is less interested in the militarisation of Israeli society than in the practices that have shaped the relationship between Jews and Arabs. In Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism 1917-48 (2008) and Good Arabs: The Israeli Security Agencies and the Israeli Arabs 1948-67 (2010), he explores the way that the security apparatus gradually became Israel’s main means of interacting with and controlling the Palestinian community. Intelligence work – especially the recruitment and running of collaborators – has deepened Israeli penetration of Palestinian society, which served not only to strengthen Israel militarily but also to dilute Palestinians’ sense of national identity, their political commitment and above all their social solidarity. Over the years, and especially under martial law between 1948 and 1966, it became clear to some that working with the Israeli security forces was a way to ensure their survival, and to others that it could bring material gain.
By looking at the security apparatus as a ‘bond’ between Jews and Arabs and examining the role played by Palestinian collaborators, Cohen exposes a crucial – and ongoing – aspect of history that nobody else wants to talk about. Much of what’s written on the conflict is confined within the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ frameworks. Cohen’s angle makes both sides uncomfortable. From a ‘pro-Israel’ point of view, his work raises serious moral questions about the underhand methods used by the Zionist movement and Israel against the Palestinians, as well as making plain that the hands of Jewish decision-makers have not been held out in peace. From a ‘pro-Palestinian’ point of view, his research seems liable to undermine the unity of the Palestinian national movement if only by showing the historic depth of ‘betrayal’ in the Palestinian community in the 1930s and 1940.
In 1920 Chaim Weizmann, then president of the Zionist Movement, called for the ‘provocation of dissension between Christians and Muslims’. Chaim Margaliot Kalvarisky, head of the Zionist Executive’s Arab Department, created the Muslim National Association with the purpose of widening divisions between Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians. These were the early seeds of a Zionist divide and rule strategy that prevailed after 1929. Following another wave of clashes in the 1930s the dominant institutions of the Zionist movement’s security establishment began to take shape (Irgun was established in 1931, the Arab department of the Hagana in 1937, the Stern Gang in 1940 and so on). A Jewish ‘collaboration doctrine’ was formulated, based on the assumption that every Jewish-Arab relationship, however friendly and peaceful, would be subordinated to a ‘higher cause’: the needs of the Zionist movement. This is how Ezra Danin, one of the first intelligence co-ordinators in the Jewish community in Palestine, saw the situation in 1936:
There is always bad blood in a village and sometimes there are murders and then a chain of reprisals. In many cases of this sort, the murderer emigrates to another settlement, where he receives protection under Muslim custom. You can always get information from such a pursued, protected man in need of succour. The refusal to give a girl to a given man can lead to harsh conflicts. A man who asks the hand of a girl and is refused by her parents feels himself abused, especially if he is the girl’s cousin. Types generally exploitable for intelligence work are rebellious sons, thieves who have brought disgrace on their families, rapists who have acted on their passions and fled the avengers of tainted honour. An intelligence agent with open eyes and ready ears will always be able to make use of these personal circumstances and exploit them for his own needs.
‘Rebellious sons’ are still available for exploitation today. Mos’ab Hassan Yousef, son of a Hamas leader in the West Bank, collaborated with Israeli intelligence from 1997 to 2007. His story made it into bookshops (Son of Hamas) and cinemas (The Green Prince). Human rights organisations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip report evidence of Palestinians killed, tortured or jailed, by both official and unofficial Palestinian bodies, for collaborating with Israel. When I worked at Physicians for Human Rights, there were many stories of Palestinians from the West Bank being stopped by Israeli intelligence officers on their way to Jordan to get medical treatment. ‘They told me, if you want to save the life of your daughter, you have to work with us,’ a Palestinian father said. ‘I refused and came back home.’ The next day he tried again, and was allowed to go to Jordan. He told me after his return to Palestine that those who are first refused and then allowed to leave the country, or are allowed through in the first place, will always be suspected of being collaborators. In other words, any contact that Palestinians have with Israeli officials involves the threat of being made to collaborate, or of being labelled a collaborator. For Israeli security it’s doubly useful: it brings in information and deepens mistrust.
The earliest murder of an Arab collaborator that Cohen has discovered took place in 1929; the earliest murder of an Arab land dealer who arranged a sale of land from Arabs to Jews occurred in 1934; in 1938, at the height of the Great Arab Revolt, of 900 Palestinians killed, 498 were killed by fellow Palestinians on suspicion of either collaborating with the Zionists or selling land to Jews. As the circle of khawana (‘traitors’), real or suspected, grew, so did the violence. In such circumstances it was almost impossible to create a united Palestinian front. In 1948, Cohen says, there was not only a general unwillingness among Palestinians to fight, but even active resistance to the Arab fighters. The Zionist intelligence services were working overtime to create the impression that everybody in Palestine was betraying everybody else.
With the creation of the Israeli state, Palestinians became ‘Arab Israelis’ overnight while Israel did its best – with the help of Palestinian collaborators – to create satellite political parties that were friendly to Israel as a way of impeding the creation of an authentic Palestinian leadership. Many Arab members of the Knesset had been collaborators before 1948. As far as Israel was concerned, there were ‘bad Arabs’ (politically aware Palestinian citizens of Israel who wanted to connect to the Arab world, called for equal rights and demanded the return of refugees) and ‘good Arabs’ (Palestinian citizens of Israel who co-operated with the state and showed loyalty to its principles).
Investigating the daily lives of Palestinians between 1948 and 1967, Cohen looks at the school system, and traces letters from informers denouncing teachers who didn’t toe the Zionist line, or tried to remain apolitical. He enters into the political debates between the Communist Party (the Jewish Arab List) and MKs associated with Zionist parties, especially David Ben Gurion’s Labour. He looks at wedding songs to trace the different streams of Palestinian political behaviour. He finds informers who snitched on their neighbours and on people they saw in the village shop or on the city bus; who reported things they heard when they went to have a pee in an olive grove or as they were walking past the house of the head of the village. With the help of informers, the Israeli government ‘was able to obtain information about what was going on in Palestinian communities and what was said in private’, Cohen writes, and ‘even when informers were unable to obtain information, they were able to make their fellow Arabs think they knew.’ As Napoleon III’s chief of police put it, ‘I don’t need one out of every three Parisians chatting on the streets to be my informer, all I need is for each of the three to think that one of the others is an informer.’ Israel made the Palestinian community the first inspector, and the first supervisor, of its own members.
The strategy’s success is at times hard to believe. ‘Good Arabs’ were often as Zionist and anti-Arab as the Israeli establishment, perhaps convincing themselves that they were helping to secure the existence of the Arab community in Israel, or simply for personal gain: rewards ranged from land to public status, from local power to protection. After the 1956 massacre in Kafr Qasim – Israeli border police shot dead 47 men, women and children – Arab community leaders expressed their understanding of the ‘special considerations’ that led to the killings, and rejected the idea of building a memorial in the village. In 1964, Arab MKs chose to celebrate the establishment of Karmiel – a Jewish city built as part of the ‘Judaisation of the Galilee’ – instead of attending a memorial ceremony in Kafr Qasim. And when, on several occasions in the 1960s, the Knesset debated whether to continue with martial law in Arab areas, some Arab MKs voted with the government against dismantling the military regime imposed on their own communities.
The principle of divide and rule governs many walks of life. One significant example given by Cohen was the decision to recruit the Druze into the Israeli army, to cut them off both from the Arab Palestinian community in Israel and from the Druze communities in Lebanon and Syria. Cohen quotes Avraham Akhituv, the former head of Shin Bet: ‘We need to continue our efforts to increase the uniqueness of the Druze and their separateness – that of the young Druze generation especially – from the general Arab population.’ The prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs said that ‘the individuality of each and every separate community should be consolidated.’ Breaking the Arab community up into smaller communities of Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins not only forced each group to deal with the state separately, Cohen argues, but helped to change the conflict from a conflict between a Jewish community and an Arab community into one between a Jewish majority and Arab minorities, with the singular and plural forms echoing the power relations established by Israel.
Cohen also records Palestinian acts of resistance, organised and unorganised, collective and individual. He has unearthed a police report, for example, on a wedding in the village of Tur’an in the 1960s. After the regular shouts of ‘long live the prime minister of Israel and long live the military governor,’ one of the guests shouted: ‘long live Abu Khaled [Nasser], long live Ben Bella, long live Amin al-Hafez’ – the leaders of Algeria and Syria respectively. In 1958, the Communist Party called on Palestinian citizens not to celebrate Israel’s tenth anniversary:
Will we dance on the day of mourning for the destruction of our villages? Will we dance on the graves of our martyrs who fell in the many massacres, like the ones at Dir Yasin and Kafr Qasim? Will we celebrate while a million of our compatriots are dispersed in exile and prevented from returning to their homes and their homeland? Will we celebrate when we are stripped of national rights and live under a military regime and national repression? No, we will not celebrate. We are part of a huge nation that is today raising its head everywhere, in Algeria, Oman, Aden and Lebanon, against the imperialists and their lackeys, and we will pay them back double.
When the head of the village of Jish refused to celebrate Israeli Independence Day, he lost his position at the Ministry of Health. A customer in a crowded café in a village in the Galilee told the owner not to turn the radio off when it began broadcasting a speech of Nasser’s. ‘I am not afraid of collaborators,’ he said. In Acre in the late 1950s, the Israeli authorities decided that the renovation of Al-Jazzar mosque would be celebrated together with Israel’s Independence Day. Elias Kousa, a prominent lawyer and activist, wrote to the mosque committee:
The Israeli government took Arab land and put it in Jewish hands, so the Jews can live in prosperity while the Arabs live in poverty … This government … chained your freedom as if you were dogs, humiliated you, hurt your dignity and made you a people without respect or pride. It also hurt our education, progress and success … Are you going, after all that, to celebrate a national day we have nothing to do with?
Cohen studies the tension between national feeling, on the one hand, and the need to survive and feed a family, on the other, without judging those who chose either way. Yet the reality he describes makes it clear why the Palestinians couldn’t put the catastrophe of 1948, the Nakba, out of their minds: not because Israeli attempts at re-education weren’t powerful enough but, on the contrary, because Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was a constant reminder.
The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem, published in Hebrew in 2007 and in English in 2011, predicts the most recent wave of violence to have hit Jerusalem: the so-called knife intifada, which began in October 2015 and mostly involved attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank on Israeli soldiers positioned around the Muslim Quarter in East Jerusalem. Cohen shows that Israeli attempts to erase any Palestinian political claim to Jerusalem – next year Israeli schools will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its ‘unification’ – and the destruction of Palestinian institutions in the city during the Second Intifada has led to a situation in which Palestinians are still discriminated against, East Jerusalem is still occupied, house demolitions there continue, and the Palestinian national leadership has been taken away from the city. This is the context for the latest round of Palestinian violence. By giving Palestinian Jerusalemites ‘special status’ and building a seven-metre concrete wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel has continued to divide and rule. Not only have Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins been separated from each other, but so have Palestinian Jerusalem, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Divide and divide and divide and rule.
Cohen doesn’t try to portray the connection that Palestinians have to Jerusalem as stronger or weaker than that of the Jews. Rather, he wishes to revive the possibility of sharing the city. How many Jewish Israelis know that the Palestinians made Jerusalem their capital before Israel did? And how many know that the founding convention of the PLO was held in the Intercontinental Hotel in Jerusalem? And how many Palestinians know about the place of Jerusalem in Jewish literature, religious ceremonies and thought? When Cohen speaks about Jerusalem he means both Palestinian and Jewish Jerusalem, and when he speaks about ‘Jerusalemites’ he includes the Palestinians; Yerushalmim in Hebrew usually refers only to Jewish Israeli residents.
We are in a period of despair. Israel has an extreme right-wing government and a spineless opposition; its prime minister refers cynically to the evacuation of illegal settlements as ‘ethnic cleansing’; its minister of education approves of a wounded, prostrate Palestinian being shot through the head; a majority of Israeli MKs pass a bill that allows them to dismiss fellow members – that’s to say, Arab members – if they feel inclined to do so. Meanwhile, the historic municipal elections that were to take place in Gaza and the West Bank this month were cancelled, probably because the Palestinian Authority feared Hamas would have a resounding victory; the occupation will be half a century old next year and the siege of Gaza will mark its tenth anniversary. Cohen’s work is a valuable resource in these horrendous times. Neither ‘pro-Israeli’ nor ‘pro-Palestinian’, it is impossible to requisition, which may, in part, explain why he was never elevated to the rank of Israel’s ‘new historians’. He writes critically about Zionism and sympathetically about Jews who ran to Palestine for their lives; he writes with great honesty about Palestinians who were forced to co-operate with Israel, and those who chose to fight. He has a rich, dialectical understanding of the Jewish-Arab relationship, and though he would never compare the occupier to the occupied, his writing will make Jewish and Palestinian readers equally uncomfortable.
Minerva Center for the Humanities at Tel Aviv University was profiled by the IAM in the past. This time, the focus is on Dr. Ariel Handel, the Head of the Lexicon group at the Center, who published a Call for Papers. Handel is a member of the Department of Literature at TAU who is also a veteran politicalactivist and an army reserve refuser. The invitation states: “We are happy to send you the call to the 19th lexical conference for critical political thought. The conference will be held on February 27, Tel Aviv University. The deadline for submitting abstracts is December 20.”
According to the invitation, the “conference lectures should contribute to the composition of an alternative political lexicon that maps and re-examines the basic concepts of the contemporary political discourse and challenges the national-liberal and neo-liberal conceptions that are at the center of it now.” The discussions at this conference will focus on concepts that can be taken from the “familiar philosophical dictionary (such as: freedom, equality, rights, representation, justice, etc.) or express different and original forms of observation about government and the political field (such as: space, time, body, technology, population, etc.). Relevant concepts can also be concepts that describe a device (camera, screen, magnetic card), site (house, fence) or mechanism (police, school), provided that the question will be used as a basis for an original point of view on the government and the political field.”
The “concept can be anchored in one defined theory or move freely between several close or competing theories, provided that the focus is on the concept itself and on the reality it expresses and interprets.”
The invitation continues, “The discussion of the concept should offer innovation in one or more of the following aspects: understanding the concept itself and its theoretical context; understanding the political reality that the concept allows to express; An understanding of the limitations of the theoretical discussion that the same concept seeks to criticize, expand, or replace.”
The participants of the conference will be invited to submit their lectures/or articles that will be developed from the content of the conference discussions to be published in the online journal Mafteakh (Key): Lexicon for Political Thought.
“We invite researchers, including research students, to submit abstracts for a lecture at the conference. The abstract should explain the choice of a specific concept and concisely present the relevant theoretical context and the main innovation in the presentation of the concept. The abstract will be up to 300 words.”
The Lexicon is organized in collaboration with the Van Leer Institution Jerusalem and the BGU Department of Politics and Government, as noted on the letterhead.
A perusal of the articles of the last publication of Mafteakh shows polemics rather than academic writing. Writers, such as TAU School of Culture students, promote Balad, the Arab political party. Other writers are artists and scholars of Literature and Poetry. The exception is Erez Ztfadia and Oren Yiftachel, who provide a Marxist interpretation which they term Marxian, to camouflage the jargon. Adi Ophir, another contributor, provides negative views of any governance.
The Political Lexicon is a home for radical leftists paid by Minerva, Van Leer, and the BGU Department of Politics and Government. The neo-Marxist, critical, and postmodern jargon to which the writers adhere, do not uphold the standards of scholarship.
It is one more example of how some institutions of higher learning use taxpayers’ money to pay the salaries of activist academics. Over the years, both TAU and BGU have paid the wages of these activists and provided them with academic legitimacy. Indeed, in 2012 the Council of Higher Education threatened to close down the Department of Politics and Government at BGU for being top-heavy with neo-Marxist, critical scholars who failed to offer a political science curriculum. The recent Ph.D. graduates at the Department are, among others, Aya Shoshan, who participated in the tent protests in Spain and Israel in 2011, and Debby Farber, a member of the group Zochrot, which aims to promote the discourse on the Nakba and the Palestinians’ right of return.
The permissive atmosphere at TAU is also reflected in the employment of Handel, a military refuser. As a. rule, Israeli academic institutions should not recruit army refusers who teach students who serve in the army reserves. Under the banner of academic freedom, the University tolerated the likes of Dr. Anat Matar, who headed a group dedicated to encouraging draft dodging.
Be that as it may, the major problem is that unlike the United States and other Western countries, Israel has never offered pushback against academic extremism. For instance, public universities, supported by the states, have effective mechanisms to limit scholar-activists. A number of groups also monitor and report on their activists. Most encouraging, as reported, Harvard University has recently denied tenure to a scholar because her scholarship represents advocacy writing rather than genuine research. Absent a pushback, Israeli academic activists would go on spouting barely understandable jargon that masquerades as scholarly research.
———- Forwarded message ——— From: ariel handel Date: Sat, Nov 19, 2022 at 1:42 PM Subject: [SocSci-IL] קול קורא לכנס הלקסיקלי ה-19 למחשבה פוליטית ביקורתית To: Social Sciences List <firstname.lastname@example.org>
אנו שמחים לשלוח לכן/ם את הקול הקורא לכנס הלקסיקלי ה-19 למחשבה פוליטית ביקורתית.
הכנס יתקיים ב-27 בפברואר באוניברסיטת תל אביב. הדדליין להגשת תקצירים הוא 20 בדצמבר.
נשמח לקבל הצעות למאמרים.
אנא הרגישו בנוח להפיץ את הקול הקורא בין עמיתותיכן/ם וחבריכן/ם.
הכנס הלקסיקלי התשעה-עשר למחשבה פוליטית ביקורתית
27 בפברואר 2023
קבוצת הלקסיקון למחשבה פוליטית תקיים ב-27 בפברואר 2023 את הכנס השנתי למחשבה פוליטית ביקורתית באוניברסיטת תל-אביב.
הרצאות הכנס אמורות לתרום לחיבורו של לקסיקון פוליטי אלטרנטיבי הממפה ובוחן מחדש את מושגי היסוד של השיח הפוליטי העכשווי ומאתגר את התפישה הלאומית-ליברלית ואת התפישה הניאו-ליברלית שעומדות במרכזו כעת.
הדיון בכנס זה, כמו באלה שקדמו לו, לא יתמקד בהוגים, בשיטות, בתקופות או בטקסטים מסוימים אלא במושגים אשר יוצעו לדיון על ידי משתתפי/ות הכנס. מושגים אלה יכולים להיות לקוחים מן המילון הפילוסופי המוכר (כגון: חירות, שוויון, זכויות, ייצוג, צדק וכדו’) או לבטא צורות התבוננות שונות ומקוריות על השלטון ועל התחום הפוליטי (כגון: מרחב, זמן, גוף, טכנולוגיה, אוכלוסייה וכדו’). מושגים רלוונטיים יכולים להיות גם מושגים המתארים מכשיר (מצלמה, מסך, כרטיס מגנטי), אתר (בית, גדר) או מנגנון (משטרה, בית ספר), ובלבד שאלה ישמשו כבסיס לנקודת מבט מקורית על השלטון ועל התחום הפוליטי.
כל הרצאה בכנס תוקדש למושג אחד וניתן יהיה לזהות בה מאמץ שיטתי להשיב על השאלה “מהו x?”. הצגת המושג יכולה להיות מעוגנת בתיאוריה מוגדרת אחת או לנוע בחופשיות בין כמה תיאוריות קרובות או מתחרות, ובלבד שהמוקד יהיה במושג עצמו ובמציאות שהוא מעניק לה ביטוי ואשר אותה הוא מפרש. הדיון במושג אמור להציע חידוש באחד או יותר מן ההיבטים הבאים: הבנת המושג עצמו וההקשר התיאורטי שלו; הבנת המציאות הפוליטית שהמושג מאפשר לבטא; הבנה של מגבלות הדיון התיאורטי שאותו המושג מבקש לבקר, להרחיב, או להחליף.
משתתפי/ות הכנס יוזמנו להגיש את הרצאותיהם/ן או מאמרים שיפותחו מתוכן בעקבות דיוני הכנס לפרסום בכתב העת המקוון מפתח: כתב עת לקסיקלי למחשבה פוליטית: https://mafteakh.org/
אנו מזמינים חוקרות וחוקרים, כולל תלמידות ותלמידי מחקר, להגיש תקצירים להרצאה בכנס. התקציר אמור להסביר את הבחירה במושג ספציפי ולהציג באופן תמציתי את ההקשר התיאורטי הרלוונטי ואת עיקר החידוש שבהצגת המושג. התקציר יהיה בהיקף של עד 300 מילים.
Children Itay Snir I would like to define children as those who suffer from oppression and are discriminated against in various ways because of their young age. The label of childhood is used both in everyday discourse and in political theory to justify and normalize the separation of young people from adults and control over them. But the logic that legitimizes power relations in the present based on a claim to a deficiency that will only be completed in the future is also applied to other groups: natives, the poor, and women, to name just a few distinct examples. Despite the obvious difference in the timelines – a few years in the case of the children, compared to many generations in the other examples – one can recognize here the same language and the same regime of charity. But while in other cases we have already learned to see the oppression even if it is covered with beautiful words and even good intentions, this is not the case with children. Their control is transparent and seems natural even to theorists and critical activity.
Issue 18 Extraterritoriality Maayan Amir Extraterritoriality shapes relations between law, representation and space. Historically, extraterritoriality applies to people and spaces. In the first case, and depending on the circumstances, extraterritorial arrangements could exempt or exclude an individual or a group of persons from the laws of the territorial jurisdiction applicable to the physical place where they are located. In the second case, they could exempt or exclude a space from the laws of the surrounding territorial jurisdiction. The unique status that applies to people and spaces to this day has political, economic and legal consequences that range over a very wide spectrum, at one end immunity and privileges, and at the other end deprivation and denial of basic rights.
Issue 17 Balad Orfa Snoff-Filpol, Jud Kadan, Vared Shamshi, Ido Fox In this article, we would like to think about the concept of Balad (بَلَد) as part of a broader project of an Arabic-Hebrew lexicon, which aims to create concepts and reconceptualize existing concepts in a bilingual way. In an attempt to think together from the two local languages, the choice of the term Balad seems acute, because it is anchored in the local Arabic-Palestinian language and marks the space of the local girls and boys. Moreover, the transformations that occur in the use of the concept of Balad in the transition between Arabic and Hebrew express in an honest way the relations between the languages and between the bodies that speak them.
Issue 17 a Room Vered Shimshi The corona epidemic strengthened the recognition of the centrality of the room in our lives. The need to stay in the rooms of the house during the closings and the exposure of the room to the eyes of others through the communication applications increased the attention to the connection between each person and his room, for example to the way the geographical and socio-economic space and personal taste are evident in the room. On top of that, the possibility of owning a private room whose door can be closed is not self-evident, and in itself is a class and cultural matter that teaches about conditions that are not common property.
Issue 17 Giving Birth Orly Dahan A woman is a subject, in the simplest sense of the word: a conscious organism that has psychological states and feelings and must be treated as an active agent in the world. But from the moment of her “birth as a woman”, she is deprived of some of the rights that are usually given to human subjects. A crushing expression of this is revealed when she herself gives birth. In the current article I will focus on the human subject who gives birth and argue that even though the woman’s subjectivity does not disappear during childbirth, she is often treated in various arenas as a born object, or a defective subject.
Download PDF Issue 17
State Legitimacy Yair Yasen Jürgen Habermas argued that legitimacy is the acceptance of authority, which is expressed in agreeing to disobey and obey it. Legitimization (or the process of acquiring legitimacy) is an acquired process of gaining authority. Legitimacy is acquired when actions, processes or ideologies are perceived as agreed because they are identified with norms and values in a certain society, and a certain audience perceives them as acceptable and normative. Legitimacy can be attributed, among other things, to the state as a whole, to governmental institutions separately, or to the actions and decisions of the state and the governmental institutions.
Download PDF Issue 17
Originality Ravid Rovner Originality as a criterion for aesthetic judgment is a central element in the field of art from the beginning of its appearance until today. Creators strive to be valued as original: to present unprecedented uniqueness, to be distinctly different from their predecessors, to chart a new path for other creators. In the last decade, some thinkers have called creators to demonstrate unoriginality as an artistic strategy.
Download PDF Issue 17
Displacement Erez Tzfadia, Oren Yiftachel The article focuses on the conceptualization of the phenomenon of repression and displacement using general and open terms to describe a wide variety of situations of violation of residents’ rights, while referring to the transition between English and Hebrew. After introducing the concepts of “rejection” and “displacement”, we will examine how they help to better understand the structure of urban citizenship – a concept that defines the city’s residents as a political community that has the right to take an active part in shaping the city, determining its character and making decisions about it and using its resources. We will progress in addressing displacement and repression as part of different critical theoretical approaches, and examine how they are reflected in different epistemological perspectives. We will end with expressions of resistance and protest against displacement and repression.
Download PDF Issue 17
Leisure Oded Tzpouri What exactly is leisure? It is difficult and perhaps even impossible these days to define the concept of leisure other than by way of negation. Leisure, in its everyday meaning, is time (or a certain type of activity occurring in this period of time) that is free from other things. First and foremost, this is time that is not dedicated to work or taking care of the needs of the body and home, and by extension, it is time that is not dedicated to everything that is necessary for existence.
Download PDF Issue 17
Religious Zionism Haim Katzman This article examines contemporary political, religious and social trends in religious Zionism in light of the research literature written on “religious Zionism”. Historically, there is reason to doubt the existence of a unified Zionist-religious ideology even before the 2000s, but this is a question that requires further research. My claim is that the etymology and theoretical conceptualization of religious Zionism as an ideology that unites the apparently contradictory dimensions of modern nationalism and the Jewish religion is today anachronistic and even misleading.
Governance Adi Ophir In the words below I will try to reintroduce a “lean” concept of government, one that does not assume the state as an a priori form of thinking about government, nor the concept of sovereignty, Schmitian or otherwise, as the essence of the concept of government. After I equip myself with this concept, I will be able to return to the question of the relationship between government and the state and to the theological dimension of the presentation of government (including state government). Between the thin concept of government and its theological meaning, I hope, a sketch of the concept of government, or at least of the space in which the concept of government must be performed, will be interpreted.