Israeli studies program inaugurates project to document resistance in the Golan Heights

The master’s program in Israeli studies at Birzeit University has recently launched a new project, “Mapping Memories of Resistance: The Untold Story of the Occupation of the Golan Heights,” together with researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights. 

The project was launched during a visit to the Golan Heights, where representatives of Birzeit University and LSE met Al-Marsad’s team of researchers and reviewed the project’s aims and objectives. 

Munir Fakher Eldin, director of the master’s program in Israeli studies at Birzeit University and the project’s co-principal investigator, explained that the key objective is to document resistance against the Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan Heights and highlight its cultural, social, and political elements. 

The Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, noted Fakher Eldin, has become a lesser known issue among Palestinian youth due to the travel restrictions and limitations imposed by the Israeli authorities after the Oslo Accords, adding that the project aims to raise awareness of the annexation of that area. 

Discussing the project’s activities, Fakher Eldin said that it would include the development of a special master’s-level course on the Golan Heights offered for Birzeit University students, along with an online database containing primary sources on the history of resistance in that area. The project will also encourage and offer tools for the development of research on the Golan Heights as a case study on settler colonialism. 

A recently held workshop at Birzeit University, marking the end of the project’s planning phase, featured Fakher Eldin; Michael Mason, an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at LSE and the project’s principal investigator; Muna Dajani, a research officer at the LSE’s Middle East Centre; and Omar Tesdell a professor of geography at Birzeit University and the project’s academic advisor, along with a group of students enrolled in the Israeli studies master’s program. 

In this workshop, the attendees discussed the project’s theoretical framework, plans, and outcomes, and reviewed research ideas and projects that will be carried out by the master’s students as part of the project's activities. Additionally, plans were finalized to organize a summer school dedicated to the history of resistance in the Golan Heights on the university’s campus. 

Originally planned to be held in the Golan Heights, but later changed due to Israeli restrictions, the summer school will host a number of activists from the area, and will feature reviews of the project’s theoretical framework, presentations on the students’ research projects, and lectures by researchers who led similar projects to document the living memory of everyday life and resistance.