Palestine: In a Moment of Change or Continuity?



The 2010 Palestine Center Annual Conference


“Palestine: In a Moment of Change or Continuity?”

Friday, 29 October 2010


Panel I – The Changing Face of Jerusalem

Participants: Amb. Philip C. Wilcox, Jr. and Dr. Thomas Abowd

Panel II – Changing Resistance Tactics: Violence, Non-Violence and the Battle for Legitimacy Participants: Ms. Rebecca Vilkomerson, Mr. Mubarak E. Awad and Dr. Ibtisam Ibrahim

Panel III – Regional Dynamics: Carrying the Torch? Participants: Mr. Trita Parsi, Mr. Nuh Yilmaz and Dr. Saad Eddine Ibrahim


Panel IV – Peace Process: Déjà vu all over again?
Participants: Amb. Clovis Maksoud and Mr. Amjad Atallah


Panel I – The Changing Face of Jerusalem

Between new settlements, home demolition, eviction and revocation there is an accelerated effort to de-Arabize Jerusalem. What are the implications? What has the reaction been and what effect does this have on the diplomatic process?

Amb. Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., is the president of a Washington D.C.-based foundation devoted to fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Wilcox retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in September 1997 after 31 years of service.

Dr. Thomas Abowd, teaches at Tufts and UMass-Amherst. He is an urban anthropologist and historian who received his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University in 2003. His book on spatial politics in contemporary Jerusalem, “Colonial Jerusalem: the Spatial Construction of Identity and Difference,” will be published by Syracuse University Press next year.

Panel II – Changing Resistance Tactics: Violence, Non-Violence and the Battle for Legitimacy

Strategies of resistance against the occupation seem to have changed. Solidarity activists have helped spread nonviolent efforts, Boycott and Divestment, in the effort to end Israel’s occupation. What strategies are being used and what are the prospects of success?

Ms. Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace and has over fifteen years of experience in community organizing, advocacy, program development and fundraising in the United States and Israel. Rebecca has been an active member of JVP since 2002, and lived in Israel with her family from 2006-2009. Most recently, Rebecca worked for a Palestinian Israeli public policy center and a Bedouin-Jewish environmental rights organization.

Mr. Mubarak E. Awad, founded Nonviolence International in 1989 after being expelled from Palestine for helping the creation of a nonviolent action campaign and the first intifada. He has worked for 30 years as an advocate for youth and started many programs that provide services for thousands of troubled and neglected young people across the United States. He is married to Nancy Nye, has 2 children and 1 grandchild.

Dr. Ibtisam Ibrahim is an assistant professor of Sociology and the acting director of the Arab Studies Program at the American University, Washington, D.C. Her research interests include the Arab World, Middle East studies and Islam with a special focus on Palestinians in Israel. Dr. Ibrahim’s recent publications include “Emigration Patterns among Palestinian Women,” “The Past’s Promises: Lessons from Peace Processes in Northern Ireland and the Middle East,” “Status of Palestinian Women in Israel,” “Israel’s ‘Ethnic Project toward Palestinians across Religious Lines” and “Debating Democracy in the Arab World.”

Panel III – Regional Dynamics: Carrying the Torch?

Major regional powers like Iraq, Iran and Turkey have all taken a stand on this issue to varying degrees in recent years.  How can we explain the Palestine question by those regional powers and their strategic or domestic interests?

Mr. Trita Parsi is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian politics, and the balance of power in the Middle East. He is the author of “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007),” for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. “Treacherous Alliance” is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Nuh Yilmaz is widely published on Turkey’s new foreign policy orientations, U.S. foreign policy, Turkish politics, energy security, Turkish-American relations, and is a frequent commentator for the Turkish media. Mr. Yilmaz received his BS in Sociology from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, and completed his M.F.A in Graphic Design from Bilkent University. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at George Mason University.

Dr. Saad Eddine Ibrahim is an Egyptian American sociologist and author. He is one of Egypt’s leading human rights and democracy activists. For most of his professional career Saad Eddin Ibrahim was a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo. He is the founder of both the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo and the Arab Organization for Human Rights.

Panel IV – Peace Process: Déjà vu all over again?

Direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams have launched…again.  Skepticism + years of deterioration +settlement building + conflict = ???

Amb. Clovis Maksoud was the Chief Representative of the League of Arab States in India from 1961-1966. From 1967-1979, he served as the Senior Editor of Al-Ahram and then Chief Editor of Al-Nahar Weekly. Ambassador Maksoud was appointed as the League of Arab States’ Chief Representative to the United States and the United Nations on September 1, 1979.

Mr. Amjad Atallah is also a Senior Affiliated Expert with the Public International Law and Policy Group and a co-founder of Women for Women International. Prior to working at the New America Foundation, Mr. Atallah headed Strategic Assessments Initiative, a not-for-profit organization committed to providing legal and policy assistance to parties involved in negotiations in conflict and post-conflict situations.