The Economic Prospects for Peace in Palestine

30 Jun

Faraz AlidinaLiberalism, in the broadest sense of the word, is arguably the theoretical hegemon in current political, international relations and economic theory. Recently appointed United States Secretary of State John Kerry is now seeking to use these liberal economic ideas to create a foundation for an enduring peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This paper will evaluate the application of commercial liberalism in Palestine’s post-Paris Protocol economic structure concluding that the absent necessary condition of economic independence negated any peace-promoting effects of interdependence. Thereafter, the merits of John Kerry‟s economic peace plan are questioned for its fallacious assumptions about the nature of multi-national corporations and neoliberalism

Written by IMESC Research Assistant Faraz Alidina.

Read it here:


IMESC Newsletter #11

23 Jun

Read our newsletter for the latest information about our Institute. This issue includes:

-Where Peace Lives Event Recap + Pictures

-Meeting of Cooperation between IMESC and Gaza U + Pictures

-ISSN and ISBN Granted to IMESC

-IMESC President Keynote at “Parenting and Culture Together”

-Notice on an IMESC Academic Journal

-New IMESC Team Member

IMESC Newsletter #11 [pdf]

Press Release

20 May

Institute for Middle East Studies Canada (IMESC)
Canadian Palestinian Social Association (CPSA)

We thank everyone for their participation at this successful symposium, which was held on Saturday, May 18, 2013, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the conference hall – Conron Hall – University of Western Ontario entitled: Where Peace Lives, organized by the Institute for Middle East Studies Canada (IMESC), the Canadian Palestinian Social Association (CPSA), Western School of Humanities, and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, which comes on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

We also thank the crew who worked so hard to arrange and organize this seminar: Ahlam Ayoub: a member of the Institute for Middle East Studies Canada, and the director of the Cultural and Heritage committee at the Canadian Palestinian Social Association, Joshua Lambert: from the Western School of Humanities, and the IT and sound crew at the University of Western Ontario.

We also thank all the speakers who participated in this seminar:
1. Brother: Bob Holmes: Christian Peace Team
2. Menno Meijer: IMESC and Photojournalist
3. John Densky: Photojournalist
4. Dr. Gahad Hamed: President of IMESC and CPSA.

We believe that this seminar came in line with the requirements of the current situation in the Middle East, the Arab world, and Palestine in particular.

We also believe that this requires everyone in the diaspora, and Canada in particular, to stand on the changes and variables occurring in relation to the continuing Nakba on the Palestinian people inside the Palestinian territories and abroad, and diaspora; and especially to assess the status-quo and then work in search for justice, peace, freedom and independence and security in Palestine, Syria and other regions and countries in the Middle East and the Arab world in particular.

We have see in this symposium and this gathering of different community organizations including institutional academic communities, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba that requires everyone to fulfill his/her obligations; in order to achieve justice, freedom and independence for the Palestinian people as this is the shorter way to peace for all peoples in the region.


Where Peace Lives

16 May

Where Peace Lives


This event will discuss the ongoing peace efforts in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestine Conflict and the Civil War in Syria.  These issues are not static; they are ever changing and thus, efforts made towards reconciliation and the reestablishment of normalcy must be constantly evaluated and updated. These efforts must also be holistic, rather than myopic; our speakers come from a range of backgrounds: academic, religious and activist. Join us, on May 18th 2013.

Event Sponsored By:

Institute for Middle East Studies (IMESC),
Canadian Palestinian Social Association (CPSA),
Western School of Humanities, and
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights

Purchase tickets

Meeting of Cooperation Between IMESC and Gaza University

13 May

We are honoured to partner with Gaza University in providing academic advice and opening channels with Canadian universities. We believe that the demand for quality education is growing and that academic exchange is the best way to meet that demand. In a meeting held in  Gaza city, representatives of IMESC: Dr. Gahad Hamed, president of the IMESC and Dr. Mohammed Ouda, member of the Board of Directors met with representatives of Gaza’s University, Prof. Dr. Abdulkarim nijim, GU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Eng. Hussam Al Alloul, Vice Chairman at GU of Trustees. Gaza University is a newly established private university with a number

of academic majors. The academic meeting addressed many cooperation themes such as building bridges with Canadian universities through IMESC and receiving scholars and researchers from
IMESC at GU. :في العربية

The Arab Spring: A Conspiracy Theory or Nation’s Will

12 May

Fadi El HusseiniFadi Elhusseini is a Research Fellow at IMESC. Follow him on Twitter @FElhusseini

Revolts did not knock on the door, they just sneaked in the Arab region, toppling some regimes while shaking the thrones of others. Analyses began to heap in an attempt to examine this state of affairs; some choose to factor in this context a new foreign conspiracy, aiming at dividing of what is left from the region. Others suggest that the revolts are a long awaited revolution of pride and dignity and were ignited by plain domestic forces. As a prelude to this analysis, in today’s article we wish to address the common views, widespread not only among academics and politicians, but also amongst the Arab masses which started to question, doubt and lose confidence in the current spate of Arab revolts. In order to keep readers abreast of the latest developments, this article espouses a nuanced approach in addressing a third view which considers the events mere scientific material that can serve as a platform to examine existing theories of international politics in a region, described for long time as idle and sluggish towards transformations.

Many of those who believe the Arab Spring is part of a conspiracy theory, have linked their views to many remarks, articles and literature of non-Arab intellectuals like Bernard Lewis and Thierry Meyssan. Such writings gave an impression that the Arab Middle East is in a process of transformation, similar to that of the Sykes–Picot in 1916. On the official level, many terms and projects like “constructive chaos”, the “New Middle East” and the “Greater Middle East”, coined and uttered by “mainly” US officials lead to further worry and distrust. For instance, in March 2004, the Bush administration adopted what was named “the Greater Middle East Project”. The avowed goal of the project was encouraging political, economic and social reforms in the Arab Middle East, in addition to Turkey, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. One can argue that the US vision of this project was based on two main pillars; first is to reshuffle and reorganize cards in the Middle East after seizing control of the World Political Order, in the aftermath of the collapse of the former Soviet Union, while the second pillar is largely based on the concept of improving the image of the US in the Middle East, after being greatly smeared and distorted as a result of US invasion in Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq.

Nevertheless, the project did not bear any fruit and was complete fiasco. Other terms and projects followed like “the New Middle East” project, which was introduced by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006. The new project was accompanied with a new term of “constructive chaos”. In his article “Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East” on November 18, 2006 at the GLOBAL RESEARCH (Center for Research on Globalization), Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya defines constructive chaos as “generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region– would in turn be used so that the United States, Britain, and Israel could redraw the map of the Middle East in accordance with their geo-strategic needs and objectives.” A starker example of this approach was reflected in the new map of the Middle East, presented in the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal in 2006 entitled: “Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look”.

Simply put, as the goals of these projects went down the drain, US decision makers started to think of a new plan that would replace previous ones and may achieve the required results. The new approach is primarily to seek a new “model” that can be accepted by Arabs and that would alienate images and stereotypes related to old and traditional regimes. The rise of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) of Turkey in 2002 inspired that viewpoint and moved the compass into the direction of what was called “moderate Islam” day after day. Hitherto, promoting the Turkish model in particular and encouraging “moderate Islam” in general widespread struck a chord with public dissatisfaction and aversion to corrupt regimes and have become a priority.

In this vein, “Moderate” Islamic movements, which were once deprived from their rights, expelled and may be executed by their own regimes, lined up to present their credentials as the new accepted “model” or alternative of the old fashioned and infamous dictatorships, which appeared in the eyes of Arab people as a stooge, too attached to the West and excessively dependent on the US.

According to this viewpoint, the rise of the current Arab revolts demonstrated the solemn declaration of this new American plan, by inserting democratically elected new “moderate” Islamic movements in power. The new Islamic regimes will serve as good as previous regimes, yet they will be more accepted by their people and hence interests, business and flux of oil will be secured. The warm relations between these Islamic movements and the US in particular, and being hosted by the West when they were escaping from the oppression of the previous regimes, bolstered such way of thinking.

I believe this treatment of such state of affairs is fulsome yet requires further investigation. Failing to take into consideration the various contexts of these events would bring about inaccurate results, and this will take us to the second group of views. Many people tend to see in the Arab revolts a definitive outcome of an increasing frustration among Arab youth. This generation, which constitutes the majority of Arab population, inherited stories of glory and magnificent history of modernity, development, advancement in civilization, arts, science and might.

But these stories hit day after day the wall of a frustrating reality as they (Arab youth) found themselves in fully dependent states (on the West), experiencing successive defeats and living in bleak economic and difficult social conditions. This accompanied with the continuation of the oppression of their regimes and the lack of democracy and freedom of expression. The rulers exaggerated in their grip and confidence, and their hyperbole made Parliamentary elections a joke and a scene of irony, while the issue of inheritance of power to their sons (in “theoretically” Republican regimes) became a mixed material of comic and bitterness.

More distressingly, Arab youth saw progress, development and success in other countries, and coveted for themselves good economic and social conditions other nations experienced. With the assistance of internet social networks and the development in communications technology, such facts are not hidden anymore, and the new Arab generation started to share their findings, concerns, fears, ambition and dreams with each other through such platforms. Meanwhile, aged regimes were still busy with old fashioned techniques, undermining the effect and importance of such technology, which was described by one of their statesmen as “children toys”.

The moment of truth has arrived, catching every expert, analyst and politician off guard, as the eruption of the Arab Spring started from Tunisia the Green “the term Arabs call Tunisia”, which people are well-known for quite temper, calmness and gentleness. It was only few days until the spark of revolution spread as fever, and other people followed suit, turning the fantasy world on the Internet to a reality that ushered in a new era different of the previous distasteful epoch. Thus, the crux of this view is the rejection of any external role in moving or encouraging Arabs to change their regimes.

What supports this view a number of facts; the first is close relationship between the West in general and previous autocratic regimes. Another important fact is Western flopping and hesitation on the eve of the eruption of the revolutions. Michele Alliot-Marie, former French Foreign Minister, had to resign after expressing few days after the escape of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the willingness of France to provide the Tunisian government expertise in the field of security.

U.S. position was also marked by confusion with the first spur of the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia. BBC correspondent in Washington, Kim Ghattas described the first reaction of US State Department officials as “seemed to be caught unaware” adding they had not been briefed about Tunisia recently. Ghattas referred to the following reaction of the US administration as focusing mostly on the advisory issued to American citizens in Tunisia.

Noteworthy in this context is to refer to the fact that despite first-blush confusion, time was ample to make foreign powers restore their balance and ride the crest of wave as they began to evaluate and reassess their positions based on these new developments, in a clear attempt to secure interests and cooperation with new emerging regimes. The US, along with many other powers, has all necessary resources and variety of powers to attract or coerce others. For soft power, new regimes can be attracted through development projects, aid, cultural and academic cooperation, scientific and technical support. As per hard power, flexing muscles with strong military force can make new regimes consider their options and polices, while economic sanctions and embargo can be loomed if it is deemed necessary. However, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prefers the use of what she calls “smart power”, which is a mix between soft power and hard power, especially when it comes to the Middle East region, as Massimo Calabresi describes in his article “Hillary Clinton and the Rise of Smart Power” in the TIME MAGAZINE on November 7th, 2011.

As the events unfolded, a third group finds in the new Arab revolutions or the Arab Spring a rich scientific material, worth studying and investigating. It can be a good venue to examine old theories and a critical platform to initiate new theories of international politics. On the one hand, some linked the aspects and events of the Arab Spring to the school of realism as per the interpretation of the state of chaos, alliances and the use of force. Others explain the Arab Spring from a neo-liberal approach as to explain the role of soft power of some regional countries and superpowers, the role of diplomacy that influenced the course of events and finally the interdependence among countries of the Arab Spring. Another approach tries to validate the theory of revolutions and its components and contours as per the trajectory of Arab revolts. Last but not least, other scholars see the role theory dovetails with the events and the most appropriate approach to explain the role and leverage of regional and global powers in the course of such events.

On the other hand, another novel approaches appeared on the surface, trying to interpret the Arab Spring into new theories. For instance, some scholars, like Larry Diamond and Ali Sarihan see in the Arab revolts “the fourth wave of democratization”, with reference to the concept developed by Samuel M. Huntington, yet the latter believes the third wave is still ongoing. Other scholars consider the current Arab revolts the third stage or wave of modern Arab revolutions

Inter alia, one can say that the Arab Spring represented a glimmer of hope for Arabs, albeit alas the longevity, failure at times, and escalation of violence and bloodshed, along with unfavorable repercussions permeated the sense of frustration, leading to a loss of zeal, questioning the purposes, motives and even the goals of these revolts. Doubt started to creep and uncertainty began to haunt hope, especially with the explicit and overt foreign scramble in the region after the current transformations. Nevertheless, it would be so naïve and superficial to qualm the motives of those who initiated these revolts and the remaining responsibility will be upon the new leaders and regimes that collected the fruits of this spring to fare well and serve their own people, while maintaining good relations with the others and dislodging the dichotomies that have poisoned the Middle East for ages.

Bereavement of a Lost Identity: Diaspora and its Economics in the Context of a Globalized Society

11 May

Abdalhadi Alijla

Abdalhadi Alijla is IMESC’s Research Coordinator

Migration, economy and culture are the most common phenomena in examining the global movement of people from one continent to another or from one country to another. It is worth mentioning that migration is not only politically-driven, but mainly economically-driven. There are some cases in history in which people were motivated by ethnicity, religion or persecution to leave their homelands, such examples, are the Armenian, Jewish and the Palestinian populations.  Recently, the conflicts that have erupted in the Muslim World, Latin America and Africa as well as the events related to the so-called Arab Spring, have initiated a new wave of immigration, fueled by both political and economic reasons.

Most of the 5 million Palestinians are refugees. More than two million live in Western Europe and North America. They have left Palestine and refugee camps in order to find a better life, mainly due to a lack of basic human rights and for better economic opportunities. Most of the North African Arabs (Egyptian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian) left their home countries to look for a better economic life. However, Syrian and Lebanese nationals left their countries in order to better their economic situation and in order to improve their lives, taking into account the ongoing conflicts.

Many Arab and Muslim researchers and scholars fall short when exploring immigration and identity. They approach the issues of immigration and identity from their respective countries, but lack first-hand knowledge of the situation in the country where the target migration takes place. These scholars see immigration in a negative way, ignoring the fact that Muslim and Arabic identities are part of this globalized world. They do not focus on the positive economic aspects of integration and on becoming part of new societies.

There are those who fear the loss of cultural identity when confronted with the process of cultural assimilation. Personally, I believe that no institution, government, group or people can clinically separate the young generations from the huge waves of technological advancement that shape and form this global culture which is, after all, part of our new global identity. We are living in the 21st century where social media, street journalism and global trans-national corporations participate in providing a catalyst for the new dynamics of global culture formation, aside from identity which can be defined in terms of religion, culture or language. This signifies that we should not confuse cultural identity with global culture.

However, moving from one side of the world to the other can be an economic challenge for newcomers, as well as for receiving countries such as Western Europe and North America.  When the immigrants arrive, the receiving country needs to integrate them into the labor market, with the prospect of achieving a better life for them and facilitating their contributions to the economy. This cannot happen in a one-step or one-shop integration program; it needs time, starting from learning the language, integrating culturally and finally, the integration into the labor market.  Although, in the short term scale, this strategy is costly for the government in question; however, in the long, run it would contribute favorably to the economy. Immigrants however, may find themselves ignored or isolated by the society, even though the society may be labeled as being open and immigrant-friendly.  This can be seen with the situation of housing, where immigrants can only rent from housing agencies and in specific areas. Small enclaves inside the cities where immigrants are concentrated begin to appear spontaneously. An example of this phenomenon is Rosengård in Malmö, Sweden where most immigrants can be found and crime rate is among the highest in the country. Another example is Lavapiés, a centric neighbourhood in Madrid, Spain where a high concentration of immigrants from China, Bangladesh and the Middle East can be found in this once Castilian and historic neighbourhood. Enclaves such as these can be costly to the government and to the immigrants themselves due to the fact that life in these neighbourhoods often runs parallel to the official society and its culture and integration is not truly achieved.

Many immigrants have started their own businesses in their new countries. Twenty years ago, you could hardly find Palestinian hummus or falafel in European markets. Today, there are small entrepreneurs who have set up shops to sell Arabic, Hindi, African, Latin American foods and other products. This is increasing the percentage of trade between these countries.   The amount of spice exportation from India to Saudi Arabia has increased the total sum of economic trade to 80 billion Saudi Riyals.  This is not only due to the quality of Indian spices, but because of the number of Indians who live in Saudi Arabia- naturally for economic reasons.  The trade between Turkey and Germany has reached the 25 billion euro mark and the number of German tourists to Turkey is an estimated 4 million. This illustrates how the existence of immigrants can foster economics at different scales of business[1].

Personally, I had the chance to meet many immigrants and they all are willing to integrate in the Swedish and Spanish societies where they live. However, there are many constraints at play, but these constraints are not related to the loss of identity.  In fact, Western societies’ creation of immigrant enclaves enables these neighbours to share similar identities, cultures, language and perhaps even religion.  This however, has a negative effect in the long run, and it will be the second generation and the government who in the end will pay dearly for this. These integration programs fail not because the immigrants are not willing to be part of the new society, but because the society does not open its doors completely to allow them to fully integrate. Full integration could be costly at first, but in the end, it is an investment for the future. Currently, many schools in Sweden are teaching Arabic as a second language for immigrants and provide students with halal food. Any argument about losing the identity in the West is baseless and does not have a solid foundation.

It is my opinion that integration programs and initiatives do not aim at melting the culture or alter their identities, but its aims are to integrate them in the institutions that the new society works on and operate from within.  As Abdelkhaliq Alshalhi eloquently put, integration is not what many Muslim academic and researchers think, it has its own characteristics; therefore there is no need to make a human tragedy and a collective fear out of the myth of losing identity.[2] No group of people can lose their identity unless they want to and it takes hundreds of years. At the end of the day, it is for the benefit of the newcomers.

There are countless benefits of integrating into society. These benefits constitute focusing more in economic advantage (economic opportunities) rather than concentrating efforts on discussing identity crisis. And to familiarize the self-imposed respect for laws, regulation and democratic institutions that are not founded in their home countries.   The new generation will have the opportunity of joining the ship of civilization and development that Arabs have lost a long time ago. They will have equal opportunities in learning, engagement and self-esteem. Afterwards, they can be a solid bridge between the two cultures or religions- of course, with mutual understanding. On the other hand, the receiving countries will enhance its economic opportunities where immigrants come from. The number of multinational corporations and businesses are increasing because of the increasing number of immigrants in the receiving countries.   This will boost an economic, political and cultural interaction between the two sides. Governments of Europe and North America should start their integration programs by encouraging new comers to establish their own business that link them to their homeland. This will make it easier to understand, smoothly integrate and contributing to the economy.

For me, as a Palestinian, identity is something else. It holds all the meaning of being and existing. The feeling of Palestinian identity is something unique. It is attached to our political struggle for freedom, independence and oppression by the Israeli occupation. As Palestinians, we feel that our identity as Palestinian transcends any economic or political or religious elements. We share the same history, culture, traditions and values that are held as a motive to be together wherever we travel, wherever we meet, protest and celebrate.

As we are refugees, wherever we go, we associate our identity with history and memories more than other things. As the young writer from Gaza, Rana Baker puts it sharply, “Since I have no vivid memories of Palestine, as my grandmother does for example, I am only left with the representations of, let’s say, her memories of a conservative adolescence in Jerusalem. These representations, presumably the immediate product of memory, are what form my sense of identity”. Baker’s argument can be found in Edwards Said’s, Memory and Place.

The above arguments can make a significant base for the theory of identity and immigration. Identity is part of our history and memories and thus, we are not going to lose it as long as we continue to pass it down to the coming generations. That is why Palestinians become integrated and engaged in the society that they live in. We, as Palestinians, learn the language, integrate into society, but we do not melt into that society. However, we do our best to mobilize these societies to stand by our cause, to struggle against the ones who try hard to destroy and steal our identity that is formed by our history, traditions, culture and values.

Our diaspora is becoming, also, part of our identity. When I meet a Palestinian, he asks me, where are you from? What kind of Palestinian are you?  Are you from Gaza, the West Bank, or a Palestinian who lives in Israel, Lebanon’s camps, Jordan, Syria’s camps, Europe, Latin America, North America?  We meet and then speak about our different lifestyles, different passports and different difficulties that face our lives. I would call it, the identity of malaise.  In the end, our identity is still with us; however it is fragmented among different continents. The important thing that we share is memories and the representation of these memories, whenever we go, we cannot lose these memories and representations. I believe that any immigrant should follow this doctrine which is, in my opinion, is the viable one.

Finally, we must admit that if we do not run in concordance with global culture, it will eventually usurp us without us even knowing it. The cost of isolation and non-convergence are higher and more damaging than integration. The fear of losing identity must be faced with positive interaction from the newcomers and their hosting societies. In the end, most newcomers are guests and must leave a positive impression when they leave, or they are part of this society and they must adapt with it and build their future in conjunction with their new surroundings.