Tag Archives: Palestine

Dismantling the Ivory Tower: Class Takes Field Trip to Palestine and Israel

by Isabel Knight
This story originally appeared in the Daily Gazette on 16 February 2016.

This past winter break, students in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict class taught by Dr. Sa’ed Atshan ‘06 went on a trip to Israel and Palestine for 10 days. The trip, funded by the Lang Center, the President’s Office, and an anonymous donor, was offered for an optional .5 credits. Of the 24 students in the class, 19 decided to go. Students in the class described the trip as an emotional experience that humanized the conflict after a semester of learning about the conflict from an intellectual standpoint.

Professor Atshan made a point in his class to de-exceptionalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having taught at Harvard and Brown, he regularly brings classes of around 100 students on a trip to Israel and Palestine during spring break. This trip, the Swarthmore group, chaperoned by Religion Professor Yvonne Chireau, spent about half their time with a group from Boston College.

“I guess I expected to see what was there, but I think it really hit me once I actually saw everything, like the separation barrier and how it’s higher than the Berlin Wall,” said Yein Pyo ’16, a member of the class.

Students described scenes of tear gas canisters hung as decoration and entire villages reduced to rubble. One Palestinian woman who organized a weekly protest of the Israeli soldiers took the class into her home and treated them to a home-cooked meal while she showed them footage of her brother being shot in the chest with a tear gas canister and killed.

“Personal narrative was emphasized throughout the trip. We went to a theater company, a man who studied to be a pharmacist and then he started his own theater company. And it focuses on teaching Palestinian children to use an ”I” narrative instead of a “we” narrative, because a lot of times personal stories get clouded by the collective Palestinian narrative,” Killian McGinnis ‘19 said.

Emily Audet ’18 described a scene when the class visited Hebron, Palestine, in which the class was walking in an open-air market in the center of the city. Local Palestinians told them the market was usually bustling, but Israeli settlers had moved into adjacent second-floor apartments and had recently begun throwing trash such as glass and feces out their windows onto the shoppers below, leaving the market deserted.

When asked about the dynamics of teaching such a politically charged topic, Atshan remarked on the importance of creating a safe space that welcomes all points of views. He said he always gets very excited when students in his class volunteer to play devil’s advocate.

“While at Swarthmore, I was a Mellon scholar and a Lang scholar. The Mellon Scholarship is all about becoming good academics so I wear the academic hat, and the Lang scholarship is all about doing good in the world, so I care deeply about research, teaching, scholarship, but also about activism, and engagement in the world. But in my classroom, the classroom space is not about creating activists as much as it is about creating an intellectual environment.”

At the same time, students said they had to strike a balance between that intellectual space and the fact that they were learning about the lives of real people.

“[In class], it can seem very theoretical but to actually talk to the people and carry their stories and to visit the sites puts a very real and human face to the pain and suffering and injustice,” Mosea Esaias Harris ’17 said.

Many students described the trip as one that they will likely never forget, filled with intense emotions and heartfelt stories. It left them thinking about how they had been changed and how they would go about their lives once they returned to Swarthmore.

“It’s really tempting, after you have seen all this, to want to change everything and be the activist and be the voice on campus or in the world, but I was encouraged by the solidarity of my classmates, just knowing that there are little issues within the conflict that you can focus on,” McGinnis said.

Many students expressed a desire for for more trips of this type to be incorporated into humanities and social sciences classes to give them an experiential component, similar to labs in natural science courses. According to Atshan, this type of learning is called “embedded study abroad” and brings vibrancy to the kinds of experiences that humanities and social science students can usually only read or watch videos about.

“Humanization was a huge objective of the trip,” Atshan said. “We are very privileged to be able to sit in the ivory tower and turn people and their struggles and realities into objects of our analysis, and I think it is really important to restore the humanity of those subjects to see them as fellow human beings.”

DG_Israel_Palestine_trip_2015

Witnessing Palestine: Reflections of a Daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Witnessing Palestine: Reflections of a Daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Thursday, November 12, 2015
4:15 PM
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall, Swarthmore College (directions)

Come hear Eve Spangler’s story as a daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors ) who became a scholar in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Dr. Eve Spangler
Eve Spangler, Assoc. Prof. of Sociology at Boston College.
Photograph Lee Pellegrini

Eve Spangler, associate professor of Sociology at Boston College, serves as a Human and Civil Rights Organizations of America board member, and is a founding board member of American Jews for a Just Peace. Spangler’s new book is Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. For more information, click
here.

sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, The Cooper Fund, Arabic
Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Religious Studies

Ultra-Nationalism and the Divinity of Bureaucracy in Israel

Mizrahi Mothers, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Ultra-Nationalism and the Divinity of Bureaucracy in Israel

ASmadar Lavie
Professor of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Thursday, October 29, 2015
4:30 p.m.
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall, Swarthmore College (directions)

LavieWrapped

Israeli-American anthropologist Smadar Lavie will discuss her new book, “Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture.” The Mizrahim are the Jews from North Africa and the Middle East who comprise Israel’s majority Jewish population. They suffer from systematic discrimination by Israel’s Ashkenazi Jews who drive Israeli policymaking. Lavie’s is the first English language ethnography about single mothers in the Middle East. This is one of the very few ethnographies about single mothers outside North America. The book explores Israel’s intra-Jewish racial and ethnic conflicts from a feminist perspective. It analyzes how the plight of Mizrahi single mothers relates to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as its tensions with Iran and other neighboring Arab countries. Lavie uncovers the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that
uses its bureaucratic system to repeatedly inflict pain on its
non-European majority who, despite this pain, is willing to sacrifice
their lives for what they conceive of as the state’s security.

Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain—what, arguably, can be seen as torture, Smadar Lavie explores the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that repeatedly inflicts pain on its
non-European Jewish women citizens through its bureaucratic system. The book presents a model of bureaucracy as divine cosmology and posits that Israeli State bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that fuses the categories of religion, gender, and race into the foundation of citizenship.

SmadarLavie1
Dr. Smadar Lavie

Sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies

Israel/Palestine Film Series – Fall Semester 2015

The Peace and Conflict Studies program invites you to an Israel/Palestine Film Series this semester.

All six screenings will be held on Wednesdays at 4:15pm in the Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC) Cinema. (Directions)

The screenings are open to the public and faculty, staff, administrators, students, and local community members are welcome to attend. A brief moderated discussion will follow each film.

A trailer for each film is available below.

IsraelPalestine Film Series Fall 2015

September 16

Frontiers of Dreams and Fears

Palestinian filmmaker traces the pen-pal relationship between Palestinian teenage girls in Bethlehem and Beirut refugee camps.

September 23

The Flat

Israeli filmmaker discovers the history of his grandparents who previously had a relationship with a high ranking Nazi officer.

September 30

The War Around Us

American filmmaker follows the only two international journalists who covered the 2009 Israel-Hamas War in Gaza.

October 7

Promises

Israeli filmmaker documents a group of Israeli and Palestinian children meeting for the first time in and around Jerusalem.

October 21

Paradise Now

Palestinian filmmaker produces this Academy Award-nominated fiction film examining the final hours before two Palestinian friends prepare to commit acts of violence in Tel Aviv.

November 4

Eyes Wide Open

Israeli filmmaker produces this breathtaking fiction film examining a love affair between two Orthodox Jewish men in Jerusalem.

Sponsored by Swarthmore Peace and Conflict Studies

Fall 2015 Line-up of Peace & Conflict Studies Courses

In addition to all of the excellent courses offered across campus that may be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflicts Studies, our own program curriculum is expanding next year!

PEAC 015. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

In Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, we learn that peace and conflict are not mutually exclusive. To paraphrase Conrad Brunk, the goal of peace and conflict studies is to better understand conflict in order to find nonviolent ways of turning unjust relationships into more just ones. We examine both the prevalence of coercive and non-peaceful means of conducting conflict as well as the development of nonviolent alternatives, locally and globally, through institutions and at the grassroots. The latter include nonviolent collective action, mediation, peacekeeping, and conflict transformation work. Several theoretical and philosophical lenses will be used to explore cultural and psychological dispositions, conflict in human relations, and conceptualizations of peace. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach with significant contributions from the social sciences. U.S.-based social justice movements, such as the struggle for racial equality, and global movements, such as nonviolent activism in Israel/Palestine, and the struggle for climate justice around the world, will serve as case studies.

1 credit. Tues/Thurs. 1:15-2:30 pm

Instructor: Sa’ed Atshan

 PEAC 039. Social Entrepreneurship for Social Change (NEW COURSE!)

By integrating innovative approaches with revenue-generating practices, social entrepreneurs and their ventures open compelling and impactful avenues to social change. In this course, students will learn about the pioneering individuals and novel ways that social entrepreneurship responds to social needs that are not adequately served by the market or by the state through in-depth case analysis of social change work (locally, nationally, and globally).

1 credit. Mondays 1:15-4:00 pm

Instructor: Denise Crossan, Lang Professor for Social Change


 

 PEAC 053. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  (NEW COURSE!)

This course will examine the historical underpinnings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how they have shaped the contemporary context in Israel/Palestine. We will approach this from a demography and population-studies framework in order to understand the trajectories and heterogeneity of Israeli and Palestinian societies and politics. For instance, how has the relationship between race and period of migration to Israel impacted Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Israeli sub-populations differently? What explains divergent voting patterns between Palestinian Christians and Muslims over time? How can we measure inequality between Israeli settlers and Palestinian natives in the West Bank in the present? The course will also synthesize competing theoretical paradigms that account for the enduring nature of this conflict. This includes—but is not limited to—the scholarly contributions of realist political scientists, US foreign policy experts, social movements theorists, security sector reformers, human rights advocates, international law experts, and negotiations and conflict resolution practitioners.

Eligible POLS and ISLM credit.

1 credit. Tues./Thurs. 2:40-3:55 pm

Instructor: Sa’ed Atshan


PEAC 071B. Research Seminar: Strategy and Nonviolent Struggle

(Cross-listed as POLS 081 and SOCI 071B)

This research seminar involves working with The Global Nonviolent Action Database built at Swarthmore College. This website is accessed by activists and scholars worldwide. The database contains crucial information on campaigns for human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability, economic justice, national/ethnic identity, and peace. Students will investigate a series of research cases and write them up in two ways: within a template of fields (the database proper) and also as a narrative describing the unfolding struggle. Strategic implications will be drawn from theory and from what the group is learning from the documented cases of wins and losses experienced by people’s struggles.

1 credit.  Mondays 1:15-4:00 pm

Instructor: Lee Smithey

Update: Feminist Perspectives on Resistance and Solidarity in Palestine and Israel

The event originally announced for March 2 featuring Dr. Simona Sharoni is being updated to include Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi

Feminist Perspectives on Resistance and Solidarity in Palestine and Israel

Dr. Simona Sharoni and Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi

Monday, March 2, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Bond Memorial Hall
Swarthmore College (directions)

Dr.  Rabab Abdulhadi and Dr. Simona Sharoni met over twenty five years ago and have collaborated over the years on multiple scholarly and activist projects. Aside from sharing a life commitment to the struggle of peace with justice in Palestine and Israel, these two prominent feminist scholars have made contributions to other struggles for social, gender and sexual justice in the academy as well as at other international and North American sites.

Abdulhadi and Sharoni will offer such analyses including:

  • The distorted dominant media coverage of the assault, which ignored the power disparities between Palestinians and Israel
  • The racist and gendered images and statements deployed by Israeli officials and citizens to legitimize the violence.
  • The impact of the violence on, and the responses of Palestinian and Israeli women
  • The response of the international community with particular attention to the growing visibility and impact of the global movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), on one hand, and efforts to hold Israeli officials accountable and investigate possible violations of human rights and international conventions.
  • Prospects for a just and lasting peace in the region in the aftermath of the Israeli war on Gaza and the earlier repressive campaign in the West Bank.

Simona Sharoni and Rabab Abdulhadi

Dr. Simona Sharoni is a feminist scholar, researcher, and activist. She is a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at State University of New York in Plattsburgh, and her research includes a comparative analysis of gender dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the North of Ireland as well as a critical explanation of militarization and masculinities and especially the interplay between political violence and gander-based violence.

She is the author of Gender and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Politics of Women’s Resistance and was the founding Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and a founding member of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section at the International Studies Association. For more information about Dr. Sharoni: http://www.plattsburgh.edu/academics/gws/faculty/sharoni.php.

Gender Conflict Book

Rabab Abdulhadi is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies and the Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University. Before joining SFSU, she served as the first director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. She received her BA (Summa Cum Laude) in Special Honors Curriculum, Sociology and Women’s Studies from Hunter College in New York and her MA, MPhil and PhD from Yale University.

A co-founder and Editorial Board member of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, she co-authored Mobilizing Democracy: Changing US Policy in the Middle East, and co-editor  Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence and Belonging, winner of the 2012 Evelyn Shakir National Arab American non-fiction Book Award, and a special issue of MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies special issue on gender, nation and belonging (2005).Her work has appeared in Al-Shabaka; Gender and Society; Radical History Review; Peace Review; Journal of Women’s History; Taiba: Women and Cultural Discourses; Cuadernos Metodologicos: Estudio de Casos; This Bridge We Call Home; New World Coming: The 1960s and the Shaping of Global Consciousness; Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America; The Guardian, Al-Fajr; Womanews; Palestine Focus; Voice of Palestinian Women; and several Arabic language publications, such as Falasteen Al-Thahwra; Al-Hadaf; and Al-Hurriyah.

Abdulhadi taught at eight transnational sites of higher education including the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and Birzeit University in Palestine. The recipient of several honors and awards (including the New Century Scholarship, Sterling Fellowship, Phi Beta Kappa, and teaching excellence awards from Yale University and AUC), she serves on the Board of Policy Advisors of the Palestinian Think Tank, Al-Shabaka and the International Advisory Board of the World Congress of Middle East Studies (WOCMES). As a scholar/activist committed to justice-centered scholarship and pedagogy, she co-founded the Union of Palestinian Women’s Associations in North America (UPWA), the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), California Scholars for Academic Freedom and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). She co-organized and led several delegations to Palestine made up of Indigenous scholars and scholars of color and has participated in academic, intellectual and public sites in the Global South and North, including World Social Forum in India, Brazil, Kenya, Senegal, and Tunisia.

The event is sponsored by War News Radio, J Street, SPJP, and the Peace and Conflict Studies Department.

For more information on the event, please contact Sabrina Merold (smerold1@swarthmore).

Bethlehem Blues: Humanitarian Politics in the Palestinian Territories

Professor Sa’ed Atshan (Swarthmore class of 2006), Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University, will give a talk on campus entitled:

“Bethlehem Blues: Humanitarian Politics in the Palestinian Territories”

atshan_saed_06Wednesday, October 30, 4:30 p.m.

Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall

Swarthmore College

Directions to campus

The population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is among the highest recipients of international humanitarian aid per capita in the world. This lecture will analyze changes in the political economy of the OPT that have led to increased dependence on foreign assistance and the impact of that dependency on contemporary Palestinian society. With the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem as the base for this examination, we will trace the “social life of aid” in the OPT and explore how international aid shapes the subjectivity, space, and social fabric of Palestinians.

Dr. Atshan formerly taught in the Peace and Justice Studies program at Tufts University, and we are thrilled to have him back on campus soon.

Sponsored by the Departments of Sociology/Anthropology, Political Science, Modern Languages and Literature (Arabic Section), Islamic Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies

Human rights in the Occupied Territories

Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine will host Sunjeev Bery on campus Tuesday, October 22 at 4:30 in Kohlberg 116.

Sunjeev BerySunjeev BeryBery will talk about Israel’s violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories including the Gaza student blockade, Nabi Saleh village, and other human rights issues.

Sunjeev Bery is the Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International USA. AmnestyInternational is a Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights organization with over 3 million members. Sunjeev Bery has attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has worked at the ACLU, and frequently writes articles on human rights issues.

The event is sponsored by Political Science, Islamic Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Forum for Free Speech, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

Swarthmore alum and Peace and Conflict Studies lecturer, Sa’ed Atshan ’06 to speak on campus

Tel-Aviv nightclubs and West Bank checkpoints: The politics of being fabulous in the Holy Land

A lecture and discussion with Sa’ed Atshan ’06, about sexuality and LGBT rights in Israel/Palestine.

Friday April 19, 2013

4:30 PM

Kohlberg 116

Swarthmore College

Sa'ed Atshan
Sa’ed Atshan and Lee Smithey at the 2012 Peace and Justice Studies Association meetings at Tufts University, where Sa’ed teaches Peace and Conflict Studies

Sa’ed Atshan is a Swarthmore Alum class of 2006, he received an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2008, and is now a lecturer of Peace and Conflict studies at Tufts University, and a joint PhD candidate in Anthropology and Middle-Eastern Studies at Harvard University. His dissertation research is on the politics of humanitarian aid provision in Palestine.

 

 

 

 

Hosted by Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine SPJP (sfpatswat@gmail.com).

Funded by the Forum for Free Speech FFS.