Film: Gaza in Context

Arab Studies Institute

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 The Full 20-Minute Narrative
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“I did not think it was possible to examine in 20 minutes what Gaza in Context  does with such compelling clarity: Israeli policies toward Gaza and Palestine, which are inseparable; the core problems affecting Gaza and the deliberateness of the policies that have led to Gaza’s disablement; Gaza’s centrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and some common myths surrounding Gaza and the history of the conflict overall, which are straightforwardly debunked.
An immensely valuable teaching tool, the film’s power also lies in its fundamental humanity, a heartfelt entreaty to end the oppression and violence so that all people in this tortured part of the world may aspire to a future in which their children can flourish.–Dr. Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University 

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Mideast Can’t Even Agree on What ‘One-State Solution’ Means

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a joint news conference at the White House last Wednesday.President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a joint news conference at the White House last Wednesday (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, The Associated Press).

Noah Feldman, Bloomberg View, February 20, 2017

For the last several years it has been increasingly common to hear Israelis and Palestinians alike say that the two-state solution to their struggles is dead and that the time has come to discuss a one-state solution.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that trend during a news conference last Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by saying that he is “looking at two states and at one state” while remaining open to whichever suits the parties.

There’s just one problem: “One-state solution” means something almost completely different on each of the two sides. Years of negotiation and debate have created the general contours of a two-state solution, but when people speak of one-state options, they lack that common ground.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. supports a two-state solution, but “we are thinking out of the box as well.” What might that mean for the Palestinians, for starters? (I’ll restrict this discussion to vaguely realistic visions that could be reached by compromise, not force — so I won’t consider the disappearance of either the Jewish state or the Palestinian national cause.)

For most Palestinian one-staters, the ideal is a democratic state offering equal citizenship rights to everyone living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, both Jews and Arabs. The state could be federated into two parts, so that each side would enjoy a majority in its own areas. Jerusalem might be treated as its own federal unit or divided between the two federations with shared responsibility for the Temple Mount.

In this picture, all citizens would be allowed to travel freely through the state and across federation lines. Probably all would be allowed to live wherever they chose.

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February 25, 2017
International Festival

Overture Center
State Street, Madison
10 am – 5 pm

Take a trip around the world in a day! Experience all the cultures that Madison has to offer through food, crafts and free performances. And join MRSCP as we once again present Palestinian fair trade products at the International Festival. We’ll be selling a brand new shipment of Palestinian extra-virgin olive oil, olive oil soap, embroidery, wood crafts, earrings, ceramics and kuffiyehs. It’s fun, and it’s free!

Your Passport to the Arts

Enjoy more than 30 FREE performances throughout Overture by artists who call Dane County home celebrating the rich cultural heritage within our community. Indulge in cuisines from around the world, browse stunning arts and crafts available for purchase and learn about the many local businesses with global connections.

International Festival

International Festival is on Saturday, February 25, 2017, 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM


February 23, 2017
UW SJPs Debka Lessons Night 1

UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine
Thursday, February 23 at 7 PM – 8 PM
Location to be announced

Have you been interested in learning how to debka?

Debka is an Arab folk dance. Debka originated in Palestine where houses were built using stone with roofs made of wood, straw, and dirt. Builders used this dance to compact and stomp the roof flat while singing traditional songs.

Join SJP to learn how to dance debka with the leader of a Milwaukee-based Palestinian debka troupe, Sanabel al-Quds! We will have a wide range of lessons for beginners to more advanced dancers.

WKOW 27: Locals React to Trump and Netanyahu News Conference

Madison-Rafah member Samir El-Omari is quoted in the article and appears on camera at 1:03.

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Hunter Saenz, WKOW.com, February 15, 2017 11:55 PM

MADISON (WKOW) — For decades, both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S. have tried forming a peaceful solution involving both nations being recognized. That is, until today when President Donald Trump said he "can live" with a one-state solution. 

"So I’m looking at a two-state and a one-state and I like the one that both parties like," said Mr. Trump during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The president’s words drew mixed reaction from Madison Rabbi Jonathan Biatch. 

"At least from the United States’ point of view, that they’re not going to impose a settlement on them. I think it’s important the two parties create their own agreement," Biatch said. 

But Rabbi Biatch is concerned about Mr. Trump being open to a one-state solution. 

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Israel passed a controversial law about settlements. Where did its parliament get the support?

Devorah Manekin and Guy Grossman, The Washington Post, February 13, 2017

An Israeli soldier stands guard in a monitoring cabin in the Israeli settlement of Beit El near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan. 25. (Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Last week, Israel’s parliament passed a law allowing the state to seize private Palestinian land on which Jewish settlements have been constructed and transfer it to the settlements’ exclusive use. The law could retroactively legalize several thousand homes of Jewish settlers and suspend any demolition proceedings previously initiated against them. Israel’s legal establishment has announced its opposition to the new law, saying it violates Israeli and international law and could lead to international repercussions. Israel’s president also came out against the law, arguing that it would “make Israel look like an apartheid state.” The law already has come under heavy criticism from several of Israel’s allies and has been challenged in Israel’s High Court, where it could eventually be overturned.

Yet despite these far-reaching political implications, the law was backed by Israel’s entire ruling coalition, with only one dissenting member. Even the Kulanu party, which bills itself as a moderate, pragmatic party, voted for the law, leading to a final count of 60 in favor, 52 against. What explains this widespread support?

Our own research, co-written with Tamar Mitts of Columbia University, sheds light on how a minority of voters can have an outsize influence on controversial policies that may carry a heavy cost.

Traditionally, analysts of Israeli politics contended that the Israeli right is split over control of the West Bank. The first, more ideological, camp is attached to the land for religious and symbolic reasons, viewing the land of Israel as God-given to the Jewish people and therefore indivisible. A second, more pragmatic camp supports territorial control over the West Bank for security reasons. According to this latter view, it is essential for Israel to hold onto the West Bank until a viable and credible peace deal is on the table.

The distribution of voters across this divide has considerable policy implications: If the pragmatic camp is sufficiently large, a bargaining space exists that allows leaders to negotiate land for peace. If, however, the ideological camp dominates, such a bargaining space between Israeli and Palestinian leaders narrows substantially.

Our study, based on surveys of more than 3,000 Jewish adults, was explicitly designed to measure the relative size of these camps. We found, first, that about 53 percent of our respondents supported deepening control over the West Bank through settlement expansion, while about 47 percent supported a settlement freeze. Those who opposed settlement expansion thought it would lead to increased violence and escalate the conflict, but, perhaps surprisingly, many who supported settlement expansion generally thought the same thing.

What could motivate a majority of the public to support a policy of expansion that they thought was likely to worsen the security situation? Using multiple experimental methods to disentangle strategic motivations from symbolic ones, we found that a majority of right-wing respondents (about 55 percent) would prefer to deepen Israeli control of the West Bank even if that meant violence would increase substantially, the economy would be severely harmed, and funding for health and education would be reduced to enable military expansion.

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