|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
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
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
© 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),
14.30-15.00 Winning the battle, losing the war: 40 years of Israeli rule in east Jerusalem,
Daniel Seidemann, Ir Amim (committed)
15.00-15.30 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)
Day 2 States of denial
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),
10.35-11.05 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
Dr. 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.