The Politics of Identity in the Middle East



The 2013 Palestine Center Annual Conference

The Politics of Identity in the Middle East

Friday, 15 November 2013


Panel I – Prospect for Palestinian Freedom: Assessing the “peace process” and exploring alternatives?

Participants: Dr. William B. Quandt and Ali Abunimah

Panel II – Sectarianism Spinning Out Of Control: The drivers and victims of hate

Participants: Dr. Randa Slim, Dr. Yvonne Haddad, Mr. Daoud Khairallah and Dr. Ussama Makdisi

Panel III – Palestine In The Middle: Effects of regional conflict on the future of Palestine and its Politics

Participants: Dr. Osamah Khalil and Dr. Manal Jamal

Panel IV – A Return To The Cold War?: The foreign policies of great powers and regional players

Participants: Dr. Shibley Telhami, Dr. Toby C. Jones, Dr. Trita Parsi and Dr. Paul R. Pillar


Panel I – Prospect for Palestinian Freedom: Assessing the “peace process” and exploring alternatives?

William B. Quandt is the Edward R. Stettinius chair in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. Prior to this appointment, he was a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, where he conducted research on the Middle East, American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, and energy policy. Dr. Quandt served as a staff member on the National Security Council (1972-1974, 1977-1979) and was actively involved in the negotiations that led to the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. His selective bibliography includes: Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967, (Brookings, 2005, third edition), Between Ballots and Bullets: Algeria’s Transition from Authoritarianism, (Brookings, 1998); and The United States and Egypt: An Essay on Policy for the 1990s, (Brookings, 1990) among many others.

Author of One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and The Battle for Justice in Palestine, Ali Abunimah is also a policy advisor with Al-Shabaka and contributes regularly to such publications as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He has served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, was a fellow at the Palestine Center, and has appeared on many television discussion programs on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and other networks, and in a number of documentaries about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including Collecting Stories from Exile: Chicago Palestinians Remember 1948 (1999).

Panel II – Sectarianism Spinning out of Control: The drivers and victims of hate

Randa Slim works and publishes on regional and international issues of the Middle East as well as issues of democratization in the Arab world.  A former vice president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Slim has also been a senior program advisor at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a guest scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, and a program officer at the Kettering Foundation.She has consulted for a number of international and US governmental and private sector organizations including USAID, UNDP, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Yvonne Haddad is Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.Professor Haddad’s fields of expertise include twentieth-century Islam; intellectual, social and political history in the Arab world; and Islam in North America and the West. Currently, Professor Haddad is conducting research on Muslims in the West and on Islamic Revolutionary Movements. She also teaches courses on Muslim-Christian Relations and Arab Intellectuals.

Daoud Khairallah was adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, has been a long-running adjunct professor at the Georgetown Washington Law Center at Georgetown University, and an occasional lecturer on project finance at the International Law Institute. He is Of Counsel at the firm of White & Case LLP. Professor Khairallah was Deputy General Counsel for five years at the World Bank and prior to September 1994 he was Deputy General Counsel at the International Finance Corporation Legal Department, an affiliate of the World Bank. He has also lectured on international law and international organizations at the Lebanese University.

Ussama Makdisi is Professor of History and the first holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University. He is the author of Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations, 1820-2001 (Public Affairs, 2010); Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East (Cornell University Press, 2008); and The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (University of California Press, 2000). He has also published in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and in the Middle East Report.

Panel III – Palestine in the Middle: Effects of regional conflict on the future of Palestine and its Politics?

Osamah Khalil is Professor of U.S. and Middle East History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is also co-founder of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a frequent media commentator at such outlets as the Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Huff Post Live, Al Jazeera English and the Real News Network.

Manal Jamal is assistant professor of Political Science at James Madison University. During the late 1990’s, she was based in the Palestinian territories. She worked as journalist and researcher at the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, and consulted for the United Nations Special Coordinators Office in the Occupied Territories, then Alternative Information Center / Badil-Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. She currently serves as a member of the Middle East Studies Association’s Committee for Academic Freedom, and a member of the transitional board of directors of the Association for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, and is completing a book manuscript, “Democracy Promotion in Troubled Times: the Limits of Western Donor Assistance to Civil Society”, which examines the impact of donor assistance to civil society in the Palestinian territories and El Salvador.

Panel IV – A Return to the Cold War?: The foreign policies of great powers and regional players

Shibley Telhami is Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institute. Professor Telhami has also been active in the foreign policy arena. He served as advisor to the US Mission to the UN (1990-91), as advisor to former Congressman Lee Hamilton, and as a member of the US delegation to the Trilateral US-Israeli-Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee, which was mandated by the Wye River Agreements. He also has served as an advisor to the United States Department of State, the Iraq Study Group as a member of the Strategic Environment Working Group, and the U.S. Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World,where he co-drafted the report “Changing Minds, Winning Peace”.

Toby C. Jones  is associate professor of history and Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is a non-resident scholar in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and was Senior Research Associate at Human Rights Watch in 2012. Jones is the author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia, and is currently writing a new book entitled “America’s Oil Wars”. Jones is an editor of Middle East Report and has published widely, including in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of American History, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and else where.  From 2004-2006 he was the Persian Gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Trita Parsi
is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States, and A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters.  Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the U.N., where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

Paul R. Pillar is a non-resident senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. He had a 28-year career as an intelligence officer with the CIA and National Intelligence Council, and later was on the faculty of Georgetown University. His research and writing chiefly address U.S. national security policy, Middle Eastern affairs, and intelligence.