The Hunter and the Dragon: Thesis defense of Palestinian prisoner Zakaria Zubeidi

Palestinian prisoner and student at Birzeit University’s Contemporary Arab Studies Program Zakaria Zubeidi discussed his thesis dissertation “The Hunter and the Dragon: Fugitively in the Palestinian Condition 1968–2018,” on July 2, 2022, at Birzeit University’s Nasib Aziz Shaheen Auditorium.

The thesis was supervised by professor of philosophy and cultural studies Abdulrahim Al Shaikh. Jamal Daher, associate professor of philosophy and cultural studies, and Walid Shurafa, assistant professor of media, were also in discussion.

The defense was held in a formal ceremony attended by his family, Birzeit University academics, staff and students to honor Zubeidi as a freedom fighter and for his role in the Palestinian national struggle for liberation. Videos and sound bites by Zubeidi were presented during the ceremony.

The discussion committee presented their critical analysis of the thesis, praising its methodological framework.

:At the end of the ceremony, Professor Al Shaikh read aloud the committee’s following statement on the thesis

“Zubeidi enrolled in the master’s program of Contemporary Arab Studies on May 27, 2017. He began his studies in the beginning of the 2017–18 academic year. Zubeidi presented his thesis proposal, which was admitted and registered by the university, on September 17, 2018, and titled ‘The Hunter and the Dragon.’

The Israeli military arrested Zubeidi on February 28, 2019. By then, he had completed two chapters of his thesis and finished the required fieldwork by conducting 26 interviews. Zubeidi discussed his thesis proposal, which was approved by the committee on March 27, 2019.

Zubeidi was able to successfully pass the last required course to complete the Contemporary Arab Studies program while he was inside Israeli prison in coordination with the thesis supervisor, Zubeidi’s family, the lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, the Commission of Detainees Affairs and the popular campaign to release Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners.

Zubeidi was able to draft the third chapter of his thesis and write the fourth chapter while he was imprisoned at Gilboa Prison in occupied Bissan. The fourth chapter was published in a special issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies, published by the Institute for Palestine Studies.

After the Freedom Tunnel, in which six Palestinian prisoners freed themselves from Gilboa prison, including Zubeidi, on September 6, 2021, and in which the latter was re-arrested on September 11, Birzeit University announced that Zubeidi will complete the procedures needed to defend his thesis after completing the university’s academic regulations.

Since then, Zubeidi has been held in solitary confinement at Ayalon Prison, but by communicating with his lawyers, Zubeidi agreed to discuss his thesis in his absence.

Zubeidi was not able to write the conclusion of his study; however during the latest discussion with him on August 26, 2021, and before the events of the Freedom Tunnel, he asked to delete the full stop written at the end of his thesis text.

During his lawyer’s first visit to him after the Freedom Tunnel on October 21, 2021, Zubeidi explained the reason why he asked to omit the full stop: ‘I want to keep the hunter and the dragon’s story open before liberating from Gilboa. The story has still not ended.’

The Freedom Tunnel has not been documented in the study.”

Al Sheikh concluded this statement by announcing that Zubeidi completed his thesis with a high distinction in theory and practice.