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Anti-Israel Conferences
Anat Biletzki, Gabriel Piterberg and Meron Benvenisti provide information to a Palestinian symposium for Gaza


MIT/Harvard Gaza Symposium
March 30-31, 2009

The second annual Gaza symposium, this year jointly organized by MIT and Harvard, will host a series of panels on the role of U.S. and international actors, as well as human rights and international humanitarian law in the wake of recent events in Gaza. Bringing together experts in the fields of human rights, history, political science, U.S. foreign policy and law, the two-day symposium will include a range of views from US, Israeli, Palestinian and UN/NGO perspectives. This event is free and open to the public.

The official web site for the second annual Gaza symposium, including all updates, is located here.

Monday, March 30, 2009
U.S. Foreign Policy and Gaza

Wong Auditorium, MIT Bldg E51, 70 Memorial Drive, Cambridge (Map)

1:30 - 3:30 PM
Welcome and Introduction
John Tirman, Executive Director of the Center for International Studies, MIT
A View from Gaza:
Congressman Brian Baird, Representative, Washington State (D-03)
Moderator: Nancy Kanwisher, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the McGovern Institute, MIT
Gabriel Piterberg, Professor of History at UCLA
Irene Gendzier, Political Science Professor at Boston University
Karma Nabulsi, Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University and former PLO representative

4:00 - 6:00 PM
Going Forward
Moderator: Leila Farsakh, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston
George Bisharat, Professor of Law at UC Hastings College of Law
Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem
Barry Posen, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program
Henry Siegman, Director of the U.S./Middle East Project

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
International Organizations and Gaza

Austin Hall, Harvard Law School, 1515 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge (Map)

1:30 - 3:40 PM
Welcome and Introduction
Hilary Rantisi, Director of the Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
A View from Gaza
Sami Abdel Shafi, Writer and co-founder of the Emerge Consulting Group in Gaza
Rami Khouri, Director of the Issam Fares Center at the American University of Beirut
International Law & Human Rights
Moderator: Susan Akram, Clinical Professor at Boston University School of Law
Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Anat Biletzki, Former chairperson of B’Tselem—Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and Professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University
Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director of the New York Office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

4:00 - 6:00 PM
Reconstruction of Gaza
Moderator: Steven Caton, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard
Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard
Husam Zomlot, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard and Palestinian Diplomat
Andrew Whitley, Director of the Representative Office of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
William Corcoran, President of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)

Sponsors at MIT: The Center for International Studies and its Program for Human Rights and Justice

Sponsors at Harvard: The Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School; The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; University Committee on Human Rights Studies Human Rights Program at the Harvard Law School


The official web site, including all updates, is available here.


MIT/Harvard Gaza Symposium
March 30-31, 2009



John Tirman is the executive director and a principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies. He is author, or coauthor and editor, of ten books on international affairs, including The Fallacy of Star Wars (1984), the first important critique of strategic defense, and Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America’s Arms Trade (1997). In addition, he has published more than 100 articles in periodicals such as the New York Times, Washington Post, World Policy Journal, The Nation, Wall Street Journal, and International Herald Tribune.

Congressman Brian Baird is beginning his 6th term in the United States House of Representatives. As Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Congressman Baird plays a leading role in crafting the policies that will help lead America and the world address the 21st century problems of energy and global warming. Congressman Baird is also a leading advocate for science diplomacy, especially as it relates to issues facing the Middle East. He also serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Baird received his B.S. from the University of Utah, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1977. He continued on to the University of Wyoming, receiving his M.S. and PhD in clinical psychology. From 1986-1998, Dr. Baird served as Chairman of the Psychology department at Pacific Lutheran University.

Nancy Kanwisher is Investigator at the McGovern Institute and Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She joined the MIT faculty in 1997, and prior to that was a faculty member at UCLA from 1990 to 1994 and at Harvard University from 1994 to 1997. She received her Ph.D. in 1986 from MIT. In 1999, she received the National Academy of Sciences’ Troland Research Award. And in 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Gabriel Piterberg is a Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has a D.Phil from Oxford. He is the author of An Ottoman Tragedy (2003) and The Returns of Zionism (2008) and writes for the London Review of Books and the New Left Review.

Irene Gendzier is a Professor of Political Science at Boston University, has written on “What the US Knew and Chose to Forget in 1948 and Why it Matters in 2009”, “The Risk of Knowing”, “Works and Days, Special issue on Academic Freedom; “Does Knowing Matter? US Con­gressional Records and the Arming of Iraq”. She is also author of Notes From the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945-1958 (1998, 2006); co-editor with R.Falk and RJ Lifton of Crimes of War: Iraq 2006; and is currently at work on an examination of US foreign policy in the Middle East in 1945-1949 titled, Dying to Forget.

Karma Nabulsi is a Fellow in Politics at St. Edmund Hall and University Lecturer in Inter­national Relations at Oxford University. She is the author of Traditions of War: Occupation, Resistance and the Law (1999); Palestinians Register: Laying Foundations and Setting Direc­tions, (2006); and numerous scholarly articles and chapters on the philosophy of war, European political history, and Palestinian refugees and representation.

Leila Farsakh is Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She is the author of Palestinian Labor Migration to Israel: Labor, Land and Occupation (2005) and of Commemorating the Naksa, Evoking the Nakba (2008, EJMES special edited volume). She has written numerous articles on the political economy of the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University.

George Bisharat is Professor of Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. He is the author of Palestine Lawyers and Israeli Rule (1989). Dr. Bisharat is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Palestine Studies. He is presently researching the subject of the legal aspects of the one state solution.

Meron Benvenisti served as a deputy mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek from 1971 to 1978, during which he administered East Jerusalem and served as Jerusalem’s Chief Planning Officer. He is a medieval scholar and published books and maps on the Crusader period in the Holy Land. In 1984 he founded the West Bank Database Project, documenting social, economic, and political developments in the West Bank. Since 1992 he devotes his time to teaching--as visiting scholar (Ben Gurion U. 1994-1998, Johns Hopkins SAIS 1982-2002), research and writing on Jerusalem, Northern Ireland conflict, Israeli- Palestinian relations, Palestinian van­ished landscape, bi-nationalism and restaurant reviews. Since 1991 he writes a column for Ha’aretz, Israel’s leading newspaper. He holds a doctorate from Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, and serves on the Executive Committee of Seminar XXI, an educational program for senior military officers, government officials and business executives in the national security policy community. He has written two books, Inadvertent Escalation: Con­ventional War and Nuclear Risks and The Sources of Military Doctrine. He has been a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow; Rockefeller Foundation International Affairs Fellow; Guest Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow, Smithsonian Institution; and most recently, Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Henry Siegman is president of the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP) which was part of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) from 1994 until 2006, at which time it was established as an independent policy institute. He is also a research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a non-resident researcher at FRIDE (Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior), Madrid.

Hilary Rantisi is the Director of the Middle East Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (HKS). She received her Masters degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining HKS, Ms. Rantisi’s previous work was with civil society organizations in Israel-Palestine and focused on religion, politics, and grassroots mobilization efforts in Jerusalem. She has co-edited a book Our Story (1999) and a number of other journal articles.

Sami Abdel-Shafi founded Emerge Consulting Group, LLC., a management consulting firm in Gaza City. Prior to that, Mr. Abdel-Shafi worked in small to medium size fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley, California. He managed business and IT teams spread over different geographies. His background is in Commerce & Business Administration with a concentration in Information Technology. Since 2005, he was engaged in several projects implemented by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. Most recently, Sami has been engaged in providing analysis and recommendations on the great challenges facing the Gaza Strip’s private sector and was one of the speakers representing it in the Palestine Investment Conference held in May, 2008. He is on the Board of Directors of several Palestinian Non-governmental organizations, writes and publishes economic and political analysis and provides commentary on Palestinian affairs in the international media.

Rami George Khouri is director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and Interna­tional Affairs at the American University of Beirut. He has written several books and serves as editor at large of the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, published with the International Herald Tribune. He is a research associate at the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflict at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, a Fellow of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (Jerusalem), and a member of the Leadership Council of the Harvard University Divinity School. He also serves on the board of the East-West Institute, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (USA), and the Jordan National Museum. He has BA and MSc degrees respectively in political sci­ence and mass communications from Syracuse University.

Susan Akram is Clinical Professor at Boston University School of Law, teaching immigration law, comparative refugee law, and international human rights law and supervising students handling refugee and asylum cases in BU’s Asylum and Human Rights Program. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (B.A), Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC (JD), and the Institut International des Droits del ‘Homme, Strasbourg (diplome in international human rights). Before joining the faculty at BUSL in 1993, Akram was executive director of Boston’s Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project and before that, directing attorney of the immigration project at the public interest law firm of Public Counsel in Los Angeles. She is a past Fulbright Senior Scholar in Palestine, teaching at Al-Quds University/Palestine School of Law in East Jerusalem, and researching on durable solutions for Palestinian refugees. She was also interim director of the program for resettling Iraqi refugees from the camps in Saudi Arabia after the First Gulf War. She has spoken and published widely in the fields of immigration law, refugee law and human rights. 

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton Uni­versity and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the Univer­sity of California, Santa Barbara. He is chair of the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent books are The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq (2008) and Achieving Human Rights (2009). He is currently serving as Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the UN Human Rights Council.

Anat Biletzki is Professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University and is currently serving as a Research Associate at MIT and Albert Schweitzer Visiting Professor at Quinnipiac University. She specializes in analytic philosophy and human rights and is the author of several books and articles on Thomas Hobbes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the language of peace and (anti-)terrorism, most recently “Grieving over Gaza” (The Nation). Dr. Biletzki is a member of the Board of FFIPP-I (Faculty for Israeli-Pales­tinian Peace International) and former chair of the board of B’Tselem - the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Craig Mokhiber is a senior human rights official at United Nations Headquarters in New York. A lawyer and specialist in international human rights law, policy and methodology, Mr. Mokhiber led the team of human rights specialists in the High Level Mission on Darfur from January to March 2007. Before that, he headed the New York Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and earlier served as its Deputy-Director. He has also served as the UN’s Senior Human Rights Advisor in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Afghanistan. Mr. Mokhiber is the current Chairman of the UN Task Force for Action Two, and is Chairman of the UN Democracy Fund consultative group. He has authored several publications on human rights themes, and has served on the Secretariats of the World Conference on Human Rights (1993), the Commission on Human Rights (1995), the Working Group on the Right to Development (2001), and the World Summit (2005).

Steven C. Caton is Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies in the Department of Anthropol­ogy and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Harvard University. He has done field research on the Arabian Peninsula for thirty years, beginning with an ethnography of oral poetry as a form of political rhetoric among highland tribes of Yemen, Peaks of Yemen I Sum­mon (1990), followed by an ethnographic memoir of tribal dispute mediation, Yemen Chronicle, (2005), and most recently research on water and the environment in Yemen and the Gulf. He has been involved in setting up a college in Yemen (Yemen College for Middle East Studies) pri­marily for North American and European students seeking a meaningful study abroad experience but also for advanced Arab students seeking training in academic English and expe­rience with seminar classes and advanced essay writing.

Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard Uni­versity. Her current research examines the social and economic sectors of the Palestinian Islamic movement and their relationship to Islamic political institutions, and the critical changes to the Islamic movement that have occurred over the last decade. Dr. Roy is the author of The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development (1995, 2001); The Gaza Strip Survey (1986); and editor of The Economics of Middle East Peace: A Reassessment (1999). Her most recent book is Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (London: Pluto Press, 2007) and she is completing Between Extremism and Civism: Political Islam in Palestine (Princeton University Press, manuscript in progress). Dr. Roy also serves on the Advisory Boards of the American Near East Relief Agency (ANERA) and the Center for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University.

Husam Zomlot is a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He served as a PLO representative to the UK (2003-2008). His previous work experience includes the United Nations, the London School of Economics, the Oxford Research Group and the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute. Dr. Zomlot specializes in the political economy of conflict. His principal research interest is in the area of war-to-peace transitions and conflict transformation, focusing on the process of state formation, governance and capacity building, private sector development/resilience and international assistance in the context of conflict affected countries. He holds a PhD degree in Economics from the University of London. His most recent work appeared in the volume State Formation in Palestine: Viability and Governance during a Social Transformation (2005).

Andrew Whitley is Director of the Representative Office of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in New York, where he is responsible for the Agency’s relations with the United Nations System and with the US and Canadian Governments. He joined UNRWA in July 2002 as Director of External Relations and served simultaneously as Secretary of the Agency’s inter-governmental Advisory Commission. Previously, Mr. Whitley worked as an academic (in Tehran and later at New York University) and as a foreign correspondent with the BBC and Financial Times in the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America. In 1990, he became the founding director of Middle East Watch (subsequently renamed Human Rights Watch/Middle East and North Africa). A British citizen, Mr. Whitley graduated from Cambridge University in the UK, from which he holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in History.

William Corcoran has been the President and CEO of the American Near East Relief Agency (ANERA) since January 2007. Before joining ANERA, he had been Vice President of the Christian Children’s Fund, a $300 million nonprofit serving children and their families in 32 countries. During the 1990’s, Corcoran directed the Pontifical Mission for Palestine based in Jordan with projects there and in Iraq. He is a BA graduate of George Washington University and has a Masters in Law from the University of Ottawa. Corcoran received a certificate in Islamic Studies from the University of Birmingham, UK. For more than 40 years, ANERA has been a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the Middle East. In FY 2008, the relief and development agency delivered more than $75 million of programs to the people of the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan.



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