In the framework of its Political Participation Project, which is engaged in mapping the political tools Palestinians in Israel have used since 1948, Mada al-Carmel held a workshop on political and social protest movements. Participants in the workshop included representatives of Palestinian political parties and movements in Israel, academics, and activists.
Dr. Ahmad Sa’adi, coordinator of the project's researcher team opened the discussion with a brief survey of the history of popular political protest and presented theories to explain it. He argued that Israeli academics base their research on Arab citizens on models and theories founded on behavioral psychology. According to these theories, frustration leads to aggressive behavior and oppression creates protest. Sa’adi pointed out that these models are constructed to investigate the behavior of individuals, and are not suitable for understanding group behavior.
The general secretary of the National Democratic Assembly (Balad), Mr. Awad 'Abd al-Fattah, noted that from the start, the struggle of Palestinians in Israel has been a fight for survival, with the sole emphasis being on the demand for civil equality. He pointed out that Land Day in 1976 marked a turning point in the struggle, with demands taking on a broader spectrum, but the leadership at the time curbed the momentum and returned the struggle to the demand for equality. ‘Abd al-Fattah added that it was necessary to learn from the experience of peoples in a similar situation, establish popular committees in every town and village, and prepare a plan for involving the public in advancing the struggle step by step.
Sheikh Saleh Lutfi, a member of the political office of the Islamic Movement-Northern Branch and a researcher at "Aldirasat Almuassira" Center (Center for Contemporary Studies), discussed the concept of popular protest and struggle in Islamic thought and literature. He pointed out that the Islamic movement is waging a struggle in four spheres of action: the direct political protest sphere, which relates to fundamental questions underlying Palestinian national identity; the social sphere, such as demonstrations and education against violence; the rights sphere, which includes, for example, the right to housing and employment; and the broad sphere of general Islamic and Arab issues, such as activity against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Yoav Bar represented the Abna'a al-Balad movement. He spoke about the special importance of protest and public struggle, regardless of the effectiveness and success of the activity (the number of participants in the activity, for example), since the activity raises consciousness. Bar pointed out that the most important strategy of struggle is continuation of the struggle itself.
The general secretary of the Israel Communist Party, Mr. Muhammad, Naff’a, was scheduled to participate in the workshop. For personal reasons, he canceled his participation at the last minute
Wassim Ghantous, a junior researcher on the team, presented a general description of the struggle of Arab students. He said that due to the lack of official documentation, it is difficult to research the subject. In his opinion, the political crisis in Arab society is reflected in the paralysis of Arab student committees.
Dr. Manar Hassan from the Open University, spoke about the feminist Al-Fanar organization, which she described as a unique, pioneering attempt that from the start succeeded to link feminist discourse with national discourse.
The last person to speak was Attorney Wakim Wakim, General Secretary of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Israel. He argued that the struggle and the tools of the struggle are derived directly from the actual threat to Palestinian existence. He said that a genuine existential threat hovers over Palestinians in Israel, and that action must be taken to prevent another Nakba.