On 17-18 October 2015, the Palestine Society at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) held its 10th annual conference under the title “Settlers and Citizens: A Critical View of Israeli Society.” The conference, which aimed to situate the current trend in Israeli society and state policy toward the political right within the framework of settler-colonialism, featured participation from various researchers affiliated with Mada al-Carmel.
Professor Nadim Rouhana, Mada al-Carmel’s founding director, served as the conference’s keynote speaker. His lecture, entitled “The Israeli Settler State: Zionism Between Triumph and Defeat,” differentiated between Israel’s success as a state according to various economic, military, and educational indicators and the outcome of Zionism’s settler colonial project, which as of now is not determined. He then discussed four main features of Zionism – being a settler colonial project, a national movement, a project in which religion and nationalism are fused, and a project in which the inherent violence has the ingredients of escalation to mass atrocities – and how these features impact the dynamics of Zionism’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Following the keynote speech, conference attendees took part in a series of six panels, several of which included speakers from Mada al-Carmel.
In a panel considering the relationship between the Israeli military sector and the public image of the state, Mada Director of Research Programs Dr. Mtanes Shihadeh presented a talk entitled “The Political Economy of Israeli Military and High-Tech Industry.” He focused on the diplomatic functions of the Israeli military and high-tech industries, tracing the history of the Israeli arms trade across various continents. He argued that these industries are used by Israel to influence other nations and garner international support.
In a panel dealing with the spatial policies of the Israeli state, Mada researcher Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury gave a presentation entitled “The Zionist Left, Settler-Colonial Practices and the Nakba in Marj Ibn ‘Amer, 1936-1956.” In the talk, she argued against the notion that Israeli ethnic cleansing began or ended with the 1948 Nakba, considering Jewish immigration and the expulsion of Palestinians prior to and after its occurrence. She focused on the region of Marj Ibn ‘Amer, which saw significant Zionist settlement prior to the Israeli state’s existence.
In a law-themed panel, former Mada researcher Dr. Nimer Sultany gave a lecture entitled “The Legal Structures of Subordination.” Contrary to portrayals of the Israeli legal system as a progressive force, he argued that Israeli law subordinates Palestinians and advances state colonization. However, he also proposed that the Israeli state derives legitimacy by portraying itself as operating within the “rule of law.”
Through its researchers’ contributions to academic and policy debates at institutions like SOAS, Mada al-Carmel advances its goal of generating informed and thoughtful public discussion on key issues affecting Palestinian society.