Mada al-Carmel recently convened a seminar entitled “Striving for Palestinian Statehood: The Last Eight Years”, in order to discuss the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to gain international recognition of the State of Palestine, and the political and legal reverberations that such efforts have created. The seminar was overseen by Dr Ilan Pappé, renowned Israeli academic and head of the European Center for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK.

After Dr Pappé’s opening remarks, the first presentation of the session was given by Dr. Isaías Barreñada, a professor of International Relations at Complutense University in Madrid. His talk was entitled “The EU and the Palestinian Bid for Statehood”. In it, Barreñada pointed out the rather ambiguous position that the EU has taken on Palestinian statehood, after having initially lent support to the idea following the signing of the Oslo Accords. Since then, pronouncements from the EU on the issue can often fluctuate in tone and import, depending on immediate circumstances. The EU’s position is governed by various interests, which can promote or curtail certain policies. A lack of consensus amongst member states is the primary reason why the EU has as of yet failed to recognise Palestinian statehood, however.

The second presentation came from Dr Sonia Pauls, professor of International Human Rights Law at Nebrija University in Madrid. It was entitled “Prospects for the Recognition of Palestinian Statehood”. In political terms, recognition of statehood would mean the renewed primacy of Palestinian self-determination above all over considerations, given that it is an essential criterion for the recognition of any entity as a state.  This would narrow the divide between occupier and occupied, and would strengthen the Palestinians’ negotiating position. The conflict would become about border disputes rather than a more essential struggle for some form of meaningful self-determination. Palestinians would be able to use legal avenues that are currently not open to them. It would be able to sign treaties and to join the International Criminal Court, and it would gain the right to self-defence that all states have under article 51 of the UN charter. Dr Pauls argued that Palestinians do not duly consider these advantages however, and only view efforts to have Palestinian statehood recognised as a lever for pressuring Israel.

The third and final presentation of the session came from Dr Mohanad Mustafa, director of Mada al-Carmel, and was entitled “The Internationalization of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and the Internationalization of State Recognition”. In it, he argued that the Palestinian leadership sought international recognition of state that did not yet exist in reality, a state whose existence depended on a resolution being found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These efforts undertaken by the PA have not been pursued as an alternative to bilateral negotiations, but rather have been viewed as something which can bring Israel back to the negotiating table.

Dozens of viewers and contributors took part in this seminar via Zoom. A broadcast of the seminar was uploaded to Mada’s Facebook page, and gained over 2000 views in two days.

This issue of Jadal comes in the midst of our confrontation with the Coronavirus pandemic, and its global social, political and economic impact on human life.

Pandemics reveal uncomfortable truths about the present organization of human societies. They show us what the political, social and healthcare structures of states really are really comprised of. We are forced to interrogate these things afresh, just as they are being vigorously stress-tested by the current crisis. Coronavirus also has us looking back at historical instances of pandemics, such as the plague in medieval Europe and Spanish flu in the early twentieth century. What political and social transformations did those historical experiences herald? How have the priorities of our current world order been brought into question by Coronavirus?

Jadal Issue (No’ 38) is Available only in Arabic.

Click here to read this issue of Jadal (in Arabic)

Mada’s annual conference is an important fixture for Palestinian academia in Israel, where well-respected academics and public figures give lectures alongside the best new researchers and PhD candidates. This year’s conference was entitled “The Palestinian Political Sphere – Leadership Transitions and the Role of Parties: Organization vs. Representation”, and was comprised of three days of lectures, presentations, and panel discussions. Contributors and participants sought to address the question of why a new emphasis on the politics of representation has come to supersede efforts to effectively organise and mobilise Palestinians in Israel on a popular level.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, in-person attendance to the conference was restricted to the contributing speakers and Mada staff. Conference proceedings were broadcast live online, with viewers able to contribute and ask questions via social media.

Dr Mohanad Mustafa, Mada’s general director, opened the conference with a welcoming address. In it, he framed the topic of the conference in the light of recent political transformations, stressing the sensitivity of the Palestinian political sphere inside Israel. He characterised it as easily affected by changes in wider Palestinian politics, and by the actions of the Israeli government. Historically, it has also been deeply influenced by regional changes, from the golden age of Nasserite Arab nationalism to the turn today of some Arab states to seek normalisation with Israel.

Day 1: Shifts in Political Leadership and Discourse

The conference’s first session was moderated by Dr Ali Haidar, a human rights activist and academic. It was comprised of two presentations: the first was entitled “A Paradigmatic Analysis of the Palestinian Leadership in Israel: Transformation and Gauging the Extent of its Representation”, and was given by Professor Amal Jamal, a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. Dr Jamal explained that the Palestinian leadership in Israel which has developed over the last few decades is a representative kind of leadership, and its legitimacy derives from this fact. It broadly represents those of all ideological stripes and their differing aspirations. The leadership are also set apart by the diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds of those who comprise it.

The second presentation of this session was given by Dr Mansur Nsasra, a lecturer in International Relations at Ben Gurion University. It was entitled “Transformations in the Palestinian Political Landscape in Israel After the Oslo Accords”. In it, Nsasra indicated that the Accords contributed to renewed focus on the Palestinian struggle for equality by Palestinian leaders inside Israel, and a decline in the emphasis that they placed on local matters and concerns. More attention came to be paid to matters of rights and political representation as citizens of Israel. This retreat from more localised concerns coincided with a strengthening of ties of Palestinians in Israel to a wider Palestinian national identity.

These two presentations were followed by a talk from Dr Heba Yazbek, a member of the Knesset for the Balad party in the Joint List. Yazbek claimed that after the formation of the Joint List, the political center of gravity shifted towards parliamentary work at the expense of popular movements and grassroots political action. This is partially due to the fact that Palestinian voters heavily invested their political aspirations in the Joint List, which prompts the question of how much influence the List realistically has over policy. Its existence has certainly raised people’s expectations; the List is a body that possesses the ability to carry forward popular concerns into the parliamentary sphere. Yazbek stated that popular expectations of what the Joint List can achieve are somewhat exaggerated. Despite its important role in promoting a new kind of political discourse, and in championing political and economic rights for Palestinians, the Joint List are ultimately an opposition party with limited influence.

Day 2: “Economic Approaches and the Role of Parties”

This session was presided over by Dr Ramez Eid, lecturer and researcher in political anthropology and human rights. The first presentation of the session was given by Dr Sami Miaari, lecturer at Tel Aviv University, Oxford University, and director of the Arab Economic Forum. his presentation was entitled “Economic Changes and Their Influence on the Palestinian Political Field in Israel”. In it, he discussed how social and economic changes amongst Palestinians can affect voting patterns in Israeli general elections. Miaari argues that voting behaviours can change in relation to standard of living, income levels, and poverty rates. When income levels rise and the standard of living improves for the Palestinian community, Arab political parties enjoy a higher vote share to the detriment of Zionist parties. These changes do not impact the level of electoral boycott, however.

The next presentation in the session came from Mohamed Khalayleh, a PhD candidate and researcher at the University of Haifa. His talk was entitled “The Declining Power of Political Parties in Local Politics: Between the Constant and the Variable”. In it, Khalayleh claimed that recent election results show the limited influence of Arab political parties in the local sphere. He outlined an array of factors which had undermined public trust in local government, such as party mismanagement, institutional stagnation, problems related to Hamula (clan) loyalties, and Israeli Zionist parties actively trying to undermine it.

The third speaker was Dr Said Suleiman, a lecturer and researcher in Geography. His presentation was entitled “The Decline of the Role of Arab Parties in Political Subject Formation.” Suleiman referred to the stagnation and decline of the parties’ role in nurturing political participation, and highlighted many external and internal factors that led to this recession. These included the general global decline in ‘ideological’ politics, the failure of the Arab revolutions, technological developments and changes, limited youth involvement in party politics, the neoliberal practices of the Israeli state, the lack of competition on the Palestinian Arab political landscape in Israel following the establishment of the Joint List, and finally the over-reliance on formal parliamentary work to the detriment of other, more direct forms of political action.

Representative Aida Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Knesset for Balad in the Joint List, provided commentary on this session. Touma pointed to the importance of understanding Palestinian political action and life in Israel in the light of certain phenomena. Of primary significance is the collapse of several Arab regimes, and the regional turn towards normalization with Israel; these changes have emboldened the efforts of those who wish to strong-arm the Palestinian movement or force it into submission. Hope for a resolution of the Palestinian issue has all but evaporated; this had led to the adoption of a new discourse which focuses on civil issues and dissociates itself from the national question. At the same time, the Israeli government make use of the economic levers to stimulate integration and political capitulation. Touma emphasised the importance of consolidating the Arab parties within a single entity, that being the Joint List, in order that Palestinian Arabs might gain newfound political influence in Israel.

Day 3: Feminist Approaches and Post-Politics

The conference’s final day of activities was overseen by the head of Mada’s research committee, Dr. Ayman Aghbariyeh. The session was made up of two presentations; the first was entitled “Understanding Politics and Post-Politics” and was given by Khaled Anabtawi, a researcher and PhD student at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Anabtawi addressed the crisis that has taken hold of Palestinian political action in Israel following the shift from a dominant politics of organisation towards a political culture of representation. This crisis has manifested in a number of ways, according to Anabtawi, such as in the growing reluctance of people to be involved in mass political action, the decline in internal party political organisation, which has a knock-on effect on other political efforts. This represents a separation of the political and the popular, and a growing divide between formal politics and Palestinian daily life in Israel. Anabtawi argues that this is indicative of a shift from politics to post-politics.

The second presentation made in this final session was entitled “Female Religious and Political Leaders in the Islamic Movement: A Feminist Approach”, and came from Dr Areen Hawari, a researcher and coordinator of Mada’s doctoral student support program. In the presentation, Hawari claimed that the female leaders of religio-political movements do not operate within a traditional concept of politics, which deals with issues of representation, influencing party-political agendas, or issues connected to the political struggle against authorities. Women are almost entirely absent from formal decision-making bodies within these movements, yet at the same time they are partners and actors in the political struggle. They occupy positions with decision-making responsibilities in various religious and social institutions adjacent to the Islamic Movement, helping to distribute resources of material and symbolic power.

Heba Harish Awouda, an educational consultant, social activist, and researcher provided commentary on Dr Hawari’s paper. In her remarks, she pointed out the great need to study fundamental legal issues, and not just focus on studying disputed areas of Islamic law. She added that the poor representation of Muslim women politicians at organizational and administrative decision-making levels is not necessarily a matter of exclusion, but possibly a by-product of a high demand for female leadership in other areas where men are not able to take part.

After the conference finished, Mada released a book containing all the papers which were presented across the three days of sessions. An online stream of the conference garnered 7000 views in less than a week. Despite all the challenges posed by Covid-19, a high level of user interaction and lively commentary on social media indicated that Mada was successful at minimising disruption and maximising the reach and impact of its annual conference for 2020. Work is already beginning for the 2021 conference, which, hopefully, will be held face-to-face.

Click here to read the e-book of the 2020 conference (in Arabic).

Mada al-Carmel has extended the registration window for its academic support seminar program for postgraduate students (this includes doctoral students and research Masters students). The seminar program aims to be an academically and culturally open space for students, in which they can freely discuss their work and ideas with others. A group of Palestinian academics and lecturers from a wide range of academic fields contribute to the program and provide guidance and advice to participants.

Click here for more details (in Arabic)

This position paper aims to discuss the political positions of the Palestinian community in Israel regarding the peace agreement recently concluded between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The paper summarises the stances that have been adopted and gives an overview of their key points. The paper also reviews the possible political and economic, and other effects that the deal will have on the Palestinian community in Israel.

Read the paper in Arabic here.

Mada al-Carmel have released a book drawing together all the articles and research findings recently presented at its 2020 annual conference. The conference was entitled “The Palestinian Political Sphere – Leadership Transitions and the Role of Parties: Organization vs. Representation”, and featured an array of Palestinian academics, researchers and public figures, all providing valuable comment and analysis on the changing role of the Palestinian political leadership in Israel.

The e-book is available in Arabic here.

Every year, Mada’s conference focuses on an aspect of Palestinian life and reality in Israel- this year’s conference is entitled “The Palestinian Political Sphere – Leadership Transitions and the Role of Parties: Organization vs. Representation”. Mada al Carmel’s 2020 annual conference had been due to take place in March, but the Coronavirus pandemic forced the center to postpone it. When rescheduling it for October, the center took the decision to spread the conference’s three sessions over three different days in order to more effectively adhere to public health regulations, with the sessions being broadcast online.

A range of prominent academics, politicians and activists will take part, and will discuss the seven different research papers being presented at the conference. These papers are to be distributed in a collected volume by Mada al-Carmel, free of charge. The conference will be opened by Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, head of Mada al-Carmel’s managerial board, and the inaugural address will be given by Dr Mohanad Mustafa, general director of Mada. He will lay out the scope and framing of the conference, and the landscape of contemporary political shifts and transitions.

The first session of the conference is entitled “Shifts in Political Leadership and Discourse” will commence at 10am on Friday, 23rd October. The session will be chaired by lawyer Ali Haider, an academic and human rights activist. In it, Professor Amal Jamal, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University, will present his paper entitled “A Paradigmatic Analysis of Palestinian Elites and Leaders in Israel: How Have Sudden Changes Affected Representativeness?” Dr Mansur Nsasra, lecturer in International Relations at Ben Gurion University, will also be presenting in this session. His paper is entitled “Changes in the Palestinian Political Landscape in Israel after Oslo”. These two papers will be followed by a talk from Dr Heba Yazbek, an MK for the Balad party in the Joint List.

The second session of the conference will start at midday on Saturday 24th, and will be entitled “Economic Approaches and the Role of Parties”. The session will be chaired by Dr Ramez Eid, a researcher and lecturer in Political Anthropology and Human Rights. In the session, Dr Sami Miaari, lecturer at Tel Aviv University, Oxford University, and director of the Arab Economic Forum, will present his paper on how economic changes affect Palestinian Arab voting behaviors in Israel. Following this,  Mohamed Khalayleh, researcher at PhD student at Haifa University, will present his paper “The Declining Power of Political Parties in Local Politics: Between the Constant and the Variable”. Dr Said Suleiman, an independent researcher and lecturer in the field of Geography, will discuss his paper, reviewing the role of Arab parties in nurturing political participation. Representative Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Knesset from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) in the Joint List, will conclude the session with a discussion of the three papers.

The third and final session, “Post-Politics: A Feminist Approach” will take place on Sunday, October 25, at 6:00 pm. The session will be chaired by a member of the Research Committee at Mada Al-Carmel, Dr. Ayman Agbari, with the participation of Khaled Anabtawi, a PhD student in sociology and anthropology at the Graduate Institute in Geneva with his paper “Approaches to the Question of Palestinian Politics in Israel: A Reading of Crises and Transformations” Dr Areen Hawari, researcher and coordinator of the Postgraduate Student Support Program at Mada al-Carmel, will present her her paper “The Religion and Politics of Leaders in the Islamic Movement: A Feminist Approach”. Providing comment on these two papers will be Mrs. Heba Harish Awada, an educational consultant, social activist, and researcher.

For the conference program (in Arabic), please click here.

The fortunes of Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza, across areas of economy, society and politics, are intrinsically tied to any changes that are taking place in Israel. This is largely in accordance with the content of the Oslo Accords, as well as the Paris Protocol. The Protocol served as an addendum to the accords, and formalised existing economic and trade relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories. A global Neoliberal turn set in from the late 1970s, accompanied by the retreat of left-wing parties and the advance of a freemarket-oriented political right. This turn played out in Israel from 1977 onwards, when swathes of the Israeli electorate started to turn their backs on a long-dominant Labor left in favour of Menachem Begin’s Likud party. The Palestinian Authority has similarly adopted a neoliberal economic approach since its inception in the mid-90s. This paper is part of Mada al-Carmel’s series of papers entitled “Israeli Neoliberalism” and was authored by Lamis Farraj. It explores how the tendency of successive Israeli governments to maximise the role of the private sector impacted the lives of Palestinians living the the occupied territories, and how political and economic relations with Israel came to change.

For nearly two decades from the 1980s until the mid-2000s the post-Zionist movement revealed the tensions and contradictions inherent in the official, state-backed narrative of Zionism. This article, by Hani Ramadan Talib, focuses on the following two main questions: What is does ‘post-Zionism’ really mean, and what role does it have to play?

This article is part of Mada al-Carmel’s ongoing Israel Studies series.

Read the article in Arabic here.

This paper uses data collected by local, national, and international organisations to compare the Israeli health system with the health systems of other OECD countries. It also discusses the existence of a clear ‘health gap’ in Israel between the country’s Jewish citizens and its Palestinian citizens. Examining public health in Palestinian communities across Israel, the paper’s author Saeed Salman argues that decades of structural marginalization and insufficient resource allocation have manifested in a poor level of health service provision and access in these areas. This has of course impacted these communities greatly in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

This paper was co-authored by Mada al-Carmel’s Politics Unit.

Read the full text (in Arabic) here