The Nakba & The Law is a joint project of Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University.

Adalah has for 20 years litigated many of the most important cases on Palestinian human rights and discrimination in the Israeli court system. While its work focuses on serving Palestinian citizens of Israel, it has expanded its mandate and taken on many cases concerning the occupied Palestinian territory as well. Because of its work within the Israeli court system – where judges are called upon most often to reconcile the contradictions between democratic norms and Zionist commitments – Adalah has repeatedly encountered the Nakba’s “haunting” of Israeli law. The realization that mastery of legal doctrine is by itself insufficient has led Adalah to promote dialogue between practitioners and academic researchers, including through the publication of Adalah’s Review, a trilingual journal highlighting work by academics in Israel/Palestine, the United States, and elsewhere, as well as Makan: Adalah’s Journal for Land, Planning, and Justice.

The Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies is a leading site for the development of Palestine scholarship and the first center of its kind in the United States. CPS has hosted multiple events on the Nakba as both historical event and theoretical framework. Since the foundation of CPS in 2010, the “Palestine & Law” lecture series has been a core area of its programming. CPS also sponsors an annual post-doctoral fellowship in Palestine & Law, now in its second year. Finally, several of the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod post-doctoral fellows in Palestine studies sponsored by CPS have also worked on areas related to the Nakba and law.

This project arises from a collaboration between Adalah and CPS that started in 2013 and has produced several joint events, including public lectures at Columbia Law School by Adalah General Director Hassan Jabareen (February 2014, February 2015) and Land & Planning Rights Unit Director Suhad Bishara (March 2015), a closed workshop at CPS (February 2014), as well as an October 2014 new legal developments strategy session. Over the course of these discussions, CPS and Adalah recognized the potential for combining their diverse strengths as a research center and legal center, respectively, to produce an innovative approach to Nakba and the law with wide appeal to scholars, jurists, and other informed publics.

The Nakba & The Law project is partially supported by grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University.