The last day of the 2024 Annual Palestine Forum, 12 February 2024, included 21 presentations and two symposiums. The first session of the forum’s third day covered three main themes: “Global Reverberations of Palestine: Intellectual Thoughts and Solidarity”, “Refugees and Present Absentees: Memory and Space”, and “Palestinian Society: Belonging and Agency”.
Three papers looked at global intellectual thoughts and solidarity for Palestine. Drawing on experiences of teaching critical race studies within Palestine, Shaira Vadasaria examined what these dissonances say about the limits of liberal anti-racism as an antidote to the colonial question of Palestine. Yanis Iqbal’s paper titled “Palestine in the Global Intellectual Conjuncture: Marxism and Post-Colonialism” situated Palestine within the intellectual coordinates of Marxism and post-colonialism. Rovshan Mammadli explored the transformation of Azerbaijan’s solidarity narrative with Palestine in the aftermath of its independence from the USSR.
Three papers focused on memory and space. Rami Rmeileh’s paper, “Oral Histories: Weaving Glossaries of Struggle” addressed the discourse of struggle revealed in an oral history archive, highlighting the experiences of six Palestinian women from Ain al-Hilweh camp during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Through reading children’s stories of violence, homelessness, and uprootedness, Azadeh Sobout highlighted their experiences of resistance, loss, nostalgia, hope, and longing. Employing an oral history methodology, Heba Yazbak explored various narratives of displacement in the cities of Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Safad, Baysan, Tiberias, and Lydd.
Three papers discussed concepts of belonging and agency in relation to Palestinian society. Presenting her paper, “Practices of Belonging: Finding a Sense of Palestinian Belonging through Volunteering”, Haneen Magadlah described volunteering as a practice undertaken by Palestinians to deepen their connection to their identity and Palestinian community. Mustafa Sheta and Ayman Yousef addressed the structural crisis faced by Palestinian civil society, the importance of which lies in the pivotal role civil society plays in advancing democratic principles, upholding human rights, and realizing social justice. Bilal Salameh traced the political, social, and economic role of the Palestinian social actor amid structural changes in the Palestinian scene and the resulting fragmentation of Palestinian society.
The second session of the Palestine Forum was centred on four other themes: “Colonial Control Systems in Gaza and the West Bank”, “Health and the Environment in the Settler Colonial Context”, “Palestine and the Struggle of Memory: Textual Models”, and “Economic Development Challenges Amidst under Occupation”.
Three papers studied colonial control systems in Gaza and the West Bank. Safaa Jaber presented her paper on the legal status of Gaza as an occupied territory under international law. Ghada Samman examined the Israeli colonial pattern in the post-Oslo phase, in which colonial hegemony developed rapidly towards greater control and surveillance over Palestinians. Natalie Salameh offered a critical reading of the concept of comprador as it has been employed in Palestinian political economy literature.
Three papers were presented on health and the environment in the settler colonial context. Osama Tanous used a settler colonial lens to track the formation and expansion of healthcare services in Palestine–Israel. In her paper, “The Biopolitics of Waiting: Patients and Beit Hanoun ‘Erez’ Checkpoint”, Ishraq Othman examined the temporalities and spatialities of patients waiting at the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanoun/Erez checkpoint in Gaza, Palestine to receive treatment in the hospitals of the West Bank, Jerusalem or the Palestinian occupied territories of 1948. Nouraldin Araj discussed Israeli waste disposal sites in the West Bank within the broader framework of structural violence against the Palestinian population and landscape.
Three papers focused on the theme of Palestine and the struggle of memory. Eman Bdaiwi attempted to form a sociological understanding of the “Lions’ Den,” ('arīn al-usūd) group that recently emerged within the Palestinian armed resistance as a pattern with new features. Marah Abdel Jaber argued that the imaginal is evaluated through its relationship with the Palestinian novel as a critical informant on the diverse Palestinian condition, reconceptualizing the possibility of liberation within and beyond the boundaries of occupied land via expanded knowledge on the heterogenous Palestinian reality. In his paper, “Decolonizing Memory: Israel’s Modes of Forgetting Palestinian History”, Emad Moussa suggested that there are two modes that define Israel’s colonization and, consequently, suppression of Palestinian memory: passive forgetting and active forgetting.
Three papers discussed economic development challenges under occupation. Maher El Kurd presented his paper, “Envisioning the Economics of Alternatives to the Two-State Solution in Palestine”, reviewing three alternatives to the two-state paradigm: an economic union, two parallel states on one land, and one secular democratic state, limiting its scope to the economic aspects of the hypothetical implementation of such models. Walid Habbas highlighted the tactics employed by Palestinian economic actors to offset these challenges within the confines of intensified Israeli spatial control. Mohammed Samhouri called for a full reconsideration of the failed Oslo-based economic model which has been in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1994, and for a strategic shift in policy based on an entirely different approach to the Palestinian economy.
The Forum also hosted two additional symposiums. The first symposium, “Hamas in the Aftermath of the War on Gaza” and moderated by Lourdes Habash, featured presentations from Mouin Rabbani, Leila Seurat, and Tarek Hammoud. The second symposium, “The Repercussions of the War on Gaza: Insights into the Palestinian National Project” and moderated by Leila Farsakh, hosted presentations from Mustafa Barghouti, Ahmed Ghoneim, Adeeb Ziadeh, and Mueen Al-Taher.