CFP: Israelis and Palestinians: Seeking, Building and Acting Peace



Israelis and Palestinians: seeking, building and acting peace

«Quest» n. 5, edited by Marcella Simoni, focuses on Israel and Palestine, placing special emphasis on bottom-up peace- building (rather than top-down peace-making) throughout the 20th century up to the present. In particular, it calls attention to local Israeli, Palestinian and Palestinian Israeli grassroots mobilization geared at building cooperation in society and among intellectuals, at bridging divides in society and politics, and at favouring joint economic development. In brief, this issue of the journal will be built around papers that, in their analysis of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, adopt a historical perspective investigating and underlining communal traits and shared work/cooperation/ coexistence/mutual help between Israelis and Palestinians over those emphasizing their well known territorial, political and existential divides.


As film-maker Julia Bacha has inspiringly suggested – either in public meetings and interviews or in her work – the time has come to try to fill the gap between what is happening on the ground and perceptions and representations abroad; this involves, among other things, also concentrating both on past experiences of cooperation and joint work, or paying attention to the role of non violence and of other means of peaceful resistance against conflict and war in the history of the relations between Israelis and Palestinians. Some works already exists on various aspects of the peace-building experience, more for the Israeli than for the Palestinian side, starting from Bar-On (1996), with some specific researches on "Peace Now" (Hall-Cathala, 1990; Feige, 2002; Hermann 2009), on conscientious objection (Zemliskaya, 2009), on checkpoint monitoring (Keshet, 2006), on peace activism through a gender perspective (Helman and Rapaport, 1997; Pouzol, 2008) and on other aspects of this complex enterprise. Other studies have focused on the international dimension of peace-building focusing on people-to- people programs (Herzog and Hai, 2005), the agenda and influence of foreign donors (Challand, 2009) in a post-Oslo context, when civil society (generally conceptualized as a plethora of NGOs) was entrusted with the task of defusing the conflict through education, health, women’s empowerment, the building of sustainability etc.


Finally, some studies have focused on joint Israeli-Palestinian NGOs and their cooperation, the ones that survived the shockwaves of the Second Intifada (2000-2004) (Simoni, 2007).


These different approaches and different subjects have not yet received the attention they deserve by the media or by the scholarly community, and for this reason too a coherent and articulated discourse conceptualizing fifty and more years of peace- building activities has not fully emerged. And while Bacha has spent a number of years documenting non violent resistance of Palestinians and their cooperation with Israelis in films (Encounter Point, 2006; Budrus, 2009), this issue of «Quest» would like to complement (and add to) some of the already existing literature on the subject (Sufian & Levin, 2007; Marteu, 2009): it aims at proposing a new perspective on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that tries to deconstruct a historical narrative mainly based on the paradigm of conflict. As Zachary Lockman (2004) has pointed out, such narrative helps a production of knowledge bound to reproduce conflict; in a previous work (1996), Lockman had also argued the case for a relational approach, i.e. writing a history that keeps into consideration how the identity of the parties in conflict necessarily takes shape through the relation (conflicting or otherwise) that they necessarily entertain. And while this does not necessarily imply peace-related activities, peace-building seems a starting point worth exploring.


The Editorial Board of «Quest» is thus seeking papers for a volume on the long history of the constructive relations between Israelis, Palestinians and Palestinian Israelis from the inception of this conflict at the turn of the twentieth century to the present. While the present time of this collective effort will be naturally represented in the volume, «Quest» is a historical journal and papers that deal with the historical aspect of such a cooperation are particularly encouraged.


All subjects will be considered, and the list that follows only presents macro-areas waiting to be filled with more specific contributions: 1) military/civil sphere, conscientious objection; 2) History, memory and trauma; 3) Women and gender activism; 4) Religion and secularism; 5) Media, Communication, high and popular culture. In this section we also welcome papers that provide critical analysis of the role of literature, cinema, music, advertising, art and artists (photography, graphic design, comics, graphic novels etc. in spreading messages against war, conflict and occupation (see for example the works of David Tartakover and Yossi Lemel); 6) Welfare (education and health). Papers that provide new historical evidence deconstructing national narratives of "eternal hatred" between Palestinians and the Yishuv/Israel are welcome as well as papers that discuss biographies of peace-makers/thinkers/ organizers from different times, organizations and approaches (Ury Avnery, Gershon Baskin, Martin Buber, Uri Davis, Yael Dayan, Simha Flapan, Emil Grunzweig, Said Hammami, Adam Keller, Yeheshayahu Leibowitz, Avishai Margalit, Abie Nathan, Sari Nusseibeh, Mattie Peled, Ron Pundak, Issam Sartawi, Hanna Siniora just to mention a few names).


This volume will thus try to raise and address some questions that come together with the history of pacifism, non- violence, conscientious objection, political mobilization, grassroots cooperation etc. both at a theoretical and at a practical level: why has such history disappeared from the historiography of the conflict?

Were minorities such as Mizrahi/Arab Jews or Palestinian Israelis ever intended to play a role in peace-related activities through organizations or as (linguistic and cultural) bridges between peoples in conflict? How does the rule of (Israeli military) law perpetuate the occupation of the West Bank? How does it help placing human rights before security? What are the economic, military, social and ethnic mechanisms of the occupation and does the debate surrounding them help defuse them? Does pacifism interfere with those mechanisms or is it a form of non-violent resistance to them? Does it embody a more radical protest against the State of Israel as an ethnocracy?


Does cooperation – and especially cooperation through NGOs – defuse the economic, individual, collective and political consequences of the occupation or does it normalize it? What is the role of women in constructing a culture of peace or in perpetuating one of that supports conflict and the occupation? Is gender a relevant category in this respect? And finally, is there a role for both the Jewish and the Palestinians Diasporas in peace-building or only in conflict perpetuation?


Given the flexible nature of «Quest» as a web-based scholarly journal, the editor is not only looking for traditional scholarly papers but for other "texts" too, filmed testimonies, collection of drawings, photographs, stickers; on the other hand, it is important to remember that «Quest» is a publication devoted to scholarship and that it will not host propaganda material of any kind, nor will it publish material that could be offensive for religious, political, gender or other reasons. The decision of the Editorial Board of the journal will be final in this respect.


ABSTRACTS – February 29h 2012: addressed to Marcella Simoni (image); in English with a clear indication of sources to be used (oral, written, documentary, visual etc.); length: 400 words; subject line: Quest n. 5 – abstract. Notification of acceptance (or not) will be delivered by the mid-March.

FIRST SUBMISSION OF ESSAYS – July 15th 2012: All essays will be double-blind peer-reviewed. Should a second submission be needed, deadline will be November 30th 2012.

PUBLICATION: expected by January 2013.

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