The Fifth Historical Studies Conference, Seventy Years since the Palestinian Nakba: Memory and History, opened at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha, 12 May 2018. The meeting brought together scholars from around the world to discuss the historiography and memory of the Nakba on its 70th anniversary. The general director of the ACRPS, Azmi Bishara, provided the opening remarks for the conference, pointing to the center's efforts to document the Nakba and Palestinian history, through various qualitative and quantitative studies and academic initiatives.
Bishara also moderated the first session, titled "Memoirs as a Source for Documenting the History of the Nakba and the Palestinian Cause." Main Al-Taher presented first with his paper, titled "Between Politics and the Field: A Study in the Manuscripts of Akram Zuaiter and Qasim Al-Rimawi." Alex Winder presented on "The Nakba Diaries: Dimensions of Time and Space in Historical Writings." Finally, Ahmad Jamil Azam rounded off the first panel by discussing "The Impact of the Nakba on the Palestinian Character: The Case of Kamal Adwan."
The second session, moderated by Khalid Ziadeh, dealt with the role of archival documents, photographs, and oral history in documenting the Nakba. Tom Ricks was the first speaker, exploring "The Palestinian Nakba and Jerusalem: Oral History Verification of Traumatic Memories, 1947-1949." He was followed by Issam Nassar, whose paper looked at "The Use of Photographs in Studying the Nakba and their Problematic Omission in Research." Bilal Shalash finished the session with his presentation on "Historical Texts of the Defeated: Documents of the Garrisons of Yaffa."
The third and final session of the day was dedicated to the Nakba in selected Arab narratives, moderated by Wajih Kawtharani. Speaking first, Said El Haji dedicated his paper to "The Image of the Nakba in Moroccan Society through Family Archives." Mohammad Almasri followed with an examination of the Jordanian Narrative of the Nakba, before Jamal Barout closed the sessions of the first day, looking at the position of the Syrian Army on the eve of the Nakba (1947-1949).
The second day of the Arab Center's Fifth Annual Historical Studies Conference, Seventy Years since the Palestinian Nakba: Memory and History closed in Doha today, 13 May 2018. The day's events included two panels and two workshops devoted to Palestine in Arab school curricula.
The first session focused on a critique of Israeli approaches to the Nakba, moderated by Nadim Rouhana. Yasser D. Djazaerly presented the first paper of the day: "The Historiography of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," followed by Mahmoud Muhareb with his paper, "The Role of the Israeli Communist Party in the Nakba." Adel Manaa finished off the panel with his paper titled "A Revision of the Historical Literature on the Nakba: a Look into Historic Palestine."
Session two looked at the intellectual and literary representation of the Nakba, under the moderation of Saqr Abu Fakhr. Ihab Shalbak gave his presentation, "On the Meaning of the Nakba: Between Disaster and Salvation," followed by Fakhri Saleh who discussed "The Nakba, the Novel, and the Crystallization of a Palestinian National Identity." Rami Abu Shihab presented his paper titled "The Functions and Manifestations of Collective Solidarity: a Reading of Ibrahim Nasrallah's 'Age of the White Horses,'" while Mohannad Mubaideen rounded off the presentations with a discussion of "The Nakba in Contemporary Arab Historical Discourse."
The rest of the day was reserved for two special workshops analyzing the coverage of Palestine and the Palestinian cause in official Arab school curricula at each learning stage. Academics and education professionals from various Arab countries provided the results of their research, within the framework of a research project designed by the ACRPS. The project is based on content analysis of official school curricula and the major changes that have taken place concerning the study and topic of Palestine. This includes changes in concepts and information, as well as the reduction or even omission of the Palestinian question in Arab schools altogether. The project is part of the Center's vision of Arab democratic citizenship, in which education and an Arab renaissance is central. The research is set to be published in a separate book.
The workshop addressed questions about the project to the speakers. When did the topic of the "Palestinian Cause" become restricted, omitted, or expanded in the curricula? When did the content and terminology, or the concepts and information change? What were the historical political conditions that motivated these changes? What reflections do they have about the "new" content, especially in social sciences? The first workshop was moderated by Shafiq Al-Ghabra and included discussion from Abdel Fattah Madi of Egypt; Ahmad Moufleh of Lebanon; Ammar al-Samar of Syria; Mohammed Munther Salah and Naeem Abu Hommous of Palestine; Nahar Nouri of Iraq; and Thouqan Obeidat of Jordan. The second workshop was moderated by Abdel Fattah Madi and included discussion from Hamaoullah ould Salem of Mauritania; Mohammed Al-Misfer of Qatar; Nasser Al Sadi of Oman; Nasser Saidouni of Algeria; Yousef Al-Mahmeed of Kuwait; and Saif al- Maskari on the UAE.
The third and final day of the ACRPS Fifth Historical Studies Conference, Seventy Years since the Palestinian Nakba: Memory and History, closed in Doha today, 14 May 2018. The day's events focused on research projects about the Palestinian diaspora, the Palestinian cause in the Arab Opinion Index, and the
Ostour Symposium marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, which served to provide historical assessments of the context and implications of the fateful document.
The first session began with the presentation of ACRPS researcher Dana El Kurd, who spoke about the evaluation of the Palestinian cause in the 2017-18 results of the Arab Opinion Index, the widest ranging and most comprehensive opinion poll of its kind. She referenced some of the most revealing findings of this year's survey, in spite of the current political context presenting new difficulties when inquiring about the Palestinian cause. The results indicate that the general consensus is that Palestine is a Pan-Arab Cause and that the reluctance of most Arab citizens to recognize Israel stemmed from Israel's settler-colonialism and its policies designed to discriminate against Palestinians.
The second project, a comprehensive demographic study of the Palestinian diaspora, was presented by Youssef Courbage, who worked together with Hala Nofal to produce the research. The project is of utmost importance given its connection to the Palestinian right of return and the eventual fate of Palestine. It covers 23 states, including historical Palestine itself, the neighboring Arab countries and Arab Gulf countries, selected countries from Western and Northern Europe, as well as several countries of the Americas. The research attempts to establish a research precedent to stimulate relevant studies of the global Palestinian diaspora.
Ostour symposium followed the first session, concentrating on an academic discussion of the Balfour Declaration and its repercussions 100 years later.
Ostour is the ACRPS' published peer-reviewed bi-annual journal dedicated to historical studies. The first panel was devoted to the Regional, Arab and International Reverberations of the Balfour Declaration, moderated by
Ostour Editor-in-chief Abderrahim Benhadda. Johnny Mansour presented "The First Year of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine and the Surrounding Countries (1917 - 1919)", while Salih Alshora presented "The Balfour Declaration in the Palestinian Press: 1920-1929".
The third session, on the "Balfour Declaration: Arab and International Perspectives" was moderated by Nasser Al-Din Saidouni. Abdul Qader Al Qahtani presented his research "The impact of the Balfour Declaration on the Migration of Palestinians from their Homeland and the International Stance" followed by Fathi Leyser with "The Arab Movement in the Arab Mashreq and the Balfour Declaration: 1917-1920" Mohammad Hatemi rounded off the panel with his paper "The Israeli Attempts to Legitimize the Balfour Declaration: A Reading of Classic Historians and New Historians".
The fourth and final session was focused on the historical context of the Balfour Declaration under the moderation of Abdelhamid Haneia. The first speaker on this panel, Munir Fakhreddine, presented his paper "Civil Rights during the Mandate: Land as an Example", followed by Al Hadi Jallab and "The Balfour Declaration in the Context of Zionist Activity in Tunis 1917- 1919". The final speaker Ayat Hamdan concluded the conference with her paper "Mobilizing the Past: The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration and the March of Return".
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