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  • Author: Tareq Baconi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: In contemporary conversations around Israel/Palestine, the Gaza Strip is construed as a state of exception, rendering the territory either hypervisible or entirely invisible. Through the prism of the Covid-19 pandemic and Israel’s possible de jure annexation of portions of the West Bank, this piece argues that rather than being exceptional, the Gaza Strip represents the very embodiment of Israeli settler colonialism in Palestine. Its isolation and de-development constitute the endpoint of Israel’s policies of land theft and Palestinian dispossession. This endpoint, referred to as Gazafication, entails the confinement of Palestinians to urban enclaves entirely surrounded by Israel or Israeli-controlled territory. The Trump plan, otherwise known as the “deal of the century,” along with the Covid- 19 crisis, have inadvertently exposed the reality of Gaza as an enclave of the one-state paradigm.
  • Topic: State Violence, Settler Colonialism, Nation-State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Danya M. Qato
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This introductory essay contextualizes the special collection of papers on the pandemic and seeks to map the terrain of extant public health research on Palestine and the Palestinians. In addition, it is a contribution in Palestine studies to a nascent yet propulsive conversation that has been accelerated by Covid-19 on the erasure of structures of violence, including those of settler colonialism and racial capitalism, within the discipline of epidemiology. Using public health as an analytic, this essay asks us to consider foundational questions that have long been sidelined in the public health discourse on Palestine, including the implications for health and health research of eliding ongoing settler colonialism. Rather than ignoring and reproducing their violence, this essay seeks to tackle these questions head-on in an attempt to imagine a future public health research agenda that centers health, and not simply survivability, for all Palestinians.
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: How are refugees responding to protect themselves and others in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic? How do these responses relate to diverse local, national, and international structures of inequality and marginalization? Drawing on the case of Beddawi camp in North Lebanon, I argue that local responses—such as sharing information via print and social media, raising funds for and preparing iftar baskets during Ramadan, and distributing food and sanitation products to help people practice social distancing—demonstrate how camp residents have worked individually and collectively to find ways to care for Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Lebanese residents alike, thereby transcending a focus on nationality- based identity markers. However, state, municipal, international, and media reports pointing to Syrian refugees as having imported the virus into Beddawi camp place such local modes of solidarity and mutuality at risk. This article thus highlights the importance of considering how refugee-refugee assistance initiatives relate simultaneously to: the politics of the self and the other, politically produced precarity, and multi-scalar systems that undermine the potential for solidarity in times of overlapping precarities.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Refugees, Solidarity, Public Health, Humanitarian Crisis, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Osama Tanous
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This essay explores representations of Palestinian physicians in the Israeli health-care system during the Covid-19 pandemic and the dynamics that have played out in that system during the public health emergency from the perspective of a Palestinian physician. It argues that the health-care system, an essential pillar and infrastructural foundation of the settler-colonial project, is naively imagined as an apolitical, neutral sphere. As the site of a metaphorical battlefield against Covid-19, it has been window-dressed as an arena for brotherhood between Israeli Palestinians and Jews, and fantasized about as a gateway to political gain or equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCIs). Throughout the process, settler militarism, settler symbols, and settler domination have continued to be normalized.
  • Topic: Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Medicine
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Sobhi Samour
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The situation of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel has highlighted a number of parallels with the conditions of global labor employed in essential sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under capitalism, the compulsion to work, ostensibly to cultivate life, comes at the risk of being exposed to death, but is preferred over immiseration caused by unemployment. The pandemic has merely amplified existing structural features of such employment. For Palestinian workers, with the risk of infection in Israel being significantly higher, the perilous conditions experienced by Palestinian labor have turned the preservation of life enabled by such employment more firmly into the production of death. The Palestinian Authority (PA), too, faces a conundrum: to balance the economic benefits it derives from Palestinian disposability in the Israeli labor market with public health considerations limiting such employment. This essay argues that the Covid-19 pandemic lays fully bare the necroeconomy produced by the intersection of settler colonialism and capitalism, which also forms the bedrock of the necropolitical order in the West Bank.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ghassan Abu-Sittah
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This essay explores the challenges and opportunities that the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded Israel as it broadens its settler-colonial objectives internally, in Gaza, and elsewhere. In particular, it sheds light on the heightened militaristic and economic approaches taken by Israel to further entrench its siege of Palestinians in Gaza and to export increasingly advanced technologies of surveillance and state control long deployed against the Palestinian people. This investigation thus offers an opportunity to probe settler colonialism’s strategic opportunism in the face of the historic pandemic.
  • Topic: Public Health, Settlements, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Weeam Hammoudeh, Samah Jabr, Maria Helbich, Cindy Sousa
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the devastating and disproportionate effects of structures of violence that produce vulnerability in communities of color globally, including with respect to mental health-care provision. While coping and resilience are dominant mainstream frameworks to understand mental health in crisis—both in Palestine and elsewhere—the three contributors to this roundtable were asked to offer a rejoinder to that approach. They reflect on the pandemic as an opportunity to revisit how we understand and advocate for critical approaches to mental health in Palestine in the midst of prolonged crisis.
  • Topic: Mental Health, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Paul Cruickshank, Don Rassler, Audrey Alexander, Chelsea Daymon, Meili Criezis, Christopher Hockey, Michael Jones, Mark Dubowitz, Saeed Ghasseminejad, Nikita Malik
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: COVID-19 is arguably the biggest crisis the planet has faced since the Second World War and will likely have significant impacts on international security in ways which can and cannot be anticipated. For this special issue on COVID-19 and counterterrorism, we convened five of the best and brightest thinkers in our field for a virtual roundtable on the challenges ahead. In the words of Magnus Ranstorp, “COVID-19 and extremism are the perfect storm.” According to another of the panelists, Lieutenant General (Ret) Michael Nagata, “the time has come to acknowledge the stark fact that despite enormous expenditures of blood/treasure to ‘kill, capture, arrest’ our way to strategic counterterrorism success, there are more terrorists globally today than on 9/11, and COVID-19 will probably lead to the creation of more.” Audrey Kurth Cronin put it this way: “COVID-19 is a boost to non-status quo actors of every type. Reactions to the pandemic—or more specifically, reactions to governments’ inability to respond to it effectively—are setting off many types of political violence, including riots, hate crimes, intercommunal tensions, and the rise of criminal governance. Terrorism is just one element of the growing political instability as people find themselves suffering economically, unable to recreate their pre-COVID lives.” The roundtable identified bioterrorism as a particular concern moving forward, with Juan Zarate noting that “the severity and extreme disruption of a novel coronavirus will likely spur the imagination of the most creative and dangerous groups and individuals to reconsider bioterrorist attacks.” Ali Soufan warned that “although the barriers to entry for terrorists to get their hands on bio weapons remain high, they are gradually being lowered due to technological advances and the democratization of science.” The special issue also features five articles. Audrey Alexander examines the security threat COVID-19 poses to the northern Syria detention camps holding Islamic State members, drawing on a wide range of source materials, including recent interviews she conducted with General Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of the SDF, and former U.S. CENTCOM Commander Joseph Votel. Chelsea Daymon and Meili Criezis untangle the pandemic narratives spun by Islamic State supporters online. Christopher Hockey and Michael Jones assess al-Shabaab’s response to the spread of COVID-19 in Somalia. Mark Dubowitz and Saeed Ghasseminejad document how the Iranian regime has spread disinformation relating to the pandemic. Finally, Nikita Malik discusses the overlaps between pandemic preparedness and countering terrorism from a U.K. perspective.
  • Topic: Communications, Governance, Counter-terrorism, Media, Islamic State, Crisis Management, Al Shabaab, Pandemic, COVID-19, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Kingdom, Iran, Middle East, Syria, Global Focus
  • Author: Seth G. Jones, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, Jason Warner, Ryan O'Farrell, Heni Nsaibia, Ryan Cummings
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In this month’s feature article, Seth Jones examines the evolving threat posed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “The Taliban is in many ways a different organization from the one that governed Afghanistan in the 1990s. Yet most of their leaders are nevertheless committed to an extreme interpretation of Islam that is not shared by many Afghans, an autocratic political system that eschews democracy, and the persistence of relations with terrorist groups like al-Qa`ida. These realities cast serious doubt about the possibility of a lasting peace agreement with the Afghan government in the near future,” he writes, adding that “without a peace deal, the further withdrawal of U.S. forces—as highlighted in the November 17, 2020, announcement to cut U.S. forces from 4,500 to 2,500 troops—will likely shift the balance of power in favor of the Taliban. With continuing support from Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and terrorist groups like al-Qa`ida, it is the view of the author that the Taliban would eventually overthrow the Afghan government in Kabul.” In a feature commentary, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon outlines the urgent action needed on biosecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He writes: “For years, the United States and many other countries have neglected biosecurity because policymakers have underestimated both the potential impact and likelihood of biological threats. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the planet and could be followed by outbreaks of even more dangerous viral diseases. Meanwhile, advances in synthetic biology are transforming the potential threat posed by engineered pathogens, creating growing concern over biological attacks and bioterror. Given the scale of the threat, biosecurity needs to be a top priority moving forward. Not only do efforts need to be stepped up to try to prevent the next pandemic (natural or engineered), but resilience needs to be built by developing early warning systems, the capacity to track outbreaks, and medical countermeasures, including ‘next generation’ vaccines.” He stresses that “winning public acceptance for public health measures will be imperative to tackling biological emergencies in the future.” Jason Warner, Ryan O’Farrell, Héni Nsaibia, and Ryan Cummings assess the evolution of the Islamic State threat across Africa. They write that “the annus horribilis Islamic State Central suffered in 2019, during which the group lost the last stretch of its ‘territorial caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, does not appear to have had a discernible impact on the overall operational trajectory of the Islamic State threat in Africa” underscoring “that while connections were built up between Islamic State Central and its African affiliates—with the former providing, at times, some degree of strategic direction, coordination, and material assistance—the latter have historically evolved under their own steam and acted with a significant degree of autonomy.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Biosecurity, Taliban, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East