The first Annual Palestine Forum was launched in Doha on Saturday 28 January 2023. During the forum, over 100 academics will present their papers and participate in workshops to discuss different themes related to Palestine Studies. In addition, the Forum also gathered over 300 attendees who are actively engaged with the Palestinian cause either as activists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, or intellectuals. Due to the large number of people the Forum is hosting, the majority of it is being conducted at the Sheraton Hotel with some workshops held at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. The public workshops will be livestreamed on the ACRPS’s social media accounts. Live translation from Arabic to English will be available throughout.
The Forum began with an opening session chaired by the main organizer, Ayat Hamdan who opened the floor for the remarks of Tarek Mitri, Chairs of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Palestine Studies, before Azmi Bishara, the General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, gave the opening lecture.
Mitri started by thanking the attendants and organizers of the forum and by highlighting the partnership between the ACRPS and IPS as being “a natural relationship built on strong pillars.” These pillars are three: the attention both institutions dedicate to the Palestinian cause, both institutions are Arab institutions that emphasize the belongingness of the Palestinian cause as being to all Arabs, and both institutions are intellectually independent. Mitri stressed the role of the forum as supporting and strengthening the national unity of Palestinians.
Bishara then started his lecture by outlining the main reasons for establishing the Annual Palestine Forum, then emphasized the importance of being persistent in discoursing about the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people at times of regional governments’ increasing passivity towards, and more recently, its blatant normalization with, the occupation. This is especially true when this discourse has become hollowed through its repetition, and eventual abandonment, by national leaders uninterested in taking any action against the occupation.
Sessions and Workshops:
Following the opening session, the first session of the Forum began, covering three main themes in parallel sub-sessions. The themes were: settler colonialism in Palestine, Palestine in international law, and Palestine in the international context. Eleven papers revolving around these themes were presented. Nadim Rouhana, Mark Muhannad Ayyash, Caroline Lund, and Zeina Jallad provided different perspectives on the study of settler colonialism by looking at the relationship between landlords and tenants, motivations for violence, narrative construction, and non-territorial annexation. Elhoucine Chougrani, Saif Yousef, and Mohamed El Ouadrassi looked at Palestine in international law by focusing on the constraints on international criminal justice in Palestine, compensation for environmental damages in the Occupied Territories, and the right of return in UN resolutions. Michael R. Fischbach, Abdulla Moaswes, Night Newi Asanga Fon, and Muna Awadallah looked at Palestine in the international context from comparative, international relations, and intersectional perspectives.
The second session of the Palestine Forum was centred around three other themes: colonial security in Palestine, Palestinian patterns of resistance, and Palestine in academic/intellectual discourse. On the first theme, Yousef Munayyer, Pietro Stefanini, Nur Arafeh, and Areej Sabbagh-Khoury discussed Israeli repression networks, practices of the Israeli Ministry of Defence’s COGAT, trade facilitation programs in the OPT, and methods of control practiced on East-Jerusalemites. Tareq Radi, Khaled Anabtawi, Ahmad As’ad, Mustafa Sheta, and Ayman Yousef looked at Palestinian resistance, in particular focusing on financial resistance, the dignity uprisings, a longitudinal analysis of uprisings and resistance patterns, and resistance through cultural production. Ilan Pappe, Bilal Salaymeh, Abdullah Abulouz, and Saja Torman looked at knowledge production in research on Palestine, giving a review of the achievements of Palestine Studies generally and reflections on future research, Palestine in Turkish academia, Palestine in Saudi Arabian curricula, and public policy research discourse on Palestine.
In the afternoon, the Forum hosted two workshops. In the first workshop, titled “Palestine in Opinion Polls”, Shibley Telhami focused on the changing attitudes of the American public towards the Palestinian question and the effect this change is having on policymaking. Next, Mohammad Almasri drew on Arab Opinion Index data to illustrate trends in Arab public opinion on the Palestinian cause. The second workshop, titled “Palestinian Division and Reconciliation Prospects”, featured interventions from Mohammad Abu Nimer, Lourdes Habash, and Tamer Qarmout.
The Annual Palestine Forum will continue its works for two more days. The next days will follow a similar format with sessions running in parallel and two workshops in the evening.