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Anti-Israel Conferences
The Non-Political MESA Hijacked by Palestinian Agenda
Editorial Note

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), an ostensibly non-political association which was established in 1966 to foster the study and public understanding of the Middle East, has some 2,700 members and holds annual meetings, the last one was on November 18-21, 2017. 
MESA, as reported by IAM, passed a resolution at the 2014 annual business meeting affirming "that calls for institutional boycott, divestment, and/or sanctions are protected free speech and legitimate forms of non-violent political action; it affirms the right of MESA members to engage in open and transparent discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in the context of the Annual Meeting and other forums." Simply put, the non-political association has bent over to help the Palestinians. 

This should come in no surprise as over the years, MESA has shown a strong pro-Palestinian bias.  For instance, the group became involved with Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) which was established in 1998 to promote Palestinian studies and exchange among scholars interested in Palestinian affairs.  PARC boasted that in the latest MESA annual meeting it had 50 fellows and board members who participated 63 times throughout the conference. PARC also sponsored some of the MESA panels.

One observer, Professor Cary Nelson, the former president of the American Association of University Professors, recently wrote his observations after hearing two panels. "MESA is now an academic association deeply compromised by political convictions. Even conference sessions that aimed for evidence-based criticism of the Jewish state were tainted by the organization’s pervasive anti-Zionist political consensus."
Interestingly, in 2005 MESA objected to an academic boycott of Israeli universities. Professor Ali Banuazizi, the then president of MESA wrote "The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) is writing to express its profound disagreement with the recent decision of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) calling on its members to 'refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, or joint projects' with Haifa University and Bar Ilan University, in Israel. We strongly urge the Association to withdraw or rescind this resolution to boycott these universities and blacklist their faculty at the very earliest opportunity... We find thoroughly objectionable the call of the AUT to refrain from any and all scholarly interaction with the entire professional staff of two universities because of the policies of the state in which they are situated."  All this changed in recent years.

But MESA is not alone. Last month IAM reported that USACBI, the U.S. campaign focused on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, secretly "took over" the leadership of the American Studies Association (ASA) to impose Israel boycott. 

Similarly, in December 2015 IAM reported of an "Unethical Conduct of the AAA Task Force". To recall, in November 2015, the executive board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has decided to recommend a boycott of Israeli institutions. The decision was made following the recommendation of a Task Force commissioned in 2014, to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. To prevent the appearance of bias, Task Force members were expected to be neutral and “no one with publicly identified positions on the issue."  The investigation by IAM indicated that the Task Force did not live up to the AAA mandate of neutrality, as three members were known to be pro-Palestinian and some even supportive of BDS prior to their commission as Task Force members. 
The pattern is clear. Professional associations are taken over by Palestinian activists who maneuver the agenda toward attacking Israel while preventing any serious debate on the troubled Middle East.

The Middle East Studies Association Is Fundamentally Anti-Zionist
DECEMBER 26, 2017 11:46 AM
by Cary Nelson

The room at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC, was overflowing for a special session billed as “Thinking Palestine Intersectionally.”

The audience filled the seats, and spilled out into the hallway. For many, it was clearly the highlight of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)’s November 2017 annual meeting of faculty and graduate students. Perhaps 500 people were present to hear Noura Erakat, Judith Butler, Samera Esmeir and Angela Davis be hailed as symbolic conquerors of the Jewish state.

“The peace process is over,” Erakat began, and then affirmed “the entwinement of our liberation,” offering her own take on intersectionality. The real reason that the US blocked the “Zionism is racism” framework at the UN, she declared, was “to prevent itself from having to pay reparations for slavery,” a claim that would have surprised the very people who fought against the 1975 UN resolution.

The days of progressive advocacy “except for Palestine, are over,” she concluded. It is time “to bar supporters of Israel from feminist movements,” she added. Even this last agenda item, a call to cast out the female devils in our midst, was met with loud applause.

When discussing Israel, Butler seems to be inhabiting an alternative universe. “The boycott,” she apparently believes, “does not target Israeli citizens.” As to what the boycott actually is she was less clear, absolving it of the need to be “a full political vision or plan.” Determined once again to disentangle herself from her Jewish heritage, she rejected “the fallacy that the State of Israel represents the Jewish people.”Butler followed, declaring that Israel merely “postures as a democracy.” “The charge of antisemitism seems now directed primarily at criticism of the Jewish state,” she added, perhaps surprising those troubled by the desecration of Jewish cemeteries or the painting of swastikas on the walls of campus buildings.

That’s beyond dishonest, as Israel is in complex ways entangled with Jewish identity worldwide. To be Jewish now is not the same as it was before 1948. The Israeli government does not literally represent the Jews of the Diaspora politically, but whether we accept or reject the Jewish state, it is part of who we are.

Esmier took aim at the academic community’s complicity in the occupation, as least as she sees it. “The version of academic freedom that opposes BDS is a freedom in harmony with anti-freedom.” It was not an eloquent formulation, but it set a further standard for casting out devils.

Angela Davis was saved for last.

“We are all meeting on colonized land,” she opened, and the audience whooped and applauded. It was a feel-good affirmation of guilt — that does not require anyone actually to do anything. And she, too, invoked intersectionality: “Neoliberalism seeks to treat particular struggles as isolated and discrete; it also treats all identity as individual.”

It was not a coherent talk, but the audience was not there to be persuaded of anything. They were there to honor the compelling figure that Davis once was. “Palestine under Israeli occupation is the worst possible example of a carceral society,” she announced absurdly, and 500 people cried out and delivered a standing ovation.

This ecstatic celebration of opposition to Israel’s existence gives a good indication of MESA’s future, now that the organization has voted overwhelmingly to become political. Ostensibly part of an academic meeting, the session had nothing to do with marshaling evidence, or presenting arguments. Instead, it was a rally — consensus political theater, where the conclusions were all known in advance. The “intersection” here was between political conviction and self-image.

Still more disturbing was Monday afternoon’s “Navigating Jewish Campus and Community Debates on Israel/Palestine in the Age of Trump,” a session featuring Liora Halperin, Benjamin Schreier, Joel Beinin, Shira Robinson, Joshua Schreier and Sara Anne Minkin.

The session had little to do with Trump, though Ben Shreier perhaps had the current administration partly in mind when he announced that “’anti-Israel’ is a reckless, meaningless term in our current climate.”

The session was devoted to a series of Jewish faculty members venting their long-term hatred of Israel Studies programs. “Israel Studies Centers,” Shira Robinson declared, “are just fronts for Israel advocacy,” which is an irresponsible slander against scores of Israeli Studies scholars doing serious research.

“Many of us,” Halperin informed the audience, “want to be in Middle East Studies.” She added later, “I don’t like the fact that the money I have to give graduate students is called Israel Studies money.” When an Israel Studies program invites a Muslim speaker, Beinin asserted, it amounts to nothing more than “faith washing.”

This biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you form of self-righteousness went a step further, when two of the speakers denounced the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) for funding visiting Israeli faculty members at American institutions.

Mitchell Bard, AICE’s executive director, was sitting no more than two feet away. He asked whether the speakers would be returning the personal graduate fellowship funding that both had received from AICE. But, following the time-honored wisdom that even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn, both cheerfully made it clear that giving them funding was an excellent AICE decision.

Many Israel Studies or Jewish Studies programs, they asserted, kowtow to Jewish donors by appointing reliably pro-Israeli faculty rather than independent, critical intellectuals like themselves. Robinson went on at length, talking about how she assigns “engaged, critical readings” to her students, rather than tomes promoting the “anti-intellectualism” of Zionist material. People like us, she pointed out,“want a scholar who is really serious about the Middle East,” as opposed to “someone supportive of the Israeli government.” I couldn’t help but think of Jewish Studies programs that look to hire anti-Zionist faculty.

Sara Anne Minkin claimed that the belief that “’Jews are a family, Israel is our home’ comes with a demand that you love Israel … loving the nation is changing to loving the state,” and said that there is a “demand to couch your criticism in love.” She aimed to delegitimize all who criticize Israeli government policy while supporting the existence of the Jewish state — a most insidious effort to cast out the enemy within.

Remarkably, none of these faculty members imagined that their own preferences in faculty appointments might be politically and ideologically motivated. They were all on God’s side.

Beinin perhaps spoke for all of them in saying that his own campus, Stanford, never considered donor preferences. Beinin capped the debate with a claim about Israel itself: “Two states, two states. Two states comes down to occupation forever.” Another speaker echoed an argument that Butler had made earlier: “It’s now OK to be antisemitic if you’re pro-Israel.”

But this is not a new perspective. For a time, Nazi Germany was eager simply to get rid of is Jews — and some countries at the 1947 UN vote supported the creation of a Jewish state because they were not willing to take in Jewish refugees themselves.

MESA is now an academic association deeply compromised by political convictions. Even conference sessions that aimed for evidence-based criticism of the Jewish state were tainted by the organization’s pervasive anti-Zionist political consensus. Passage of an academic boycott resolution by MESA would likely receive strong support if proposed in 2018.

The question, unfortunately, is not whether MESA can reverse its drift toward intolerance. It is whether other academic groups will go the same route. For now, it is clear the intellectual environment for reasoned debate will deteriorate still further.


(An * by the name indicates PARC fellows and board members. PARC has 50 fellows and board members participating on panels at MESA this year.)
PARC-Sponsored MESA Panel
SUNDAY, 19 NOV 10:30 AM
[P4735] Hebron in the Modern Period: Social, Political, and Economic Dynamics in Southern Palestine
Sponsor: Palestinian American Research Center (PARC)
Organizer/Presenter: Alex Winder* (Brown U)
Chair/Discussant: Issam Nassar (Illinois State U)
Susynne McElrone* (New York NY) Rethinking the paradigm of Ottoman land-tenure reforms in Palestine in light of new evidence
Alex Winder* (Brown U) Family, social, and professional networks in Mount Hebron before and after 1948
Kimberly Katz* (Towson U) The law and society: Hebron under Jordanian rule, 1951-1953
Belal Shobaki (Hebron U) Hebron in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Settlement without peace
Films Related to Palestine
Using old 16mm filmstock, this timely essay presents the contemporary situation at the Haram Al Sharif in the Old City of Jerusalem. The film reflects on the growing Temple Mount Faithful movement whose goal is to build the Jewish Third Temple on this holy landscape and in turn to assert Jewish sovereignty over this holy Muslim site.
Disturbing the Peace
This film follows former enemy combatants - Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison - who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say "enough." The film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to nonviolent peace activists, leading to the creation of Combatants for Peace.
MESA Panels, Papers, Special Sessions, Thematic Conversations, and Roundtables Related to Palestine
[P4902] Reconsidering Israeli-Lebanese Relations
Organizer: Asher Kaufman (U Notre Dame) and Oren Barak (Hebrew U of Jerusalem)
Chair: Asher Kaufman (U Notre Dame)
Discussant: Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg (Carnegie Mellon U)
Asher Kaufman (U Notre Dame) Sabra and Shatila: Silencing, denying, and selective remembering
[P4926] Circulating Science and Scaling Innovation: Science and Technology Studies in the Middle East
Organizer: Elizabeth Williams
Chair/Organizer: On Barak (Tel Aviv U)
Fredrik Meiton* (Northwestern U) Organic compound: Zionism and science
[P4969] Music and Politics "min al-Mashriq ila al-Maghrib"
Chair: G. Carole Woodall (U Colorado at Colorado Springs)
Garrett Shuffield (UT Austin) The Arab diaspora and collaborative hip-hop: Globalized and localized identity formation
[P5005] Criminalizing Resistance: Producing Palestinial (in)Security
Chair: Simona Sharoni (SUNY Plattsburgh)
Alyssa Bernstein* (Harvard Law (Queen’s U Belfast) The Fatah/Hamas divide among Palestinian prisoners
Matthew Kraig Kelly (Independent Scholar) Criminal + nationalist = terrorist: “Terrorism” in British crimino-national discourse
Maya Rosenfeld (Hebrew U) 50 years of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance: Whither the movement of Palestinian political prisoners?
Julie Norman* (Queen’s U Belfast) Fighting for peace? Ex-combatants and non-traditional peace-building in protracted conflicts
Alaa Tartir* (Graduate Inst Geneva) Securitised peace in Palestine/Israel: Criminalizing resistance, entrenching authoritarianism
[P5028] Language and Identity
Chair: Mohssen Esseesy (George Washington U)
Anastasia Khawaja (U South Florida) To display Hebrew, or not to display Hebrew?: A study of representation of power and solidarity through signage in Palestine
[P4920] Connection, Contagion, and Calamity: Social Uses and Effects of Infrastructural Networks in the Middle East
Organizer: Alex Schweig (U Arizona)
Discussant: Gokce Gunel (U Arizona)
Esra Bakkalbasioglu (U Washington) Politics of access and denial: Electricity grid solar panels and the Naqab Bedouin in Israel
SUNDAY, 19 NOV 8:00 AM
"Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice" al Commitment"
Organizers: Michelle Hartman and Rabab Abdulhadi*
Session Leader: Rabab Abdulhadi* (San Francisco State U)
Michelle Hartman (McGill U)
Emilio Dabed (Independent Scholar)
[P5011] Women, Islam, and Family Law
Chair: Kent Davis-Packard (Johns Hopkins U SAIS)
Elizabeth Brownson (UW Parkside) Women’s strategies for negotiating divorce in mandate Palestine
[P4858] Tales of Espionage, Diplomacy, and War
Organizer: Jeffrey G. Karam
Chair/Discussant: Salim Yaqub (UC Santa Barbara)
Salim Yaqub (UC Santa Barbara) A tale of secrecy and business: The attempted sale of the Western Wall during WW1
[P4984] Workers across Borders: Labor, Migration, and Class
Chair: Salma Waheedi (Harvard Law Schl)
Arnon Degani* (UCLA) Comrades, not enemies? The Histadrut and its Palestinian-Arab members, 1948-1967
[P4992] Managing and Manufacturing Disaster
Chair: John M. VanderLippe (SUNY Delhi)
Ron J. Smith (Bucknell U) Healthcare under siege: The geopolitics of healthcare provision in the Gaza Strip
Global Arab America: Cosmopolitanism and its Discontents
Organizers: Susan Joseph (UC Davis) and Pauline Homsi Vinson (Diablo Valley College)
Session Leader: Pauline Homsi Vinson (Diablo Valley College)
Madeline Otis Campbell (Worcester State U)
Akram Khater (North Carolina State U)
Paul Amar (UC Santa Barbara)
Louise Cainkar (Marquette U)
SUNDAY, 19 NOV 10:30 AM
[P4735] Hebron in the Modern Period: Social, Political, and Economic Dynamics in Southern Palestine
Sponsor: Palestinian American Research Center (PARC)
Organizer/Presenter: Alex Winder* (Brown U)
Chair/Discussant: Issam Nassar (Illinois State U)
Susynne McElrone* (New York NY) Rethinking the paradigm of Ottoman land-tenure reforms in Palestine in light of new evidence
Alex Winder* (Brown U) Family, social, and professional networks in Mount Hebron before and after 1948
Kimberly Katz* (Towson U) The law and society: Hebron under Jordanian rule, 1951-1953
Belal Shobaki (Hebron U) Hebron in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Settlement without peace
[P4730] Diasporic Devotion: Transnational Religion and Middle East Migrations
Organizer/Chair: Akram Khater (North Carolina State U)
Jacob Norris (U Sussex) Objects of devotion: Palestinian migrants and their prayer beads, c. 1850-1910
[P4812] Tourism, Heritage, and the Politics of Place in the Middle East
Organizer/Chair: Daniel E. Coslett (Western Washington U)
Discussant: Ala Al-Hamarneh (U Mainz)
Emily Schneider* (UC Santa Barbara) Building and breaking ties: Political tourism in Israel/Palestine
SUNDAY, 19 NOV 1:00 PM
[P5018] Rebels and Insurgents: Recruitment, Effectiveness, and Support
Chair: Peter Krause (Boston College)
Samuel Plapinger (U Virginia) Insurgent effectiveness in civil wars: Evidence from Jordan and Syria
Thinking Palestine Intersectionally
Organizer/Discussant: Sherene Seikaly* (UC Berkeley)
Judith Butler (UC Berkeley)
Angela Y. Davis (UC Santa Cruz (Emerita))
Samera Esmeir (UC Berkeley)
Noura Erakat* (George Mason U)
[P4867] The Future of Middle Eastern Regimes: At the Intersection of Domestic and International Politics
Organizer: Jeannie Sowers (U New Hampshire)
Chair: Bruce Rutherford (Colaget U)
Discussant: Samer Abboud (Arcadia U)
Morten Valbjorn (Aarhus U) Sectarianism in less likely places: The impact of rising regional sectarianism even in Jordan
SUNDAY, 19 NOV 3:30 PM
[P4910] Arab, Jewish, and Arab Jewish Critiques of Zionism
Organizer: Geoffrey Levin
Chair/Discussant: Liora R. Halperin (U Washington)
Chelsie May (U Chicago) “A girl so quiet will do everything we tell her”: The authority of emotions for Zionism in 1940s Iraq
Shirly Bahar (American Jewish Historical Society) “He made me into a spy”: Arab Jewish identity and the making of Palestine into Israel
Geoffrey Levin (NYU) Crisis, victims, prophets: Evolving concepts in Rabbi Elmer Berger’s anti-Zionist network
Salim Yaqub (UC Santa Barbara) Yes we can’t: Arab Americans and the Arab-Israeli dispute in the 1970s
[P4832] The Cultural Politics of Violence
Organizers: Hannah Scott Deuchar (NYU) and Michael Farquhar (King’s College U London)
Chair: R. Shareah Taleghani (Queens College CUNY)
Discussant: James McDougall (Trinity College Oxford)
Shimrit Lee (NYU) Simulating the contact zone: Corporate mediations of violence in Israel, Palestine and beyond
[P4876] Fraught Docs: Questioning Categories and Exploring Infrastructural Challenges of Documentary Filmmaking from the Arab World
Organizer/Chair: Nadia G. Yaqub (UNC Chapel Hill)
Nadia G. Yaqub (UNC Chapel Hill) Pushing the boundaries of documentary in post-nationalist Palestinian filmmaking
Academic Freedom Trends and the Work of MESA's Committee on Academic Freedom
Organizer: Joshua Stacher* (Kent State U)
Chair: Laurie Brand* (U Southern California)
Asli Bali (UCLA School of Law)
Nancy E. Gallagher (UC Santa Barbara)
Miriam R. Lowi (Col of New Jersey)
Joshua Stacher* (Kent State U)
Virginia Tilley (Southern Illinois U)
MONDAY, NOV 20 8:00 AM
[P4903] Colonial Regimes and Anti-Colonial Revolts between Maghrib and Mashriq, 1920-1950
Organizer: John Boonstra (U Wisconsin Madison)
Chair: Graham Auman Pitts (North Caroline State U)
Discussant: Julia Clancy-Smith (U Arizona)
Shoko Watanabe (Institute of Developing Economies) Nationalists, transnational mobilization, and popular movements: Tunisian volunteers for Palestine in 1948
[P4919] Contemporary Political Art of the Middle East
Organizer: Anne Marie Butler
Elisabeth Friedman* (Illinois State U) Strategies of counter-occupation in contemporary Palestinian art
Sascha Crasnow (UC San Diego) Capitalism and conservatism: The transformation of Ramallah in Inass Yassin’s Cinema Waleed project
[P4946] Articulations of Struggle in Transnational Palestinian Resistance Circuits
Organizer: Jennifer Mogannam (UC San Diego)
Suraya Khan (Rice U) Fulfilling a “special role”: Arab activism in the US for Palestine and the Third World in the 1960s
Omar Zahzah (UCLA) “I won’t follow you”: Movements of resistance in Ghassan Kanafani’s “Letter to Gaza” and Edward Said’s “Tribute to Abu Omar”
Jennifer Mogannam (UC San Diego) Violence as methodology in Palestinian armed resistance and revolution
MONDAY, NOV 20 10:30 AM
Material Politics in the Middle East
Organizer: Fredrik Meiton*
Fredrik Meiton* (Northwestern U)
Joanne Nucho (Pomona College)
Elizabeth Williams (Brown U)
Begum Adalet (NYU)
Teaching Middle East Studies in a Controversial Time: Between Activism and Accountability
Organizer/Chair: Victoria Hightower (U North Georgia)
Neha Vora* (Lafayette College)
Beth Derderian (Northwestern U)
Daniel Blumlo (Rock Valley College)
Jocelyn Sage Mitchell (Northwestern U Qatar)
Rachael Eggebeen (Sunnyside Unified School District)
Jill Crystal (Auburn U)
[P4883] The Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-39): Internal and External Factors
Organizer/Presenter: Richard Cahill (Berea College)
Chair: Charles Anderson (Western Washington U)
Discussant: Salim Tamari* (Institute of Jerusalem Studies)
Michael Provence (UC San Diego) Damascus, Jerusalem and Baghdad in the autumn 1936
Laila Parsons (McGill U) The Palestine Revolt and the Peel Commission intertwined
Richard Cahill (Berea College) Of walls and fortresses: Sir Charles Tegart, the Arab revolt and beyond
[P4991] Poetics of the Political
Chair: Anastasia Khawaja (U South Florida)
Nasser Athamneh (Yarmouk U) Al-Quds/Jerusalem between the east and the west: Images of the holy city in Arabic and English poetry
Merve Tabur (Penn State U) On self, specters and seeds: Poetics of potentiality and female diasporic subjectivities in Lisa Suhair Majaj’s “Geographies of Light”
[P4808] Gender and Mobility in Arab Women's Writings
Organizer: Rima Sadek (U South Carolina) and Nancy Linthicum (U Michigan)
Chair: Johanna Sellman (Ohio State U)
Wael Salam (U Jordan) The exile as a transgenerational fate in Susan Muaddi Darraj’s “The Inheritance of Exile”
[P4734] International Law in the Contemporary Middle East: Impeding or Facilitating Violence? (Part 1)
Organizer: Lisa Hajjar (UCSB)
Noura Erakat* (George Mason U) Dangerous expansions: The principle of proportionality in irregular combat
MONDAY, NOV 20 1:00 PM
Navigating Jewish Campus and Community Debates on Israel/Palestine in the Age of Trump
Organizer: Matthew Hal Ellis (Sarah Lawrence College)
Liora R. Halperin (U Washington)
Benjamin Schreier (Penn State U)
Joel Beinin* (Stanford U)
Shira Robinson* (George Washington U)
Joshua Schreier (Vassar College)
Sarah Anne Minkin (Just Vision)
[P4745] (Im)Mobilizing Agency in the Context of Short, Medium, and Long-term Displacement in Jordan
Organizer/Chair: Rana B. Khoury* (Northwestern U)
Discussant: Sarah Tobin (Brown U)
Rawan Arar (UC San Diego) Shouldering the refugee burden: Jordanian sovereignty and the global refugee crisis
[P4982] Border and Boundaries
Chair: Meriam N. Belli (U Iowa)
Radi Itmar (Tel Aviv U) al-Madaniyyat: An alternative civil perception for the Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel?
Rochelle Anne Davis* (Georgetown U) Models of refugee administration and hierarchies of aid
Michael Vicente Perez (U Washington) Everyday life and the politics of survival among ex-Gaza refugees
[P4978] Water Politics
Chair: Christine Isom-Verhaaren (Brigham Young U)
Stephen P. Gasteyer* (Michigan State U) Landscape change and the implications of intermittent water supply in the West Bank: An environmental justice case study
Carly Krakow (U Cambridge) The politics of access under occupation: International law and violations of the human right to water in Gaza and the West Bank
[P4795] Protest in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: strategic interaction perspectives
Organizer: John Chalcraft
Chair: Charles Kurzman (UNC Chapel Hill)
Discussant: James M. Jasper (Graduate Center CUNY)
John Chalcraft (London Schl of Economics and Political Science) Transnational activism and Veolia: A dynamic interaction analysis
Jillian Schwedler (Hunter College CUNY) Protest Temporalities and the Meaning of Contention
BDS: A Critical Evaluation
Organizer/Chair: Robert O. Freeman (Johns Hopkins U)
Joshua Teitelbaum (Bar-Ilan U)
Cary Nelson (U Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Ilan Troen (Brandeis U)
[P5052] International Law in the Contemporary Middle East: Impeding or Facilitating Violence? (Part 2)
Organizer: Lisa Hajjar (UCSB)
Nicola Perugini (U Edinburgh) “Hospitals shields”: International humanitarian law and the targeting of medical facilities in Middle Eastern conflicts
Omar Dewachi (American U Beirut) IraqiBacter: Pathologies of intervention and the decades of US-led wars in Iraq
MONDAY, NOV 20 3:30 PM
[P4807] Frictions of Governing in the MENA
Organizer: Mona Atia (George Washington U)
Chair/Discussant: Christopher Parker (Ghent U)
Catherine Herrold (Indiana U) From Activism to Clientelism: The effects of foreign aid on Palestine’s NGO sector
[P4967] Islamist Thought and Practice
Chair: Quinn Mecham (Birgham Young U)
Mounah Abdel Samad (San Diego State U) Do Islamist parliamentarians provide services to the poor and middle class? Evidence from North Africa
[P5017] Perspectives on Nationalism: Anti-Imperialism, Community-building and the Body
Chair: Elizabeth Bishop (Texas State U San Marcos)
Nicholas E. Roberts (Sewanee: The U of the South) Pan-Islam and Palestinian Nationalism in Mandate Palestine
[P4892] Children, Youth, and Media in Middle Eastern Conflict Zones
Organizer/Chair: Yael Warshel* (Penn State U)
Mariam Abdul-Dayyem (U Otago) Digital culture of contention of Palestinian youth in the West Bank
[P5020] Leisure, Consumerism, and Food
Chair: Robert Mazza (U Limerick)
Amber J. Howard (UT Austin) Kitchen resistance: Occupied foodways and Palestinian women’s cookbook production
Maayan Hilel (Tel Aviv U) “We also lived a little”: Leisure and recreation of ordinary Palestinians; Women, children and workers, 1920-1948
TUESDAY, NOV 21 10:30 AM
[P4801] Mizrahi Cultural Trespassers: Boundary Crossing, Patriotism and Betrayal in Israel/Palestine
Organizer: Shay Hazkani (U Maryland College Park)
Discussant: Michelle Campos* (U Florida)
Shay Hazkani (U Maryland College Park) When both foe and friend look alike: Mizrahi Jews in the 1948 War
Hillel Cohen (Hebrew U Jerusalem) Sephardi-Arab joint resistance to European- Zionism: Reality and hope 1908-1948
[P4979] Peasants, Land, and Politics
Chair: Harrison Guthorn (Sultan Qaboos Cultural Ctr)
Jeffrey D. Reger* (Georgetown U) The Palestinian olive sector of the West Bank: Between Israel and Jordan, 1949-1987
[P4993] Melancholia, Race, and Enslavement
Noa Shaindlinger (North Carolina State U) Israel and the social sciences, or why race matters
[P5010] Invoking Religion in and against Imperialism, Occupation, and War
Chair: Hind Arroub (Fordham U)
Lyndall Herman (U Arizona) Hamas through a difference lens: What memoirs reveal about the organization’s competing priorities
Kenny Schmitt (Exeter U) Sufism in Jerusalem: Institutional disruptions and subversive transformations
[P4750] Psychiatry in the Middle East: Hospitals, Science and Care
Discussant: Chris Dole (Amherst College)
Chris Wilson (U Cambridge) ‘All capable of work should be thus employed’: The therapeutic, social, and economic benefits of patient work in mental institutions at Cairo, Beirut, and Bethlehem, ca. 1884-1948
[P4763] Gendered Transformations: "New Women" of the Mandate Period
Organizers: Camila Pastor (CIDE) and Nova Robinson (Seattle U)
Chair/Discussant: Ellen L. Fleischmann* (U Dayton)
Leyla Dakhli (CNRS (Centre Marc Bloch) Berlin) Women at work (Jerusalem, 1920-1936)
[P5012] Literary Configurations of Secular Modernity
Chair: Nathaniel Greenberg (George Mason)
Adam Spanos (NYU) The Past, Present and Future of Literary Commitment in Arab Anticolonialism
[P4755] Memory and identity: The significance of locality in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt and Israel/Palestine
Organizer: Mona L Russell (East Carolina U)
Ruth Amir (Yezreel Valley College) Who, after all, remembers today the Armenian village?
[P4939] Representations of Struggle and Horizons of Freedom
Organizer: Maryam Griffin* (U Washington, Bothell)
Chair/Discussant: Golnar Nikpour (U Wisconsin Madison)
Amanda Batarseh (UC Davis) History interrupted: Form in contemporary Palestinian literature
Maryam Griffin* (U Washington, Bothell) Mobility and struggle: Palestinian artists’ imaginaries of freedom and return
[P4994] Schooling the Nation: the Politics of Education in Historical Perspective
Chair: Sebastian Guenther (U of Goettingen)
Ghada AlMadbouh* (Birzeit U) Education in Palestine: A good case to be made
Grace Wermenbol (U Oxford) The birth of the refugee problem in Israeli and Palestinian textbooks
Conference Sessions Not Related to Palestinian Studies with PARC Fellows or Board Members Presenting Papers
SUNDAY, NOV 19 8:00 AM
[P4927] Occupying Space: Land, Religion, Power in Colonial North Africa
Michelle Weitzel* (New Schl for Social Research) French space? Silencing the call to prayer in colonial Algeria
SUNDAY, NOV 19 10:30 AM
[P4779] "Arab Arabists:" Public Intellectuals and the Production of Knowledge About the Arab World
Organizers: Ellen L. Fleischmann* (U Dayton) and John Meloy (American U Beirut)
Hilary Falb Kalisman* (Furman U) Educating the Arab world: Intellectuals, theory and practice in 20th century Iraq
Ellen L. Fleischmann* (U Dayton) Searching for Najla: The life and making of a female Arab intellectual
John Meloy (American U Beirut) Enlightened Patriots: Area Studies, the Nahda, and the Arab World
SUNDAY, NOV 19 1:00 PM
Sex & Sexualities in the Middle East and North Africa
Organizer/Session Leader: Angel M. Foster* (U Ottawa)
[P4959] Implicated Digital Transitions in the MENA Region
Discussant: Frances S. Hasso* (Duke U/ JMEWS)
SUNDAY, NOV 19 3:30 PM
[P4776] Iraq's Many Pasts, Iraq's Many Presents: Memory, Archive, and Representation
Dina Rizk Khoury* (George Washington U) Writing Iraq’s history with and against the post-colonial state archive
Is There a Modern Muslim Mediterranean?
Judith E. Tucker* (Georgetown U)
MONDAY, NOV 20 8:00 AM
[P4742] The Prize?: Energy, Security, and Expertise
Organizer/Chair/Discussant: Osamah Khalil* (Syracuse U)
[P4761] Islam and the State in Egypt: An Institution-Centered Approach
Nathan J. Brown* (George Washington U) State Islam and regime Islam in the Arab world
[P4953] Politics, History and State Formation in the Modern Middle East
Discussant: Fred H. Lawson* (Mills College)
[P4930] Between the National and the International: Arab Communists from the Mashreq to the Maghreb in the 1940s and 1950s
Chair: Zachary Lockman* (NYU)
MONDAY, NOV 20 10:30 AM
[P4810] Refugees from Syria: State Policies, Humanitarian Aid, and the Lived Experience of Exile
Organizer: Wendy Pearlman* (Northwestern U)
Chair/Discussant: Rochelle Anne Davis* (Georgetown U)
Wendy Pearlman* (Northwestern U) Socio-economic class and the lived experience of exile among Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey
[P4729] The Preservation of Historic Architecture in North African Cities
Organizer: Susan Slyomovics* (UCLA)
Susan Slyomovics* (UCLA) Dismantling a world: French military monuments in Algeria
MONDAY, NOV 20 1:00 PM
Middle East Feminist and Queer Studies: State of the Field
Organizer/Session Leader: Frances S. Hasso* (Duke U/ JMEWS)
[P4824] Politics, Space, and Subjectivity in the Arabian Peninsula
Discussant: Neha Vora* (Lafayette College)
MONDAY, NOV 20 3:30 PM
[P4874] Excavating Memories of Minorities in the Middle East
Organizer: Faedah Totah* (Virginia Commonwealth U)
Faedah Totah* (Virginia Commonwealth U) Remembering the Jews of Damascus
TUESDAY, NOV 21 10:30 AM
[P4724] Labor, Capitalism and Mobilization after the Arab Spring
Chair/Discussant: Joel Beinin* (Standford U)
Reading Middle Eastern Literatures Comparatively
Persis M. Karim* (San Francisco State U)
[P4739] On the Verge of Rout: The Politics of Hope and Disappointment Post the Arab Spring
Discussant: Nathan J. Brown* (George Washington U)


Selected Emails and Letters Received
Return to News and Articles
In a message dated 5/13/2005 , Professor Ali Banuazizi, President, Middle East Studies Association writes: 
May 13, 2005
Dr. Angela Roger, President 
Association of University Teachers 
Egmont House 
25-31 Tavistock Place 
London WC1H 9UT 
United Kingdom
Fax: +44-020-7670-979
Dear Dr. Roger:
The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) is writing to express its profound disagreement with the recent decision of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) calling on its members to "refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, or joint projects" with Haifa University and Bar Ilan University , in Israel. We strongly urge the Association to withdraw or rescind this resolution to boycott these universities and blacklist their faculty at the very earliest opportunity.
The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) comprises 2600 academics worldwide who teach and conduct research on the Middle East and North Africa , and is the preeminent professional association in the field. The association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies , and is committed to ensuring respect for the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression in the region and in connection with the study of the Middle East and North Africa .
Our objection to this resolution derives from the deep commitment of this association and its membership to the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of information and ideas. We are on record as opposing restrictions against individual scholars except in instances where those individuals have violated clearly established legal and ethical norms. We especially oppose penalizing entire segments of an academic community for any reason whatsoever. We find thoroughly objectionable the call of the AUT to refrain from any and all scholarly interaction with the entire professional staff of two universities because of the policies of the state in which they are situated.
This association has gone on record on a number of occasions to protest actions by the government of Israel that restrict in a systematic manner academic freedom and the right to education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories . We are also mindful that establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law. For that reason, initiatives by scholars and academics urging the administration of Bar Ilan University to end its institutional complicity with such violations are appropriate, but these should not be initiatives that themselves constitute breaches with important principles of the right to receive and impart information and ideas, or that represent forms of collective punishment against individual academics who find themselves in that university .
In closing, we reiterate our determined opposition to the AUT decision to boycott Haifa University and Bar Ilan University and blacklist their faculty , and we look forward to a speedy and satisfactory resolution of the matter.
Thank you in advance for your attention to our views on this important matter.
Sincerely ,
Ali Banuazizi
President, Middle East Studies Association
Professor, Boston College
CC:   Michael Britnall, American Political Science Association
         Sally T. Hillsman, American Sociological Association
         Jonathan Knight, American Association of University Professors
         Maud Kozodoy , Committee for Concerned Scientists

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