Welcome to the MyLandYourLand Lectures & Debate info page.

We thank all those who participated at this event during the course of November 2017.



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6 Lectures.
1 Debate.
50 Years of Occupation.



This year marks the passing of 50 years since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Also, exactly 100 years ago the British government issued the Balfour Declaration which expressed support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This declaration lies at the basis of the emergence of the Jewish State of Israel and the ensuing displacement of the Palestinian people from their homeland during the First Arab-Israeli War (1948) and the Six-Day War (1967).



It shouldn’t have to be this way. Throughout history people have lived, loved and worked together on this land “where the sun rises”. When commemorating 50 years of occupation a question arises: how much longer before peace will return to this land?



During the coming month of November at the KU Leuven six lectures within the fields of law, politics, history, architecture and anthropology will aim at providing insight into the conflict.

european flag


At a concluding debate a diverse panel of speakers will discuss the current and future role of Europe in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Steven de Foer (De Standaard) will take up the role of ‘mediawatcher’. He will give an introduction to the debate through the screening of various video fragments related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Inge Vrancken (VRT) will moderate the debate.

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6 Lectures

Six lectures within the fields of law, politics, history, architecture and anthropology.

Lecture 1 — Wednesday 8 November / 11-13h

Een Historisch Overzicht van het Conflict

John Nawas is professor Arabistiek en Islamkunde aan de KU Leuven en directeur van de School of Abassid Studies, een samenwerkingsverband tussen de universiteiten van Leuven, Cornell, Cambridge en SOAS.

Hij doceert onder meer over de geschiedenis van het Midden Oosten en de Islamitische geschiedenis.

Room : MTC3 00.15
Building : 109-03 MTC3 Augustinusvleugel
Sint-Michielsstraat 6
3000 Leuven

Het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict is één van de langstdurende conflicten uit de moderne tijd. De lezing zal aandacht besteden aan de diverse kaders van waaruit mensen naar het conflict kijken, namelijk het zionistisch en het Arabisch paradigma.  De geschiedenis van het conflict zal belicht worden vanuit het perspectief van de volkeren van het Midden Oosten, alsook aan de hand van de belangrijkste oorlogen en hun gevolgen voor de toekomst. Ten slotte zal er stilgestaan worden bij de noodzaak om tot een rechtvaardige oplossing te komen. De tijd dringt, niet enkel voor het Midden Oosten, maar ook voor de rest van de wereld. Zonder oplossing zullen bijvoorbeeld de Europeanen in toenemende mate geconfronteerd worden met de realiteit dat het Midden Oosten hun achtertuin is. Dit wordt al duidelijk aangetoond door de recente migratiegolven.

De lezing zal in het Nederlands gehouden worden.

Lecture 2 — Wednesday 8 November / 18-20h

Occupying the Everyday: Civilians, Architecture and the Israeli Settlements

The organizers regret to inform you that Sandi Hilal canceled her participation in The MyLandYourLand Lecture Series.

An alternative lecture will be provided by Alessandra Gola, an Italian architect formed between Italy, Belgium and the Middle East. After working several years in Palestine as an urban researcher and designer, she is now pursuing her PhD at the Department of Architecture at KUL with a research on the relation between the built environment, social identity and the production of social rights in Palestine.

The guest lecture is part of the masters program Human Settlements organised by professor Hilde Heynen at KU Leuven.
Room : MOLE 00.07
Building : 438-02 MOLE Auditorium Oude Molen
Kasteelpark Arenberg 50
3001 Heverlee



Prof. Hilde Heynen will first give a short introduction to the spatial and territorial aspects of the Israeli occupation of East-Jerusalem and the West Bank. She will discuss the effects on the ground of Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War and explain the urban policy for Jerusalem that was effectuated immediately afterwards, with the municipality incorporating Palestinian lands and starting to build settlements on them. She will also give a short overview of Israel’s spatial policies for the West Bank, discussing the different borderlines that came into being and the extreme fragmentation of Palestinian land that resulted from it.

Following Hilde Heynen’s presentation, Alessandra Gola will explore the controversial nature of the civilian architecture in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The lecture will lead through an imaginary journey in the spatial apparatus of the Israeli occupation, going from the territorial scale to the intimacy of the dwelling. The spatial artifacts of Israeli settlements will be visited through the asymmetrical experience of the occupiers and the occupied, giving insight as to how these structures affect the everyday life of civilians.

The lecture will be held in English.

Lecture 3 — Tuesday 14 November / 14-16h

Demographics: The Politics of Fertility

Sigrid Vertommen is a researcher at King’s College London, where she is conducting qualitative research on the political economy of global fertility chains.

She wrote her PhD on the political economy of assisted reproduction in Israel/Palestine. In her PhD, Sigrid addressed the multiple ways in which reproductive technologies (e.g. IVF, child removals, egg donation and transnational surrogacy) have been imagined, materialised and co-produced in Israel/Palestine.

The guest lecture provided by Sigrid Vertommen is part of professor Nadia Fadil’s course on Anthropology of Ethnicity and Race held at KU Leuven.
Room : AV 01.12
Parkstraat 49
3000 Leuven

The State of Israel is known for its pronatalist stance concerning the usage, regulation and generous subsidising of assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF, egg donation, surrogacy, egg freezing and prenatal genetic testing. While Israel’s ‘cult of fertility’ is often explained and justified by policy makers and academics by invoking rather ‘culturalist’ tropes that essentialise the importance of reproduction in Jewish tradition, religion and history, this lecture will propose a political economy perspective to better understand Israel’s pronatalism. This perspective does not only foreground the role of fertility within the Zionist settler colonial project that aims to create a Jewish demographic majority in a Jewish state at the expense of Palestinian existence, but it also looks at the emergence of a lucrative reproductive industry in Israel’s bio-economy.

The lecture will be held in English.

Lecture 4 — Thursday 16 November / 14-16h

Palestinian Membership in UN Institutions

Nina Pineau is a PhD-researcher in international law at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies (KU Leuven).

The guest lecture provided by Nina Pineau is part of professor Jan Wouters course on The Law of International Organisations held at KU Leuven.
Room : AV 03.12
Parkstraat 49
3000 Leuven

On the 31st of October 2011, Palestine became a Member State of UNESCO. The Palestinian authorities hailed this as an historic event, which would give the Palestinian people some of their rights back. However, Palestine’s accession also triggered a lot of criticism. Some States, and in particular the United States of America,  denounced a ‘politicization’ of the organization, and withdrew their participation from UNESCO’s budget. In October 2017, the United States formally notified UNESCO that it will withdraw its membership citing “continuing anti-Israel bias”. The lecture will analyse the role of international organizations in the recognition of the Palestinian statehood, and the consequences it can have for these institutions.

The lecture will be held in English.

Lecture 5 — Tuesday 21 November / 16-18h

Israel and the Self-Defense Revolution

Professor Lesaffer teaches history of European and international law at KU Leuven and at the University of Tilburg. His research focuses primarily on the history and recent developments of international law in its political context.
Room: DV3 01.31
Building: 103-03 DV3 De Valk 3
Tiensestraat 41
3000 Leuven

The 1945 UN Charter outlawed all forms of use of force by states, except for one: self-defence. Like other military active states, the new state of Israel made ample use of self-defence to justify and argue the legality of its resort to force, and in doing so, tried to expand the meaning of this concept under international law. In this, it was partly successful. This lecture explores some of the major ways of extension of the notion of self-defence since the 1940s in the state practice of Israel.  It will cover some major events as the Six-Day War, the raid on Entebbe, the bombardment of Osiras and the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The lecture will be held in English.

Lecture 6 — Thursday 23 November / 9-11h

Schiet de Europese Hulp aan de Palestijnse Gebieden haar Doel Voorbij?

Brigitte Herremans is sinds 2002 medewerker Midden-Oosten bij Broederlijk Delen en Pax Christi Vlaanderen. Ze studeerde Oosterse Talen en Culturen (Arabisch en Bijbels Hebreeuws) en Internationale Politiek.

Vanuit een rechtenbenadering doet ze beleidsbeïnvloeding en sensibilisering over het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict. Het respect voor het internationaal recht loopt als een rode draad door haar werk rond Israël en de Palestijnse gebieden en de bredere regio.

De lezing gehouden door Brigitte Herremans maakt deel uit van het vak Instellingen en Beleid van de Ontwikkelingslanden gegeven door professor Patrick Develtere.
Room : MSI1 00.14
Building : 118-01 MSI1 Mgr. Sencie Instituut
Erasmusplein 2
3000 Leuven

De Europese Unie en haar lidstaten zijn de grootste donoren in de Palestijnse gebieden. Toch hebben hun financiële inspanningen niet het gewenste resultaat omdat de EU geen coherent beleid ontwikkelde om Israël’s schendingen van het internationaal (humanitair) recht tegen te gaan. De hulp resulteerde niet in een sterke Palestijnse regering die perspectieven heeft op een soevereine Palestijnse staat en zo een bijdrage kan leveren aan de veiligheid van zowel Palestijnse als Israëlische burgers. Deze lezing legt bloot hoe Europa’s hulp zijn doel voorbij schiet en analyseert hoe hulp efficiënter kan worden ingezet als Israëls schendingen van het internationaal recht centraal staan.

De lezing zal in het Nederlands gehouden worden.

1 Debate

Debate — Tuesday 28 November / 20h

Debate on the Role of Europe in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • Hildegard Devuyst — Dramaturgist
    • Hildegard Devuyst is a dramaturgist. She works for Les Ballets C de la B (founded by Alain Platel) in Ghent, Belgium, and for Festival de Marseille in France. The past ten years, she has been working intensively with Palestinian stage artists resulting in a Flemish-Palestinian Festival in Ghent from the 16th until the 25th of February 2018 and in Ramallah, Palestine, from the 2nd until the 11th of May 2018 in the new infrastructure of Qattan Foundation.

    • Get a taste of Hildegard Devuyst’s work here.
  • Martin Konecny — Director EuMEP (European Middle East Project)
    • Martin Konecny is EuMEP’s director. Before founding EuMEP, Konecny was Brussels director of Crisis Action, an organisation focusing on the protection of civilians from armed conflicts including in Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Congo and Israel-Palestine. Subsequently, he was a senior analyst at the Open Society Foundations covering the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. He is from the Czech Republic, has an MA degree in Sociology, and lives in Belgium.

    • Read Martin Konecny’s op-ed on 6 EU double standards on Israel and Palestine here.
  • Dr. Anders Persson — Researcher
    • Anders Persson is a postdoc researcher at the Centre for European Politics at University of Copenhagen / Lund University, where he is conducting a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council on the EU’s normative power in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has written three books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of which the latest is The EU and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 1971-2013: In Pursuit of a Just Peace (Lanham, Lexington Books: 2015). He has also published peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Journal of Common Market Studies, Mediterranean Politics, Journal of Conflict Transformation and Security and New Middle Eastern Studies. He is expert commentator on Swedish TV/radio/press on Israel-Palestine and also writes a blog for Huffington Post and contributes regularly to Haaretz, Politico EU and EU Observer.

    • For some Politico articles on the issue by Anders Persson go here.
  • Petra Andersson Erhardy — Middle East Peace Process Desk, European External Action Service (EEAS)
    • Petra Andersson Erhardy works since September 2015 as desk officer for the Middle East peace process (MEPP) in the European External Action Service in Brussels, in close liaison with EU field presences in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem and the office of the EU Special Representative to the Middle East peace process. Her academic background is in political science. Although she is a Swedish Temporary Agent with her base in a national administration, she has worked multilaterally for the main part of her career: in the EU, UN, and the OSCE. She has spent a decade working in the Balkans.

Steven de Foer (De Standaard) will take up the role of ‘mediawatcher’. He will give an introduction to the debate through the screening of various video fragments related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Inge Vrancken (VRT) will moderate the debate.

Room : AP 00.15
Building : Auditorium Max Weber
Parkstraat 51
3000 Leuven


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