An-Najah Holds an International Conference on 'Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice'
On Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Teacher Training at An-Najah National University in cooperation with the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora (AMED) Studies at San Francisco State University held the 'Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice Conference'. The conference aimed at creating a space to explore the multi-site conversations both within and outside of the classroom with academics, advocates, and activists on teaching justice-centered knowledge production on Palestine.
The conference included five sessions with opening remarks by Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah University. Prof Maher discussed the importance of higher education in Palestine and the importance of attracting distinguished international expertise and dispatching top students to prominent international universities. He also stressed the importance of the cooperation between An-Najah and San Francisco State University and talked about the political and financial challenges that encounter higher education in Palestine.
The American delegation was accompanied with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Director and Senior Scholar at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies at SFSU. Dr. Abdulhadi discussed how the Palestinian cause is not limited to academic institutions in the U.S extends to community and social activism and advocacy. She added that language proper use is a form of resistance; therefore, there is a need to pick words, vocabulary and concepts carefully to convey the reality of the Palestinian cause through media. Lastly, Dr Abdulhadi analyzedthe campaigns carried out by the Zionist Lobby to ban teaching the Palestinian cause in the American curricula as well as the solidarity efforts made to face these campaigns.
The first session included presentations by the conference keynote speakers, Dr. Robin Kelley, the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)"Freedom Dreams: Emancipatory Pedagogies, Zionism, and Palestine" and ,and Dr. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, "Teaching Palestine & Spirit of 68: Pedagogical Praxis &the Indivisibility of Justice."
The second session, titled 'Censoring Palestine: The Political Economy of Zionism & Neoliberalism' included the following presentations: "The Neoliberal Turn and Empire Making: Occupations in Haiti and Palestine" by Mamyrah Prosper, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), CUNY Graduate Center; "Anti-Colonial Knowledge, General Union of Palestinian Students and Palestinian Diasporic Praxis" by Saliem Shehadeh, Doctoral Student, Anthropology, UCLA; "U.S. Labor, Zionism, Neoliberalism and Palestine" by Jaime Veve, Transit Workers United, Local 100 (retired), New York City; "Discover Palestine: Reflection on Using Technology for Identity Building" by Dr. Saida Affouneh, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Teacher Training at An-Najah; and closed with “Palegogy” of the Oppressed!" by Mr. Saed Abu-Hijleh, Lecturer at the Geography Department at An-Najah.
The third session included an open forum with both An-Najah students and international pro-Palestinian activists to discuss issues related to apartheid, racism and gentrification, and developing Palestine-USA solidarities.
The fourth session, titled 'Indigeneity, Pedagogies and Decolonizing the Curriculum' included the following presentations: "Rooted Pedagogies: Land, Indigeneity, and Occupation at San Francisco State University" by Nanea Renteria, Lecturer, Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University; "Teaching Resistance: Lessons from South Africa’s ‘Alternative Education’ Project" by Matshidiso Motsoeneng, Afro-Middle East Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa; "Mapuche, Chile, & Diaspora Politics: Teaching Justice, Teaching Palestine" by Daniela Paz Jacob Pinto, Graduate student, London School of Economics; "Water, Land and Justice: From Standing Rock to Palestine" by Melissa Ann Tso (Navajo), the Red Nation; "The level of common educational equity values of Social studies textbooks of upper basic level" by Dr. Suheil Salha, Assistant Professor at the Department of Teaching Methods of An-Najah; "Critical Pedagogy at Palestinian Universities- Potentials and Obstacles: The case of An-Najah National University", by Dr. Sami Al-Kilani, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Work, at An-Najah.
The fifth session titled, 'Challenging Policing & Surveillance: Student, Youth & Campus Organizing including presentations on the experiences of solidarity activism within American higher education and Palestine through the following presentations: "Campus Divestment and Palestinian Liberation: What We can learn from Tufts SJP Experience" by Parker Breza, BA Candidate in American Studies and Colonialism Studies, Tufts University; "Surveillance, Policing and Gentrification: Lessons from South Central LA to Bethlehem" by Enrico Doan, Doctoral Student, Cultural Studies, University of Washington; "Students Organizing in Palestine" by Dr. Hasan Ayoub and Dr. Raid Nuirat, of the Political Science Department at An-Najah; "Palestinian Women Between the Hammer and the Anvil: The Challenges of Palestinian Women Students within University Political Movements" by Dr. Samah Saleh, Head of Department of Sociology & Social Work at An-Najah.
The closing plenary focused on teaching Palestine future directions for research and pedagogy.
Prior to the conference, Prof. Natsheh welcomed the delegation at his office where he stressed the importance of strengthening the cooperation between An-Najah and SFSU.
The delegation was also received by Dr. Affouneh, Mr. Abu Hijleh and Mr. Khaled Mufleh, Acting Director of the Public Relations Department and the International Office at An-Najah.
Prof. Natsheh briefed the delegation on An-Najah's history, development, academic programmes and its role in serving the Palestinian community. He also talked about the obstacles that higher education in Palestine face including employing international experts and scholars due to visa restrictions imposed by the Israeli Occupation.