On Saturday, 10 February 2024, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies and the Institute for Palestine Studies hosted a symposium titled “The Israeli War on Gaza: Unpacking Arab and International Responses,” as part of the Second Annual Palestine Forum. The symposium was moderated by Khaled Farraj and featured presentations from Mohammed Abu Rumman, Osama Abu Irshaid, and Ibrahim Fraihat. Abu Irshaid focused on the US response to the Israeli war on Gaza, discussing the challenges faced by President Joe Biden’s administration to preserve the unity and harmony within his divided electoral base as a result of the efforts made by supporters of Palestinian rights in the US to inflict a heavy political cost for his unwavering support for Israel. Fraihat argued that understanding European countries’ positions toward the Gaza war necessitates first looking at their stance on the Ukraine war. The Israeli war on Gaza showcased the member states’ divergent positions and the lack of political unity, as well as exposed the hypocrisy of the European civilizational project represented by democratic principles such as human rights and freedoms. Abu Rumman analysed the Arab strategic position on the Israeli war on Gaza from multiple perspectives, including the official Arab response at the international and regional levels, the significant role of non-state actors, the structural crisis that most Arab countries have been facing since the Arab Spring, and the expected repercussions of the war on the Arab official system.
On the second day of the Forum, 24 papers were presented, and two symposiums were held. The first session of the forum’s second day covered four main themes: imagining a Palestinian future, Palestinian youth and demography, Palestinian economy, and Palestinian leaders and institutions in the early twentieth century.
Three papers discussed imagining a Palestinian future. In her paper “Reimagining Economic Sustainability and Liberation in Palestine: Obstacles and Opportunities”, Leila Farsakh argued that imagining a Palestinian future requires the creation of an economy that is equitable, just, and ecologically sensitive. To reinvigorate the liberatory potential of Palestinian nationalism that has withered since Oslo, Muhannad Ayyash presented a case for decolonial sovereignties to replace the nation-state as a guiding structure for imagining an alternative decolonial future in Palestine. Presenting her paper “Honouring Pasts, Escaping Presents, and Dwelling in Futures: The Palestine Land Society Village Reconstruction Competition”, Nour Joudah argued that in the Palestine Land Society’s reconstruction competition, Palestinian architecture students tell a story of dwelling in the future.
Three papers looked at Palestinian youth and demography. Mai Abu Mogh’s paper, “Silenced Narratives: Examining Repression of Palestinian Students in UK Universities”, explored the impact of Israel's settler-colonial project on Palestinian communities, emphasizing the overlooked experiences of Palestinian students in UK universities. Mohammed Duraidi discussed various aspects of the social and economic circumstances of Palestinian youth, such as unemployment and poverty, education and health, especially mental health, migration abroad, and their connection to current political conditions. Rassem Khamaisi analysed the dialectic of demography, geography, and democracy that the Zionist movement and the State of Israel continue to apply to produce a colonial geography based on distinctive religious concepts and a religious narrative.
On Palestinian economy, Raja Khalidi underscored the stark reality of the failure to achieve Palestinians’ national goals of establishing a state and asserting sovereignty, building a productive national economy, and instituting a just social system as meticulously planned and legislated for. Presenting their paper, “Palestinian Labour in the Israeli Economy: Trends, Motives, and Impacts”, Maher El Kurd, Islam Rabee, and Sabri Ya'aqbeh discussed the conditions of Palestinian labour in Israel and the settlements located in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Yaser Shalabi, Anmar Rafeedie, and Iman Saadeh argued that pervasive inequality in Palestine is intricately tied to the settler colonial context, which operates across a multitude of systematic and non-systematic spheres, undermining all Palestinian developmental frameworks and systematically dismantling equality structures.
Three papers discussed Palestinian leaders and institutions in the early twentieth century. Adel Manna explored the role of three Palestinian leaders from different generations: Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Yasser Arafat, and Mahmoud Abbas. In his paper, “The Development of Social Roles and Intellectual Tendencies of Jerusalemite Notables during the 19th and Early 20th centuries”, Mohannad Abusarah explored the social and intellectual history of Palestinian intellectuals during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a specific focus on the Husayni and Khalidi families of Jerusalem. Khaled Zwawi presented his paper on the transformations in the religious institutions in Palestine from the end of the Ottoman era to 1936.
The second session of the Palestine Forum focused on four other themes: the Israeli carceral system, legal systems, Palestinian diaspora, and Palestinian resistance. Three papers presented studied the Israeli carceral system. Basil Farraj presented his paper “Israeli Violence and Racial Carceral Policies: Towards a Varying Analysis”, offering a guiding conceptual and theoretical framework to approach the analysis of Israeli prisons and their relation to changing modes of violence and power. Karim Qurt examined the dialectical relationship between the development of the monitoring and control system in Zionist prisons and the escapes and attempted escapes made by Palestinian prisoners. Mohammed Elshobake discussed the legality and implications of Israel’s policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinian martyrs from an international legal perspective.
Three papers were presented on the theme of “Palestinians and Legal Systems”. May Barakat and Yaser Amouri’s paper “Redefining ‘Palestinian’ Based on the Laws of the State of Palestine is Prejudicial to the Representative Character of the Palestine Liberation Organization” addressed the issues posed by the legislation issued by the State of Palestine concerning the redefinition of “Palestinian.” Sonia Boulos presented her paper, “Can There Be Citizenship Without the Right to Self-determination? The Case of Palestinian Citizens of Israel”, arguing that stripping Palestinian citizens of the right to self-determination confines them to a permanent residency status that can never be upgraded. Rashad Twam and Asem Khalil addressed the dual functionality of constitutional judiciary in authoritarian regimes and the Palestinian experience.
Three papers were presented on the Palestinian diaspora and notions of belonging and citizenship. Drawing on her research on subjectivity and settler citizenship with Palestinian youth in Canada, Lucy El-Sherif provided key methodological insights regarding fieldwork and analysis into how such processes are embodied, enacted, and performed. Kholoud Al-Ajarma explored Palestinian refugees’ struggles to build new lives for themselves, to narrate their own history, to negotiate their relationship with the ‘old diaspora’, and to make sense of their own diaspora experience in Chile. Marie Kortam provided a comprehensive overview of the Palestinian diaspora in Europe and the host society in three case studies: Germany, France, and Denmark.
On Palestinian resistance, Omar Ashour described the coined concept of “hybrid defence-in-depth” to examine military adaptations and innovations in Gaza and their strategic implications. Ayat Hamdan traced the development of resistance strategies in the West Bank from 2021-2023, which saw an escalation in armed resistance activity. Majd Darwish’s paper, “The International Legality of Palestinian Armed Resistance” provided evidence of the international legality of Palestinian armed resistance against Israeli occupation and its colonial apparatus.
Following the sessions, the Forum hosted two symposiums. The first symposium. “The War on Gaza in Western and Arab Media” featured presentations by Yara Hawari, Ben White, Yousef Munayyer, and Wael Abdelal. The second symposium titled “The Israeli War on Gaza: Reconstruction Challenges” featured Ghassan El Kahlout, Ghassan Abu Sitta, Sajeda Shawa, and Ali Al-Za'tari.
The Annual Palestine Forum’s program will continue for another day on 12 February 2024. The proceedings of the third and final day will be organized in a similar format to the previous days.
*** Conference Agenda
*** Conference Booklet