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 thePalestinian teenagers in that study were “divider”, “apartheid,” “snake,”“dangerous disease;” all of which were revolved around the symbolic as well asphysical reality of the Wall; a nightmare creeping into the dreams ofPalestinians.
In Ramallah on October28, 2010, the YWCA of Palestine, under the Patronage of the Ministry of Women’sAffairs, launched Dr. Nadera’s new study (commissioned by the YWCA and fundedby 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 feelingstrangled and being trapped by internal and external forces. Hence the title ofthe study: “Military Occupation, Trauma and the Violence of Exclusion: Trappedbodies and lives.”
Representatives fromthe civil society, women’s organisations, ministries and public sectors eagerlyattended Dr. Nadera’s compelling presentation, and intently participated in thediscussion that followed, voicing concerns on what is happening to EastJerusalem.
The study has beencompleted at a very significant time for Jerusalem, and could well serve as crucialdocumentation for the current distress and grievance of PalestinianJerusalemites today. In her presentation, as well as throughout the study, Dr.Nadera brings one example after another revealing Palestinians’ day-to-dayexperiences of military occupation, their methods of surviving and thestrategies of coping in the face of psycho-social and economic-political trapsand restraints imposed by Israel on Arab Jerusalem. The study also sheds alight on the main hardships that Palestinians encounter when facing Israel’surban politics, demographic policies, economic, political and socialrestrictions and political violence. It also makes some suggestions fordirections in future research, and a number of policy recommendations for humanrights and feminist activists and organisations to consider.
With direct quotationsgathered in interviews conducted for the study, young Palestinian voices of menand women from Jerusalem express a strong sense that their bodies, dailymovements, and actions are under tight control, or are “trapped.” Dr. Nadera’stheoretical analysis for understanding these quotations require “that wetheorise globality and post-coloniality in order to fully comprehend how globalforces and conditions – including “the war on terror,” the development of“security justifications,” the politics and industry of fear and proliferatingviolence – and local forces – internal displacement, geo politics and housedemolitions – all of which have shaped the contours of Palestinian daily lifein Occupied East Jerusalem.”
One thing is for sure:Dr. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian could surely get the 65+ participants at theworkshop study fully immersed in her moving, yet somewhat frighteningpresentation. She persistently asks that we all think of the effect of Israelispatial 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 onthe politics of everydayness; penning Michael Foucault’s terminology ofbiopower and biopolitics (in the application and impact of political power onall aspects of human life), and goes as far as considering how in the midst ofthis racial discrimination, ideas and practices associated with the economicsof life and death – or “necropolitics”, which work through Zionist economicsand start to dominate the equations of life and death
Dr. Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian is the director ofthe Gender Studies Program at Mada al-Carmel and a senior lecturer at theFaculty of Law, Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work andPublic Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her study “MilitaryOccupation, Trauma and the Violence of Exclusion: Trapped Bodies and Lives” isavailable at the YWCA of Palestine.