Panel 6H

Palestinian Migration, Resistance and Rentierism

15.00 – 17.00
Chair: Anne Irfan, London School of Economics & Political Science

From Nakba to Naksa: The Impact of Migration on Palestinian Politics

Anne Irfan, London School of Economics & Political Science

Modern Palestinian history has been characterised by mass migration. Nationalist narratives are often constructed around two particularly large waves of unwanted emigration: the Nakba (‘catastrophe’) of 1948 and the Naksa (‘setback’) of 1967. This paper investigates how these experiences of migration and exile have shaped Palestinian nationalist politics and consciousness, especially in the all-important refugee camps. As such, this paper examines not only the movement of people, but also how this movement affects ideas and thinking. Historically, political expression in the Palestinian refugee camps has focussed on the demand for return to Palestine – in other words, on reversing the forced migration of 1948. Palestinian refugee communities have lauded or repudiated potential leaders on the basis of their commitment to this ideal, and their ability to implement it. The Arab regimes were widely discredited in the Palestinian refugee camps after the Naksa, when they not only failed to reverse the Nakba, but in fact saw it reproduced with a new wave of 300,000 Palestinian refugees. Migration has thus had a huge impact on the Palestinian refugees’ political consciousness, informing their national identity and fuelling their political detachment from the host states. As the Palestinians constitute the oldest and largest refugee population in the world, their case exemplifies the potential repercussions of mass migration. In examining the latter, this paper engages with historical issues that continue to hold vital importance in the Middle East today.

Reviving Sacred Space, Rehabilitating Sacred City: Concepts and Practices of Palestinian Movements in Jerusalem and Hebron

Kensuke Yamamoto, Kyoto University

This paper examines the Palestinian resistance against Israeli policies in the Jewish and Islamic sacred cities in Palestine/Israel, namely Jerusalem and Hebron. Jerusalem and Hebron had been under Jordanian control until 1967, but along with the start of Israeli occupation, they have been targeted by Jewish settlers. Today, both of them have heavy Jewish presence in the urban area where Palestinians also use. So, in these cases, the contestation occurs both over multi religious sacred spaces (namely al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Cave of Machpelah) and the space of social lives as well. Further, these two traditional cities had been formed surrounding the sacred space historically, so the urban space and sacred sites have been deeply related in its essence. In attempting to revive the ideal past, Palestinian resistance sets this complex as one unit. The paper tries to analyse this sort of dynamics of resistance and occupation.  In the case of Jerusalem, the paper would treat the activities of Islamic Movement inside Israel. This movement was shaped in 1980’s among Israeli-Palestinians, and from 2000’s emerged as one of the stakeholders in Jerusalem Problem. In the case of Hebron, the paper will deal with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, which practices several projects in defense of local Palestinians from the penetration of Israeli or settler influences in all aspects of lives. These two movements have difference in their nature, but rather this paper puts emphasis on the commonalities in their concept and practices.

The Evolving Meanings of Citizenship for Stateless Palestinian Refugees

Jinan Bastaki, United Arab Emirates University

The issue of citizenship and Palestinian refugees has always been linked to their joint relationship to with the right of return. Palestinian refugees were initially apprehensive towards the acquisition of citizenship, as many believed that this would replace their right to return to the homes they were displaced from. As Israel insisted on resettlement as the only solution to the refugees’ predicament, Arab states – with the exception of Jordan – refused to give Palestinian refugees citizenship in order to preserve their Palestinian nationality. However, due to decades of statelessness and secondary displacement, increasing numbers of Palestinian refugees have sought citizenship elsewhere. Through interviews with stateless Palestinians living in Jordan, this paper explores a new shift in the meaning of citizenship for Palestinians: not simply as a means to a better life, but as a means of resistance.