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  • Author: Aaron Rock-Singer
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Religion was a pillar of pre-modern political identity in the Middle East, arising out of Muslims’ understanding of Islam’s foundational moment and state institutions that developed with the spread of Islamic Empire. Beginning at the turn of the 19th century, European colonial powers and indigenous reformers questioned the centrality of religious identity; instead, it was to be the nation that defined the political community. Since then, the nationalist project has permeated 20th century ideological conflicts in the region, equally shaping the claims of secularists and Islamists. Today, advocates of religious change refer back to early Islamic history as they seek to place religious over national identity, yet they, like their competitors, are unmistakably shaped by the secular nationalist project.
  • Topic: Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Abbas Shiblak
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The quest of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes is not only a legal and moral right but has become a major part of Palestinian identity and symbolizes Palestinian historical narratives. It has been an effective instrument of mobilization that became the political priority of various resistance groups which later formed the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO embarked on a line of negotiation which sought to reconcile rightist and realist approaches. They sought acknowledgment by Israel of its responsibility for the refugee issue and acceptance in principle of their right of return while showing flexibility and readiness to discuss various formulations of return. At the core of the inter-Palestinian debate is the dynamic between the two objectives of achieving statehood and the resolution of the refugee issue. State-building came to be seen not only as a means of reconstructing Palestinian identity but also as a catalyst to resolution of the refugee issue. A peace agreement should widen the options for the refugees and address all aspects of the refugee issue including the rights of repatriation to Israel, return to a Palestinian state, compensation, and equality and full citizenship rights in countries where refugees choose to remain. A comprehensive peace agreement must include the regional aspects of the refugee issue and all regional actors. There is an urgent need to review the current format of negotiations and bring about more balanced and effective international political engagement in the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Political Economy, Post Colonialism, Poverty, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jonathan Fighel
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The Mumbai attacks have been linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba and radical Islamic groups in Kashmir generally. Yet it would be a mistake to see Lashkar only as a local organization with only a local agenda. Saudi Arabia has contributed very much to what Lashkar-e-Taiba looks like, how it thinks, its motivation, ideology, and funding. Saudi Arabia presents itself as the protector and the spearhead of the defense of Muslims around the world against what they define as the Western cultural attack. The Saudis are very committed to recruiting, funding, and funneling ideology to embattled Muslim minorities, and use Muslim charities as their tool to implement this policy. The Saudi methodology is to take advantage of a humanitarian crisis to get a foot in the door. Who could be against assisting widows and orphans and setting up schools and clinics? Some of the money is indeed funneled to support terrorism - families of suicide bombers. The notion of global Islam has also penetrated to Gaza and exists under the umbrella of Hamas, which is enabling a revival of global jihadi organizations there such as Jaish al-Islam and others. This phenomenon is radicalizing the already radicalized society in Gaza. Hamas could agree to a hudna (calm) for fifty years, but there will be no recognition of Israel or a cessation of the struggle against it. If Hamas was ready to act pragmatically, it would no longer be Hamas. And then the frustrated factions within Hamas would break off and join up with the radical global jihadi organizations in Gaza.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries, Mumbai