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​Assistant Researcher at ACRPS

On Wednesday 16 January 2018, the Arab Center for Research Policy Studies welcomed Ihab Maharmeh to present the weekly seminar. The ACRPS researcher gave a lecture entitled "Settler Colonialism in the Jordan Valley: How do Palestinians Resist?", beginning with a breakdown of the concept of "daily resistance". He explained the dimensions and various tactics involved with the concept, focusing on the Jordan Valley. He posed two research questions: What is the nature of the settler-colonialism in the Jordan Valley? And, how do Palestinians resist while under direct Israeli sovereignty?

Maharmeh reviewed the concept of daily resistance, arguing that it applied a new understanding of politics, revealing daily life to be a major part of political life. By fusing the concepts of daily life and resistance, daily tasks become acts of defiance to the dominant power. These acts are somewhat invisible because they constitute is a different type of resistance which does not fit the traditional political meaning or display the same dynamics. The idea of daily resistance is not alien to the Palestinian context, where many studies have shown this resistance working simply in overcoming Israeli obstacles, in education, in procreation and in movement between villages and Palestinian areas despite Israeli fragmentation policies. This type of resistance represents an accumulation of popular acts in response to settler colonization and repeated human rights violations.

Maharmeh explained that the colonization of the Jordan Valley goes back to the period immediately after the Israeli occupation of 1967. Since then, Israel has executed security plans and policies in the area under the guise of ensuring security for both Israel and the West Bank in case of any Arab attempts to invade. After the security risk of the Eastern border faded away, Israel put in place policies to encourage the construction of civilian and agricultural settlements, with the aim of economic investment, while enabling it to achieve security aims at the same time. After two decades of occupation in the Jordan Valley, Israel has started to plan for to Judaize the area under the pretext of its historical right to the land. He detailed a number of Israeli violations in this area ranging from land confiscation, building settlements, exploitation of natural resources, preventing the development of Palestinian villages, demolishing Bedouin communities, restrictions on movement and displacement of indigenous people. These policies aim to impose a colonial reality that deprives the Palestinians of their right to self-determination, exploits their lands and natural resources and prevents them from exercising any sovereignty.  

Maharmeh went on to discuss Palestinian resistance tactics through his field observation of villages and communities in the Jordan Valley located within Area C. He then explained the acts and tactics used by the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley to express their intention to survive and undermine the hegemony of the colonial power, focusing on quiet and invisible tactics. The stories of the respondents and their determination to stay, to build, to work and to live in an area under direct Israeli control are a true example of daily resistance. They therefore challenge not only Israeli policy but also the Oslo II Accords which divided the West Bank into three divisions, while re-enforcing their identity as Palestinians. He concluded by saying that the daily resistance tactics in the Jordan Valley are different from armed or peaceful resistance tactics and from the Sumud (resilience) tactics that emerged in the first and second Palestinian intifadas. Accordingly, the daily struggle of the Palestinians and their refusal to leave the Jordan Valley ensure that the residents maintain a special space, outside the control of the colonial authority, by insisting on their right to exercise their lives as they wish.