Video: Defragmenting Palestine: Breaking the Barriers from Sheikh Jarrah to Lydda, Gaza, and Beyond

October 5, 2021
Defragmenting Palestine: Breaking the Barriers from Sheikh Jarrah to Lydda, Gaza, and Beyond
This event took place on October 5, 2021.

Taking as a starting point the May 2021 Palestinian general strike, the first since 1936, this panel examined the struggle to defragment Palestinian experiences as in itself a form of decolonial practice of resistance and reimagining Palestinian spaces, identities, belongings, and histories outside Israeli fragmentary politics.  

Speakers:

Rana Barakat, Assistant Professor, History and Contemporary Arab studies at Birzeit University in Palestine 
Amahl Bishara, Associate Professor, Department Chair at Tufts University, Dept. of Anthropology 
Rami Younis, Independent Journalist
Moderated by Hilary Rantisi, Associate Director, Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative


FULL TRANSCRIPT:

AUTOMATED VOICE: Harvard Divinity School.

AUTOMATED VOICE 2: Defragmenting Palestine. Breaking the barriers from Sheikh Jarrah to Lydda, Gaza, and beyond. October 5, 2021.

ATALIA OMER: Welcome, everyone, to our third Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiatives webinar in our series this fall. My name is Atalia Omer, and I'm a professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace studies at the University of Notre Dame in the US, as well as the Dermot TJ Dunphy visiting professor of Religion, Violence, and Peacebuilding at Harvard Divinity School's Religion and Public Life Program, of which the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative is a part.

Our work at the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative centralizes an analysis of structural injustice, violence, and power, and examines how a more capacious understanding of religion can yield fresh insights into contemporary challenges and opportunities for just peacebuilding.

The primary case study we are focusing on is on Palestine-Israel. Our aim is to stretch the scholarly discourse around religion and the practices of peacebuilding, and examine the decolonial and anti-colonial potentialities of art, religion, and identity transformation.

In addition to public events, such as Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiatives programming includes offerings for Harvard students across the various graduate schools by providing a variety of learning experiences in the classroom-- experiential and practical-- that build upon one another, programming with Harvard faculty and PhD students and a robust fellowship program that hosts a diverse group of thought and practice leaders in areas of peacebuilding and cultural activism in Palestine Israel.

The themes for our series this fall include a focus on religious grammars, underpinning secular nationalism and political violence, decolonial sites of practice in theory in Palestine-Israel-- which is the focus of our event today-- and political emancipatory theologies from a comparative perspective.

Before we turn to the event, I [INAUDIBLE] to talk about justice in Palestine-Israel in the way that we'll be talking about today.

What does religion have to do with it? In today's conversation, religion will be lurking in the background, offering a grammar and authorization for de facto annexation, policies of domination and fragmentation, control and transformation of the space, making it Jewish or Judaizing it.

A story that did not start in 1967, and not in 1948, but goes back at least a century, and is embedded in, even if not reduced to, the settler colonial paradigm, which religious claims often function to obscure.

As noted, the event today falls under our interest in facilitating conversations that highlight decolonial and anti-colonial openings.

This panel features Palestinian experiences from within and without an Israeli ongoing regime and policies of Yehuda or Judaism over decades and via multiple registers from a bureaucratically tortuous regime of differentiated identity cards to the passing of the Jewish nation-state law in 2018 by the Knesset.

Now, such Judaism policies are even further emboldened and intensified through convergences between messianic settler theologies and blood-centric Jewish Israeli ideologies, such as the one conveyed by Kahanism, recognizing that, as Professor Shaul Magid has argued in a recently published book, Kahana's racism is also deeply embedded in an American grammar of race and internalized anti-Semitism.

This panel, the panel today, centers the perspectives of Palestinians who are grappling with their realities over decades, where they were subjected in differentiated ways to the aforementioned policies and a regime of identification that have fragmented them.

The panelists, as we will hear soon, examine their experiences within a political discourse that does and has centered Jewish Israeli belongings to implement and justify depopulation and displacement, as well as constant control over the space in Palestinian movement therein.

Professor Nadia Shalhoub Kevorkian, who spoke in our two prior events this semester from her home in occupied East Jerusalem, also talks powerfully about the occupation of the census.

This is something more sinister and invasive than the materiality of a caged reality. Judaization or Yehuda policies produced elastic dialectical and constantly changing realities.

So the panel today is about Palestinian experiences defined by, but also acceding and refusing to be defined by, the realities of the on-the-ground, which, in a recent report, the Jewish Israeli human rights organization, B'Tselem, has called Jewish Supremacy.

That named the entire geopolitical space from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, using the word, the comparative category of apartheid to the degree that religion has anything to do with our event today, the response to this question then resides in this analysis of the relation between religion, ideology, and political violence.

This is not to make an argument that Judaism policies reflect authentic Jewishness. Indeed, a part of what the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative is also interested in, more broadly, is to identify the constructive and emancipatory potential for reimagining political belonging.

A process that can only start with an acute understanding of the experiences of those most marginalized and hurt by, in this case, Judaism policies extended over decades and entrenched through an increased deployment of biblical warrants to establish Jewish claims to the space.

In other words, we cannot talk about religion and justice-oriented peace or peacebuilding without interrogating how religion--

HILARY RANTISI: Hello, everyone. My name is Hilary Rantisi, and I'm the associate director of Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative. I begin with an acknowledgment of land and people.

Harvard University is located on the traditional and ancestral land of Massachusetts, the original inhabitants of what is now known as Boston and Cambridge. We pay our respects to the people of the Massachusett tribe, [INAUDIBLE] the presence, and honor the land itself, which remains sacred to the Massachusett people.

Today's event is looking at Palestinian efforts of defragmentation. But before we discuss latest developments, I think it might be a good to start with a reminder of what geopolitical fragmentation of Palestinians looks like and provide a broader framework of how this fragmentation is implemented.

So fragmentation is a common practice in settler colonialism, and the fragmentation of Palestinians is a prime example, starting with the 1948 Nakba and continuing today.

Palestinian fragmentation has meant geographical separation and dispersal, which imposed a variety of legal statuses and political authorities over Palestinians-- depending on where their location is.

So, for example, today, there are Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. There Palestinians living in Jerusalem with temporary residency cards. There are Palestinians in the West Bank in areas A, B, and C. There are Palestinians in Gaza with Gaza ID cards.

And then there's Palestinians in the diaspora-- those who are UNRWA, UN refugees, and those who are unregistered refugees, and the broader diverse Palestinian diaspora.

So just to give you a sense of how broad this fragmentation is geographically and, in many other ways, also, legally, the differences of where people reside and how it impacts them.

Now, throughout the past 70 plus years, Palestinians have worked against this fragmentation. And as we look at this form of fighting this fragmentation, we look at it as a decolonial practice. We're brought into spaces of resistance, and a reimagining of Palestinian spaces, identities, and belongings.

So just moving on to the latest developments, which bring us to this conversation and the importance of it, is the recent events of May 2021, which Palestinians referred to as the Unity Intifada.

During this Unity Intifada, which is continuing in other forms, one of the main things that we saw is how this geographical fragmentation of Palestinians was being contested. And the manifesto of dignity and hope was issued by Palestinian citizens of Israel during this period.

And I am going to just read some segments of it, to give you a sense of the messaging of this manifesto-- which also called for a general strike on May the 18th. And it's the first time since 1936 that all parts of Palestine, whether in 1948, in the West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip, they joined together in unison in a general strike.

So I'm just going to read some segments from the manifesto.

"The story of truth is a simple one in our land. The truth is that Palestinians are one people, one society. Zionist gangs forced out most of our people. It stole our homes and destroyed our villages. Then Zionism decided to shred what remains of Palestine, isolated us, and separating us in small strips of our land.

They tried to turn us into different societies. Each living apart, each in its own separate prison. That is how Zionism has sought to control us. That is how they worked to fragment our political will, and to prevent a united struggle in the face of fascist settler colonialism in all of Palestine.

In these days, we write a new chapter. A chapter of a United Intifada that seeks our one and only goal-- reuniting Palestinian society in all of its different parts, reuniting our political will and our means of struggle to confront Zionism throughout Palestine."

So, as you could see, this is very apt for us as we discuss what defragmentation looks like for Palestinians. And today, we are very honored to have with us three guest speakers whose work crosses physical borders that separate Palestinians and can shed light on this particular moment in history and also where it situates itself among other moments.

I must first mention that our guest speakers will be focusing mostly on Palestinian citizens of Israel, or 48 Palestinians, and Palestinians living in the West Bank-- although they will also be references throughout to their connectivity with Palestinians in other locations.

So for brief introductions of our panelists, I will encourage you to read their fuller bios, which will be added in the chat. But I will just briefly introduce some here.

Rana Barakat is an assistant professor of history and contemporary Arab studies at Birzeit University in Palestine. She's also director of Birzeit University Museum. And her research interests include the social history of Jerusalem, colonialism, and revolutionary social movements.

Amahl Bishara is associate professor and department chair of the Department of Anthropology at Tufts University. And her research interests revolve around expression, space, media, and settler colonialism.

Rami Younis is a Palestinian filmmaker, writer, and a journalist. And he was, most recently, a fellow with us at RCPI. In addition to being a journalist, he's a co-founder and manager of the first ever Palestine music expo, and is currently finishing his first full-length feature film, Lyd in Exile.

I will now move on to our guest speakers. I ask everyone to turn their cameras on. So let's see. Excellent. Wonderful. Thank you all for joining us.

So I want to start with Rana and Rami, because you are both on the ground, in different locations. Rami, you're in Haifa and Lydda, back and forth. And Rana, you're in Birzeit.

It'd be great to hear from both of you about the events of May 2021, and how you witnessed them-- specifically, how they relate to collective action and voiced this in various forms.

Rana, if we could start with you, and then we can move on to Rami, that would be wonderful. Thank you.

RANA BARAKAT: Great. Thank you. I should admit that I actually prepared answers. So I'm not sure how conversational I'll be. But I'll try.

I want to begin by thanking Hilary and Reem for putting this together, and doing so in such an easy way of making everything easier for us, and Atalia, for her introductions.

I think I want to start just by answering your question with one word, and then give a bit of a description of that word. And the word is, peoplehood. I think the overwhelming part of engaging this question is that everything is ongoing.

In my own work, I use that word and concept a lot, ongoing. It fits really well. We first heard it when Elias Khoury introduced the notion of an ongoing nakba. That, too, fits. The violence of settler colonialism is not an event. While there is a beginning, it, too, is ongoing.

To be sure, the beginning was not 2021. It's more than a century old. But to be clear, it's not ancient. Zionism, as we all know, is part and parcel of, and drawn from, European colonial modernity. Zionism is also settler colonial violence, as Hilary just explained, and its imposition on a native people in place-- Palestine and Palestinians.

And so refusal, what we saw in 2021, in various forms and shapes is also ongoing. But this year feels like a watershed. I think 2021, in many ways, is a watershed moment, as historians like to say.

In the ongoing, we found new. In the consistency, we found extraordinary. When April and May began to be noticed by the rest of the world, some people began to pontificate.

What was so overwhelming about 2021 is that as soon as someone thought they had solid hold on what was happening, something new happened. This is the irony of the question that you're asking me, Hilary-- literally, every day.

But see, that's also the point. It's not exactly new. But it was kind of new. Familiar yet incredibly unreal, full of hope and fear. Through these contradictions are where our lives are lived. I know this question is asking us to share our experiences in what we participated in or, as you put it, what we witnessed.

But I'm not sure I understand the act of witnessing. Maybe I should, I simply don't. Instead, I thought I could share with you something else. Because embedded in the notion of witnessing-- how I understand it or don't understand it-- is a motivation to document. I also know that the audience might want to know more about what actually happened and is happening on the streets.

But I would use this opportunity to urge you all to read the wonderful work out there, recorded in real time. Go to websites like [INAUDIBLE], and others, and see how people who are participating are also writing in and on 2021. This is a really invaluable set of resources, just to name a few.

I'd also like to add that the title of today's events has fragmentation in it-- and defragmentation. But I would like to invite us to think about that a bit as well.

I and many others have said before that if we learned anything from 2021, let it be that the word historic-- in front of what people call historic Palestine-- in reference to the geography and people of Palestine from the river, to the sea, and through the [INAUDIBLE] since 1948, that is the forced attempted break of a people through expulsion, exile, genocide, and suffocation.

The use of historic has been completely refused. It is Palestine, and this is peoplehood. In the most recent iteration of myself, one month into it now, if I count properly since the start of the academic year, I've been in this space called a museum-- a museum within a university campus, Birzeit University in Palestine.

I would like to take a moment to invite everyone here, of the kind of propaganda, to visit the Birzeit University Museum. If you cannot in person, do so virtually through our website, which we're currently working to make more accessible to all who visit us in person or virtually.

Though new to the position as director of the museum, none of this is new. And yet, it's also extraordinarily new. I've thought long about how to think about our past and our present. And thought long about these institutions of colonial modernity.

Why a museum? Why could we, as Palestinians, producing our knowledge as we dismantle the knowledge of our oppressors, do so with a museum? I think we called it such for lack of a better word or more practically, which is what we are striving towards, as a challenge.

Can we approach this space with a liberatory process and practice? The invitation in this question reminds me of how the ongoing remains a foundation in my own questions. How can we examine Palestinian acts of remembering? Even remembering an ongoing present within the ongoing past, the prompt embedded in your question, in a way that cultivates spatial and territorial imaginations that transcend fragmentation.

So then the question becomes, why not a museum? It seems like I might have dodged your question. That wasn't my intention.

I thought about telling dates and giving you specifics, talking about what people were doing in Sheikh Jarrah, in al-Ramla, in al-Lydd, in Jerusalem, and even in Ramallah, where I live and where we are under the fortress of subcontracted occupation-- otherwise known as the PA.

I thought to tell these stories, connect them to calendar dates to show peoplehood. But I choose to rather think aloud with you about what remembering while we are living feels like. It's simply full of excitement and fear.

But one thing, if I may as to remind us all of a recent date, one that I do choose to tell you about, the 6th of September. This is the date when six men-- humans, not myths-- Zakaria Zubeidi, Mahmoud Ardah, Yaqoub Qadri, Mohamed Ardah, Monadel Nafe'at, and Ayham Kamamji.

Not myths, men, who through their acts of heroic resistance, showed us once again that in Palestine, we don't need myths. We have our own stories. These six men are Palestinians who are brutally imprisoned by the settler state. But even their brutal prisons cannot contain peoplehood.

They show us all that however much we work to think through time, we are chasing them, and how time in Palestine is also ongoing return. They dug a hole. And through what we now refer to as the freedom tunnel, did what nobody could have ever imagined. They showed us a process and practice of freedom. This is the ongoing.

HILARY RANTISI: Thank you, Rana. You went definitely beyond and transcending fragmentation. And I definitely want to go to Birzeit University Museum now. Thanks for the lesson so shared.

Maybe Rami, you could give us more of-- some of the visuals of what went on. But it's an invitation for you also to share with us whatever you'd like to share about the Unity Intifada.

RAMI YOUNIS: I love that name, the Unity Intifada. When it was still ongoing, we called it the upcoming massacre. This is what it really felt like.

I was born in '85 in Lyd, which is what-- usually, it's referred to as a mixed city. But Hillary can touch on that later, why that term is not good for us. We can--

HILARY RANTISI: Actually, you could mention it now. Maybe tell us why is mixed cities-- I mean, that's also another term that--

RAMI YOUNIS: Yeah. Well, OK. So mixed cities a term-- a mixed city is a term used usually by Israelis. It was coined by Israelis. And it's used to describe a city that consists of Jewish people and Palestinians.

Usually, when they talk about the mixed city, they talk about the Palestinian historic cities like Lyd, Ramle, Jaffa, Akka. But a city, by definition, is a mixed place. New York is a mixed city. It's a mixture of ethnicities, and nationalities, and genders, and whatnot. London is a mixed city. Seoul is a mixed city. Tokyo is a mixed city.

So when Israelis refer to our cities as mixed cities, they do so in a-- how do you say-- non-apartheid-esque kind of way. Meaning, us, the Jews who came to redeem the land, living with the natives who are somehow still here.

So we refuse to use that term. And over the past-- over the last two years, I think, more and more Palestinians start using different terms. I think the term that prevails now is binational cities, which I think is way more accurate and less racist than mixed city.

Anyway, I was born in Lyd in '85, which means I was two years old when the second intifada broke. So I remember nothing from it. And the second intifada in the year 2000, I was 15 back then. I have some memories. It was pretty traumatic.

13 Palestinian citizens of Israel were murdered by the Israeli police, and then thousands of Palestinians following. But what happened in May 2021 was even-- to me, personally, I think it was maybe the most traumatic intifada of the three. Not just because I lived it, and I was a grown-up, and I remember everything, but because of other reasons.

First, what makes this-- the May unrest so unique was the fact that it happened everywhere-- everywhere in Palestine. I remember back in 2000 in Lyd and Ramle, nobody took to the streets in the second intifada. Nobody.

But in May 2021, you couldn't find a single street where Palestinians lived-- and I'm talking about Palestinian citizens of Israel-- that didn't take to the streets, that didn't went on to demonstrate in support of Sheikh Jarrah, al-Aqsa Mosque, and what was starting to happen in Gaza.

And in a way, this was, to us, this was unprecedented. The other thing that makes this uprising so unique was the fact it was led by young people.

I remember how we were sitting on a rooftop in Haifa. Mind you, everything kind of broke loose and all hell broke loose during the days of the Eid, the Muslim holiday.

So I remember sitting on a rooftop in Haifa, sitting with friends, trying, trying to somehow enjoy the holiday. But we just couldn't. The sounds of bombs and shootings in Haifa, all over the place, was way too much. So my friend and I decided to say, oh, man, screw it. We can't have fun. We can't really enjoy. Let's go out and demonstrate.

We went to the demonstration. We were shocked by the number of-- by the-- it was led by 15 and 16-year-olds and not the usual suspects. Not people like me, not activists, not people who spend weeks and weeks of organizing an event.

People were furious, and these kids. And what makes the uprising in the binational city so unique as well was the fact it was not just led by teenagers, some of these teenagers are considered to be sons and daughters of collaborators.

Another issue we face and maybe suffer from in binational cities is the fact that the Israeli Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence, after the second intifada, decided to bring a lot of collaborators from the West Bank to reside in these cities. And thus, creating a lot of social issues to the Palestinians living in these places.

But all of a sudden, these people were taking to the streets with the Palestinian flag, even though their parents were collaborators in the past. And all of a sudden, these people, to them, it's very obvious-- these kids are now Palestinian, and they want to confront the police, and they want to confront settlers.

This was unprecedented. The fact that we were living in fear, we saw in several places-- places like Lyd, Jaffa, Ramle, Akka, and-- not a lot in Haifa, but it happened a couple of incidents-- we saw Israeli police colluding with Jewish right-wing mob rioters and attacking Palestinians.

In Lyd, we have actual footage that shows and proves how they attacked the mosque and the church together, the Jewish settlers from the [INAUDIBLE] colony-- which Hilary, I think, will be talking about them later-- with the Israeli police.

There was also this fear of protecting our home. We were talking in terms of this is a second Nakba. The massive dispossession in the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the place in 1948. And we felt we were on the verge of a second ethnic cleansing.

This is what they were talking about in here. It was enough to turn on Israeli TV, and you wouldn't believe what was going on Israeli TV.

I did an interview with an Israeli anchor with the Israeli national broadcasting service. And that interview went viral, because I confronted him, because he incited against Palestinian citizens of Israel, calling to change the gun magazines and basically to offload everything on us.

Well, I went back to that live broadcast, because I wanted to edit that specific part out and send it. I counted eight incitements made by him. And this was just random I just--

This was random. He was just a random anchor. They all did that. And if you would see an Israeli journalist going on Israeli TV somehow, miraculously, trying to be objective, trying to be professional and tell the Israeli viewers or the Israeli audience the complete story, they would be silenced at once.

So it was the Israeli media, obviously, the Israeli government, the Israeli police, and Israeli settlers all colluding against us. So it really felt like we were on the verge of a second intifada.

It really felt like people of Gaza, people of the West Bank, people of Jerusalem, people in the diaspora were fighting for us, were fighting our battle. For the very first time, we, the 48ers, felt like we had the back of all Palestinians, the support of all Palestinians.

You know how weird it feels to get constant text messages from friends in Gaza checking up on me? Usually, it's not the case. Usually, it's the other way around. And this happened in the last uprising.

And the fact that we were able to protect our homes in our neighborhoods, it's something that-- to me, that gave us a lot of of strength, a lot of confidence, and that's-- maybe that's even more important than unity. Because now, we all know we are Palestinian, and we all know we're not afraid to fight and protect our homes.

HILARY RANTISI: Thank you, Rami. You took us to the streets, and you gave us a picture of the realities and also the excitement and the feelings that you had. And I think it paints a great picture for us of what it felt like and what the message is from Gaza that came to you. Very heartwarming.

And this connects very much, I think, to Amahl to some of your work. You have a book coming out next year, Crossing a Line, which focuses specifically on the distinct environments for political expression and action of Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenships, like Rami, and Palestinian subjects of Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.

So I'm wondering if you could share with us some of your findings about modes of expression and how people can struggle for liberation together even when they can't join and protest physically together.

AMAHL BISHARA: Yeah, thank you so much. And it really was incredible to watch from afar these amazing uprisings that were happening throughout Palestine this last year.

And for me, it was especially powerful. Because this theme of defragmentation, of coming together in new ways, has been one I've been thinking about on many levels for a long time, as I know many, many, many other people have as well.

So the subtitle of the book is, "Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to a Palestinian Conversation." And what I try to highlight in that, with that subtitle, is that we are thinking about laws that literally regulate how Palestinians speak in different ways if they are citizens of Israel versus if they're living under Israeli occupation.

Violence, the threats-- the physical threats-- that Palestinians face in different places are quite different, and that shapes how and when people feel comfortable or are able to express themselves. And also, it shapes kind of what seems culturally meaningful and what seems important to Palestinians on either side of the Green Line.

And roadblocks-- I do want to-- it's a pun, right? "Laws, Violence, and Other Roadblocks to a Palestinian Political Expression." Roadblocks, of course, being checkpoints literally.

I think we can't discount the ways in which the physical separation and the legal limits on mobility across the Green Line also become limits to a certain kind of a conversation and also to people coming together to express themselves.

And I thought I could just give you the example of Nakba Day. And I think it's important to think about Nakba Day, because there's been so many springs where we watch a cycle or participate in a cycle of events that happened in the spring.

So in the spring there's, Land Day and there's Nakba Day. Land Day, at the end of March. And Nakba Day, in the middle of May. And it's a really important time for Palestinians to practice, re-articulate, and assert identities, collectivity, peoplehood, as Rana was emphasizing.

So one of the things about Nakba Day-- nakba, of course, meaning catastrophe, the Palestinian term for Palestinians being dispossessed.

In particular, in 1948, 800,000 Palestinians becoming refugees, tens of thousands of others being internally displaced, losing homes, city structures, coming to live then under military law. So basically, affected all Palestinians.

And so Nakba Day is a day in which those events are commemorated. And for my research, I went to many, many different commemorations of the Nakba. I did ethnographic research in 48, inside the territory Israel controlled in 1948, as well as in the West Bank.

And even moving across the Green Line itself is really vertiginous, and I think orienting, or disorienting in a way that's described politically productive for when one is able to do that.

And then there's the important fact that even marking Nakba Day is complex on both sides of the Green Line. So for one thing, Nakba Day for Palestinians has generally been May 15th.

But for Palestinians inside the territory that Israel has controlled in 1948, many Palestinians choose to commemorate the Nakba on what Israel considers independence day, on Israeli Independence Day, and they have an important expression, your day of independence is our day of catastrophe.

So this is an incredible assertion of a Palestinian view of history. But even in doing that then, they're not quite celebrating Nakba Day on the same day that other Palestinians are celebrating Nakba Day.

Now, that's not really a problem. Because really, the more commemorations one does, in some ways, the better, the richer this political culture becomes. So then they cannot commemorate the Nakba together due to the checkpoints as well.

Also, due to the fact that Israel has a law against commemorating the Nakba as a day of catastrophe as opposed to a day of celebration. And of course, that law only applies to citizens of Israel. It does not apply to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

So for Palestinians inside Israel, they can be sanctioned by the government. Particularly, municipalities can lose government funding if they commemorate the Nakba as a catastrophe or as a tragedy as opposed to celebrating it.

In the West Bank, there is no such a concern. So that's one way in which, in some ways, there are a lot more restrictions on expression inside Israel than in the West Bank.

So nevertheless, Palestinians in all of these locations-- and in my ethnographic research, I focused on the West Bank and Israel, because as an ethnographer, I don't have the ability to go to all places. But I tried to think about other places in other ways throughout the book.

But the other thing that happens is as Palestinians are gathering each year to think about the Nakba, they are repeating something.

But in repeating, they also were developing new ways of thinking about the past and the present. So what was often called a commemoration of the Nakba, [NON-ENGLISH] nakba, in recent years has been asserted as thinking about the ongoing Nakba, a nakba [NON-ENGLISH].

So this is really, really important. Sometimes, you can think of going to these kinds of ceremonies as repetitive or even not exciting, because sometimes, they seem formulaic.

But actually, you repeat, and you repeat, and you repeat, and you keep thinking together. You keep gathering together, and you keep asserting the whole collectivity, and thinking about what it means to be doing this year after year. And these new ideas kind of emerge on the ground, and take shape, and become powerful.

So the idea of the ongoing Nakba is as a concept that you find for Palestinians in many, many locations even though what the ongoing Nakba means can be different in each location.

The taking of land happens for Palestinians in the occupied territories and who are citizens of Israel. But it happens slightly differently. What is the role of gentrification for Palestinians in East Side? In the West Bank, gentrification may not be recognized as part of the Nakba particularly. Whereas, definitely in places like Jaffa, gentrification is part of the ongoing Nakba.

And then I think it's important to think about how there's this cross-fertilization-- and again, to go back to that idea of a spring cycle of events, we can think about the Great March of Return of 2018-- which was, of course, an event in Gaza that began on Land Day and was planned to continue to Nakba Day.

And the March of Return is a term that's used particularly-- has been used for by Palestinian citizens of Israel each year to return to a village, focusing on internally displaced people but also thinking about the whole right of return writ large, choosing a different location inside to return to each year.

And so even the term of the March of Return-- moving from communities primarily in the Galilee, moving down to Gaza-- was itself a very, very powerful thing. And there, Palestinians protesting the Nakba are thinking about ending the siege and the right of return at one and the same time.

And the horrific massacre that happened on Nakba Day in 2018 in Gaza, then, of course, led to really powerful protests also in Haifa and other places, many other places.

But you see this cross-fertilization of commemoration, of thinking about the ongoing Nakba, and of protest. So even though Palestinians can't physically protest together, in some ways, the multitude of places where people are protesting, and commemorating, and coming together to think about our history and our present is itself a really powerful thing.

HILARY RANTISI: Thank you, Amahl. And I think also I would mention Palestinian refugees in Jordan, in Lebanon, and also, at some points, in Syria. When they could march towards the borders, that was also sort of a commemoration of the Nakba, as well as a protest, and sort of an unity kind of act in their own locations.

And we see that repeated in different ways. Yeah, one thing-- Rami, I think that a few years ago, when we took students to Lydda as part of the course that we offer at RCPI, you met with our students.

And for me, it was the first time I hear a Palestinian citizen of Israel describe the reality of Lydda, as I would have heard someone in the West Bank describe the reality of living in the West Bank.

And specifically, some of the-- not only the language, but the description that you used-- I think would be helpful for us as we also think about where there are some convergences and repetition of despite the different spaces people live in.

And specifically, I want to mention the-- if you could talk about the process of, and the policy of, Judaization as a way of colonizing neighborhoods through some of the Jewish religious institutions.

Some of them called Garinim Torani'im or Torah Nuclei, who have come into Lyd. Maybe you can describe what that looks like for the city of Lyd, and how does that relate to other Palestinian communities in what has happened in their spaces.

Maybe somewhat different but also similar in other ways. I'm wondering if you could share your experience with that.

RAMI YOUNIS: I'll say. Usually, Hilary, I'm one of those people who enjoy a good, I told you so. So when I met with the students three years ago, and you described how I was talking like someone from the West Bank, it's because a bunch of us-- it wasn't just me-- but a bunch of us were seeing processes that were similar to what was happening in the West Bank.

Now, the events of May 2021 proved that we were right. Unfortunately, it was too traumatic for me to enjoy a good I-told-you-so. But today, we refer to Lyd as the new Hebron.

And let me explain. In order to understand this, I think we first need to understand the concept of Judaization. And if you're an American, I think the best thing for you, if you want to understand the concept in a simplistic very, very broad lines, let's say--

Let's all imagine a town in Alabama, or somewhere in the American Deep South. And let's imagine that that town became too Black. Meaning, way too many Black people, according to some people, reside in that town.

And all of a sudden, we see a bunch of white people moving into that town, supported by the state government that allocates fund to support them. And these people were moving into town to whiten it up. This is how they want to redeem the town.

So even in the American Deep South, this would face a lot of pushback and a lot of-- and the American mainstream would call it a KKK policy.

What would be referred to in the States as a KKK policy, in Israel is a mainstream policy, because it stems from the Zionist ideology that puts Jewish supremacy above everything else.

 

What's happening in Lyd didn't just started just now. It started dozens of years ago. And it actually started before 1948. We don't have much time to go into all the details. But let me just say what-- because you touched on the Garin Torani'im, the Judaization process that started in Lyd, so I want to elaborate on that.

So the Jewish Garin Torani, the Torah Nuclei, started moving into the city back in the '90s. Back then, they were a very small group. Nobody have heard of them. So we didn't pay them much attention.

After the second intifada, and after that, they started gaining more and more power. In 2005, Sharon evicted the settlements in the Gaza Strip. A lot of these settlers moved into Lyd, started moving into Lyd.

Now, they didn't just move into Lyd because they wanted a new place to live-- which is, in a way, kind of understood. They moved into Lyd, they chose Lyd, because Lyd, back then, was known for its social economical issues.

I remember, as a kid, seeing on TV one of the Israeli police officials going on TV and describing Lyd as the drug capital of the Middle East. The city saw a lot of crime and poverty.

Yes, it had a Palestinian population. But the Palestinian population was never a majority after 1948. Today, the city consists of 85,000 people. Only 30,000 of them are Palestinian.

But to the Jewish establishment, to the Israeli establishment, that was way too much. And the state and the municipality-- the establishment, the municipality, and the state started moving these settlers and encouraging these settlers to move into Lyd and allocating funds to them in order for them to develop infrastructures for their neighborhoods, i.e. schools, and daycare centers, and whatnot.

At the same time, the Palestinian population of Lyd was suffering, and still suffering, from a lot of issues. Mainly, we said before, poverty, but also house demolition issues.

80% of the people who have their houses in Palestinian neighborhoods in Lyd were built illegally. Meaning, because they don't have an approved-- these neighborhoods don't have an approved infrastructure plan, these people have to build their homes on their own lands illegally.

This is how you expand. This is how neighborhoods expand. And when the establishment doesn't allow you to expand, you do so illegally. Then the establishment comes and use it as a political weapon against you. This has been happening in Lyd.

It's been happening. Actually, as a kid, I remember it used to happen also in the '90s. But when the settlers started moving into the city and gaining power, all of a sudden, it became a big, big issue with a major problem.

So nowadays, they demolish between 10 to 15 houses, or buildings, or the structures that belong to Palestinians a year. Mind you, again, Lyd is not a big place.

So when you're a Palestinian and you see all these things, what do you think-- how do you think that makes us feel when we see these newcomers getting all the funds, basically taking over the establishment, the local establishment, which is the municipality, and running the city?

And openly talking about the fact that they want to redeem the city. They want to Judaize the city. What I'm trying to say is, this is why what happened in May 2021 didn't start in May 2021. It started way before.

Mind you, when the demonstration started in Lyd, and, to me, as a Lyddian, they came as a shock. I remember we used to drag people to join us in demonstrations to support the people in Gaza.

All of a sudden, these young teenagers, these 15, 16-year-olds are protesting with the Palestinian flag in support of Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, and al-Aqsa Mosque. And to the establishment, they didn't know how to handle it. They didn't know how to swallow that thing.

The Israeli establishment did what they know. Do what they know how to do best-- counter that with a lot of violence. That violence escalated a lot. And what they didn't know is that the Palestinians of Lyd, and Palestinians in other places, as well in 48, in the land of 1948, have decided that they had enough.

The pushback from the Palestinian communities, the Palestinian citizens of Israel, was something that wasn't anticipated by the Israeli establishment. And this led to the clashes. This led to the fact that Jewish citizens, Israeli citizens, decided to take to the streets and try and lynch Palestinians on site.

So it wasn't just the settlers in Lyd. It was mobs and mobs of right-wing Israelis trying to lynch people. And obviously, when these things happen, when hell breaks loose, there's violence from both sides. So obviously, Palestinians were attacking Israelis as well.

But if you look at the map, if you look at the maps of attacks during the May unrest in 2021, you would see that all the clashes between Israelis and Palestinians happened in Palestinian areas.

Meaning, they were either clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians, or clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police. Meaning, the Palestinians were mainly defending their neighborhoods, their homes.

Again, we can talk on and on about what happened. But I think I've been talking way too much, so I'll be quiet now.

HILARY RANTISI: No, thank you, Rami. It draws a picture for us and also sort of the similarities as well as some of the differences. But we see the violence in a variety of forms, whether it's structural or direct violence as we talk about here in our work. And so you gave us a very clear picture there.

I just want to move back to you, Rana, with your work, and how you look at settler colonial modalities, and how an indigenous understanding of history in how it overlaps and bleeds into the present.

And you look at fragmentation as an ongoing tool. You mentioned this at the beginning, how Palestinian resistance-- there is a sort of a through line from the past to the present.

And so I'm wondering if you could share a little bit more maybe from what you shared earlier, but also, what would you say about Palestinian youth today and their role in this important moment?

Rami talked about the youth and the children of former collaborators in Lyd. So there is a different sort of feel to the energy and the youth in this movement today. But perhaps, it's just a through line.

And so if you could put us in the context, the historical as well as connecting the past to the present as you do in your work, that would be great. Thank you.

RANA BARAKAT: Well, be careful. You've invited me to talk about history, Hilary. I would like to just remind everybody, including myself, of a few things and that words matter.

So I kind of want to take a step back. And I appreciate everything Rami said about the longer trajectory in the Lyd. But there's an even longer trajectory. And one of the things that was happening in May and June was that a lot of people that are from that area-- Lyd and Ramla-- are refugees in Ramallah.

And so it was around-- there was a kind of like-- again, it's peoplehood. It was this kind of idea that when we were processing in Ramallah, there was this idea that there was a connection that had people, the pontificators that I mentioned earlier, had thought had died. That there wasn't this connection.

But these-- we're talking third and fourth generation after 1948. And it was their Lyd. It was their Ramla. And that's important to remember.

And the other thing, if I may interject first for a second, I don't really do religion. But the phrase Judification, Judaization it annoys me, because it's about Israel performing itself as a settler colonial state. So it's Zionification. It's Israelification. And I appreciate the--

RAMI YOUNIS: This is-- this is how they-- this is the terminology they use.

RANA BARAKAT: Exactly, exactly. And it's not terminology that I'll use. But what I think that the-- I think it's the connection that Rami made about making it clear to an American audience is that there is an even clearer connection. And it's called settler colonialism. And the US obviously has settler colonialism. It's the godfather of Israeli settler colonialism.

So the words that were used in the US is called manifest destiny. It's this idea that it's God-given land, and they can take it. And as you mentioned, Hilary, at the beginning, this kind of acknowledgment of the land that you're on is indigenous land.

So it's not that different. It's just a longer trajectory. We're talking about 500 years versus 73. But since you invited me to talk about my work, I want to talk about Lifta. It's this book that I'm writing, that I've been writing for what feels like forever.

Lifta is a village in the Northwest corner corridor of Jerusalem, and my book is about Jerusalem, and it's about Palestine. It's about the past and our present. Mostly, I have to admit, my book is about my grandmother.

Ironically, what I shared earlier about the museum is that my book is titled Resisting the Museumification of Palestine. It is also, and not all that ironically, about ongoing. So what I constantly call ongoing return, which is how I describe the events of 2021.

I feel as if I've been working on the book my whole life. It's taking time. But part of why it has taken time is what you just described-- that the past and the present bleed into each other so often, so regularly, so strangely, so coherently in life and on Palestine that the book is constantly actually writing itself. And I'm just running to keep up with it.

So my particular methodological tool that keeps presenting itself is this ongoing. I had intended on actually just writing a book that was talking about stories and thinking about storytelling, how I learned from Leanne Simpson and others the power of storytelling in order to show myself how I could actually be a Palestinian historian.

But it turned out to be much more than that. Not even that. It's about how I want it to be my grandmother's kin, my mother's daughter, and her mother's daughter.

I intended on connecting that to how I worked, not to recover-- because I don't like that word-- nor to counter-- because I don't think we need to counter anything-- but rather, to walk through across and beyond without boundary or border about how, through stories, settler colonialism cannot steal time, like it has land in life.

It is meant that I spent years working to understand belonging and longing to be able to share these stories, to show how my grandmother in 1948 tells me stories in 2021. But the joy and responsibility, and sheer and utter magnitude is that stories are told as they are made. They are so frustratingly and beautifully ongoing.

I fear, in this description, that I might be descending into the romantic, and perhaps, I am. But I want to be clear about this, and I'm trying to be clear with myself about how we need to forge a new language-- neither reproducing somebody else's or pretending like we don't have our own.

Settler colonial violence is what we see. It's what you see. It's so terribly see-able. It's obviously visible and always visceral. I don't mean to ask us to unsee it. To the contrary, Palestine and Palestinians have endured 73 years of violence of a settler state. Palestine and Palestinians have endured over a century of settler colonial and imperial violence.

But how do we talk about it? How do we write about it? That's what I've been thinking about. I didn't come here today to speak in the company of people, whom I admire greatly, about settlers. But how can I speak to refusal and resistance otherwise?

Herein lies the challenge. A similar challenge of the museum that I mentioned earlier. A challenge of finding words, a language, that both holds the utter depravity of settler colonial violence but is not held within the prison of its walls.

A challenge that the freedom tunnel and the men who forged it gave us-- give us. It's not just a past tense. It's not just the past tense.

They are prisoners in the smaller prisons of the larger prison known as settler colonial occupation. They have since been recaptured and tortured. But they're also practicing and practice freedom-- their ongoing return.

So how do we find a language that holds all of this? I think is the challenge. I know today is talking about the violence in part, because maybe not everyone here knows about it.

Perhaps not everyone here knows about how between 1947 and '49, nearly 3/4 of the Palestinian population were forcibly expelled from their homes and homeland by Zionist military forces.

Perhaps not everyone in this virtual room knows that the violence of the Nakba war is the ongoing Nakba, that those of us in Palestine, throughout the geography of our homeland, endure various levels of colonial occupation daily.

Perhaps not everyone in this virtual room knows that though Rami is speaking from a city that should be no more than a couple of hours drive less from where I'm speaking, I can't reach him or that city which belong to all of us.

Even worse, or worse, for me, as I am of the city of Jerusalem and its crown, Lifta-- forgive me, because I have obsessions, and mine is my grandmother in Lifta-- I can't reach Jerusalem 15 minutes in a car from where I am. Settler colonial violence on the geography of Palestine.

Perhaps not everyone in this room knows that more than half of the Palestinian people can't actually reach Palestine refugees. Perhaps not everyone in this room knows that in the first week of courses at the University where I teach, Birzeit, five students were brutally arrested in a week by the Israeli military.

Perhaps you don't know that one of the six brave men who showed us freedom and practice is currently completing a graduate degree at Birzeit University, captured while writing a thesis-- Zakaria Zubeidi.

The title of today's event is about breaking barriers, dismantling power. So this is the challenge-- how do we tell this story? In the end, I suppose, it's not as complicated as I'm trying to make it out here. Maybe it's where I first began in response to the first question that you posed, Hilary-- people and peoplehood.

It's not a noun, or not only a noun. Perhaps, it's time we see it as a verb.

HILARY RANTISI: Thank you, Rana. Yeah, it's good to-- just the reminding of all these different pieces that come together, and also that maybe not everyone in this room realizes all these-- the daily difficulty and how the fragmentation impacts you, personally.

That you can't go and visit Rami. You can't go to your grandmother's village just a few miles away.

And now, as someone who looks at these questions, both the communities within 48 and the West Bank, as well as looking at refugee communities outside, and how in fighting fragmentation.

In your work, you write about that it doesn't always have to lead to unity as we may think about it, that there might be power in celebrating difference, and strength in the various experiences of all these different fragments bring together.

So I was wondering if you could talk about that as we think about defragmenting, and decolonizing, and seeing the strength of each of these different pieces rather than-- yeah.

I think you were taking us to different sort of way of thinking about this. I'm wondering if you could share with us some of your work on it.

AMAHL BISHARA: Yeah, thank you so much. There's a fundamental unity that Palestinians are standing for-- the right of return, equality, the end of military occupation, equality under the law.

The fact that Israel has been controlling the 1948 territory and the 1967 territory for over 50 years. I talked to my daughter about this. She's 11, and-- that's a long time. It's two generations.

And so for there to beat this game that Israel is sort of not sovereign over the occupied territories is one that we need to push up against at every turn, to recognize that sovereignty, and to stand together against it.

So there is a fundamental unity in political goals. But I do think that it's very important that we celebrate difference and that we find ways to hold it up and uncover difference. In some ways, Palestinians have always been wonderfully diverse-- rural and urban, from the hills and the mountains to the sea side, and so forth.

But also, we need to think about other kinds of diversities today. We need to think about those diversities today. But we also need to think about-- when we sometimes prized unity a little bit too much, we also erase hierarchies within our own Palestinian society.

So we erase the voices of poor people. We erase the voices of queer people, sometimes of refugees, of women. And so when we prize unity at the expense of other things, we sometimes tend to reinforce power hierarchies in our own society.

So while we have this fundamental unity of goals that we're all standing for, we also need to, I think, find ways in this practice of peoplehood. I love this idea of peoplehood as a verb that Rana has brought for us.

We can think about through kind of small projects and ways of connecting, ways of bringing people into conversation in ways that are not always big in public but ways of exchanging photographs, something that I've experimented with a little bit.

Professional associations, like I'm involved with professional associations that work across the Green Line, and recognizing the difficulty of that work. It's not easy, because we are experiencing different forms of oppression wherever we are, including also in the United States in a completely different way. But we are.

And so thinking about the barriers to coming together in ways that are self-conscious, in ways that are celebrating difference and pushing up against many kinds of hierarchies, including the hierarchies within Palestinian societies. We can do this through day trips, through protests, through planting plants, through learning together.

I know that there are like Madaris al-awda, schools of return that BADIL has been organizing. Sometimes, this can be about being creative together, being playful together.

So basically, I just want to think about how we, as Palestinians, can continue to speak together to hold up each other's voices in ways that are conscious of where we're each coming from and ways that continue, again, to recognize the perspectives and experiences, especially I think of poor people, of refugees, and other people whose voices are not ever really at the center of these elite nationalist agendas.

This is a moment when we need to remember to hold up those voices as often as we can.

HILARY RANTISI: Yeah, thank you. That's beautiful. And I think maybe rounding this off before we take one or two questions, just to bring in some of the connections that you also mentioned here in terms of people coming together, being creative and breaking barriers.

And Rami's work as a cultural activist, and several of our Fellows at RCPI, we talk about cultural activism and the role of cultural activism. And your work, Rami specifically, has worked to break some of these barriers and to be creative.

So maybe you could talk a little bit about the Palestine Music Expo and maybe some of the other artistic creations that are happening, things that are happening on the ground that are breaking barriers and bringing people together in ways that normally would not have happened.

RAMI YOUNIS: Well, thank you, Hilary. I strongly agree with you, Amahl. We actually started to do that, connecting with each other from both sides of the wall. Without realizing, we were doing that.

Back in 2017, we started the Palestine Music Expo with the sole aim of connecting the Palestinian music scene. We don't have an industry. We somehow, by a miracle, we have a scene with the international music industry.

And without realizing-- obviously, we chose Ramallah because that was the only place we can get both 67ers, Palestinians from the West Bank, and 48ers, Palestinian citizens of Israel, to attend and come to a festival and be together at the same time.

So, yeah, we try to create this artistic community of musicians. And I'm super glad to report, although it's not-- you know what, I'm not going to report on that. But I will be sharing some news about what we're planning on doing with that.

We started the Palestine Music Expo as a yearly event that connects musicians from both sides of the wall. And in PMX 2019, we were able to get-- somehow, we were able to get 14 musicians from Gaza to leave Gaza.

I think 11 of them left Gaza for the very first time in their lives. And they came to Ramallah, to this big music festival. That was very, very touching and moving.

From there, we want to evolve and start the Palestine Music Office. And I think this is happening really, really soon. We took the pandemic and the time off due to COVID. And because we haven't been doing the expo for the past couple of years, we took some time off to start the Palestine Music Office.

And our agenda is to create a home to all Palestinian musicians in Ramallah, and by saying, all Palestinian musicians, I mean also musicians from Jaffa, from Haifa, from [? Nazareth, ?] and, yes, from Gaza.

And whenever we're on stage and there's a band from Nazareth playing, and whenever we have a band from Haifa that we want to connect to, some delegate from a big company in Europe or the states, we tell them this is a Palestinian band. This is not an Israeli band. This is a Palestinian band.

They come from Haifa-- Haifa, Palestine. They come from Jaffa, Palestine. So to us, this is something that goes without saying, these things are super important. Unfortunately, like you said, Hilary, over the past few years, we've been seeing a lot of collaborations of Palestinians from both sides of the world.

We've been seeing a lot of events. The Haifa International Film Festival is one of them. A film festival that connects-- in their case, it was a bit different. It was them trying to connect Haifa, i.e. 48, with rest of Palestine. That was very successful.

Again, due to COVID, nothing much is happening. We still see a lot of collaborations between artists. Like the latest collaboration of Tamer Nafar with MC Abdul. That super, super talented kid from Gaza. Oh my God, I love that kid.

I think, Hilary, you can maybe share the song in the chat. The recent song-- The Beat Never Goes Off. I encourage everyone to go and listen to it on Spotify, YouTube, whatever.

So unfortunately, and this is not just due to COVID, these collaborations are not always seen in a positive way-- mainly by the Israeli establishment for obvious reasons. But also, the PA are being really intolerable.

It's out there. It's out there. I think more and more activists are starting to openly talk about the PA-- not being the collaborator of the occupation but the PA being the actual-- the Palestinian Authority being the actual occupation.

It's becoming increasingly hard to do anything in the West Bank right now. It's becoming increasingly hard to try and open-- you know what, don't get anything. If you want to have an evening, a cultural evening, that connects Palestinians from both sides of the wall, it's not something that's easily done in Ramallah these days, unfortunately.

It's not something that's easily done anywhere. And, yeah, that's it.

HILARY RANTISI: Thank you, Rami. I'm glad you mentioned Tamer's latest piece, and also how sometimes art-- which we all celebrate-- is also not celebrated by people in authority necessarily, and silenced in variety of ways.

And it's a reminder of the power, in many ways, of these types of collaborations and the importance of this cultural and creative expression.

We are running out of time. I'm going to just quickly mention two quick questions I think that, hopefully, can be answered briefly. And one is about the United Intifada of May 2021 and what was happening in the West Bank.

Small places like Birzeit and large places like Ramallah, how coordinated were their actions and their protests, and villages like Nabi Saleh, where they coordinated?

Maybe-- I don't know. Rana, if you could speak to that very briefly. And then I can move on maybe to one last question.

RANA BARAKAT: Sure. I'll try to be really brief. I think the question of coordination is always it's a historical phenomenon, how coordinated is protest and refusal. It remains unclear, but there were protests.

I should note what Rami was saying is very true. On June 24, the PA killed Nizar Banat. They killed him. They murdered him. And it was the height of what Rami was talking about.

When I was talking earlier, I called the PA the subcontractor of occupation. They are. As you say, they're all not occupation but they represent a proxy occupation, which is the settler colonial one.

But there are protests, there were protests, and there are ongoing protests. In Ramallah, the protests actually started to get-- they were put down by the PA. A lot of us were out there, and it was put down by the PA.

And the other thing that I just want to say is that there-- it's unclear. There are ongoing protests. Again, that's what I kind of want to keep talking about. And just to add to something that Rami was saying was that, in Sheikh Jarrah, at the height of when people were in Sheikh Jarrah, music was such a part of that protest.

Shabjdeed was being blasted all over the neighborhood, as was Daboor. So that kind of cultural production in proxies is also happening. That's across what you've called the fragmented geographies, is these kind of cultural productions reach. And they're everywhere throughout Palestine.

And just one last thing is that-- I mentioned earlier that I [INAUDIBLE] Birzeit, and Birzeit doesn't necessarily-- it's not able to bring together all Palestinians anymore, because it's so hard to get across these borders. But it does try to be a kind of hub and center of cultural production.

And I remember going to the festival that Rami was talking about, that first time around in 2017. And it really did feel-- it felt like what 2021 felt like. So I suppose that was another I-told-you-so moment.

HILARY RANTISI: Great. Thank you. I think we are almost out. We are actually over time. I will leave this open-ended question, because it's way too big for us to address. But maybe we can be thinking about it as we think about how to connect with international solidarity movements and with other Arabs across other continents.

That was the last question. It's not really a question, but it's something that maybe we can address briefly. You want to say something, Rana?

RANA BARAKAT: I just want to say something really quickly. Amahl referred to something rather humbly. She's part of [INAUDIBLE] which put out a statement in May of 2021 and all of these different academic, cultural, artistic organizations were not only putting out statements, but they were giving people something to do.

So I think that, again, there's a practice of international solidarity that was. We saw across the globe, which was so profound in 2021. So that we're just-- it's not that it's not happening. It's happening, and it's happening in ways that were bigger.

As far as I'm concerned, as far as I know, from the days when we were protesting in Chicago or on campuses when we were in the States, it's just gotten bigger and more profound. So that is-- I just want to do a shout out to all of that work as well.

HILARY RANTISI: Yeah, and that's I think a perfect way for us to end today. I know this is a topic we could talk about for a lot longer. And maybe we'll have more events around this as efforts to defragment, efforts to decolonize continue in Palestine.

Thank you to all our panelists. Thank you to all our attendees. And we look forward to sharing the recording of this with everyone hopefully in the near future.

Thank you very much.

AUTOMATED VOICE 2: Sponsor. Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Copyright 2021. President Fellows of Harvard College.