Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian Abuses her Position to Bash Israel


Editorial Note

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 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.


Published: JANUARY 14, 2023 21:05

Updated: JANUARY 15, 2023 22:41

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 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.”


George Washington University probing alleged antisemitic harassment by professor

January 19, 2023


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.


GW failed to act against alleged antisemitism from professor: civil rights complaint


 By Caitlin Kitson Jan 17, 2023 3:30 AM

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.”

This article appeared in the January 17, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.



Gender, Violence, and the Geopolitics of Feminism

6:00 – 7:00 PM

2 FEB 2023


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. 


Gender, Violence, and the Geopolitics of Feminism


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.

Political Activism Disguised as Academics: the case of Gadi Algazi


Editorial Note

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.

HUJI David Enoch Calls for the Boycott of Israel


Editorial Note

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. 


בשבחם של צעדי החרמה (גם אקדמיים)

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.


הפקולטה למשפטים באוניברסיטה העברית

2d  · 

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.


– 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.

President of the International Sociological Association Publishes Anti-Israel Message


Editorial Note

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 by January 31, 2023. For more details and nomination forms see 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…


Sari Hanafi
President, International Sociological Association
Prof. of Sociology, American University of Beirut

© 2022 ISA, International Sociological Association.
Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, University Complutense, 28223 Madrid, SPAIN


published online January 7, 2014

Complex entanglements: Moving from policy to public sociology in the Arab world

Sari HanafiView all authors and affiliations

Volume 62, Issue 2


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


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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.  

ISA endorses the Call to Action of Birzeit University to Reject Israeli Measures Against Academic Freedom
Call to Action Birzeit University Rejects Israeli Measures Against Academic Freedom

12 Mar 2022

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.

Letters of Support

Insaniyyat, the Society of Palestinian Anthropologists

Letter of Support from Japan (JapeneseEnglish)

University of Ghana

Scholars at Risk (SAR)

CUNY Community

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies

Middle East Studies Association

American Anthropological Association

Universidad Nacional de Colombia {Spanish}

International Sociological Association

Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA)

The Organizing Collective for the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)


London School of Economics (in Arabic).


2014 Jul 25

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.

Professor Ilan Pappe in a Conference Against “Israeli Apartheid” by the PLO Anti-Apartheid Department 


Editorial Note

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”.

Google Translate

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.


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
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
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).
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).
PA minister of health Mai al-Kayla (Watan TV, December 11, 2022).
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:
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.
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).
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.
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,
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).
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.
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,
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).


Jordan News Agency

Palestinian delegation calls on launching parliamentary coalition against Israel’s apartheid

 نسخ الرابط

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


Education for Liberation

December 6, 2022

 / By

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)



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.

The Problems with BGU Department of Politics and Government: Hagit Keysar a Case in Point


Editorial Note

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



Hagit Keysar in Zochrot

צילומים חטופים


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

The Civic View From Above hagit keysar

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.


The Civic View From Above

hagit keysar (CV)

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.

Seee also:



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.

SNAPSHOTS | צילומים חטופים

Collection, duplication and dissemination: Hagit Keysar Zochrot Gallery – 3/12/09 – 21/01/10

Bashing Israel Pays Dividends Abroad: The Case of Ariella Azoulay


Editorial Note

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. 


Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 9 ]
Time Travelers in
A Stereoscopic Journey
Issam Nassar and Ariella Aïsha
Guest Editors
Palestine, a small country on the eastern
shore of the Mediterranean, was part
of the Ottoman Empire until 1918.
Like most other parts of the empire, it
witnessed great transformations during
the nineteenth century with major
growth in its economy, population, and
administration. Naturally, such changes
had important implications on its society
and the lived landscape. Various colonial
powers of the time were interested in
Palestine’s strategic location between
Asia and Africa, and its connection with
the biblical narrative often served as a
convenient pretext for different imperial
ambitions. Several schemes to establish a
foothold in the country and surrounding
areas, and to colonize it, had been
afloat by one or the other competing
colonial powers since the Napoleonic
invasion of Egypt. Photography, from its
inception, had been seen as a technology
that could facilitate the extraction and
accumulation of visual wealth from
non-European peoples. The arrival of
photography in Palestine was shaped by
such imperial and colonial desires and
biblical and Oriental imaginations.
France, Britain, and Russia, in
particular, were competing to establish
a presence in Palestine. By the end
of the nineteenth century, the newly
established Zionist movement in Europe
joined in with the efforts to colonize
Palestine, where they wanted to establish
a Jewish homeland. With more and more
cameras in Palestine held by European
photographers and entrepreneurs,
images of Palestine, considered Holy
Land for Christianity and Judaism,
began to take on an important role for
colonial powers. This is not to suggest
that photography was limited to serving
[ 10 ] Time Travelers in Palestine | Issam Nassar and Ariella Aïsha Azoulay
colonial ambitions. Rather, by its construction of Palestine as a biblical heritage,
photography served in the efforts to present the land not as a socially inhabited
place, but rather as a dreamland awaiting to be “redeemed” and “restored.” In other
words, photography participated in the visual colonization of Palestine by helping
to construct it as the Bible land, rather than a country with people and society – a
mission that prevailed through early Euro-American photography. This image, though
predating the Zionist slogan of “a land without a people for a people without a land,”
contributed to the efforts to physically colonize the country and create a system in
which the immigrant Jews are the only legitimate people in Palestine.
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 11 ]
With the invention and popularization of stereoscopic photography – where
two images of the same subject were taken at the same time by a camera with two
lenses – consumers in Europe and the United States could view faraway places using
a special viewer that creates the illusion of a three-dimensional scene and become
familiar with these places. Euro-American commercial companies were quick to
send photographers to take photographs that they could commercialize and sell to
different audiences. These collections of stereoscopic images were often organized
thematically and, accompanied by captions and narratives, presented those different
people to white Euro-American consumers.
The collections were promoted through an emphasis on places in “Bible Lands.”
This is how the collection still features, for example, in the index of the University of
Chicago Library, among other places. While in 1880 the brothers Underwood started
with door-to-door sales of souvenir collections, they quickly became a big company
that was selling “300,000 stereoscopes a year and producing more than 25,000 cards
a day.” They took approximately 600 images in Palestine. Little is known about the
circumstances under which they were taken and by whom. One thing is clear – what
the Western and European viewers saw had little to do with the people from the world
where these images were taken. The commercialized images carry only the brand of
the company and no mention of the Palestinians who guided the photographers and
assisted them in the pursuit of their photographic expeditions.
This issue of the Jerusalem Quarterly is based on the exhibition Time Machine:
Stereoscopic Views of Palestine, 1900 that we curated in 2017.1 We invited around
fifty scholars and artists to select stereoscopic cards from the one hundred images
taken in Palestine around 1900, and to write new captions for them. These images
were originally taken as part of a general imperial attitude toward another’s world:
they were there to be taken (in photographs), to be made a source of profit, and an
object of entertainment for the Euro-American public. The collection of these images
raises a set of questions about photography – distance and proximity, resources and
primitive accumulation, public and private viewing, regime of rights and care for the
world, reproducibility and ownership, photographer/photographed-persons relations,
and the like – as well as political questions about imperialism, colonization, conquest,
destruction, migration, expulsion, memory, legacy, patrimony, and exploitation.. We
invited the contributors to address some of these questions that are absent from the
original captions. We also asked them to propose captions that interact on the one
hand with the original captions of the stereoscopic cards and on the other with the
current state of Palestine.
Our assumption was that these images, taken in 1900 cannot be viewed today
without the imprint of the colonial project of destruction. After all, much of what is
captured in the photographs no longer exists. We invited the contributors to dwell in
this time-space created between 1900, the moment when the images were taken, and
the moment of writing more than a century later, to reflect on what happened, what
[ 12 ] Time Travelers in Palestine | Issam Nassar and Ariella Aïsha Azoulay
should not have happened, and what may still happen. These images of Palestine,
commercialized and widely disseminated at the dawn of the twentieth century,
included images also from Syria and Lebanon as part of a single region. The Sykes-
Picot agreement between imperial powers on how to divide between them other
people’s lands through a regime of mandates, and later, the imposition of partition
and the state of Israel on the area, destroyed this geographical and cultural continuity
of which Palestine was part. It turned the majority of Palestine’s population into
undesired “outsiders” in their homeland, and into refugees in camps that surround it
in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Time Machine: Stereoscopic Views of Palestine, 1900, Pembroke Hall, Brown University, March – May
2017 (design Erin Wells, curators I.N. & A.A.A.).
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 13 ]
We were interested in how this three-dimensional space of stereoscopic images
was used to convey visual information about Palestine. The set of these one hundred
images was printed in a popular edition and sold with a stereoscopic viewer. The
cards show Palestine landscapes and residents. However, with the help of the latest
3D-technology of its time, spectators were encouraged to conflate what they saw
with biblical sights. We noticed this in the form of juxtaposition of daily situations
in a market or a bazaar, in which people are seen busy in their occupations, with
panoramic, often unpopulated landscapes, presented as biblical scenes in which the
natives are captured embodying past figures. Often, the original captions depict the
presence of indigenous people as impeding a more direct gaze into the “Holy Land”
and its surroundings.
The companies responsible for the extraction of these images from Palestine are
also responsible for the cultivation of different gaps between viewers who contemplate
the images in the privacy of their living rooms in the turn-of-the-century United
States or Europe – and the local population, often depicted as guardians of a cherished
past, but who may not be trusted to be its best guardians. This is reflected in the
tension between images and captions. The original captions often highlight explicitly
the distance between the Western observer and the native population, its habits and
customs, and its modes of eating, trading, living, etc. Such is the case with captions
such as: “The native mode of grinding coffee” or “This market, with its throng of
robed and turbaned business men (Arabs, Jews and Turks), its meek donkeys and
dignified camels, is just as Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos used to know.”
Those images, in which the beautiful and beloved country of Palestine is captured
before its systematic colonial destruction, invite 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?
With the original and revised captions, we invite the readers of this volume to look
at these images from a dual perspective: on the one hand, what could be seen in them
at the time when the destruction of Palestine and the creation of Israel in its place
could not even be feared or imagined, and on the other hand, how they can contribute
today to the struggle to decolonize Palestine.
Issam Nassar is JQ’s consulting editor and professor of History at Illinois State
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay is professor of Modern Culture & Media and Comparative
Literature, author of Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (Verso, 2019).
[ 14 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
It is not surprising that the very first image in this collection depicts the town of
Jaffa as seen from the sea: this was normally the first close-up view of Palestine that
the growing number of foreigners arriving by boat around 1900 would have seen,
since Jaffa was then the country’s most important port. Because it lacked a deepwater
harbor, however, large ships anchored offshore, and passengers and goods were
then transported to land on small boats, one of which is visible in the image. As
the original caption suggests, Jaffa had been an important port since ancient times
and is mentioned in the Bible and in early Christian writings. When this image was
made it was a thriving urban center with some thirty thousand inhabitants (roughly
60 percent Muslim, 30 percent Christian and 10 percent Jewish). Its rapid population
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 15 ]
growth in the later nineteenth century, and the establishment of new neighborhoods
outside the “old city,” had been driven in large part by the dramatic expansion of
citrus cultivation, particularly the famous “Jaffa orange” grown on the coastal plains
surrounding the city and shipped to Europe and beyond through its port. Jaffa had
its own municipal council since 1871 and was connected to Jerusalem by railroad in
1892; it had by then become the country’s de facto economic capital.
In 1909, inspired by Zionism’s program of transforming Palestine into a Jewish
homeland, a group of Jews founded what they envisioned as a new, modern, and
exclusively Jewish neighborhood to the north of Jaffa’s historic center; it came to be
known as Tel Aviv (“Hill of Spring”) and quickly grew into Palestine’s largest Jewish
urban center. By the late 1930s, owing to the large-scale Jewish immigration enabled
by the British who ruled Palestine from 1918 to 1948, Tel Aviv was roughly twice as
populous as Jaffa and encompassed one-third of the country’s Jewish population. In
April–May 1948 Zionist military forces conquered Jaffa, 95 percent of whose Arab
inhabitants became refugees, and the city was subsequently annexed to Tel Aviv. The
eighteen thousand Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in Jaffa today (4 percent of
the population of Tel Aviv) struggle with poverty, discrimination, and displacement
through gentrification.
— Zachary Lockman
Jaffa is at the shore, on top of the hill, drawing the horizon line. She can now clearly
see it. Maybe it was her first arrival into the city port and, full of excitement, she
couldn’t wait. After the almost unbearable sea journey, she was about to land. She
absorbed her surroundings with every breath of salty air, searching for the right angle.
She held her camera between her hands, waiting. Finally, while boarding the small
boat that will take her into the port, she found it. “Hold the boat,” she managed to
shout and before taking a seat, she took a first shot of the city.
Jaffa, one of the oldest city ports in the world, thanks to its natural harbor, was
always a place where people arrived: merchants, pilgrims, and immigrants. They
arrived from Europe, the Far and Middle East, bringing spices and goods, prayers and
hopes. The port, the gate entrance to the Holy Land, marked also the cosmopolitanism
of the city in which, I imagine, a mixture of languages could be heard. This is the
reason why Jaffa was not only known as ‘Urus al-Bahr (Bride of the Sea) but also as
Um al-Gharib (Mother of the Stranger). Today, nobody arrives to Jaffa from the sea.
A photograph taken now from one of the few fishing boats that still harbors in the
port will show a line of fancy restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and trendy cafes
designed mainly for Jewish Israelis, as part of an effort to boost the “judaization” of
Jaffa. As happened in similar Palestinian sites that were not destroyed by the Tel Aviv
Municipality, the port has been “renovated” and turned into a touristic “attraction.”
Thus, the government has erased the site’s history in favor of a high-cost entertainment
complex that operates entirely in Hebrew and remains most of the time empty.
— Norma Muslih
[ 16 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 17 ]
Jaffa, 1 July 1905
I have your hat. I had hung it next to my other childhood collections, on the wall,
on top of my desk, a French old-fashioned piece of furniture I inherited from my
older sister. It’s at the same height as the prophet Ibrahim; a stitched drawing of him,
looking back to the sky, in one hand Ismael, and in the other a knife. The angel Gabriel
is calling him with a sheep between his arms.
It is a beautiful desk. She had hidden her writings in its little drawers. There I
found lost little comments about you. She liked to watch you observing us, curious
about what things you thought were relevant, and about other daily encounters that
had just passed by you without your attention.
She said that you tried to keep a scientific appearance, to look like somebody who
knows how things work, and how they would work better. There were many of you at
that time. She said she had noticed your fears, your distance from people and inward
Remember that day when the coffee boy bumped against you in the middle of the
bazaar and spilled some coffee on you? It was not an accident. She paid him to do so.
Then she asked me and the other boys dressed in our white jalabiyyas to surround you
and to move in a circle. She asked us to sing you an Eid al-Adha song and to smile at
you. She said that she wanted to blur your memories by flashing upon you some of
ours. It was then when you lost your hat, escaping from us.
She saw you leaving on a ship to Egypt, people talked about something that was
going to happen there. She wanted to ask you for a magazine that was being distributed
in the region but she said she couldn’t – you didn’t know she existed.
— Zahiye Kundos
[ 18 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
The Anemone coronaria commonly grows wild about Smyrna and in Asia
Minor, spreading far And wide as the most beautiful of spring blossoms,
growing on chalk soil along the edges of shrubbery. We cannot wonder that it
was already in ancient times a favorite of the inhabitants and excited in poetic
minds sensations such as can only be excited by surprising beauty. “I am the
Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys,” sings the first verse of the second
charter of Solomon’s Song, and there can be no doubt today what is here meant
by the rose of Sharon. It was an American, Fiske P. Brewer, who decided
this question, Narcissus tazetta, which likewise grows in Palestine, having
previously been considered the biblical flower. This gentleman, according to
the Edinburgh Review of 1886, while traveling in the year 1859 from Jaffa
to Ramleh, came upon a place where a considerable expanse of ground was
half covered with brilliant red flowers. At the sight of them some of his native
companions immediately exclaimed “Roses of Sharon,” and, when he inquired
about the name, he was told that the anemone was there Universally so called.
In truth, it would not be easy otherwise to speak of a rose in Palestine, for native
roses do not exist there – at least not where they would justify the association of
the Plain of Sharon with their name. Wild roses are found in Palestine only on
Lebanon, or where here and there R. centifolia is cultivated for the production
of attar, as in the Wadi-el-Werd [sic] (Rose Valley), near Hebron. According to
Ebers and Guthe in their “Palestine,” the translations of the Bible often use the
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 19 ]
word rose where there is no warrant for understanding by it a true rose. The roses
of Persia and Media were not introduced into Palestine before the Grecian period.
— Yazid Anani
Text selected from New York Times, 1 February 1891,
originally published in Illustrirte Garten-Zeitung, Vienna.
These stereoscopic images remind me of the double vision of a myopic man like
myself! It is true that the photographs are crisp and clear, that they are generally
taken from well-positioned angles, that the light is resplendent if a little garish and
overexposed at times. But reading the captions, then looking at the images again, it
became clear to me that the photographer “caught” his images but did not really see
them. He has gone looking for something other than what he has seen in front of him.
Instead of observing, therefore, as an artist should, he has created the crude fantasy of
an ideologist, a biblical geography that is not there, a land empty of its people because
they, with a few tolerated exceptions, might have been in excess, a disruptive element
to an otherwise perfect construction.
Yet this particular image felt like a spurning to that project, a retort to the fantasist
photographer. The flowers are vibrant, but dust is imminent. Nature asserting its
withering truth over fantasy. In the meantime, the two trees and the distant village in
the background evoke life persisting. Not a fantasy but indigenous life.
— Omar Al-Qattan
Grown to provide
And for no other task,
That was the might,
Of those roses
On a shared soil,
They grew,
Just, and no more than,
To service life as roses
And when the spells changed,
Their house,
Forced by trade,
It was made barren.
Barren of a vile craving,
That sent you without regret,
Making the land a castle,
By giving harvest a name.
Of your tears and cries, barren,
Of your pain,
Barren, until your return…
— Marcelo Svirsky
[ 20 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 21 ]
In the town where I grew up, a church and a mosque share a wall. The minaret
is towering high by the belfry. On the western part of the church, a mosque was
constructed in the thirteenth century. Entering the mosque’s square, one notices the
remains of the Byzantine basilica, including hewn stones, granite and marble columns
with capitals from the ruined church. Using the southern wall of the church, the
mosque’s northern façade overlooks the courtyard. On the eastern side of the prayer
hall, a Byzantine apse has survived. Underneath the mosque, there are subterranean
halls built by the Crusaders as water reservoirs for the church and the town dwellers.
The photograph in front of you shows a church and a mosque at the heart of a
lively Palestinian town. In the foreground of the photograph, men, boys, and women
are looking at the camera. One of the men is wearing a Turkish turban. Three children
shade their eyes with their hands to better see the photographer. Two children have
their backs turned to the camera, walking hand in hand alongside a woman shrouded
in black and white. A man stands on the threshold of his shingled home looking at the
photographer. The western flank of St. George’s Church is seen against the horizon
to the left. In the middle, between the holy edifices in the photograph’s background
and the people in its foreground, lie the buildings of the town of Lydda. Stone houses,
palm trees, white domes, arches.
Similar to the complex relations between photograph as an object of documentation
and one’s personal experience, this photograph is also part of an illusory consciousness.
From the town where I grew up, nothing has remained except for a church and a
mosque sharing a common wall. On a hot summer day in the month of July 1948,
the townspeople were ordered by the military to leave. A few hundred remained in
the town, hidden in the church’s cellars, among them my grandparents. This is a
photograph that presents a place I’ve never been to, but which is nonetheless etched
in my visual DNA.
— Dor Guez
[ 22 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 23 ]
In 1859, the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes rhapsodized in the newly-founded
Atlantic Monthly about the possibilities of the photograph, including stereographs. He
especially liked the presence of detail that was incidental to the scene, the visual clue
that French critic Roland Barthes would later call the punctum. While Barthes saw the
punctum as a “wound,” creating an unexpected sensory association between a chance
sight in the photograph and remembered experience, Holmes saw such moments as
comic relief: “Stretching across the court-yards as you look into them from above the
clay-plastered roofs of Damascus, wherever man lives with any of the decencies of
civilization, you will find the clothes-line.” Photography, in other words, may have
had pretensions to the grandeurs of biblical or historical painting but was inexorably
Half a century after his essay, this stereograph captured the quotidian experience of
some Syrians traveling near what is now Lod. The accompanying text also highlighted
an inconsequential detail: “The children with their slippered feet might easily be taken
for American or English children.” The slippers – like Barthes’s fascination with
strapped pumps in a James van der Zee photograph – cut across the local detail like
the cacti, the palm trees, and the mosque to create a sense of identification. Looking at
this little scene in 2015, I cannot help but see that Syrian child as well. Only now what
is in my mind is the drowned body of Alan Kurdi and so many others whose names
have not become known to us. Alan washed up on the Turkish coast. Palestinian
children fleeing from their exile in Syria to a second exile that never took place were
found drowned on the Libyan coast. Their photographs were censored by Facebook,
the stereoscope of the present day, until an outcry had the media corporation change
its mind. No Syrian or Palestinian child could happily ride down a street in Lod today,
unless their vehicle had the necessary yellow license plates. For Palestinians must
drive on different roads, using green license plates. Detail has become data. Wounds
— Nicholas Mirzoeff
[ 24 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
The Latrun valley cuts across the Armistice Line of 1948. After the majority of the
villages were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and half of the valley fell within the No
Man’s Land between Jordanian and Israeli held territory, three villages remained.
They were Yalu, Bayt Nuba, and ‘Imwas (Emmaus), the biblical town where Jesus
dined with two disciplines after he had risen. Although much of the population of the
village of ‘Imwas (Amwas in the Underwood and Underwood photograph) had fled
in 1948, two thousand residents remained in the village until 1967, when in June, the
remaining inhabitants of ‘Imwas, Yalu, and Bayt Nuba were expelled in Operation
Dani, and Yitzak Rabin, then commanding general of the Harel Brigade, ordered the
villages to be demolished.2
In line with the standard process by which the land of expelled Palestinians was
“legally” confiscated by the Israeli state (namely the Absentee Landlord Act, Land
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 25 ]
Acquisition Law, the Abandoned Areas Ordinance, etc.), the Jewish National Fund
acquired ‘Imwas and its surroundings. With the financing of the Canadian branch
of the Jewish National Fund, the “Canada Park” was established on the site of the
destroyed villages, funded almost exclusively by donations from Canadian Jews.
This photograph is not of “time travel,” but rather time compression. It layers
the imprint of a turn-of-the-century village over biblical fantasy, overlapped by the
presence of an absent Palestinian village on today’s map. The stereoscopic image
compresses the documentary evidence of a crime, stashed away under a verdant bed
of a triumphalist rewriting of history and redrawing of geography, into the ghostly
figures of women, who stand as a metonym for “the Village of Amwas.”
Working from representation of these women, then, we see history synchronically,
generations on generations of women who were the village itself. This is not to gaze
upon them as a metaphor for loss, a time lost, a village lost, or a nation lost. Rather,
their figures recall the social relations of ‘Imwas; social relations between villagers
and villages that form a social and historic chain that led to Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa,
Nablus, and, perhaps, even Beirut and Damascus. Time is compressed because the
representation of the women of ‘Imwas invokes social relations that predate the
imprint of this photograph and survive to this day.
— Stephen Sheehi
Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who wrote the book of captions for these stereoscopic cards,
describes this image as “Village of Amwas (Emmaus).” One could receive the
impression that the name in the parentheses is incidental, aimed at helping the readers
understand that the Arab village of Amwas (‘Imwas in transliterated Arabic) is the
same as a place called Emmaus. For those who are familiar with the New Testament,
the story of Jesus’ resurrection and his surprising visit to Emmaus creates a sense of
familiarity with the photograph. But the full caption that accompanies the photograph
shows us that the writer is completely aware of the gap between Amwas and Emmaus.
Amwas is, in the nineteenth century, the contemporaneous village, while Emmaus
is, according to tradition, the same place almost two thousand years earlier. The text
vacillates between descriptions of the poverty of village life and a vivid description of
the meeting between two local residents and Jesus, who appeared and then disappeared
again. None of this is surprising since the writer, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, is a biblical
This stereoscopic writing, which beautifully illustrates the stereoscopic photograph,
disappeared from the explanatory signs that the Jewish National Fund set up here in
the late twentieth century, when it established a park on the ruins of ‘Imwas, destroyed
by Israel in the 1967 war. Emmaus Nicopolis of the Roman Period appears repeatedly
in the explanatory signs throughout the park, whereas life in the village of ‘Imwas,
as well as in the also destroyed neighboring villages of Yalu and Bayt Nuba, has
completely disappeared from the narrative describing the place.
The struggle that I led, to return ‘Imwas to the narrative that appears on the signs,
reached a climax with the petition we filed to Israel’s High Court of Justice. The court
[ 26 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
ordered the JNF to add ‘Imwas to the area’s history. The posting of the new signs led
an unidentified person to take them down, but the JNF was forced to re-post them. At
the time of writing, the sign with both narratives still stands.
— Eitan Bronstein
Translated from Hebrew by Tom Pessah
On 17 March 1986, the residents of the Latrun area, including the villagers of ‘Imwas,
addressed a letter to the Israeli authorities, in which they wrote: “Our houses were
completely demolished and there is nothing left of our village. We were forced
to leave our land and houses, and all was destroyed along with our furniture, our
livestock and all our possessions, but we still hope to be able to return ….”3 They
never received a reply, and their right to return remains denied until this day. About
ten thousand residents were forcefully expelled by the Israeli army from Latrun on
6 June 1967. Their houses, as then Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan recalled in his
memoirs, were destroyed “not in battle, but as punishment … in order to chase away
the inhabitants.”4 Just a decade later the Jewish National Fund tried to cover up the
war crime by establishing on the site of the villages a forest and recreation site, the
“Canada Park.”
Today, the houses depicted in the image are rubble, their inhabitants “chased away,”
and the landscape obliterated by a planted forest. The “elimination of the native,” as
Patrick Wolfe5 understood the settler-colonial project, attacks and erases all – the land,
the people, the houses, the trees – that can question the settlers’ claim to ownership.
Everything we see in the picture has been erased.
While the image indeed captures the moment before settler-colonial destruction
in Palestine, it implies a similar claim to ownership and priority on the land. The
three women remain unidentified, folklorized, silenced, and frozen in time as mere
ethnographic objects in the biblical narrative of the Holy Land. It is a depiction of
Palestine without its people.
The letter by the Latrun residents, however, is different. Here people are speaking
about their relations and lived experiences on and with the land. Residents of Latrun
continued to write letters to the Israeli authorities demanding their right to return,
and they have also embarked on return visits to their land, called for their rights to
bury family members in the village cemetery, and requested signs to be erected that
acknowledge their villages of origin. Their return narratives and practices counter
the colonizer’s material and epistemic project of elimination, and, instead, present an
ongoing and living – not erased or silenced – voice of the people and their relations
to the land.
— Sophie Richter-Devroe
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 27 ]
Holy Land stereographs offered their
audience a way of looking at a contemporary
landscape so as to transpose a different time
onto it. The text accompanying this view
turns to the city skyline, inviting the viewer
to travel to the time of biblical events that the
buildings would have witnessed millennia
ago. It also describes a history of attempts
to recapture the land for Christendom.
What might seem peculiar from our current
perspective is how the caption cannot but
help remark on the scaffolding around a
Crusader era tower, which the reader is told
was claimed by the German government,
bringing the viewer back into the realm
of secular political matters and current
events. The inclusion of the tower helps the
image on a technical level – to establish the
three-dimensional effect. Yet it is also the
inevitable fly-in-the-ointment of the dream
of seeing the past directly, instead becoming
part of the desire to see the past city through
the present. Presumably, the traveler in the
foreground would have also contended with
this wrinkle while gazing at the city and
landscape beyond.
— Hatim El-Hibri
[ 28 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 29 ]
The men and livestock gathered here in “the Lower Pool of Gihon,” the spring-fed
pools of Silwan, are evidence of the intimate relationship between Jerusalem and its
rural hinterlands. On market days, the rural intruded upon the urban, and the sublime
city reached out beyond its walls to draw sustenance from the human and animal labor
of its surrounding villages. Today, Israel’s separation barrier – which snakes around
Silwan – severs these networks, pulverizing the vital ecosystem that linked Jerusalem
with its villages, the urban with the rural, the human with the animal. Moreover, for the
past three decades in particular, Silwan has been the site of intensive Israeli settlement
efforts. Jewish settlers (aided by Israeli police and the pro-settlement Ir David
Foundation) have invaded Palestinian homes and evicted their inhabitants. The Israeli
government, meanwhile, has refused to grant building permits to Palestinians living
in Silwan and announced plans, a number of which it carried out, to demolish dozens
of Palestinian homes. In the past decade, even as settlers have torched Palestinian
olive groves in Wadi al-Rababa, the same “Valley of Hinnon” pictured here, Israeli
authorities proposed plans to build a park, called the King’s Garden, by demolishing
Palestinian homes in Silwan’s al-Bustan neighborhood – a perversion of the kind of
organic relationship between urban Jerusalem and the natural environment pictured
here. With such measures, the Valley of Hinnon, the analogue of hell better known in
English as Gehenna or in the Qur’an as Jahannam, has increasingly become a literal
hell on earth for its Palestinian residents.
— Alex Winder
[ 30 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 31 ]
The pool in Silwan encapsulates the irrational and unique features of the conflict in
Palestine. The pool is an archaeological dig which began in the nineteenth century
by Christians who were eager to support the “return” of the Jews to Palestine (both
for anti-Semitic and ecclesiastical reasons) and continued by Zionist archaeologists
in order to sustain “scientifically” the bizarre claim of ownership of a land after two
thousand years of “exile.” The pool in Silwan may or may not be from King David’s
biblical times (quite a few archaeologists are not even confident of a David’s era);
however, only a huge and complex project of fabrication and manipulation can turn
such a pool into one of many “proofs” that justify the colonization of Palestine in
modern times and the dispossession of its people.
The pool also represented the human tragedy of that colonization project that began
in 1882. For hundreds of years, ‘Ayn Silwan provided water for a beautiful, picturesque
village on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. The village was fortunate not to be
ethnically cleansed by the Zionist movement in 1948. It was in a way protected by the
tacit agreement between Jordan and Israel who partitioned Jerusalem between them,
leading to the villages west of Jerusalem being destroyed and those east of it saved.
However, after 1967, the ongoing Nakba reached Silwan as well, as it did the West
Bank as a whole. The village is now under the same danger of annihilation as were the
pre-1948 villages. Its survival or destruction will indicate the fate of the country and
its people as a whole.
— Ilan Pappé
[ 32 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 33 ]
Messianisms battle in this photo. For one, the caption depicts a latent promise,
awaiting exploitation by the Zionist project: a promise of redemption that seeks to
tie Messianic progress to the return of the Jewish people – who, at the time of this
photo are not natives but “from every land of earth” – to Israel. And yet, there is a
different Messianic redemption, one that seeks to renew a tradition that is described in
the caption: pelting the tomb of Absalom with stones. Absalom, guilty of fratricide, is
stoned on the basis of an ethical injunction: never to kill brothers and sisters.
We might read in this photo a bifurcated echo of Benjamin’s injunction: It could
have been otherwise; it can be otherwise. In the years following this photo, when
a claim was made upon the land, there were some who resisted – who refused to
commit fratricide. And today, the same call echoes: one must seek out alternate forms
of political life, recognize those alternative, transgressive forms that did exist, and
halt the historical onslaught masquerading as progress. If not, the dead are doomed,
unredeemed by a Messianic moment, and will have passed in vain.
— Peter Makhlouf
[ 34 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 35 ]
We are on the main shopping drag in the Old City. The open-air Mamilla Shopping
Mall is only a few minutes from here. Between the two, you can feast your eyes and
wallets on kitchy souvenirs and diamonds, stop in at the Gap and international chains
or peruse the antiquities robbed from the hills nearby (but worry not, they are stamped
by the Israeli Antiquities Authority).
Walking through the alleyways or the multimillion-dollar pedestrian shopping
area, you will be sure to enjoy the pause from the noise and pollution of cars. The Old
City merchants’ interactions with tourists from all over the world make this stretch
one of the safest areas in the country to spot Palestinians and marvel at the merchants’
ability to say a few words in an array of languages. Keep your eyes open for a rare
encounter with a covered Palestinian Muslim woman. It is not recommended that
you wander through the Muslim Quarter, where inhabitants are grumpier, and most
of what they sell are cheap plastics made in China and some local foodstuffs – these
are available, in any case, at “dollar stores” and at supermarkets across Israel, where
you will find similar products more hygienically packaged for your bland taste and
xenophobic well-being.
Unlike the welcomes you may get in Marrakesh – where Arabs still live in their
traditional ways – the “hellos” you get here are uttered more from desperation than
hospitality, which means that bartering will be favorable for you. Palestinian residents
of Jerusalem will sell merchandise at indescribably despondent low prices, because
apartheid policies enforced on them make for great shopping bargains!
It is hard to tell from the streets below, but Jewish-Israeli settlers have taken over
some of these homes, making Palestinians even more desperate. When you look up
along these streets and see barbed wire, it is usually because a settler and his family
throw garbage – or worse – onto the Palestinians below, in the hope that these Arabs
will voluntarily give up their homes and make the city Holy to Jews, and Jews only.
You might assume that Palestinians would emigrate, leave their homeland, and move
to a place where they are even less welcomed, but they like to make the most of their
Through a street not unlike this, before becoming prime minister of Israel, Ariel
Sharon walked to the Temple Mount in 2000 and set off the Second Intifada (he first
encountered Jerusalem as member of Haganah, 1947–48; died 2014). It was in a street
as this that Palestinians picked up rocks and even their shoes, to throw at Sharon’s
bodyguards and hundreds of policemen accompanying him, hoping – foolishly –
that a new Salah al-Din would come to “liberate” Jerusalem from the grips of Israeli
occupation (first capture of Jerusalem, 1187; died 1193).
— Helga Tawil-Souri
[ 36 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 37 ]
Where is Jesus buried? For many centuries, most of Christendom has accepted the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre as marking the site of both his crucifixion and burial.
The first church on the site was built in 330 by Constantine I; by the time this picture
was taken, it was a massive structure divided into six sections, each run by a different
Christian Orthodox or Catholic denomination. The people who gather in front of the
church are here for the Holy Thursday ritual of foot washing. This is likely the Greek
Orthodox ceremony – other denominations commemorated Jesus’s washing of his
disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, but their rituals were in other locations. Here, then,
are Palestinian members of the Orthodox church, gathering, climbing, watching,
Those who viewed these images in the United States or Europe likely had mixed
feelings about such rituals. Clearly, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a source
of fascination and awe – it is beautiful and historic and peopled. The interior of
the church is dark and rich with incense, its walls covered by images of Mary and
Jesus. Many Protestants found this decorated and ritualized space to be foreign and
excessive. One nineteenth-century visitor had dismissed the church as one of the
“puerile inventions of monkly credulity.” By the late nineteenth century, Protestants
had begun to claim their own alternative sites: Skull Hill and the Garden Tomb. These
were quieter spaces, and the U.S. and European tourists who traveled to the Holy
Land found them more congenial – a garden, a tomb, no churches or decoration.
This choice suited the habits of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Protestant tourists,
who based their religious reverence in an idealized landscape unencumbered by the
modern inhabitants of Palestine. This image of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
represented a place that would have been both fascinating and vaguely repulsive to
those who held the stereoscope. The ceremony and its people were a reminder that the
land of the Bible was also a land of modern Christians, Muslims, and Jews, with their
own claims to both the land and religious tradition.
— Melani McAlister
[ 38 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 39 ]
We have before us the prospect of
the road to Damascus. But look for a
moment on that rounded grassy knoll,
with two caverns yawning under it.
I never liked the song about the
green hill. Why spoil the image of
a nice green hill with an execution?
British grammar school gothic pastoral.
Can you make yourself feel that it
was all real? (No) And that it was for us
He hung and suffered there? (No)
Try again.
We are standing on a beautiful
balcony. Look, Tamim al-Barghouti says
to me, look deeper, there is a massacre
going over there. See the gathering
on the horizon. The bodies, standing,
sitting, in-between? The people you
thought were going? They were enroute.
They’ve just come back.
Can’t you make yourself feel that it
is all real?
They are looking east across a space.
They have before them the prospect
north of Jerusalem. They shut their
But if I keep my right eye open, I
find that it’s OK to move nearer to the
wild gap; and that I don’t need to fear
the stones.
— Lyndsey Stonebridge
I look. I stare, trying to find the voice
in the picture. I find colours; dilapidated,
dual and never plural— with shades and
slants that are neither black nor white
completely. I return to the faces in the
picture, to the man and woman sitting on
the roof, to the young boy dangling his
legs, to the (wo)man wrapped in white
from head to toe. I look again and see
almost static bodies leaning on the
landscape. I look at the picture once
more— while enlarging it, I distort the
nuances of the face and the things placed
— at once in order and in a hurry — here
and there. The unclear in the picture
becomes more unclear; perhaps the
unclear and the disquieting of tomorrow.
I try again to dwell on the intricate
lines of the rug, the borders of things,
the bodies — standing, sitting or inbetween
—, the faces, the heads —
partly or completely covered — and the
silhouettes of rocks and houses in the
background. I spot beings of trace and
traces of being scattered everywhere.
As if everything were (and remains) en
route. I spot the Palestine that was— a
“was” whose tense has metamorphosed
itself into a being with multiple tenses—
tense tenses—wherein surviving pictures
and murmurs will always (re)turn to the
origins whenever the shutter drops…
— Yousif M. Qasmiyeh
[ 40 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 41 ]
Bab al-‘Amud is referred to by many Palestinians today as Bab al-Shuhada’ (to bear
Just as the occupation varies from space to space in Palestine, so does apartheid,
and this gate has its own mechanisms of settler colonialism that appear and disappear.
The gate is the passageway to al-Aqsa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the
Wailing Wall. It branches afterwards to reveal a bustling marketplace encompassing a
variety of shops, from bakeries, and restaurants, to souvenirs shops, perfumeries and
electronic stores. It is also the path taken home by many Palestinians who live in the
Old City.
Among the daily bustle of life, the occupation is a constant via military presence,
surveillance cameras, frequent searches, and execution of Palestinians. Here, on 19
February 2016, Israeli soldiers riddled Mohammed Abu Khalaf’s twenty-year-old
body with fifty-plus bullets. Killing and maiming constitute the ultimate form of
erasure after the erasure of history and language and culture. Just in the span of ten
months, ten Palestinians were murdered here. This is part of collective punishment.
Bab al-‘Amud has witnessed endless Palestinian resistance against the occupation,
which prompts a complete shutdown of the area followed by the threatening swarm
of the Israeli army into the streets to terrorize Palestinians. Bedouin communities like
those seen in the photo have been mostly eradicated from Palestine. Those that remain
are repeatedly demolished by the occupation, and rebuilt in defiance by the Bedouins
to be demolished again – some over one hundred times – Susiya, Jabal al-Baba, Um
al-Hiran to name a few – are at the forefront of resisting settler colonialism.
I don’t walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.
Mahmoud Darwish, “In Jerusalem,” in The Butterfly’s Burden.
Copyright © 2008 by Mahmoud Darwish, trans. Fady Joudah,
Copper Canyon Press. Reprinted by permission.
— Amin Husain and Nitasha Dhillon
[ 42 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 43 ]
This is a stereoscopic photograph about vantage points. One can photograph some
of the other stereoscopes in the collection from this slope on the Mount of Olives
in al-‘Ayzariya. Stereoscopy feels like theater in agony. It creates an impression of
reality by misleading the mind into a third dimension when there was none to start
with – simply by altering a millimeter in the same perspective. In many ways Yasser
Arafat’s final independence project did precisely that. And the unfinished Palestinian
Parliament, not far from where this stereoscope was shot, was in fact architecturally
designed in this vein.6 Jerusalem was to collapse into a two-dimensional space framed
by the windows of the privileged few typing away a future Palestinian state.
Ironically the vantage point of the photographer looking onto the firmly standing
“native” who is in turn looking outward, is in line with the gaze of the Jewish settler
colony today: a towering top-down view cut by starkly decisive geometric lines in all
their kinds. Here, they are roads protecting the monastery and its insertion of pine into
the landscape. Though Underwood and Underwood’s colonial gaze seemingly adored
sameness, class structures nevertheless unfold; the caravan versus the walker, the
horse-rider versus the donkey-rider. The scene reminds me of the Lumiere brothers’
1896 tracking shot of “Leaving Jerusalem by Railway,” where class structures unfold
in zones of difference in dress codes across the platform.
But al-‘Ayzariya still walks. Every Friday at noon scores of youth walk to, into,
over, and under the Wall in protest. And every Sunday at dawn a handful of its elderly
try and jump over the Wall to open their vegetable shops on the other side of Jerusalem
and save wrinkled fruit.
— Oraib Toukan
[ 44 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Fearing contagion, the governing of leprosy was fundamentally based on exclusion
and segregation. Today in Jerusalem the “wretched lepers” stigma is extended to an
entire “infected population” banned from Jerusalem and kept outside of its newly
extended walls.
— Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 45 ]
A man and a woman pass in front of the camera, in movement through the hills above al-
‘Ayzariya, a town just east of Jerusalem. In their original title for the photo, Underwood
and Underwood tell us that this is “Bethany, where Our Lord was anointed by Mary,”
sweeping away the town’s Arabic name (and its inhabitants) in favor of its biblical
ones: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Likewise, the clergyman Jesse Lyman Hurlbut,
in the text from which Underwood and Underwood excerpted their description, all
but commands the viewer to erase the photograph’s degraded, impoverished present
in favor of its legendary biblical past. “What a squalid, miserable place it is!” he
exclaims. “We must sweep away the present and build in our thought another Bethany
on that hillside; for the Palestine of to-day is only the shadow and ruin of the Palestine
two thousand years ago.”
Writing in 1913, Hurlbut had no idea just how completely the Palestine of this
[ 46 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
image would be “swept away” in 1948, to clear space for other narratives, peoples,
houses, and realities – how much the state of Israel would rely, like Hurlbut, on the
glory of the biblical past and the detestable “squalor” of the Ottoman present to
justify its establishment. Reading this original caption today, it is almost as if Hurlbut
were presaging the Nakba, sanctioning the destruction it would ultimately enact (and
indeed, continues to enact) on Palestinian lives and livelihoods. And yet contemporary
viewers of this image may, despite their best efforts, find themselves doing precisely
as Hurlbut commands: they too must “sweep away” their own, post-Nakba present –
which is indeed a present of “ruins” – to imagine walking alongside this man and this
woman, through a Palestinian past equally as distant to us now as the biblical one was
to Hurlbut, Underwood, and Underwood.
Yet as Hurlbut is quick to remind us, as the site of Lazarus’ tomb (still a major
Christian pilgrimage site), al-‘Ayzariya is steeped in legends of resurrection and
rebirth. “There are other questions that haunt us concerning Lazarus after his return
to life here,” Hurlbut writes. “What became of him? What kind of a man would
he be who has come back from the other world?” The very questions that “haunt”
Hurlbut’s knowledge of Lazarus’ tale also haunt contemporary Palestinians’ present,
as generations dispersed in Jordanian, Lebanese, Syrian, and Iraqi camps, and in cities
and towns around the world, try to imagine what it would mean to “return,” Lazaruslike,
to a land and a time they have known only in memory, in imagination. Echoing
Hurlbut’s references to literary invocations of Lazarus – including Tennyson’s queries
in “In Memoriam” and Browning’s tale of a doctor examining the “madman” Lazarus
thirty years after his resurrection – we might here, today, invoke the Lazarus-like
speaker of Mahmoud Darwish’s “In Jerusalem:”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.
So too the man and woman in this photograph, walking, forgetting (like Lazarus)
to die, silently refuse to be swept away, and invite us to imagine other Palestinian
Lazaruses, returning from other worlds.
— Emily Drumsta
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 47 ]
A distance in time separates us from this image,
but the place it depicts is very familiar. Men
trying to sell their harvest of wheat, or barley.
It must have been in the early summer, when
the harvest season is usually at its peak. The
sellers’ faces are darkened from the sun, and
their attire attests to the distance in time. In
this familiar, yet distant place, the two sellers
in the foreground of the image gaze toward
what became, a few decades later, the police
station. During the Israeli army presence in
the middle of Bethlehem, the station was
also an interrogation center. Speaking Arabic
and using Arabic pseudonyms, such as the
infamous “Abu al-Nimr,” Israeli security
services interrogated many Palestinians in that
The Nativity Church in the background is
also a familiar place. In 2002, it was the site
of deadly events when Israeli tanks filled the
square and besieged the church. They killed eight Palestinians and an Armenian
priest. With the end of the siege, thirteen Palestinian fighters left the church and went
into exile. The siege of the church took place in early summer of 2002, very likely
around the same time of year when the image was taken, more than a century before.
During the siege, no sellers were seen in the vicinity. Perhaps it was the result of the
curfew imposed by the Israeli army, or maybe because in that year, no wheat harvest
was reported in Bethlehem.
— Issam Nassar
[ 48 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Two nuns with white umbrellas herd
school-aged girls, heads bent down
and some holding books, into a long
queue making its way to the Church
of Nativity. The photographer stands
on the roof, his camera focused on
the complex architecture of bodies in
the expansive square below. Most are
on the left side of the queue, packed
close together in bunches that hug the
receding curtain of shade, as the late
morning sun gathers strength on a
hot summer day. One can almost hear
the din of numerous conversations
echoing off the walls. It is harvest
season, after all! A horse-pulled
carriage is also heading towards the
church. What is the occasion?
The rest of the square is sprinkled
with men, women, and children
going to and from with receding
purpose, taking little interest in the
goats, sheep, and three mounds of
grain for sale. The early morning
shopping rush has dissipated and the
square is in a more contemplative
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 49 ]
mood. Like the family and friends congregated on the bottom right of the queue, it is
time to take stock and regroup before heading home for the main meal. What are they
talking about? Further down on the right, a lone figure in a smart jacket with one hand
bent into his pants’ pocket, stands at the foot of a flight of stairs casting a gaze at the
theater before him.
This lively photograph of Bethlehem is accompanied by a long text, written in
London or New York, that ignores the people in the square and dismisses the built
environment surrounding it as typical of the “dull, ugly, architecture of … the indolent
East.” It privileges, instead, the distant spire of the Greek church and the monastery
on the right of the square as platforms for the Christian redemption of Palestine. Much
has been said about the scientific arrogance, religious bigotry, and imperial ambitions
of biblical geography of the Holy Land, a genre to which this collection belongs. Most
of its pictures are lifeless portraits of landscapes presumably touched by the feet of
Jesus; ruthless staging of shepherds, tillers, wheat grinders, and lepers as icons of an
unchanging world; and claustrophobic snapshots of crowds in tight spaces participating
in exotic rituals. The discursive violence of erasure and racism of this genre primed
Palestine for British rule and Zionist colonization with catastrophic consequences.
But the people in the square have not gone away. This unique image tears through
the ideological straightjacket of the writer and invites counter imaginations about the
pasts and the futures of Palestine and the Palestinians.
— Beshara Doumani
[ 50 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 51 ]
Despite the landscape bearing no immediately identifiable sign, it is not very difficult to
locate the cameras’ cone of vision in the contemporary landscape. The maps prepared
by Underwood and Underwood mark the perspective of each stereoscopic pair on top
of a relatively precise topographical rendering. Such marks anticipate the creation of
“before and after” images. Simply locate your stereoscopic camera (or today a 3D
scanner) at the edge of Mishor Adumim – an industrial zone east of one of the West
Bank’s largest settlements – and take an image looking east-southeast. The pairing
of “before and after” photographs complete the task of stereoscopic pairing. While
the latter’s simultaneous but different perspectives springs out the third dimension,
the former juxtaposition gives rise to the fourth. Before and after photographs tend
to depict, celebrate, or scandalize, the passage of time as a story of radical change:
development (here a city where there was none) or destruction (here a ruin where
there once was a city) with the change in either direction being the result of violence
to people and place. However, in the mountain of the scapegoat, your contemporary
“after” images would show the very same barren mountains as in the 19xx “befores.”
Freezing out time takes its violent toll too: squeezed between a live-fire range and a
nature reserve it is the site of the continuous eviction-return-and eviction of al-Jahalin
– a Bedouin group that settled there after being expelled from the Naqab in 1948.
— Eyal Weizman
[ 52 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Once upon a time the River Jordan had plenty of water. It was enough to provide the
farmers along its banks with all the water they needed. The river poured an ample
amount into the Dead Sea, sustaining this unique body of water. It provided its visitors
with space for sports and attractive picnic areas along its banks. But then its waters
were diverted, its banks were closed to visitors by barbed wire, and the ground on
either side was mined. From a river providing sustenance, connectivity, and pleasure,
it was transformed into a noose that closed in those living on its western bank.
One day all this will change. The river will flow again in the vast open, liberated,
and united Great Rift Valley that stretches from northern Syria through the Dead Sea
to Lake Tiberius. The Dead Sea waters will rise again and the unique sea will be saved.
No more sink holes will form along its shore. Sporting events will resume again. The
mines will be cleared and parks will be built where bombs were once planted. And it
will become possible again to picnic and enjoy what the river has to offer. Then more
photos would be taken of happy people rowing down the beautiful River Jordan.
— Raja Shehadeh
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 53 ]
Workers from a nearby-gated housing community collecting water from a spring for
the front lawns of five of its estate houses located near the US-EU funded Palestinian
Academy for Security Studies.
— Hanan Toukan
[ 54 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 55 ]
The information could have merely clarified where this photograph was taken.
However, the reference to “ancient Jericho” adds a biblical touch to the image and
dictates the way we view the photograph. Traditional dress fulfills the text’s promise
and adds a touch of sanctity, or at least some ceremonial atmosphere to the situation
itself – a father and son, or perhaps grandfather and grandson sitting at a strategic spot,
ignoring the landscape. The conversation seems more important.
Or maybe the landscape is so habitually obvious that there is no need to regard it?
As far as I understand, the landscape in this region has never been obvious, and this
adds weight to the substance of their conversation, or lesson, or promise of sorts.
The question arising from the photograph is why there? Why at this vantage point
overlooking the landscape, why is this occasion taking place at a site of power and
control? No doubt this is part of the text, that non-textual part, like a “presentation,”
perhaps that which the text cannot explain. And perhaps their presence at the cliff
symbolizes precisely the possible danger and loss hovering over any landscape by
force of its demand for ownership or belonging.
However, a camera and a photographer are present. The event of photography
empties the photograph of any speculation as to the event itself – it is a planned
occasion and technically even demanding. This is no mere snapshot. Much time is
needed to operate the heavy, clumsy camera that must have required glass plates.
Whose choice is it to show the child’s face, while the adult (perhaps his grandfather
or father) is unidentifiable? Perhaps the site was chosen for its light, or the body
posture it enabled? Does the photographer produce a kind of homage to the work
of painter and master-etching artist Gustave Doré, whose works are identified with
biblical imagery? In both cases this is a dialogue between an image and an object.
Holding a Bible in one’s hand while viewing Gustave Doré’s illustrations changes
one’s regard of the image. I presume a similar thing happens when one holds the
platform on which the photograph is shown with the information in its caption – traces
of time that change its patina or volume dictated by the technology.
And there still remain unanswered questions about the event itself.
— Miki Kratsman
[ 56 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 57 ]
Despite their confusion about the exact location of the biblical town of Ramah, upon
reaching this street, the travelers confidently declared that they had arrived. For the
purposes of their exploration of this “typical street in an Oriental city,” the actual
name of the city was of little importance. The street’s narrowness and irregularity
suggested to the travelers a primitive disorder that transcended city boundaries. An
almost identically defined disorder was diagnosed by the travelers’ contemporaries
from Mumbai to Cairo. Architecture itself became medicalized: colonial discourse
turned the dirty, crowded streets into a source of plagues and chaotic street patterns
into a symptom of the peoples’ lawlessness.
Orientalist travelers’ denigration of the built environment came into contradiction
with their simultaneous admiration of the architecture’s simplicity and harmony with
its landscape. As it turned out, though, a foolproof architectural analysis was not
necessary to achieve the ultimate end of Orientalist discourse: the construction of a
totalizing knowledge that asserted authority over the region and the people in it.
When these travelers arrived in Palestine, there were no plans to alter the cities
and towns they visited. Yet the discursive need to bring order out of the chaos of the
Oriental city was already taking on physical dimensions in cities like French Algiers
and British Calcutta. As colonial aspirations shifted from knowing to dominating,
Oriental architecture was no longer a mysterious relic but a military threat. Narrow
streets were difficult for the army to penetrate; local public spaces were a locus of
resistance. Across the colonial world, architects and planners considered themselves
to be at war with the built environment. In Palestine, the travelers’ representation
of the Oriental city reflected, predicted, and justified the physical destruction of the
existing architecture and its replacement with the European-style public squares and
modernist gridiron patterns essential to much of Israel’s architecture today.
— Sophie Kasakove
[ 58 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 59 ]
The photographer reassures himself that from the spot where he is positioning himself
to take the picture, no one will pay attention to the fact that the “Arab with a gun, on
that heap of stones,” is only a young kid, probably the son of one of the women in
the set. The author of the original caption would even call him “a guard watching for
robbers.” The photographer could not anticipate that over a century later, the visual
data he is capturing could be zoomed in so that the expression of the young guy will
reveal the joy he felt when he was offered the role of a guard. The photographer
seems confident in the legibility of the image he was staging, as well as in the role
distribution among the protagonists: an overseer, women (“the weaker sex”) “scattered
in the field” as “servants,” and a “householder” who can be distinguished by his “dress
and dignity of carriage.”
Indeed, the author who viewed the stereoscopic cards sometime later, though he was
possibly more attuned to the “Biblical scene” than the photographer, saw everything
eye to eye with him. He even didn’t forget to reassure the viewers and readers, with
whom he associates through the familiarity of a “we,” that “in our country we should
devise some machine to screen them apart [the tares and the wheat], but here labor
is cheap, not over six to ten per day, and everything is done by hand.” The gaze of
both, however, was colonized by the opposition of backwardness with modernity as
capturing the human condition. Therefore, they could not anticipate that those women
in the field could be gleaners, collecting leftovers after the harvest, that surplus
purposefully left by the field’s owner to the poor and the stranger. These women were
protected by a local custom, whose abolishment is anticipated by the gaze of a modern
imperial overseer. Against this gaze, we may even see these women as prophets of
sorts. Working in the shadow of an invading colonial gaze they dimly envisage the
threat to their very ability to use their own best seeds and collect them for the coming
— Ariella Aïsha Azoulay
[ 60 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
She stepped out of her village, ‘Askar. One day it would be a refuge. But not yet. Her
feet met the cracked road in an awkward, familiar embrace. The sun was relentless
and the air dry and hot. The mountains stood imposing. One promised blessings. The
other threatened curses.
How much fruit would the fields yield? How much fruit would her body birth?
One mountain was the highest, the oldest, the most central, the most sacred, the
site of annual pilgrimage. The other stored living remains: corals, skeletons, waste,
and shells. The sediment of stories glittered in their beauty. Their ugliness screeched.
Descending the steps, the cool air of the well was always an awakening. The
piercing touch of the silver on flesh was a reminder of the heat above. The summer
had not reached the depths of the well. In her descent she reveled that here too, there
were sediments of stories: of thirst, and salvation, of life and death.
She lived for the water. It was the deepest source of comfort and inspiration. It was
grounded in this place and its layers but a refuge from it.
Between the past and the present, the claims and the promises, the blessings and
the curses, she rested on the cool stone, full of longing for this place and the relentless
desire to escape it.
— Sherene Seikaly
The gloomy light in the cave somehow mitigated the blistering sun outside. Esther
stepped silently into the well, where she encounters a woman who strikes her as the
young Rachel. The woman’s eyes were attracted to her reflection in the water, as if she
hoped to grasp something of the hellish nightmare that haunted her last night.
Esther was unsettled by the icons posed on the cave’s walls. She sat nearby her,
asking for her name and offering some dates and a lukewarm tea.
They tasted the dates and drank the tea.
Esther broke the silence and asked: “Are you here to contemplate?”
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 61 ]
Her question awakened a
ghost from the bottom of the
well. Through his voice they
knew that without knowing
each other, they were hit by the
same vision.
The voice wanes off, but the
well remains seeped with horror.
The women’s bewilderment
and shock were interrupted by
the entrance of a tall European
man with a camera on his back.
The young woman
whispered to Esther: “I know
this guy. I have guided him to
this place, looking for the event
of photography to take place.”
“Shall we start?” the
photographer asked sternly.
The young woman nodded
in compliance.
Without saying a word,
Esther held tightly the woman’s
hand, and walked out.
When the sound of the flash
puffed, she was already on her
way, on the back of a donkey
praying that the flashing light
will magically exorcise the
horrific vision from the young
women’s eyes.
Years after Esther’s death, and the death of her daughter Malka, her grandson,
Joshua, my grandfather, sat on 16 November in his armchair not far away from the
city of Yaffa and read in the newspaper, with some pride mixed with compassion,
though not without repulsion, about a man with quite ordinary ideas, who entered
Jacob’s Well, and smashed with an axe the skull of a Hegumen. In the name of god.
— Hagar Ophir
[ 62 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 63 ]
This is my hometown.
The birthplace of my ancestors
Where my parents lived, played, worked, worshipped,
and died
Mother… passionate artist, radical activist
Father… community leader, elected official
I grew up in that big house with the large dome
A courtyard covered by a jasmine tree and the sky This was my playground
I made long jasmine garlands for Mommy
Oh…. I can still smell the jasmine.
At home, Mom sang as Dad played the oud
My fondest memory is of walking back from the bakery with my oldest brother
eating the fresh hot bread, skipping and singing. We would stop by my grandfathers’
He would give us some money, or sukar faddi (rock
candy crystals) from the store.
Everything around me was colorful and beautiful.
Then, in June 1967, things took a different turn. “War is imminent” we were told…
and we have
to prepare.
Mom, a very resilient and resolute woman, led
the efforts.
Next morning, backpack prepared with nametags
and contact information for all of the children.
The bags had some money, food, and water Mom placed some of her most valuable
bracelets around mine and my sisters’ upper arms and we were instructed to wear
long-sleeved tops to hide the bracelets.
The oud became silent and Mom stopped singing.
Tears drop on Mom’s cheek as she sews Palestinian flags and writes songs of
My sisters and I carry the flags and chant Mom’s songs in huge demonstrations
Nablus ya Jabal al-Nar, thawra ala al-isti‛mar.
Each protest is followed by funerals. This became everyday life
This is where I lived, loved, and resisted.
Where I broke all the rules, and became defiant… Where I endured the pain of
burying my best friend
Lina and many other martyrs…
The earth is still the same, olive oil and blood. This is my hometown
This is Nablus.
— Issmat Atteereh
[ 64 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Hurlbut invites us to look on
Nazareth as “home of the child
Jesus,” using the sweeping
landscapes and exteriors of the
photograph to paradoxically
reconstruct the interior of Jesus’
home, based on evidence from
the parables about him in the
books of Matthew, Luke, and
James. “There was a lamp on its
stand; a measure, used also as a
receptacle for food; a bed of a
roll of matting,” Hurlbut writes.
“The only chimney may have
been a hole in the roof.” This list
paints an intimate portrait of a
humble, homey interior, yet the
very intimacy of Hurlbut’s tone
contrasts with the composition
of the photograph. In the
foreground, a woman at work
carrying hay pauses to look out
over the city below. Her back is
turned to the viewer and to the
eye of the camera, and it is as
though this turning has compelled
the photographer to look up and
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 65 ]
beyond her, to the city below and, further out, to the hills and sky in the distance.
Maybe she, like the viewer, is looking out over the city – or maybe she has paused
to talk to the two men on horses down below, one of whom has his head turned toward
her, and toward the viewer. Instead of recreating the interior of Jesus’ home, we might
recreate the kind of social life that once took place between the residents of Nazareth,
the kind of conversation these three might have been having in 1913. Or, building off
Hurlbut’s assertion that “everybody naturally uses for illustrations the facts that he is
most familiar with,” we might ask with what facts contemporary Nazarenes are most
familiar, and what kinds of worlds and interiors they might imagine looking at this
photograph. They might think of the city’s many poets, such as Taha Muhammad Ali
and Tawfiq Zayyad, or the comfortable, familial interiors of Elia Suleiman’s films.
They might remember one particularly famous poem by Zayyad, “On an Olive Tree
in the Courtyard of My Home:”
Because I don’t weave wool
Because every day I am subject to detention
and my house is subject to the police
who come to search and “sweep”
Because I cannot buy paper to write on
I will carve what I say
I will carve my secrets
on the olive tree
in the courtyard of my house.
In this way we exchange one interior for another, one household for another. We
might also simply “remain for some time on this hill,” as Hurlbut invites us to do
in the first sentence of his description. But instead of “looking down upon the view
that our Lord must have seen hundreds of times,” we might remain with the woman
carrying hay and the men down below, recreating a social life – with its everyday
encounters and pleasantries – that today is marked, like the tree in Zayyad’s poem, by
narratives of detention, police searches, and checkpoints.
— Emily Drumsta
[ 66 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Although not mentioned in
the Gospels, the Fountain
of the Virgin in Nazareth,
known locally as St. Mary’s
Well, is where believers
place Mary drawing water
for her everyday needs
accompanied by the child
Jesus. Wells are public
sociable spaces, watering
spots where men and women
mingle, animals and children
meet, news is exchanged
and rumors circulate. “How
much do you suppose that
jar of water will weigh?”
the caption writer asks,
foregrounding an enduring
association between the
Virgin Mary and water. Cults
to imbibe her waters, famed
for their healing properties
to cure eye afflictions and
female infertility, became
the foundation of Marian
pilgrimages throughout the
Mediterranean. Affinities
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 67 ]
between fecundity and water are represented by the female uterus imagined as a
curvilinear earthenware jar or upside-down jug that mixes male and female elements.
Thus, a circum-Mediterranean corporeal metaphor of oppositions germinating
productively within the uterus (a human is created) continues its transposition
emblematically upward outside the body to the woman’s water jug (nourishing a
household) and outward as ever-flowing well water (quenching a people).
The 1900 caption and image explicitly connect this sacred site and “the present
life of this land directly with the events of nineteen hundred years ago.” Once pure
water streamed from the hills and mountains in the north, a source for the inhabitants’
drinking water flowing downward to the Virgin’s Fountain, a central Christian holy
site located at the heart of the main square of Nazareth, a city that is Israel’s largest
Palestinian Arab urban center. Since the late 1990s, the well is dry. There is no water.
Such states of enforced dryness are hallmarks of the post-1948 catastrophic realities
that created two Nazareths, bifurcating place into a Jewish Israeli Upper Nazareth that
rises above to encircle and hydrologically strangle the Palestinian Arab city below.
— Susan Slyomovics
[ 68 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 69 ]
The cover of Nitza Ben Ari’s Hebrew book Suppression of the Erotic in Modern
Hebrew Literature shows a framed photograph of two women in lesbian pornographic
imagery. A red tape covers their breasts, their waists down are outside the frame of the
picture. In the localization process of the book to the American market, not only was
the language translated, but the book’s cover was transformed as well. The English
translation shows a painting with biblical resonances of a woman holding a clay jar
on her shoulder. She is naked: the book’s title hides her breasts. Through this act of
image translation, the erotic charge and promise of the Woman-with-a-Clay-Jar image
becomes manifest.
When I first saw this Woman-with-a-Clay-Jar image, I thought, “This woman is
posing.” I went back to look at the other photos, to search for other acts of posing. I
imagined the interaction. “Stand like this,” “stand like that,” “no, there, in the light.”
There must have been a translator there, and a guide, a dragoman.
I too was once hired to be a dragoman. A European photographer came to
photograph places with histories connecting them to the Nakba. He needed someone
to show him around and talk to the people for him; I needed the money. The first place
we went was Lydda. He had a very big, slow functioning camera. He had to put it
on a tripod, and make long light and distance measures. Each photo took him about
fifteen minutes to take. I had to stop people in the street and tell them this man wants
to take a picture of you. The people were polite and said yes. Only after a minute or
two they realized what they had gotten themselves into. With each, the photographer
adjusted his gear and then for long moments told the person how to stand, adjusting
their bodies to his visual need. I translated. The women, I thought, were much more
trained in this art of bodily satisfying the masculine demand. In the car, I asked the
photographer why he used such a slow camera and stopped people in the middle of
their day for such a long time. He explained to me that that was exactly why he liked
to work with that camera; it takes a long time and then he can get to meet the people
whose portrait he takes.
— Tomer Gardi
[ 70 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 71 ]
Stereographs produce the illusion of depth and solidity, the mysterious sense of being
there. Left eye conspires with right to find in the convergence of lines, light, and
shadow a third dimension. Rationalizing the small discrepancies, the mind burrows
into shadow and glides over illuminated surfaces to form a single image. To look at
this stereograph and read its caption – “Western end of the plain of Esdraelon and Mt.
Carmel, from Sheikh Barak, Palestine” – is to experience another doubling of vision,
where difference is not so easily reconciled. Who are the unnamed people? What is
the woman looking at from the vantage of her roof? What is the man saying to the boy
– perhaps his son? The receding biblical landscape seems to swallow them, leaving
no trace.
We look at such scenes expecting them to reveal something, to make visible an
underlying coherence that has been lost. Incidental details take hold in our imagination.
The texture of the surfaces – jagged rock, hard hand-smoothed clay, and the dry rushes
on the roof that crackle underfoot. These minor revelations delineate the modes and
materials of construction. I hear the sound of work. A song, perhaps “Dal ‘Uwna,” is
sung to encourage collective effort, the refrain mimicking the sound of stamping feet
compacting clay and straw underfoot, or a scythe cutting grass. Its echoes are still
heard in south Lebanon, where Sada Kayed, a refugee from Balad al-Shaykh – who
might well be related to those pictured – sings a variation on it:
The beloved has left without bidding us farewell.
Oh birds, fly together,
Let us exchange sad times for happy ones.
I wish I were a garden planted with date palms,
Let my parents not give me to anyone by you!
… I have two kilos and a box of songs,
Those that are on my lips are different from those in my heart.
— Diana Allan
[ 72 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
We are taught that the stereoscopic image gave an added dimension to the flat, twodimensional
photograph. In the process, it forced the viewer to acknowledge the
medium in the viewing experience. The stereo photograph presents the foreground
as its focus, its subject, and its text. The background provides its depth, its receding
points of view, its backdrop and its context. Despite its illusions of unity and depth,
the stereoscopic image is bifurcated, cut in half, stacked, and layered within and
upon itself. Without the prosthetic stereoscope to aid, the image is doubled; locked
in a partnership of adjacency, it reveals the seams within its own composition and
complicity in the act of viewing.
Haifa lays low, kissing the Mediterranean, disconnected from Mt. Carmel to the
southeast. The image is almost abstract, line segments cutting from upper right to
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 73 ]
bottom left corners by the diagonal of the mountain edge, the line of the trees, and the
stark narrow band of the white wall. The diagonal that bisects the image is the bar of
history, the bar of 1948. Haifa was a lost city before Operation Bi’ur Hametz or the
“Passover Cleansing” by the Haganah’s Carmeli Brigade. The United Nations assigned
it to the Yishuv and its slow degeneration in Zionist control was an eventuality.
With this in mind, the biblical passage that accompanies the image (1 Kings xviii,
42–46) seems as prescient as it is ironic. The verse tells us that the prophet Elijah, on
Mt. Carmel, commanded his servant to go up and look at the sea. Seven times, he does
not see anything but then sees a small cloud rising like a hand over the water. It will
turn into a storm to break a drought over Palestine. It will be a cleansing rain. Elijah
sends the servant to tell the king to prepare for the storm.
The abstract photograph of Haifa – it is of Haifa, after all, and not of the foreground
of Mt. Carmel – offers us a text like scripture. It is read like a prophecy of acts that have
eventually transpired. The stereo image is folded upon itself, the back and foreground,
1900 and 1948. Two almost identical images locked in adjacency, both split by the
diagonal that folds Haifa under Mt. Carmel. The Palestinian man and his horse look
over the wall, over the diagonal lines. With him and at him, we look through the bar
of history but, indeed, we can only now detect the storm coming after it has already
— Stephen Sheehi
I really love this photographic view of a peaceful Haifa as seen from Mount Carmel,
and of the coastal road between Haifa and ‘Akka (now the Israeli city of Akko). The
road was once one of the major commercial arteries of Ottoman Palestine, and the
photograph evokes a time when the coastal cities of Haifa and ‘Akka were major
stops on Ottoman trading routes from the interior provinces of the empire to the
sea. The accompanying text alludes to the modernity that had “arrived at Haifa” due
to its location and its frequent trading visitors from Europe; it also alludes to the
large group of German settlers who comprised the once-thriving German colony that
settled in Haifa in the late nineteenth century. The photograph evokes a nostalgia in
the viewer for a vibrant commercial and economic past that is now no more: though
Haifa remains home to an energetic Palestinian population, it is no longer a vital stop
on a Palestinian trade route; no Palestinian goods can enter or leave now through the
port of Haifa; and there is now no real Palestinian economy to speak of.
— Sreemati Mitter
[ 74 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 75 ]
In Doris Lessing’s short story, “The Old Chief Mshlanga,” the protagonist is a young
white girl on a settler farm in southern Africa. Walking through the veld she “could
not see a msasa tree, or the thorn, for what they were” because her “books held tales
of alien fairies, her rivers ran slow and peaceful, and she knew the shape of the
leaves of an ash or an oak…” Standing on an ancient jutting rock, her eyes were
“sightless for anything but a pale willowed river, a pale gleaming castle.”7
Like this girl, the traveler in the Holy Land who describes the view from the “Mount
of Beatitudes” (where Jesus may have given his famous sermon, writes Hurlbut,
though most Christians today agree that it was elsewhere) sees in the distance the
Sea of Galilee and beyond that the Plain of Gennesaret where the people brought
their sick to Jesus to be restored. He sees the looming gap of the “Valley of the
Pigeons” as that place where robbers hid from Herod’s warriors and then slew each
other. Here too, the last battle of the Crusades. “Every place on which our eyes now
rest has its memories, sacred and historical.”
Yet the frame is filled with the unmistakable regular lines of field boundaries across
a wide stretch of intensely cultivated land. Who was plowing and planting this land?
Our traveler does not see them.
What do these tilled fields tell us about the land of Palestine just before European
Zionist settlers would begin to arrive, armed with arguments about redeeming the
undeveloped land of Palestine? Was their labor needed to make productive these
fields of the fertile plains of Hittin, long cultivated with cereals, summer crops, and
even cotton by Palestinian Arabs?
These fields attracted the Jewish National Fund that purchased a small number of
dunums in 1904, just a few years after our American Christian pilgrim stood here.
Now the plain lies thick with the sprawling buildings and dense trees of an Israeli
Jewish settlement called Arbel. Founded by demobilized soldiers in 1949, it erased
from view and existence after the Nakba, the Palestinian village of Hittin. Who
farms the fertile plain now?
— Lila Abu-Lughod and Omar Imseeh Tesdell
[ 76 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
Jerusalem Quarterly 86 [ 77 ]
What is she doing there? Native Mohammedan school in Bireh, 1905 (George Griffith,
Publisher). This image of the local kuttab (primary school) in al-Bireh was taken by
an unidentified photographer in 1905. It is similar in size and format to another kuttab
image taken in 1903 by Carlton Graves. The kuttab were local village primary schools
aimed at teaching children reading, writing, grammar, and arithmetic.
The kuttab were immortalized by Taha Hussein in his autobiographical al-Ayyam.
His portrayal of the kuttab was as a system of mindless rote learning, with the teacher
portrayed either as an idiot or blind, or both. Since Hussein was himself blind, his
reference to the blind teaching the blind was both affectionate and sardonic.
But the kuttabs were the core instrument of establishing literacy for the rural
population, where – for the most part – government or missionary schools were either
non-existent, or not accessible. It prepared those students who were deemed able to
continue their studies at the nizamiyya i‛dadi (intermediate) or rushdi (secondary)
Village kuttab schools were located in the village madafeh (guesthouse), or in the
vicinity of the local masjid. In the city, the kuttab were attached to the mosques or the
zawiya. This photograph was taken in al-Bireh on the eve of the establishment of the
Quaker mission for boys (The Friends School) in al-Bireh, and was probably intended
by the photographer to contrast the primitiveness of native schooling with modern
education provided by the mission schools. Kuttabs were normally segregated and
girls were taught separately in their own kuttab, often by the same shaykh, or Qur’anic
reader. In many villages, however, there were not enough girls to necessitate having
a separate kuttab and the girls in this case would join the boys’ circle. In the case of
the al-Bireh stereoscopic image above, we find a lone girl in the upper right corner
(of the photo) holding her notebook and listening intently to the shaykh. In contrast
to her male companions, she is relaxed, sitting straight, head uncovered, and striking
a defiant pose.
— Salim Tamari
[ 78 ] Time Travelers in Palestine
1 Exhibition, March 2017 at Brown University,
Center for Middle East Studies, see online
palestine-1900 (accessed 22 June
2 Freda Gutman, “Imwas 1967, 1978, and
1988 Canada Park: Two Family Albums,” in
Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 13, no.
1 (2005): 49–54.
3 See the letter reprinted in John Reynolds,
Where the Villages Stood: Israel’s Continuing
Violations of International Law in Occupied
Latroun, 1967–2007 (Ramallah: al-Haq,
2007), 88.
4 Quoted in Rich Wiles, Behind the Wall: Life,
Love, and Struggle in Palestine (Washington:
Potomac Books, 2010), 21.
5 Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and
the Transformation of Anthropology: The
Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic
Event (London: Cassell, 1999).
6 Both al-‘Ayzariya and Abu Dis are
neighborhoods in Jerusalem but have been
chopped off from Jerusalem by the erection
of Israel’s Separation Barrier.
7 Doris Lessing, African Stories (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1965), 47–58.

Promoting anti-Israel Scholarship: Daniel Monterescu a Case in Point


Editorial Note

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 LuxemburgMinerva Stiftungand 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
To: Social Sciences List <>



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

urban loss?

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 by January 15, 2023.



Judith Wonke
 | 05/17/2022 | Interviews

“A relational history of urban loss”

Interview with Daniel Monterescu on “Lost Cities” in Palestine and Israel

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. 


Daniel Monterescu at CEU

Lost Cities at The Gerda Henkel Foundation

Anti-Israel Activist: BGU Yonatan Mendel


Editorial Note

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 bookFrom 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, with Abeer 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. 


Israel’s Straitjacket 


15 NOVEMBER 2022

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.  

Read on: Perry Anderson, ‘The House of Zion’, NLR 96.


Tue 17 Jun 2008 15.00 BST

Frozen out

This article is more than 14 years old

Yonatan Mendel

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.


[Marxism] Divide and divide and divide and rule

(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.


Yonatan Mendel, ‘The Politics of Non-Translation: On Israeli Translations
of Intifada, Shahid, Hudna and Islamic Movements’, Cambridge
Literary Review, I/3 (Easter, 2010), pp. 179–206.
Copyright Info
All contents are copyright © 2010 by Cambridge Literary Review.
Rightsvert to authors on publication.
Yonatan Mendel
The Politics of Non-Translation: On Israeli
Translations of Intifada, Shahid, Hudna and
Islamic Movements
Iremember rubbing my eyes with amazement. It was about ten
years ago, while I was reading a book by renowned Israeli sociologist,
Baruch Kimmerling. He mentioned “the popular uprising of the
Palestinians in 1987”, using the Hebrew word hitkomemut for “uprising”.
This word has straightforward positive associations in Hebrew as being
an act of resistance against occupying force. “How come I have never
heard of this historical event?” I pondered. “Did it happen before or
after the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada?” (the word used in Arabic
and Hebrew to depict the Palestinian riots which began in December
1987 in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank). It took me several more
pages before I understood what Kimmerling was referring to. “In 2000,”
he wrote, “clashes took place between Palestinians and Israeli police
forces next to Al-Aqsa Mosque… and signalled the beginning of the
Palestinian armed uprising.”
On the one hand I was relieved to learn that I had not missed any significant
political events that had taken place in Israel/Palestine: when using
“uprising” Kimmerling was referring to the two intifadas that broke out
in 1987 and then in 2000 (which was known as Intifadat Al-Aqsa). On
the other hand, it was then that I learned how little I knew about these
events. In most Hebrew texts, the word intifada, which is the Arabic
word used to depict these two uprisings, is not translated, and as an
unexplained expression it maintains rather intimidating, demonic and
violent connotations. For me, intifada was equivalent to rioters, terrorism,
Molotov cocktails, stone throwing, burning tires, blood and clashes.
I was amazed to see how a word could change the lens through which
I viewed political events; even more so when I hurried to the nearest
Arabic-Hebrew dictionary and found that Arabic intifada literally
translates into Hebrew hitkomemut.
It is not a coincidence that, in addition to Israeli scholars, the Israeli
media also chooses to keep intifada un-translated. By doing so, two
goals are achieved: ‘loyalty’ to the word’s meaning is seen to be kept
due to the use of this ‘authentic’ version, and simultaneously the word’s
genuine meaning is emptied due to the lack of appropriate translation.
That is to say, the word’s meaning is being re-filled with Israeli-Jewish
political content, context and understanding, which is so ‘natural’ and
obvious that it need not even be explained. This is how intifada, which
is basically a responsive and defensive concept, came to be—at least in
the Israeli-Jewish context—an offensive and violent notion, as distant
as possible from its initial reactive nature, and is detached from the
ongoing Israeli occupation.
This results in a rather surrealistic Hebrew use of the word. Since
intifada appeared to have a negative connotation, disconnected from
the context of oppression and resistance against it, it was made available
to be used in internal Israeli contexts as criticism of the ‘irrational’
and ‘violent’ behaviour of different groups against the legitimacy of the
establishment. When the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish community
in Jerusalem demonstrated against the Gay Pride Parade, vandalising
street signs and burning rubbish bins, the Israeli media depicted them
as fanatic extremists, who will bring about a Haredi Intifada. When
the Israeli army decided to evacuate a house of Jewish settlers in the
Palestinian city of Hebron, the settlers started attacking Palestinians
in the city. The Israeli media then brought forward the ‘illegitimate’
nature of their reaction and reported on “riots of Jewish settlers against
Palestinians” warning of the dangers of a “Jewish settlers’ intifada in
Hebron”. When the lecture of the Israeli Ambassador to the US was
stopped repeatedly by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, Israeli media
titled it as a violent act of “Academic Intifada”.
The term intifada has became so prevalent in Israeli-Hebrew discourse
that all connotations of the Palestinian struggle for independence—
or their desire to shake off Israeli checkpoints and control over their
lives—are now secondary. Muhammad Barakeh, a Palestinian member
of the Israeli parliament, said in 2000 that “We appreciate and respect
the intifada and believe that this is the right response [to the Israeli
occupation].” Barakeh meant that the Palestinians living in the West
Bank should support the mass uprising against Israeli occupation, and
the resistance to its continuation. Israeli authorities understood it differently.
The Attorney General said that the use of the term intifada
demands an “investigation into Barakeh’s violation of Israeli law against
the incitement to terrorism”.
The case of the shahid is no different. This word, meaning ‘witness’
in Arabic, is used by Muslims to depict ‘martyrs’. In the Palestinian
political context it mostly refers to those who died as a result of or as a
response to the Israeli occupation. The word shahid is cognate with the
term shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness
of God and in the prophet Muhammad. According to the tradition,
Muslim believers who die in the name of a moral cause (one political
example might be the Palestinian struggle for independence) are
reported to say the shahada before they die, and are believed to become
martyrs living in paradise with God.
Israeli Orientalists and media perceive this concept of shahid or shahada
as alien to Israeli/Jewish society, and definitely inhuman. The idea of
valuing one’s death over one’s life is seen as a kind of backward Islamic
concept only confirming what ‘we’ already ‘know’ about Islam, Muslims
and Palestinians. Prof. Yoav Gelber from Haifa University summarised
this in his book, History, Memory, Propaganda: The Historical Discipline
in Israel and in the World (published in 2007, in Hebrew): “there are
cultural differences between the Christian culture of confession, and
the Jewish self-accusation culture, and the ‘everyone should be blamed
but me’ Palestinian-Arab culture… [There are differences] between a
culture which places the sacredness of life in the centre [ Judaism] and a
culture that encourages suicides and shahids [Islam]…” (my translation).
A publication of the Israeli General Security System (Shabak) highlights
that in Palestinian summer camps, the children are exposed to
photos of shahids that are placed in their rooms. The Israeli Intelligence
and Terrorism Information Center dedicate part of its report to the
“culture of praising shahids among Palestinians” and give the following
as an example: “Palestinian children are being taught that a good
way to celebrate the Palestinian Day of Independence is by visiting
families of shahids.” The fact that Palestinians do not celebrate a Day
of Independence—since they are still occupied and this is what they are
fighting for—is not the most disturbing misconception of this report.
More important is that the so-called ‘alien’ culture of praising dead
fighters and placing them in the centre of school life, religious belief or
historical education, is definitely not different to another social group
living not far away: Israeli-Jewish society.
Firstly, Judaism definitely has a comparable concept to shahid and it is
called Kiddush ha-Shem (‘Sanctification of the name of God’). This concept,
which is much closer to the Islamic shahid than the Christian ‘martyr’,
praises the deaths of those who died while sacrificing their lives for the
sake of their Jewish community or Jewish religion. When this happens,
the person who is going to die needs to say the Shema Yisrael prayer, which
is the Jewish declaration of belief in the oneness of God. In the Torah,
two letters of the Shema Yisrael are emboldened—’Ayin and Dalet—which
together makes the word ’ed, meaning, in Hebrew, a witness.
Secondly, there is a constant disregard of the parallel social repercussions
that this concept has in Israeli society, and the similarity between these
Jewish and Muslim concepts is not even debated within the Israeli-
Jewish community. The fact that Israeli society dedicates gardens, lecture
rooms, parks, nature reserves, schools etc. to Israeli-Jewish soldiers who
died is deemed acceptable, and is not seen as alien. Also the fact that
Israeli children, in their Day of Independence, remember the fallen soldiers
and visit their families seems perfectly natural. The Masada Site
is merely one example of that. This site, which has become a place of
education for Israeli schoolchildren and soldiers, was selected due to
its ‘heroic’ historical/Jewish importance: it was there, in 73 AD, that a
Jewish mass suicide of men, women and children took place, justified by
Kiddush ha-Shem, in order not to surrender to the Romans.
The Israeli-Jewish foreignization of the term shahid, by keeping it in
Arabic, and not linking and connecting it to concepts pervasive within
Jewish belief and Israeli society, assists with the general demonization of
Palestinian people and their culture. By keeping the term shahid disconnected
from Palestinian resistance, and while maintaining the praising
of shahids as detached from Palestinian struggle or life under continuous
oppression, the Israeli discourse enables its own preservation as the
antithesis of the Palestinian one. If this did not happen, Israeli-Jewish
children might wake up from a nightmare one night, covered with cold
sweat, realising that Shimshon ha-Gibor (Samson) was the first shahid in
the history of mankind.
Another method of dealing with Arabic/Islamic concepts within the
Israeli discourse is relegating them to a one-dimensional and unchanging
religious context. Hence, the shahid is always a person who
dies while killing others, allegedly unlike the Jewish concept, according
to which a person can also die over Kiddush ha-Shem when defending
others, or when preferring to die rather than converting to another
religion. The idea that shahid can be a person who died while seeking
knowledge, or a mother who dies during childbirth, are not part of the
Israeli discussion, nor—as Prof. Sasson Somekh put it—that there is
also ‘A Shahid of Love’.
The same applies in the case of the term hudna. When explaining
this term in Israel, the emphasis is that it is a ‘ceasefire’ but
not a real one. Rather, it is a ‘ceasefire’ but a temporary one, following
which battles will be renewed in one stage or another by the ‘vicious’,
‘unreliable’, Palestinian ‘other’. This is the notion spread in Israel when
a Palestinian party, such as Hamas, proposes a hudna—a cessation of
fire from both sides. According to Prof. Jacob Lassner and Ilan Troen
from Ben Gurion University, the hudna is an arrangement that may last
for years “but the battle must be resumed when the calculus of power
favours the faithful”.
This description has its roots in the Islamic precedent of hudna, which
was the basis of the Hudaybiyya agreement in 628 AD, signed by the
Prophet Muhammad and tribe of Quraysh. This agreement was made
redundant in 630 when the Prophet Muhammad and his followers
conquered Mecca. However, this is only one narrative related to hudna,
and 1382 years of developments—including interpretations, re-interpretations,
new historical case studies, and the emergence of different
approaches—separate it from now. The historical evidence indicates
that Prophet Muhammad did not plan to violate the conditions of the
hudna when signing them. But this is not even the debate. Since 628
AD the hudna has served in many situations as a bridge toward Sulh
(reconciliation agreement) as a first stage of permanent peace solutions
and as a basis of peace treaties, such as the 1860 Moroccan-Spanish
agreement following the war in Tatouan. Israelis need not even explore
the tradition in great depth to understand that hudna was traditionally
a straightforward, nonviolent concept. In 1979, the peace treaty signed
between Israel and Egypt, the first ever recognition of Israel by an Arab
state, was achieved after Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat received
a religious authorisation justifying the peaceful agreement in the precedent
of the hudna.
The idea that Jewish religious concepts evolve and change with time,
and have been interpreted and re-interpreted, is taken to be natural and
obvious within Israeli-Jewish discourse. However, the Islamic texts, and
the related concepts, are perceived as frozen in time, kept unchanged
through the generations, incapable of any development whatsoever.
One can argue that Israel is not really ready to end its occupation or to
acknowledge the Palestinian nakba (the establishment of Israel through
the forced expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians during the 1948
War) and therefore the expected ‘collapse’ of the ceasefire agreement
is—in a very distorted way—Israeli wishful thinking. So hudna continues
to be explained as an unreliable, deceitful agreement, incapable of
longevity. When the elected Hamas Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyyeh
tried to reach a hudna agreement with Israel in 2007, President Shimon
Peres said that “this is a pathetic attempt aiming [not at a ceasefire] but
at diverting the debate from the crimes committed by Hamas”. “Hudna
is just a deceit”, wrote the military correspondent of Ha’aretz newspaper.
In May 2008 Ehud Barak rejected a proposal for a hudna made
by Hamas, justifying his decision on the same grounds.
The Israeli refusal to translate hudna as ‘ceasefire’, and the insistence
on keeping it in Arabic—explained as some kind of an Islamic archaic
and deceitful version of ‘ceasefire’—corresponds with the general view
of Israeli ‘experts’ toward Palestinians. The Israeli grip on explanations
such as, “Palestinians just try to steal time through the hudna”, or “the
hudna is a mere deception”, stems from the disbelief that Palestinians
can genuinely speak the truth, or desire a peaceful life. Tzvi Yehezkely,
perhaps the most popular commentator on Arab Affairs in Israeli television,
explains this phenomenon cogently. According to him, “There is
a proverb in Arabic which says: ‘do you want the truth or its brother’…
and the Arabs usually prefer its brother.” The fact that this kind of view is
expressed by an ‘expert’ on Arabic language and Middle Eastern Affairs,
or in other cases even by ‘experts’ in academia, not only allows for wide
dissemination of these ideas, but arguably also reflects an Israeli general
attitude towards its ultimate ‘other’: the Arab. The emphasis put on the
‘Arab mind’—as a different, deceitful, and frozen concept, which some
hoped would disappear following Edward Said’s Orientalism—seems to
play as strong a role within Israeli society today as ever.
Demonising or negative values are also attached to concepts
when non-translating them is not the chosen technique.
Sometimes, the translation itself can help achieve exactly the same aims.
Take, for example, the Islamic movement which has operated in Israel
since the 1970s, first headed by Sheikh ’Abdalla Nimr Darwish. In its
early days it was called in Hebrew ha-Tnua’a ha-Islamit (lit.‘The Islamic
Movement’). In 1996, in light of the upcoming elections for the Israeli
parliament, a division took place within the movement’s leadership
regarding the question of participation in the elections. The movement
then split into two: those who supported participation in the elections
followed Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsour, and those who opposed it—and
represented a more radical stand—followed Sheikh Ra’ed Salah. Since
then, a split has also taken place between the Arabic and the Hebrew
terminology. Perhaps due to increased tensions within Israel between
Palestinians and Israeli-Jews, or the general political deterioration in
those years (just before the Palestinian uprising of 2000) the Israeli
media did not follow the Palestinian and Arabic terminology as “the
Islamic movement headed by Sheikh Sarsour” and “the Islamic movement
headed by Sheikh Salah”, and instead called them “The Northern
Faction” and “The Southern Faction”.
The word ‘faction’ in Hebrew is translated as peleg and has a mostly
political connotation of a faction in war or conflict. It was not chosen
arbitrarily. The fact that only 60 kilometres separate the office of the
“The Northern Faction” (in Umm Al-Fahm) and that of “The Southern
Faction” (in Kufr Qassim) indicate that this terminology was chosen in
order to create a threatening ‘north vs. south’ division, and did not stem
from a genuine division between two geographic regions, which is altogether
ridiculous in such a small country.
Consider the following headlines, which were published in Israeli newspapers:
“Minister of Internal Security Blamed the Islamic Movement’s
Northern Faction for the Clashes in the Old City in Jerusalem”; “Al-
Aqsa Institution, which is Affiliated with the Northern Faction of the
Islamic Movement Accused Israel for Illegal Archaeological Works”;
“The Leader of the Northern Faction was Arrested”; and “Israeli Court
Rejected the Appeal of the Southern Faction”. This terminology is
embedded with intimidating components for their Israeli readers, which
on the one hand increases the sales of newspapers and on the other eases
the demonization of a political ‘Other’.
Israeli understanding of Palestinian politics is being forged through
the mediation of Israeli ‘experts’ who recruit words and terminology
to their side. The mission of these ‘experts’ is not really difficult: Israel
has experienced conflicts with Arab states and Arab military movements
from its very beginning; Israeli-Jews do not read Arabic and
by and large alienate the language, its sounds, its speakers and their
culture. By using words in Arabic, the field of expertise not only uses the
already-hostile Zionist discourse towards Arabic language and sounds,
but brings non-experts to the turf of the experts. Then the loading of
Arabic words with explanations and contexts which are intimidating or
that can serve as a future justification for the renewal of battles, is an
easy task.
The same mission can be accomplished by translating a certain expression
in a distorted military- or negatively-oriented way. The reader, or
the receiver, does not have alternative sources of information, certainly
not the Arabic press or foreign academic resources, as these, too, are
not considered as reliable and objective as the Israeli-Jewish sources.
Through this process the writer writes what the reader is willing and
capable to read, and the expert interprets and comments within the
already embedded and limited political understanding of the listener
and of the Israeli-Jewish institution which produces this knowledge.
Peter Berger wrote once about the “danger of meaninglessness”. Perhaps
this concept can be borrowed and help us understand—even partially—
the dominance of a one-dimensional, one-sided, analysis that has prevailed
in the Israeli field of Middle Eastern Studies and ‘expertise’ since
its very beginning.
One cannot say what would have happened if Israelis were to consume
information from experts and commentators who were not discursively
part of the establishment, or psychologically entrenched in the ‘Other-
Arab’ paradigm. We should ask ourselves how we react to the following
statements: “the culture of shahids is an inherent part of the Islamic
belief ”, “Palestinians threaten with another intifada”, “The Northern
Faction will demonstrate in Jerusalem”, and “Hamas’s pathetic proposal
for a temporary unreliable hudna”. Or what do we make of these
more accurate equivalents: “the Palestinians’ concept of Jewish Kiddush
ha-Shem is part of the Islamic belief ”, “the Palestinian people will continue
their uprising in light of the continuous occupation”, “the Israeli
Islamic movement will demonstrate in Jerusalem” and “Hamas suggests
to Israel a genuine promising ceasefire”.
The Israeli hatred of the Palestinian ‘Other’, to its political affiliations,
military decisions, and actual ‘Otherness’, is to a certain degree a linguistic
invention. It has recruited to the battlefield morphological structures,
concepts of translation and even the humble soldiers of transliteration.
Language has been revealed by Israelis to be a meaningful reinforcement
in its battles against the Palestinians. One can argue that it is a
fifth column much more than anything else.
Author Info
Yonatan Mendel is an Israeli PhD student at Queens’ College in the
University of Cambridge. His PhD, which studies the connection between
the Arabic language and security in Israel, is being conducted at
the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He formally worked as a
journalist in Israel, and is currently a contributor to the London Review
of Books.

TAU – Home for the Lexicon of Radical Political Activism


Editorial Note

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 political activist 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 <>

שלום רב!

 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.


אריאל הנדל

קול קורא

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:

מידע נוסף על קבוצת הלקסיקון למחשבה פוליטית זמין באתר מרכז מינרבה למדעי הרוח: .

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.

את התקצירים יש להגיש עד ה-20.12.22

 הכתובת למשלוח התקצירים ולכל עניין אחר:  


Google Translate


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
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
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.

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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.

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Issue 17

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.

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Issue 17

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.

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Issue 17

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.

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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.

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.