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.
The 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".