The YWCA of Palestine Launches New Study on East Jerusalem
In 2007, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian, through World Vision and in coordination with the YWCA of Palestine, published the study “Facing the Wall: Palestinian Children and Adolescents Speak about the Israeli Separation Wall” which showcased the heavy price Palestinian adolescents have to face, both for being Palestinians and also for living in the shadow of the Wall. The recurring words of the Palestinian teenagers in that study were “divider”, “apartheid,” “snake,” “dangerous disease;” all of which were revolved around the symbolic as well as physical reality of the Wall; a nightmare creeping into the dreams of Palestinians.
In Ramallah on October 28, 2010, the YWCA of Palestine, under the Patronage of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, launched Dr. Nadera’s new study (commissioned by the YWCA and funded by Dan Church Aid – DCA) which highlights the challenging, if not unnatural, daily lives of Palestinians living in Jerusalem. The voices heard in Dr. Nadera’s study this time are continuously expressing the sense of feeling strangled and being trapped by internal and external forces. Hence the title of the study: “Military Occupation, Trauma and the Violence of Exclusion: Trapped bodies and lives.”
Representatives from the civil society, women’s organisations, ministries and public sectors eagerly attended Dr. Nadera’s compelling presentation, and intently participated in the discussion that followed, voicing concerns on what is happening to East Jerusalem.
The study has been completed at a very significant time for Jerusalem, and could well serve as crucial documentation for the current distress and grievance of Palestinian Jerusalemites today. In her presentation, as well as throughout the study, Dr. Nadera brings one example after another revealing Palestinians’ day-to-day experiences of military occupation, their methods of surviving and the strategies of coping in the face of psycho-social and economic-political traps and restraints imposed by Israel on Arab Jerusalem. The study also sheds a light on the main hardships that Palestinians encounter when facing Israel’s urban politics, demographic policies, economic, political and social restrictions and political violence. It also makes some suggestions for directions in future research, and a number of policy recommendations for human rights and feminist activists and organisations to consider.
With direct quotations gathered in interviews conducted for the study, young Palestinian voices of men and women from Jerusalem express a strong sense that their bodies, daily movements, and actions are under tight control, or are “trapped.” Dr. Nadera’s theoretical analysis for understanding these quotations require “that we theorise globality and post-coloniality in order to fully comprehend how global forces and conditions – including “the war on terror,” the development of “security justifications,” the politics and industry of fear and proliferating violence – and local forces – internal displacement, geo politics and house demolitions – all of which have shaped the contours of Palestinian daily life in Occupied East Jerusalem.”
One thing is for sure: Dr. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian could surely get the 65+ participants at the workshop study fully immersed in her moving, yet somewhat frightening presentation. She persistently asks that we all think of the effect of Israeli spatial policy – the geopolitics – which is a way of “controlling our spaces; ghettoising us in small enclaves,” and of the outcomes that happen out of “changing geography in order to change history.” Moreover, she elaborates on the politics of everydayness; penning Michael Foucault’s terminology of biopower and biopolitics (in the application and impact of political power on all aspects of human life), and goes as far as considering how in the midst of this racial discrimination, ideas and practices associated with the economics of life and death – or “necropolitics”, which work through Zionist economics and start to dominate the equations of life and death
Dr. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian is the director of the Gender Studies Program at Mada al-Carmel and a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her study “Military Occupation, Trauma and the Violence of Exclusion: Trapped Bodies and Lives” is available at the YWCA of Palestine.