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Palestine and the Changing Regional Context 

Chair: Prof.  Rosemary Hollis (City University London)

·         Jane Jackman          (University of Durham)

The devil's in the discourse

In February this year, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal signed an historic agreement reconciling rival factions Fatah and Hamas. The deal, sealed in the middle of revived but faltering peace talks with Israel, represented a major step forward in the Palestinian bid for recognition as an independent state - and a significant shift in the dynamics of the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already issued forceful warnings that a unified Fatah-Hamas would bar further negotiations. Using this event as a focal point, this paper draws on the work of Dalia Gavrieli-Nuri on 'cultural codes' (2010), in order to examine Israel's response to the Hamas-Fatah agreement, as reflected in the media. Its specific aim is to highlight what Gavrieli-Nuri calls 'mythic metaphor', which is a discursive device typically deployed as a means of dominating debate, in this case within the context of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. In short, it is about the way Israel continues - at a time of seismic regional change - to capture the moral high ground, stall the peace process and maintain the status quo.

·         Anthony Silkoff        (University of Glasgow)      

"Authentic" feminists or "proper" nationalists? Palestinian women resisting scattered hegemonies

The women’s movement in Palestine presents a unique case study for researching the intersectionality of nationalist and feminist identities. This paper proposes that the Western feminist movement will remain unable to demonstrate effective solidarity with the struggle of Muslim women, due to a deficit in our analysis of their identity. This paper, based on evidence from email interviews with Palestinian women, attends to this deficit; its analysis challenges and deconstructs the false dichotomies, which have obscured previous dialogues, particularly those between Western and Muslim, or Arab, feminist movements. 

Palestinian women face double discrimination from patriarchy and occupation, within both public and private spheres; to challenge both, the false dichotomy constructed between feminist and nationalist identities must be dismantled. On the one hand, this paper challenges Marxist-nationalism, present in the ideology of Fatah, for almost exclusively prioritising the national struggle above the gender struggle. Examples such as Algeria demonstrate that women cannot afford to wait, until after the revolution, for gender equality. On the other hand, this paper also argues against the notion, present in Western-centric feminist movements, that nationalist sentiment among women somehow negates their “authentic” feminist identity; a feminism that resonates with Palestinian experience cannot eschew the struggle for statehood.   

·         Salem B. S. Dandan (University of Copenhagen)

The HISH-alliance and the Arab spring

The focus of this paper is the “alliance” between Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Hamas, occasionally referred to as the HISH-alliance. The paper aims to look at what the Arab spring has so far meant for the different actors and what this means for the alliance. This, in light of the systemic impact of unipolarity on the HISH constellation, emphasizes the importance of the alliance’s internal relations, in terms of relative strength, to understanding the actions of the individual actors.

It is argued that the power transfer facilitated by unipolarity has, due to the Arab spring, put the unity of the alliance in question. While the non-state entities, Hezbollah and Hamas, have accumulate resources and increasingly been able to act independently, which indicates a significant increase in their capabilities making it hard to view them as mere proxies, the member states of the alliance, Syria and Iran, have seen a decrease in their abilities with regards to acting freely within the international community.

In short, the paper aims to show a correlation between the systemic conditions, regional changes, newly found autonomy of the non-state entities and the decreasing capabilities of the states, in order to evaluate the future status of the alliance.

·         Alaa Tartir (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Palestine and the Arab intifadas: Reflections, consequences and opportunities

This paper aims to address the following central questions: After one and half years of the Arab intifadas, where are the Palestinians from these intifadas; what happened to them; who is revolting in Palestine and against whom; how they were affected, directly and indirectly, by the regional awakening; and what opportunities these intifadas offer to Palestinians? More precisely, this paper will examine the argument that there is an ‘untold revolution’ in Palestine despite the empty streets of Ramallah and Gaza. It will look at the Palestinian Authority’s venture to revolt against its nation, and in particular will examine the impact of the Arab intifadas on the Palestinian Authority’s decision to approach the United Nations seeking recognition and sovereignty. Additionally, this paper will look at the impacts of the Arab intifadas on the Palestinian internal divide/reconciliation and ask whether it helped in sustaining it or bridging the gap between Fatah and Hamas. Finally, this paper will highlight the emerged youth movement in Palestine in the aftermath of the Arab intifadas; to examine why they have not yet ‘imitated’, on a large scale, their peers in the Arab world, what they need to do so, and why it is inevitable that it will happen.      

BRISMES Graduate Section,
14 Jun 2012 01:52
BRISMES Graduate Section,
2 Jun 2012 02:05