Plague and Quarantine: Past and Present
Israel/Palestine Webinar Series
Under Quarantine: Immigrants and Disease at Israel’s Gate
Rhona Seidelman, Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and Assistant Professor of History, University of Oklahoma
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Under Quarantine tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, a central immigrant processing camp that opened shortly after Israel became an independent state. This historic gateway for Jewish migration was surrounded by a controversial barbed wire fence. The camp administrators defended this imposing barrier as a necessary quarantine measure - even as detained immigrants regularly defied it by crawling out of the camp and returning at will. Professor Seidelman will explore the history of Shaar Ha’aliya and the remarkable experiences of the immigrants who went through it. The focus on the conflicts surrounding the medical quarantine at Shaar Ha’aliya will allow us to explore how this history can be of value during the Covid-19 pandemic, as we live through this critical moment in quarantine history.
Rhona Seidelman is the Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. Her research is on the history of immigration, the history of medicine/public health and the history of Israel. Originally from Canada, Professor Seidelman has a B.A. and an M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Before moving to Oklahoma, she taught at Ben Gurion University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book Under Quarantine: Immigrants and Disease at Israel’s Gate (Rutgers, 2020) tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, Israel’s “Ellis Island” during the mass immigration that followed the establishment of the state in 1948. Seidelman’s book focuses on the conflicts surrounding the camp’s medical quarantine of Israel’s new immigrants. Currently Professor Seidelman is working on two new projects. Claiming My Egypt explores questions of identity among the children of Egypt’s Jewish diaspora. Zionism, Tuberculosis and the Making of the 20th Century is a book on patients’ experiences with tuberculosis in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until today. Dr. Seidelman’s articles have been published in The American Journal of Public Health, The Journal of Israeli History, AJS Perspectives, and Ha’aretz.
"The End of the Tunnel is Dark": Reflections on the Covid-19 Pandemic Under Occupation
Weeam Hammoudeh, Assistant Professor, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Despite early and (then) effective measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, today the occupied Palestinian territory is witnessing one of the most rapid increases in covid-19 cases globally. This spike comes at a time of a convergence of structural weaknesses in public institutions, a weakened Palestinian Authority, ongoing siege, occupation, and colonial expansion. Where Arundhati Roy famously stated that "the pandemic is a portal," one of our interlocutors aptly pointed out that when it came to covid-19, "the end of the tunnel is dark." The convergence and interactions between these factors have, however, brought to light the challenges and complexities of responding to a pandemic under occupation. This presentation will focus on the implications of the response to the pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territory, and their impacts on the lives of people and communities.
Weeam Hammoudeh is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Community and Public Health, where she teaches in the MPH program and is also the coordinator for the mental health unit. She holds a PhD and MA in Sociology from Brown University, and an MPH from Birzeit University. She has an academic interest in understanding how political and social transformations impact health, psychosocial wellbeing, and population processes, particularly in conflict areas, as well as how health systems and social institutions develop and shift in relation to political, economic, and structural factors. She is currently involved in research project on a range of topics, including the health of adolescent refugee girls, deprivation and mental health, uncertainty, and health system preparedness in the COVID response.
The Israel/Palestine Webinar Series is co-sponsored by the History Department.