Continuing to enrich scholarly engagement and public discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) began its Palestine Speaker Series for the year with an insightful public talk by historian and analyst, Tareq Baconi.
The author of the seminal book Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, Baconi serves as president of the board of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network and previously worked with the International Crisis Group in Ramallah.
In a compelling conversation with Dr. Safwan Masri, dean of GU-Q, Baconi addressed the pressing theme, “Israel’s War on Palestinians: Gaza as Epicenter.”
Introducing the session, Dean Masri said: “I couldn’t be more delighted that we are hosting Tareq Baconi, author, commentator, and thinker, for our first public event for this year. He has the ability to explain very complex issues convincingly, passionately, and in a very grounded way.”
Drawing on insights from his extensive academic research and prolific writing on this part of Palestine, Baconi explored the complex history of the 140-square-mile Gaza Strip within the broader context of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. He also delved into the historical and political dynamics of Hamas in Gaza, offering a contextual perspective spanning the past several years to the present day.
“I’ve been working on understanding the Gaza Strip for more than a decade now. It’s often the case that in the consciousness of many Palestinians, but also predominantly the Western world and maybe even the region, that Gaza is seen as somewhat tangential, almost on the periphery of the land of historic Palestine. My reading of Gaza places it at the heart of Israeli settler colonialism. There’s no way for us to understand the Zionist project and what it’s trying to do to Palestinians without understanding the Gaza Strip and the reality it has come to suffer under,” Baconi said.
“There’s been a long history of trying to sever the Gaza Strip and trying to pacify and destroy it- because Gaza is the epicenter of Palestinian resistance," he said, going on to add: “The reality of Gaza is central to understanding what Palestine is and I don’t see any form of emancipation or decolonization without the undoing of injustice around Gaza.”
The Palestine Speaker Series at GU-Q, initiated by Associate Professors Abdullah Al-Arian, Karine Walther, and Visiting Assistant Professor Nadya Sbaiti, forms part of a larger GU-Q project. This project aims to present a platform for dialogue and analysis of the historical and contemporary issues facing Palestine. Throughout 2023, the public series featured contributions from high-profile international scholars, experts, and practitioners, helping to advance the critical discourse on the Palestine-Israeli conflict.