SOAS University of London

February - March 2018 Issue of The Middle East in London out now

1 February 2018
February-March 2018

The year 2018 marks 70 years since he Nakba (the ‘catastrophe’) that saw the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, their dispersal outside their homeland and the loss of a large part of that historic
homeland. This year begins with more uncertainty concerning the fate of the Palestinians and their rights following US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the announcement seemed to confirm a blatant disregard for Palestinian rights and the peace process.

The Insight article in this issue, penned by Adam Hanieh, places the announcement within the wider regional context, including the increasingly open political alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He suggests that while this alliance is not a new development, it has received a major push in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2010/11 and must be taken into account when considering US actions.

Ryvka Barnard addresses the implications of Trump’s decision on Palestinian Christmas and the tourism industry, particularly in Bethlehem. She notes the decreasing number of tourists and the increasing restrictions on movement, the number of land grabs and violence at the hands of the military and settlers. She reminds us that this is not the first time Christmas has been cancelled in protest. Yasmeen El Khoudary writes that the Trump announcement has overshadowed news of the reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. In her opinion the response to the announcement in Gaza shows that the Palestinian cause is bigger than any political party.

Mazen Masri brings in his expertise in law to question Israel’s self-definition as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’ and suggests the need to approach the definition not only as a legal text, but as a product of the relationship between law and politics.

Addressing the topic of youth formations in Palestine, Lucy Garbett argues that despite repressive tactics employed by both Israel and Palestinian authorities, youth movements in Palestine provide a critical counter-narrative to the Palestinian political reality.

Turning to artistic endeavours, Rafeef Ziadah discusses the work of a new generation of Palestinian singers/songwriters who are bringing the new to the old, experimenting with different genres to produce distinctly contemporary sounds. This piece is followed by an interview with Khaled Ziada of Marsm, a company that organises events designed to showcase the diversity and evolution of the Arab music scene to audiences in the UK.

Then Gilbert Achcar gives details of the Centre for Palestine Studies’ (CPS) new book series, the first such series in English dedicated to Palestine Studies. And finally, Dina Matar follows with an article that profiles some of the research students who have presented their work at the annual CPS research seminar series, which is entering its sixth year.

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