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Colonization and Decolonization in Israel / Palestine

Panel III-23, 2023 Annual Meeting

On Friday, November 3 at 8:30 am

Panel Description
  • Yara Nassar
    While the support for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas (Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah, founded in 1987) coming from foreign actors was thoroughly studied in the literature, the support for Hamas inside Palestine was rarely studied, except for few writings that approached popular support for Hamas from the lenses of acquiring legitimacy through using violence or social work and evolving resistance discourses. However, while some Palestinians view Hamas as a resistance movement against Israeli occupation, and support the group’s efforts to fight for Palestinian rights and self-determination, others may support Hamas because of the group’s social and welfare services that it provides to Palestinians, such as education and healthcare. The Arab Opinion Index (AOI) survey of 2022 marked that 55.2% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip trust the government in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, in contrast to only 21.2% of Palestinian in the West Bank who trust the government in the Gaza Strip. In the same year, the AOI surprisingly also showed that an equal percentage of 34.7% in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank trust Hamas. Yet, 64.5% distrust Hamas in the Gaza Strip opposed to 57.7% in the West Bank. Therefore, this paper addresses the question: Who supports Hamas in Palestine? Data provided by the AOI will be explained to answer this question. The AOI is an annual survey conducted by the Public Opinion Polling Unit at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies to gauge Arab public opinion around political, cultural, and social topics and towards a range of economic, social, and political issues. The survey is conducted annually since 2011 in selected Arab countries. In this paper, public opinion attitudes toward Hamas will be analyzed through various characteristics such as religiosity, demographic features like age and gender, and economic situation. It will also explore the public opinion trends of those who support Hamas toward questions such as the nature of the conflict with Israel, evaluation of the various types of institutions, and views of democracy. This would help elaborate an understanding of political perceptions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip toward Islamist movements in general and their imagination toward the future of Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Averting his eyes from the moon, / He knelt to scoop up a handful of soil; / And he said a prayer / To a rainless sky, / And forbade me to leave” (Darwish 1-5). Mahmoud Darwish, considered Palestine’s national poet, wrote the above lines in his poem, “My Father” (“ابي”), relaying, arguably, the most important principle to Palestinians—the principle of sumud. The verb sumud linguistically means “to defy; to stand up; resist; to maintain or hold one’s ground” (Hans-Wehr 613). More specifically, the concept of sumud, as used in the Palestinian context, is Indigenous resistance that emphasizes presence, rootedness, and connection with the environment. As the father in Darwish’s poem demonstrates, the soil and the environment as a whole are vital components of Palestinian identity and rootedness. Echoing the poem’s commitment to sumud, the 2006 documentary The Colour of Olives presents the story of Hani Amer who resisted expulsion from his land. Between scenes of Amer picking olives and laying on the ground, Amer states, “‘The bond with this land is in our blood, in our roots. Where did they want me to go?’” (Part 1 00:17:26). Amer resists the forced boundaries enacted by Israel by proclaiming eternal connection with the land. Israel, as a settler-colonial state, disrupts the relationship between the Indigenous population and the environment, while the principle of sumud attempts to resist this disruption and assert presence. My paper situates a settler colonial analytic within the larger framework of indigeneity through an analysis of sumud in Palestinian literature, film, and ethnographic research I have conducted. By doing so, I will add to the growing scholarship which rejects placing Palestinians as subjects to Zionist violence rather than active agents of history (Barakat). My paper asks the question, how does sumud and Palestinian place-making prioritize presence over erasure? I argue that Palestinians embody sumud through their intimate knowledge, care, and mapping of place and the environment.
  • Aisha Mershani
    In June 2002, Israel began constructing the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank, another feature of its colonial expansion. As a result, the longstanding Palestinian resistance movement, known locally as the popular struggle (muqawameh sha’abiyeh in Arabic), was immediately revived. This moment in Palestinian popular resistance lasted for several years, featuring numerous unarmed tactics, many of which fit under the umbrella of what is often referred to as “pragmatic nonviolence,” expect for stone throwing, a tactic Palestinians have deployed for decades. Stone-throwing during this period complicated how international discourses interpreted Palestinian resistance, especially given how dominant frameworks often reduce resistance tactics to a violence vs. nonviolence binary. Today, 20 years since the inception of the Wall, the debate continues in the West about “appropriate” resistance tactics used by Palestinian activists. By critically examining this conversation, through testimonials from Palestinian activists from the popular resistance movement, this paper analyzes the implications of “colonial solidarity,” or the ways international activists seeking to ally with Palestinian resistance can intentionally or unintentionally reinforce the domination of Palestinians through the categories they use to understand Palestinian resistance. I take special interest in exploring the difference between concepts and strategies of resistance Palestinians use on the ground vs. those international actors have tended to adopt. Ultimately, if solidarity activists do not support the Palestinian act of stone throwing as a pragmatic tactic, conceptualized within the historical conditions out of which it has emerged, then these international actors are no longer in solidarity as activists but are merely tourists to the movement.
  • Clayton Goodgame
    Recent years have witnessed a marked rise in the use of ideology as an analytical concept in scholarship on the Middle East. Whether in relation to state regimes, social movements, or individuals, the term seems to have returned to the scholarly lexicon (e.g. Wedeen 2019, Bandak & Haugbolle 2019, Bardawil 2020). This trend has not been mirrored in studies of Palestinian society, however, despite a parallel uptick there in studies of political economy, the financial sector, and the upper classes (Mitter 2020, Seikaly 2016, Rabie 2020). This paper investigates the applicability of recent scholarship on ideology to the context of Jerusalem, where a Palestinian Christian youth movement emerged in the late 2000s espousing a reactionary, conservative politics. It begins with a discussion of long-term ethnographic research in the city, tracing the origins of the group in the working-class neighborhoods of the Old City’s Christian Quarter. Drawing on studies of masculinity, religious feasts, and transnational Christian politics, it examines how idioms of historical continuity became vehicles of social change in the post-Intifada era. In the process, the paper attempts to overcome some analytical problems in the study of ideology. Building on recent scholarship from the Middle East as well as comparative research on India, it advances a methodology that historicizes political movements and highlights the mechanisms through which their central ideas, practices, and sensibilities are diffused. Unlike generalized pronouncements of mystification and alienation, this approach foregrounds power relations without sacrificing the historically specific experiences of Palestinians and the language through which they express them. Bibliography Bandak, A. & Haugbolle, S. 2017. The Ends of Revolution: Rethinking Ideology and time in the Arab Uprisings. Middle East Critique 26 (3): 191-204. Bardawil, F. 2020. Revolution and Disenchantment. The Binds of Emancipation. Durham: Duke University Press. Mitter, S. 2020. Bankrupt: Financial Life in Late Mandate Palestine. International Journal of Middle East Studies 52: 289-310. Rabie, K. 2020. Housing and Generality in Palestine Studies. Jerusalem Quarterly 83: 34-53. Seikaly, S. 2016. Men of Capital. Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Wedeen, L. 2019. Authoritarian Apprehensions. Ideology, Judgement and Mourning in Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.