On December 9, 1987, a wave of popular demonstrations against the Israeli occupation broke out in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, soon turning into an organized popular uprising with unprecedented momentum and sustainability. The attempts to suppress the movement by the Israeli military occupation only intensified the resilience of the Palestinian population. The Palestinians invented creative ways to meet the challenge. They innovated political, social, and cultural forms of defiance to express their deep desire for freedom, enabling an international wave of popular solidarity and identification with their cause.
The Intifada came as a great surprise to many observers, including Israeli leaders, regional and global public opinion, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership. The Intifada attracted wide international media attention, which culminated with the entry of the Arabic word “Intifada” into the international lexicon. The Intifada stripped Israel of its fig leaf and image of a benign occupier. Many believe that the Intifada forced the Israeli leadership to accept the principle of negotiations over the status of the occupied territories and to recognize the PLO.
Revisiting the Intifada is of particular significance today given the failures of negotiations and the worsening political, economic, and security conditions of the Palestinians under occupation, which have given rise to new forms of resistance.
The conference aims to address several questions: How might we conceive of the Intifada thirty years after the event? How does Palestinian collective memory shape the understanding of the Intifada? What were the causes for the uprising, and why did it gain a wide popular base? What impact did it leave on society, culture, and politics and on the image of the Palestinians worldwide? Does the Intifada have any exceptional characteristics, or can a similar uprising take place again and lead to different results?
The Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) is the oldest institute in the world devoted exclusively to documentation, research, analysis, and publication on Palestinian affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was established in Beirut in 1963 and incorporated there as a private, independent, non-profit Arab institute unaffiliated with any political organization or government. It is led by a Board of Trustees composed of scholars, businessmen and public figures from across the Arab world, and by a volunteer Executive Committee elected by the Board.
IPS supports an office in Ramallah (Institute for Jerusalem Studies) and the Institute for Palestine Studies USA in Washington, DC, a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational foundation. These offices have operated in the occupied territories since 1995 and Washington since 1982, respectively. The office in the occupied territories was first located in Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities barred use of “Palestine” in the Institute’s name. It was forced to move to Ramallah in 2000 when Israel’s tightened restrictions on West Bank Palestinians’ access to Jerusalem made it nearly impossible for employees to reach the office.
Located in the heart of Beirut, Dar El-Nimer for Arts and Culture was founded by art collector Rami El-Nimer as an independent non-profit art foundation. It is an interactive, easily accessible cultural space dedicated to historical, modern and contemporary cultural productions from Palestine, the Levant and beyond.
Dar El-Nimer hosts productions by curators, writers, historians, performers, musicians and filmmakers whose works are engaging with the challenging social realities and political currents shaping the region.
Beirut’s vibrant civil society and expressive freedoms are unique in our part of the world and have allowed for the development of Dar El-Nimer as a cultural center that can address pressing current issues and historical complexities with openness, critically and creatively. It also allows for Dar El-Nimer to serve as a cultural hub for Lebanon’s Palestinian community and as a space for research, dialogue and intellectual engagement.
Dar El-Nimer for Arts and Culture is responsible for the El-Nimer Collection.