15th edition of Al Jazeera Forum to discuss shifts in the Middle East after Tufan al-Aqsa

23 May 2024

Organised by Al Jazeera Media Network, the 15th Al Jazeera Forum is set to take place on 25 and 26 May 2024 in Doha under the title, “Transformations in the Middle East after Tufan Al-Aqsa”, with the participation of a select group of experts, researchers and journalists from various countries.

This year, the forum will discuss the profound transformations brought about by Tufan al-Aqsa and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza, whether for the Palestinians and Israel or at the regional and international levels. Additionally, the forum will evaluate the repercussions of the cases brought against Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). It will also shed light on the patterns of media coverage of Tufan al-Aqsa and the war on Gaza, as well as the role of influencers on social media platforms.

The forum’s sessions will be broadcast live on Al Jazeera Mubasher, and followers of Al Jazeera's social media accounts will be able to watch, interact and pose questions.

Here is an overview of the forum sessions and the participants:

Tufan al-Aqsa in the Context of Palestinian National Struggle: Resistance and Political Prospects

The speakers in this session will analyse Tufan al-Aqsa within the Palestinian national context, and as one chapter of the ongoing struggle aimed at building momentum for liberation. They will also discuss it as a response to Israeli occupation policies of Judaising Jerusalem, expanding settlements and besieging Gaza, all of which pose a threat to the future of the Palestinian cause.

The discussion will begin with the premise that despite its immense human cost, Tufan al-Aqsa has once again brought into focus the issue of the Palestinian state and the Palestinians' right to self-determination. It will raise the question of whether Tufan al-Aqsa will herald a new political paradigm beyond the frameworks of the deal of the century and the Oslo Accords, and offer alternatives to them. It will also touch on the nature of resistance in the future and its role in the Palestinian national agenda.

The speakers in this session are: Mustafa Barghouti, Leader of the Palestinian National Initiative; Wadah Khanfar, President of Al Sharq Forum; Jawad Al Anani, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Al-Aqaba University of Technology and economic and political advisor; and Abdulaziz Sager, Founder and Chairman of the Gulf Research Center.

The Implications of the War on Israel: Politics, Society and the Future of the Zionist Project

This session will delve into the long-term implications of Tufan al-Aqsa on the Israeli occupation across military, political, social and economic aspects. It will examine the questions posed by Israeli political, military and academic circles regarding the viability, sustainability and future of the Zionist project in the region.

The speakers in this session are: Ilan Pappe, Historian and the Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter; Mohanad Mustafa, Head of the History Department at the Arab Academic Institute at Beit Berl College; Mohsen Saleh, Professor of Palestinian studies and Director-General of the Zaitouna Centre for Studies; and Chafic Choucair, Researcher at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

International Justice in the Balance of the Israeli War on Gaza

This session is dedicated to discussing the legal implications arising from the Israeli war on Gaza. It will spotlight the notorious case initiated by South Africa against Israel in the ICJ, in which it accused Israel of genocide, and the momentum behind this case. Moreover, it will explore the proceedings of the case brought before the ICC.

The speakers in this session are: Triestino Mariniello, Professor of International Criminal Law at Liverpool John Moores University; Ramy Abdu, Chairman of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor; Lamis Deek, Palestinian internationally practicing attorney based in New York; and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, member of the legal team in the South Africa vs. Israel case at the International Court of Justice.

The Arab Regime and the Palestinian Cause: Shifts in Positions, Risks and Roles

This session will examine the varied Arab positions on Tufan al-Aqsa and the Israeli war on Gaza. It will scrutinise the reasons behind these positions, and whether they seem compromised in light of these events and their humanitarian and political ramifications. Additionally, it will forecast the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict in wake of the events.

The speakers in this session are: Abdullah Al Shayji, Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University; Hassan Barari, Professor of International Affairs at Qatar University and the University of Jordan; Mohamed El-Moctar Shinqiti, Professor of International Affairs at Qatar University; and Saif Eddin Abdel Fattah, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University.

Post-Tufan Balances at the Regional Level: Powers, Axes and Strategies

This session will highlight the regional landscape after the Gaza war, attending to the roles and strategies of key powers in the region, notably Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and how the ongoing conflict affects the power dynamics among them.

The speakers in this session are: Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, Secretary General of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations in Iran; Ahmet Uysal, Director of Turkish Cultural Center (Yunus Emre) in Qatar; Khalifa Al Mahmoud, writer and lawyer; and Tarik Yousef, Director of the Middle East Council on Global Affairs.

Gaza Rearranges the Priorities of the International Agenda: The Middle East, Conflict in Ukraine and Tensions with China

Participants in this session will discuss how the ongoing war in Gaza is affecting the agendas of major powers as well as the war’s ripple effects on other international conflicts and tensions, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the US-China tension. They will also address the extent of Western support for the Zionist project, and explain the positions and approaches of other global powers towards the Gaza war, including Russia and China.

The speakers in this session are: Elena Suponina, Advisor at the Russian Council for International Affairs; Khalil al-Anani, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Johns Hopkins University; David Hearst, Editor-in-Chief of Middle East Eye; and Kheir Diabat, Professor of International Affairs at Qatar University.

Special Dialogue with Influencers on the Conflict of Narratives

This session will feature a number of social media influencers who will talk about their roles in the ongoing conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli narratives. The discussion will centre around the youth's contribution to managing this conflict, as well as the variety of platforms they use and their differing terms and policies. The session will also look into the quality of the audience that follows and interacts with these influencers. It will review the content being circulated in terms of sources and fact-checking mechanisms, as well as the challenges and pressures influencers face due to their positions and impact on followers and public opinion.

The speakers in this session are: Nicole Jenes, social media content creator; Ahmed Hijazi, journalist and photographer; Belal Khaled, photographer; and Mohammed Al Kandari, university professor and photographer.

Media in Times of War: Challenges of Safety and Professionalism

This session will shed light on the conditions under which journalists cover the ongoing war in Gaza and the risks and challenges they often face, sometimes even risking their lives. It will also probe the extent to which major media outlets adhere to professional standards in their coverage of the war on Gaza, focusing on aspects such as balance, objectivity, avoiding bias or the promotion of specific narratives, and the importance of conveying the truth from diverse angles and perspectives.

The speakers in this session are: Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera correspondent and bureau chief in Gaza; Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Khadija Patel, Chairperson of the International Press Institute (IPI); Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ); and Mohamed Erraji, Researcher at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.