Palestine and the Palestinians: Media, People, Politics

The 2015 Palestine Center Annual Conference 

“Palestine and the Palestinians: Media, People, Politics

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Palestine Center’s 2015 conference will examine multiple aspects of the current situation, focusing on the context and representation of Palestinians in the media, regional and international politics, and the United States. Internationally renowned scholars, activists, journalists, and practitioners will analyze factors on the ground and larger policies in four panels.

Participants: Ali Abunimah, Said Arikat, and Philip Weiss  
Participants: Andrew Kadi, Radhika Sainath, and Omar Shakir
Participants: Manal Jamal, Fouad Moughrabi, and Yousef Munayyer
Participants: Max Blumenthal, Bill Corcoran, and Laila El-Haddad


Panel I-Covering Palestine: U.S. Media, the Israel Lobby, and Public Opinion 

Our conference begins by examining how the U.S. media chooses to cover events dealing with Palestine and the Palestinians and the extent of the influence of particular interests, such as the Israel lobby, on this coverage. It will also consider how the grassroots landscape, including voices of activist Americans, Palestinians, Palestinian Americans, Jewish Americans, and others, is transforming public opinion. 

Ali Abunimah – Author, Journalist & Co-Founder, Electronic Intifada

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine and One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. He is a policy advisor with Al-Shabaka and contributes regularly to publications such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Abunimah has also served as the vice president on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network and a fellow at the Palestine Center. He has appeared on many television discussion programs including CNN, MSNBC, Democracy Now!, PBS, and other networks, and in a number of documentaries about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including Collecting Stories from Exile: Chicago Palestinians Remember 1948.

Said Arikat  Journalist & Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Quds Newspaper
Said Arikat is the Washington bureau chief for the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds, a daily for which he is a writer, columnist, and analyst. Previously he served as adjunct professor at American University and as spokesman and director of public information for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

Philip Weiss – Author & Journalist, Co-Founder and Editor of Mondoweiss
Philip Weiss is founder and co-editor of He is the author of the novel Cock-a-Doodle-Doo and the non-fiction book American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps.  He also co-edited The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (2011) with Adam Horowitz and Lizzy Ratner, and his numerous articles have appeared in New York magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, and the New York Observer.


Panel II-Palestinians and Palestinian Americans in the United States
Speakers will explore the efforts by individuals and organizations to defend the rights of Palestinians to free speech, academic freedom, and nonviolent activism. Highlighted will be the challenges that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement faces as well as the defense of students and faculty as they experience the criminalization of dissent on university campuses.
Andrew Kadi –  Co-Chair, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Andrew Kadi serves as the co-chair of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He has spent fifteen years in community organizing, primarily in support of Palestinian rights, while also supporting movements focused on civil liberties, Islamophobia, gender and sexuality, and prison abolition/reform. Kadi has mostly been involved in mobilizing at the grassroots, using traditional and social media, and harnessing popular education to advocate change. 

Radhika Sainath – Staff Attorney, Palestine Legal

Radhika Sainath is a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, where she provides legal advice and advocacy support to Palestine rights activists, students, and professors on issues such as free speech, discrimination, threats, surveillance, and disciplinary charges. During 2002-03, she lived in the West Bank where she coordinated advocacy with the International Solidarity Movement. In February 2009, she helped organize a National Lawyers Guild fact-finding delegation to the Gaza Strip, then co-authored a report on the group’s findings. Sainath is also a contributor and co-editor of Peace Under Fire: Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement and has published in The Huffington Post, Haaretz, Mondoweiss, and Electronic Intifada. She has discussed the crackdown of democracy protests in Bahrain, workers’ rights, and Israel/Palestine in numerous media outlets including Al Jazeera English, Democracy Now!, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Telegraph (UK), among others.

Omar Shakir – Bertha Fellow, Center for Constitutional Rights 

Omar Shakir focuses on litigation and advocacy pertaining to abusive counterterrorism policies and international human rights. His work has included representation of Professor Steven Salaita in his civil rights suit against the University of Illinois, Guantanamo, Palestine, NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities, and the practice of targeted killing. Shakir was a fellow at Human Rights Watch based in Cairo, where he investigated abuses in Egypt and was lead researcher and author of “All According to Plan,” a 188-page report that documents the mass killings of protesters in Egypt in July and August 2013, including the Rab’a Massacre. Shakir has also worked with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the ACLU, and the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Officer, conducted human rights fieldwork in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, the United States, and the West Bank, and appeared on BBC, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among other outlets.


Panel III – Palestine in Regional and International Politics
Panel III will discuss the context of the Palestinian situation at present, following the “Arab Spring” upheavals of the last few years, with a focus on the effects of regional politics on refugee populations in the Arab countries nearby. Panelists will also consider international efforts on Palestine, like United Nations initiatives, the International Court, and US policy toward Israel and Palestine.

Manal Jamal 
Associate Professor of Political Science, James Madison University 

Manal A. Jamal is associate professor of political science at James Madison University. During 2014-2015, she was a Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative at the Kennedy School of Government. She also held posts as Sultan post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, research fellow at the Dubai School of Government, and visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Dubai Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Jamal contributed to the feasibility studies that led to the establishment of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. Since 2010, she has served on the Middle East Studies Association’s Committee for Academic Freedom, and between 2012 and 2014, on the transitional board of directors of the Association for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies. Her most recent publications have appeared in Comparative Political Studies, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, International Feminist Journal of Politics, and International Migration Review, as well as a number of edited volumes and periodicals.

Fouad Moughrabi –  Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 

Fouad Moughrabi is a retired professor of political science, after having taught for many years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is the co-author of Public Opinion and the Palestine Question. In 1995-96 he was a Fulbright Research and Teaching Scholar at Birzeit University and has served as a member of various study groups on the Middle East convened by the Brookings Institution and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Moughrabi’s writings have appeared in various books, including Pretending Democracy: Israel, an Ethnocratic State and The June 1967 War: After Three Decades, as well as periodicals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Middle East Journal, the Journal of Palestine Studies, Theory and Society, Social Justice, and the Radical History Review. He has conducted numerous public opinion polls with Gallup, the Survey Research Center, and other organizations on US attitudes toward the Middle East.

Yousef Munayyer –  Executive Director, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Yousef Munayyer holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Maryland. He is the executive director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and serves as a policy analyst for the Arab Center of Washington. Previously he was executive director of The Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center in Washington, DC. His opinion and analysis pieces have appeared in a number of mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Guardian while his academic writing has been published in the Journal of Palestine Studies.
Panel IV – Gaza in the Aftermath of the 2014 Israeli Invasion
This panel will survey the situation in Gaza at present as understood by the Palestinians in Gaza themselves and by the nongovernmental organizations and international donors working in reconstruction and relief. Speakers will also address the short-term and long-term social and political challenges on the ground, including Israel’s accountability for the invasion and what the international community should be doing to avert another war in Gaza. 

Max Blumenthal – Author & Journalist 

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post, the Independent Film Channel,, Al Jazeera English, and other publications. He is the author of the bestselling book Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party as well as Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. Blumenthal’s most recent book is The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.

Bill Corcoran – President & CEO, American Near East Refugee Aid

Bill Corcoran is president and CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). Before joining ANERA, he worked as vice president of Child Fund International, a nonprofit serving children and their families in 32 countries. During the 1990s, Corcoran directed the Pontifical Mission for Palestine based in Jordan, with projects there and in Iraq. He earned his undergraduate degree from George Washington University and holds two MA degrees—one in theology from Mount St. Mary University and one in law from the University of Ottawa. He also received a certificate in Islamic studies from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Laila El-Haddad – Author & Political Analyst

Laila El-Haddad is an award-winning writer and social media activist from Gaza City.  She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and co-author of the critically acclaimed The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey.  From 2003 to 2007, El-Haddad was the Gaza correspondent for Al Jazeera English and a regular contributor to the BBC and The Guardian online as well as radio correspondent for Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News. She has been published in The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, the New Statesman, The Daily Star, and Le monde diplomatiqueand has appeared on CNN, NPR, and Al Jazeera. Since November 2004, she has authored a widely recognized blog now known as “Gaza Mom.”