29 January 2014
This issue marks the second anniversary of the founding of the Centre for Palestine Studies at SOAS. The Centre was inaugurated in March 2012 to bring together scholars from a variety of academic disciplines and provide an institutional home for the broad range of work on Palestine and the Palestinians which has long been carried out at SOAS.
We are using the occasion to highlight some of the current work at SOAS on political, economic, legal and social aspects of Palestine past and present. At the same time, this special issue examines a number of current (and oft en highly-charged) themes related to the Israel-Palestine problem. For months now, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has been travelling to the Middle East in an eff ort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In our Insight column, a young Palestinian researcher, Alaa Tartir, who has recently returned from the West Bank, provides a critique of the economic dimension of the Obama administration’s (largely unadvertised) plans.
Elsewhere in the issue, Nimer Sultany looks at the wave of Palestinian protest provoked by an Israeli plan (currently shelved) to resettle the Bedouin of the Negev.This, he argues, was a moment when
the type of popular protest made familiar by the Arab Spring was played out on Palestinian streets. Another SOAS scholar, Ruba Salih, explores the debate on one of the most sensitive and contentious issues that will have to be addressed in any future peace settlement: the fate of the Palestinian refugees.
Also in this special issue, we honour the work of the father of Palestine studies, Walid Khalidi, who talks to Dina Matar about his pioneering work, and reflects on how research on the events of 1948 and their consequences has evolved and developed over time. Given the magazine’s raison d’être, we have not neglected the activities of Palestinians in London. We profile the work of the Qattan Foundation (in London, as well as in Gaza and the West Bank), and invite older-generation Palestinians to share their memories of 1948 and describe what led them to settle in the British capital. One of those interviewed, the Gaza-born artist Laila Shawa, has kindly allowed us to use one of her most striking works on the cover of the magazine.
In addition to our usual book reviews, we report on the Palestine Book Awards, which have become an annual event in London highlighting new books by Palestinians and on Palestine-related issues ranging from politics and fiction to travel and cooking. This issue also reflects the work of two artists of the Palestinian diaspora: the singer Reem Kelani and the English-language poet
Finally, it is with much pleasure that we take this opportunity to announce the winner and runners-up in the magazine’s photo competition (2013). The response from photographers was overwhelming, and it was a daunting challenge for the Editorial Board to select a single winner. We hope you agree with the Board that the photos are truly stunning. We feel sure they will provide a rich resource for the magazine to exploit in issues to come.