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General Articles
Dr. Assad Ghanem [Haifa U], Dr. Adel Manna [Van Leer] and Prof. Dan Rabinowitz [TAU] in an anti-Israel Jerusalem seminar in The Hague
[TAU] Dr. Ruchama Marton, Dr. Assad Ghanem [Haifa U], Dr. Adel Manna [Van Leer] Dr. Meir Margalit, [TAU] Prof. Dan Rabinowitz in an anti-Israel Seminar  


The Jerusalem Seminar

Oct. 16-17, 2008

Gemak, The Hague

1 Introduction

In October 2008, Gemak will host a seminar for Palestinian, Israeli & Dutch activists, officials,

scholars, students, writers, urban planners and analysts to discuss Jerusalem. A very public

and very contemporary theatre of struggle and domination, Jerusalem presents issues which

are too often neglected, although acutely relevant and familiar to western audiences.

While the world focuses on Gaza, the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations in fact may be

playing itself out in Jerusalem, away from the spotlight. Since the occupation in 1967 of the

remainder of Jerusalem, consecutive Israeli governments set out to effectively depalestinize

the city, also by a massive extension of its municipal borders into the West Bank,

incorporating as much land and as few Palestinians as possible. Nevertheless, the

Palestinian population of Jerusalem has since 1967 increased to 250.000, from 22% of the

total city population in 1967, to 33% in 2005. Upon completion of the Separation Barrier (or

Wall) as currently planned, about 200.000 Palestinians would still reside in Jerusalem,

making up a quarter of its total population. And their share is expected to rise. Even

disregarding Palestinian Jerusalemites with Israeli citizenship and Palestinians who work but

not reside in the city, it is clear that this is and will continue to be a Palestinian city.

2. Palestinian Jerusalem

For billions of people outside the city, Jerusalem is not a real place but an issue or a symbol.

Their Jerusalem is imbued with larger meaning. At our seminar, we are not interested in this

phantom city. Three Palestinian speakers will show us the real city, home to Palestinians

living ordinary lives: Dr. Adel Manna, Director of the Center for the Study of Arab Society in

Israel at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Dr. Amneh Badran, former Director of the

Jerusalem Centre for Women, now teaching at Al Quds University and Senan Abdelqader,

prominent architect and scholar. This should allow for a deeper, more effective political

debate. As a rule, Palestinians reside in East Jerusalem, segregated from Jewish

neighbourhoods in the West and the maze of Jewish settlements established to the South,

North and further East. They have close commercial, cultural and family ties to Palestinian

cities and communities on the West Bank. And yet, the Jerusalem residents feel distinct from

the latter and from Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

What does Palestinian Jerusalem look like and how does it function? What about schools,

universities, careers, gender roles, shops, homes, weddings, cultural activities, health care,

water, electricity, crime? How are the practical effects of Israeli rule woven into the fabric of

everyday life? How do these Jerusalemites see themselves as individuals and communities?

In the West, Palestinians are considered predominantly as Israeli victims. Many object to this

reduction. Some scholars feel that the Israeli--Palestinian urban relationship is exclusively

that of dominator and dominated, others argue that Jerusalem Palestinians and Jews

increasingly constitute a multi faceted urban community.

3. ‘Creating facts’. Tools, tactics, techniques of Israeli domination

We have now indirectly been introduced to the anatomy of Israeli domination. Two top

specialists: Dr. Jad Isaac, Director General of the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem

(ARIJ) and Daniel Seideman of Ir Amim will show how intricate a system this has become.

Policies severely restrict Jerusalem Palestinians’ access to health care, roads, schools,

housing and other basic services, to economic activity, jobs, spouses and other family

members, residency and ownership. The impact of these policies is compounded by the

government supported Jewish settlement in and around the city. Dr. Meir Margalit will explain

the operative ideologies, power structure and perspective of the Jerusalem administration.

Dr. Margalit is activist, former Jerusalem official and was member of the Jerusalem City

Council for the Meretz Party between 1998 and 2002.

It is important to study this system in more detail than is usual. It suggests its motive is not to

provide security for Israeli citizens, but rather a land grab and ethnic separation for their own

sake. For the ordinary Israeli the difference between the two motives is moot.

4. “To be a free people in our land”, the Israeli mainstream

The previous insight leads us to a puzzle. Strangely, discussions on Israel in the context of

the Palestinian issue usually shy away from analyzing the Israeli public mind, although

obviously of crucial importance. Doing so, one risks reducing Israeli’s to being perpetrators,

mirroring the stereotype of the Palestinian victim. We should focus on real people and the

‘normality’ of repression. Prof. Dr. Dan Rabinowitz, an Israeli anthropologist, and Dr.

Mohammed Abu-Nimer (tentative) a Palestinian scholar and author will focus on the

mainstream discourse. How do Israel’s parents, political and civil institutions, its officials and

lawyers, school teachers and media explain this repression to themselves?

5. The Western involvement, continuity

It is remarkable how the West has ‘always’ been involved in Jerusalem. Why have they?

Europeans grow up with the story of their Christian Crusades to the city a 1000 years ago.

For centuries Europeans were valiant patrons of the city’s communities, manipulating ethnic

or religious strife to their advantage. Did that colonial tradition ever end?

Western governments support Israel. So do the Dutch, despite a shift of public sympathies

and despite official concern about the Palestinians. The recent ‘war on terrorism’,

safeguarding Western
security and values strengthened its drive to maintain the status quo.

Simultaneously, the West still presents itself as an honest broker, driven by knightly values:

mediating between besieged Jews and Palestinians who can’t help themselves, promoting

human rights, aiding the poor, the disadvantaged, women. Many Western NGOs and

individuals ‘do good’ in Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with public and

private funds from their constituencies at home, some severely criticizing their own

governments’ policies.

To turn the tables, we will invite Dutch stakeholders to account for their activities in

Jerusalem over the past years. Do they pay lip service to their professed principles,

protesting Israeli repression here and there, and otherwise conducting business as usual? Is

their a serious interest in change? Does Dutch ‘good work’ improve the chance of peaceful

co-existence or the lives of Jerusalem Palestinians? If not, why does this work continue? A

panel of Dutch officials, Dutch companies and Israeli activists will discuss with an Israeli

scholar issues of Dutch public and corporate responsibility. A panel of Dutch NGOs, Dutch

politicians or officials and Palestinian activists will focus on responsibilities of agents driven

by humanitarian, development aid, human rights’ agenda’s, challenged by a well known

Palestinian professional.

© Derk Byvanck 2008

The Jerusalem seminar is organized by Gemak, United Civilians for Peace (UCP), the

International Institute for the Study of the Islam in the Modern World
(ISIM), and Netherlands

Architecture Institute (NAi).



Day 1 Ordinary Jerusalem

09.30-10.00 coffee, introduction to Gemak and ‘No Man’s Land?’-exhibition (Robert Kluijver)

10.00-10.05 opening Jerusalem Seminar (Derk Byvanck, Day Chair)

10.05-11.35 Ordinary life: Palestinian Jerusalem & Jerusalem hybridity

(chair: Prof. Dr. A.C.A.E. Moors)

10.05-10.35 Dr. Adel Manna, Director of the Center for the Study of Arab Society in Israel

at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (committed).

10.35-11.05 Dr. Amneh Badran, former Director of the Jerusalem Center for Women (committed).

11.05-11.35 Senan Abdelqader, Architect (committed)

11.35-11.50 coffee break

11.50-13.00 Ordinary life: questions to speakers and debate (same chair)

13.00-14.00 lunch break

14.00-15.00 “Creating facts” (Chair: Drs. P.W.H. Aarts)

14.00-14.30 The depalestinization of Jerusalem, Dr. Jad Isaac, Director of the Applied Research

Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) (committed),

Winning the battle, losing the war: 40 years of Israeli rule in east Jerusalem,

Daniel Seidemann, Ir Amim (committed)

Jerusalem administration, Dr. Meir Margalit, activist, former Jerusalem official and member

of the Jerusalem City Council for the Meretz Party 1998-2002 (committed)

15.30-15.45 tea break

15.45-16.55 Debate with morning and afternoon speakers (same chair)

16.55-17.00 closure

17.00-18.00 drinks

Day 2 States of denial

09.00-09.30 coffee

09.30-09.35 opening (Derk Byvanck, Day Chair)

09.35-11.05 “To be a free people in our land”, Israeli mainstream

09.35-10.05 Jerusalem, Israeli scholar (to be invited)

10.05-10.35 Israeli mainstream, Dr. Assad Ghanem or Adalah speaker (contacted),

Israeli mainstream beliefs, states of denial, Dr. Ruchama Marton (committed)

11.05-11.20 coffee break.

11.20-13.00 questions to and debate with 2 morning speakers

13.00-14.00 lunch break.

14.00-16.00 The politics, the business, the idealism: contradictions and accountability of Dutch

stakeholders in the conflict (moderator: Derk Byvanck)

This session highlights the positions of Dutch stakeholders in the conflict. We explore the contradiction

between the close political and economic relations the Dutch maintain with Israel on the one hand,

and Dutch idealism in the context of development aid poured into Palestine on the other. Participants

of the seminar and representatives of the business community, government, development aid

organizations will join an open discussion reflecting on their unique positions as stakeholders and

listening to the perspectives of those affected by their policies in the region.

The discussion will focus on question such as, what are the stakes in maintaining economic relations

that sustain the occupation or benefit from it? Is a “business as usual” approach to the Israeli

occupation sustainable from a Corporate Social Responsibility perspective? What are the tensions that

arise from the political support to Israel, and the motivations and goals of development aid in

Palestine? What are the inherent problems of development aid delivered in the context of the

occupation? The session will open up the broad spectrum of economic and political aspects of Dutch

involvement in the conflict for discussion.



Senan Abdelkader is architect, "Formal- informal" Unit master at Bezalel

Academy, architect and planner of the central east Jerusalem master plan.

As a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, he represented Israel at the 2007

Sao Paolo Biannual and is considered one of the most talented and

productive architects of the country. Abdelkader believes the overwhelming

emphasis in political and cultural discourse on Jerusalem as separate

Palestinian and (Jewish) Israeli cities is misleading as Jerusalem is also a

hybrid, a third space which the communities share.

Amneh Badran is a PhD graduate (2007) in political science from Exeter

University, the UK. She has an MA in Middle East Politics from the same

university. She is also a graduate of Bethlehem University with a BA in

English language and its literature. At present, Amneh Badran is a lecturer

in the political science department in Al Quds University, Jerusalem. Her

work experience includes: Director of Jerusalem Centre for Women (JCW),

Palestine (June 2001 – August 2005) and Projects Coordinator at JCW from

January 1997 – June 2001. During her work at JCW, she has worked on,

supervised and/or planned training programs and workshops that address

issues of women’s empowerment, human rights (with focus on women’s rights), and

advocacy for just peace. Earlier, she worked as a supervisor of women’s small projects at

the Palestinian Federation of Women’s Action Committees (1995). Recently, she signed a

contract to publish her thesis as a book with Routledge Press in London. She is also involved

in a number of research initiatives.

Jad Isaac is the director general of the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem

(ARIJ) which is a leading Palestinian institute that conducts research on

agriculture, environment, land use and water. He got his B.Sc. degree from

Cairo University and his M.Sc. degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D.

degree from the university of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. He is the

former Dean of Science at Bethlehem University. He has published several

articles and books in his field of interest including: The Environmental

Profile for the West Bank, the Atlas of Palestine and The De-Palestinization of Jerusalem..

He headed the Palestinian delegation for the environmental working group in the

multilateral talks and is an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team on final status


Adel Manna, PhD, is Director of the Center for the Study of Arab Society in

Israel at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. He is the editor in charge of the

2nd "Arab Society in Israel" yearbook, due to be published in the Summer of

2007. Soon to be published in Beirut is his book Society and Administration

in Jerusalem during the Nineteenth Century. Two more of his books (in

Arabic), focusing on the history of Palestine during the Ottoman period,

were published in Beirut: The Notables of Palestine at the End of the

Ottoman Period, 1800-1918 (1995) and History of Palestine During the Late

Ottoman Period, 1700-1918 (1999). Dr. Manna has also edited The Palestinians in the

Twentieth Century: an Inside Look (1999), published by the Center in Hebrew. The book

contains articles by leading Palestinian scholars.

Meir Margalit, PhD, is a researcher of the history of the Jewish community

in Palestine during period of the British mandate and a founder of the

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Meir Margalit was born in

Argentina and moved to Israel with a right-wing Zionist youth group in

1972. During his military service he founded a Jewish settlement in Gaza

and he fought and was injured in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. During his

recovery he changed his views. He was a member in the Jerusalem City

Council, for the Meretz Party between 1998 and 2002. He has been called "the Israeli

Nelson Mandela" by La Vanguardia

Ruchama Marton is a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, feminist, peace

and human rights activist. She is the founder and president of Physicians

for Human Rights, Israel, a non-profit health and human rights NGO,

established in 1988 and based on cooperation between Israeli and

Palestinian health professionals and human rights activists. Marton has

been one of the leading persons of the peace movement in Israel,

struggling unrelentingly against the Israeli violations of the Palestinians’

human rights. In four decades she has also been involved in feminist

activities fighting for a just social order in Israel.

Daniel Seidemann, founder and consultant to 'Ir Amim', a non-profit

association dedicated to an equitable, stable and sustainable Jerusalem,

has been a practicing attorney in Jerusalem since 1987. Since 1991, he has

also specialized in legal and political issues in East Jerusalem. Key cases

have included the takeover of properties in Silwan, the legality of the

expropriations and town plans, administrative demolition orders, the

closure of the Orient house, and more. He acquired expertise in the

functional exercise of authority in Jerusalem, particularly in the fields of

planning, residency rights, allocation of resources, property rights, and the subjective

perceptions of the various populations of the city in this regard. Consequently, Mr.

Seidemann has been involved in Track II diplomacy regarding the political future of the

city, and is frequently consulted on Jerusalem-related issues by Israeli, Palestinian and

international decision makers and stakeholders.

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