Panel 2D

Rethinking Justice, Rights, Resistance and Solidarity in Israel-Palestine

13.45 – 15.45
Chair: Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick

Reframing Bi-Nationalism in Palestine-Israel as a Process of Settler Decolonisation

Teodora Todorova, University of Warwick

This paper examines some of the emerging critical civil society debates over the one-state solution as a better geo-political arrangement for the achievement of freedom, justice and equality in Palestine-Israel. This is done with reference to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions’ 2012 statement in support of a bi-national state and the ensuing critiques it attracted from Palestinian supporters of the one-state position. Drawing on these debates, which have largely revolved around Jewish-Israeli rights to political self-determination in Palestine-Israel, this paper proposes that alternative versions of self-determination as cultural rights for the established Hebrew-speaking national community represent a more inclusive form of self-determination in the eventuality of decolonisation.  The paper utilises the “all-affected” principle, as defined by Fraser (2005), which stipulates that just t political action in a transnational world must not rely on the geopolitical boundaries of states and their legal jurisdiction, but rather on addressing injustices against those who have been affected by a given institution, irrespective of the official membership or belonging of those affected to the said institution. In line with further elaboration of the principle by Iris Marion Young (2007) into a commitment to collective responsibility for justice, the paper proposes that the all-affected principle needs to be incorporated into thinking about future solutions and visions for cohabitation in Israel-Palestine. As such, the principle takes as its starting position a critique of unequal power relations, while affirming the view that power is not static and does not belong to any given group for posterity.

Racialised Citizenship and its Discontent: The Palestinians in Israel in the Liberal Settler State

Lana Tatour, University of Warwick

Following the Nakba in 1948, Palestine was ethnically cleansed of its Arab residents. Of 800,000-900,000 Palestinians who lived in Mandatory Palestine, only 160,000 remained in what would become the State of Israel. The remnant Palestinian population was placed under military rule until 1966, while being granted suffrage and citizenship rights. Based on original archival research and analysis of the current political landscape, this paper unpacks and rethinks the making of Palestinian citizenship in Israel, arguing that Palestinian citizenship has been constituted – and still operates – as racialised and securitised citizenship, situating Palestinians in Israel in the liminal space between semi-liberal citizenship and settler colonial subjecthood. The paper discusses the ways in which the ambivalence and duality of Israel as a liberal and a settler colonial polity, marked simultaneously by exclusionary mechanisms and legalities and an illusion of inclusion, has been foundational to the shaping of Palestinian subordination and resistance from the founding of the state until today.

The Tactics of Power and Resistance: The Hunger Strike in Occupied Palestine (2012-2016)

Ashjan Ajour, Goldsmiths, University of London

This paper investigates the Israeli-Palestinian colonial relation from the perspective of anti-colonial resistance by exploring the hunger strike as a mode of resistance in the context of occupied Palestine. This mode of resistance reflects the nature of the relation between Palestinian political prisoners and the Israel Prison Authorities (IPA) and illustrates the complexity of settler-colonialism and the dynamics of anti-colonial resistance.  The paper traces how power and resistance operate during the hunger strike by identifying the tactics of resistance deployed by Palestinian political prisoners and their relation to the techniques of colonial power employed by the Israeli Prison Authorities (IPA) and Palestinian.  The tactics of resistance are produced and developed through a series of conflicts in the struggle with the colonial power through the hunger strike. In addition to conceptualizing the dynamics of colonial power and resistance, the paper will also demonstrate how resistant subjectivity is produced and performed through a web of interrelationships with colonial power and its repression techniques. In this respect, I will explore the practices of colonial repression and resistance praxis, analyse what kind of political subjectivity is produced through resistance, and seek to explain how confrontation and interactions between Palestinian freedom fighters and Israel’s repressive colonial power are vital sites in understanding the processes that form and transform Palestinian individuals into “revolutionary subjectivities”.

Egypt’s 1972-3 Student Movement: Resistance and Solidarity on the Road to Camp David

Reem Abou-El-Fadl, SOAS

Although the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace has remained ‘cold’, episodes of popular resistance to it – specifically those organised within an anti-colonial left-nationalist tradition – remain little known. This paper investigates the 1972-3 student uprisings, which protested president Anwar Sadat’s postponement of the liberation war with Israel planned since the 1967 defeat. Demonstrations were organised at Cairo University by the Partisans of the Palestinian Revolution student group, escalating into sit-ins, with an elected High Committee. The movement attracted such wide support that Sadat ordered a police crackdown. The students had exposed the regime’s departure from a wide consensus regarding liberating occupied Arab land.  Drawing on the concept of ‘embedded solidarities’ through practices, I ask whether the student protests concerning Israel/Palestine were articulated in terms of the (Arab) national and/or the international, and investigate their reception beyond the campuses. To do so, I examine archival sources from the left-wing Tagammu party, official press and court proceedings against the students, memoirs and interviews.  The significance of this case is twofold: first, at critical points, non-state actors’ agency influenced the course of events, as a series of concessions that unfolded in 1972-3 show. This breaks the historiographical focus on high politics in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and on Islamists as the primary non-state actors. Second, given the leading role of pro-Palestine Egyptian student activists, it offers a case study of Arab-Arab engagement that helps theorise the question of solidarity between liberation movements during decolonisation.

Repression, Transnational Activism and Phase-Change: the Case of the Mavi Marmara

John Chalcraft, London School of Economics and Political Science

The killing of ten humanitarian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010 by the Israeli armed forces, and the injury and detention of many others, attracted significant international condemnation, froze Israeli-Turkish diplomatic relations, generated many new forms of activism, and gave significant impetus to the development of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. Why did repression, in this case, stimulate rather than stifle transnational activism around Palestinian rights? This paper suggests that the Mavi Marmara case can shed light on phase-change in transnational activism – a moment of transformation in the quality, nature, reach and form of a movement – a change that can neither be seen in terms of scale-shift, diffusion, brokerage and emulation (Tarrow and McAdam 2005) nor in terms of critical mass, where the number of adopters becomes sufficient to cause rapid further adoption (Kurzman 2005). Nor is the reaction to the Mavi Marmara a case of ‘moral shock’ (Jasper and Poulsen 1995) or ‘suddenly imposed grievances’ (Walsh 1981). Making use of eventful sociology (Sewell 1990), situating the Mavi Marmara in a temporal sequence and movement life-cycle, and drawing on event-structure analysis (Heise 1989), this paper argues that the groundwork for phase-change is laid where there is a certain threshold of movement organization around carefully chosen messages, strategies and methods, which include both transgressive and contained tactics, and where power-holders face a real dilemma as to whether to repress or face defeat, and where movement networks are sufficiently developed to spread their frames and narratives.