2019 Annual Conference – The Deal of the Century: A Plan to Liquidate the Palestine Question


 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


Friday, November 8, 2019

8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In the past two years we have awaited the unveiling of Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century”, which should perhaps more accurately be called the “Mystery of the Trump Administration”. What is clear at this point is that it intends to remove the Palestinian issue, if not liquidate it, from the desks of international policymakers.  What must be done to keep the issue of Palestine at the front and center of global policy so that it does not wither under the weight of fake economic development that barely conceals a predatorial agenda? The speakers of the 2019 Palestine Center Annual Conference will provide their analyses of this critical moment. The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Joseph Massad. He will be followed by two panels that will respectively address issues of the Right of Return, UNRWA, US and Israeli Policies  (Panel I); and Geopolitics, BDS, The Media & Palestine, and US Perspective on the Deal (Panel II). Please join us for an engaging event.

Conference Schedule

8:30 – 9:15  Registration & Coffee
9:15 – 9:30  Opening Remarks

9:30 – 10:30 Keynote Lecture: Dr. Joseph Massad
Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, Columbia University

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:45 Panel I: Liquidating Right of Return, UNRWA, US and Israeli Policies 
Participants: Dr. Randa Farah, Dr. Osamah Khalil, Max Blumenthal, Dr. Elizabeth Campbell

12:45 – 1:45 Lunch

1:45 – 3:45 Panel II: Geopolitics, BDS, The Media & Palestine, US Perspective on the Deal
Participants: Dr. Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Grant Smith, Yousef Munayyer, Lara Friedman

3:45 – 4:00 Closing remarks


Speakers’ Biographies

Panelists (in alphabetical order by panel)

Keynote Address: 

Dr. Joseph Massad is Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of many books and academic and journalistic articles. His books include Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (Columbia University Press, 2001), The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians (Routledge, 2006), Desiring Arabs (University of Chicago Press, 2007), and most recently Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2016). His books and articles have been translated into a dozen languages.


Panel I

Max Blumenthal is the founder and editor of GrayzoneProject.com, the co-host of the podcast Moderate Rebels, and the author of several books including Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (Bold Type Books, 2009), Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (Nation Books, 2013), The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza (Nation Books, 2015), and The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump (Verso, 2019). He also co-produced the 2018 feature documentary Killing Gaza.


Dr. Randa Farah is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Western Ontario where she has been teaching since 2001. She is also Adjunct Faculty at the Centre for Global Studies at Huron University College. She was Visiting Fellow and Associate Researcher at the Refugee Studies Center (RSC) at the University of Oxford, where together with a legal expert, she co-taught a summer course entitled “Palestinian Refugees and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. She also worked for a number of years at the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Moyen-Orient Contemporain (CERMOC), in Amman, Jordan, where she participated in a research project on Palestinian refugees and the UNRWA. Dr. Farah acquired her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, and her doctoral thesis focused on memory and identity in the context of the Oslo Accords based on field research among Palestinian refugees living in camps in Jordan. She also conducted field research in camps for the refugees of Western Sahara in Algeria. Her publications, which include a comparative study between the Palestinian and Western Sahara cases (published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, 2009), reflect her interests in refugees and protracted exile, memory/history and identity, political mobilization in refugee camps, nationalism, and the humanitarian regime.


Dr. Osamah Khalil is an Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is the author of America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State (Harvard University Press, 2016) and the editor of United States Relations with China and Iran: Toward the Asian Century (Bloomsbury Press, 2019). Khalil has been a frequent media commentator and contributor, including for the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, The National, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Al Akhbar, and Al Jazeera


Elizabeth Campbell is the director of UNRWA’s Representative Office in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining UNRWA, Campbell was the senior humanitarian policy advisor in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the Department of State, where she worked on refugee and humanitarian issues in the United Nations system. Campbell has also served as a senior advocate for Refugees International, where she focused on the humanitarian crises in East Africa and the Middle East. She was director of Refugee Council USA, which is an NGO consortium focused on refugee resettlement and protection. Prior to that, she worked for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Kenya. She holds a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has published several articles and book chapters on refugee and humanitarian issues and has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Law, James Madison University, and the State University of New York at Binghamton. Her courses focus on humanitarian affairs, refugees, environmental studies, inequality, and social justice.”

Panel II

Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, she is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, specializing in the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). Prior to joining FMEP, Lara was the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now, and before that she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.


Yousef Munayyer, a political analyst and writer, is Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USPCR). Prior to joining USCPR, he was the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center and had also served as a Policy Analyst for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). He frequently writes on matters of foreign policy in the Arab and Muslim world, and civil rights and civil liberties in the United States. His writings have appeared in every major metropolitan newspaper in the United States and many others internationally, as well as online. He is a frequent commentator on national and international media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, CBS, Al Jazeera English, C-SPAN, and others. He received his BA in Political Science and History from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and MA and PhD in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland.


Grant F. Smith is research director at the Washington, DC-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) founded in 2002. Smith manages research and education programs including polling, Freedom of Information Act filings, digital outreach and conferences. He is the author of several books about the Israel lobby including Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America (2016).


Dr. Abdel Razzaq Takriti is the inaugural holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History at the University of Houston. His research focuses on the history of revolutions, anti-colonialism, global intellectual currents, and state-building in the modern Arab world. His book Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976 explores the history of the Dhufar Revolution in Oman, which was the longest running major armed struggle in the history of the Arabian Peninsula. He also co-authored and co-edited with Professor Karma Nabulsi The Palestinian Revolution website, offering bilingual online pedagogical tools, analytical essays, and a wealth of primary sources on Palestinian history from the 1948 Nakba to the 1982 Siege of Beirut. His opinion pieces on Arab affairs have appeared in a variety of English and Arabic media outlets including The Guardian, Aljazeera English, Al-Ahram Weekly, Politics in Spires, Jadaliyya and al-Quds al-Arabi. He received his D.Phil. from St Antony’s College, Oxford and his dissertation was awarded the Middle East Studies Association of North America’s Malcolm Kerr Prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities and the British Society of Middle Eastern Studies’ Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for Best Dissertation in the Social Sciences or the Humanities.