Thursday, February 12, 2009

Understanding the Conflict: Israel's War on Gaza


Binghamton University
February 12, 2009

Moderator: Susan Pollock, Professor of Anthropology

A panel discussion with:

Nada Khader - A Palestinian-American activist and Executive Director of Westchester People's Action Coalition. Nada served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Program in the Gaza Strip and served for two years as a Fulbright Scholar in Tunisia.

Jonathan Karp - Associate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at SUNY-Binghamton. Professor Karp has written extensively on Jewish cultural and economic history, and teaches courses on Jewish responses to Zionism.

Ali Mazrui - Ranked by Prospect Magazine (UK) as among the top 100 public intellectuals in the world, Dr. Mazrui currently directs the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at SUNY-Binghamton, where he's the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities. Among his many positions include the Vice-President of the World Congress of Black Intellectuals and a member of the Pan-African Advisory Council to UNICEF.

Omar Baddar - The [former] Executive Director the Massachusetts American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Omar is a Palestinian-American who grew up throughout the Middle East. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis Political Science program, where he earned his MA in International Relations and Comparative Politics. He was also recently elected to the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Statement from the Binghamton Political Initiative:

For over 25 days, Israeli forces - using U.S. supplied weapons - pummeled the beleaguered population of the Gaza strip, killing nearly 1,400 people, including 437 children. In turn, Hamas rockets killed three Israeli citizens. During their campaign, Israel shelled three United Nations schools and other civilian infrastructure, later rescinding their claims that militants were using the facilities to launch attacks.
Israel has come under scrutiny from Amnesty International, the International Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, the UN and B'Tselem for their use of experimental weapons on civilian populations, including white phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), which can burn through skin to the bone.
Eight Israeli human rights groups have called on the Israeli government to investigate the scale of the casualties, describing the number of dead Palestinian women and children as “terrifying.” UN humanitarian chief John Holmes called the casualty toll “shocking.”
Within the United States, however, coverage of the conflict in the mainstream media has been marred by simplistic understandings and imperial overtones.What passes for analysis often little more than platitudes. A conflict of this magnitude, especially one in which the United States is deeply implicated, demands informed discussion. This event will serve as a step in that direction.

While this event will not serve as a debate between the "two sides" of the issue, not all panelists share the same perspective of the conflict or its foundations. Respectful discourse from differing views is encouraged. The event will also serve to connect attendees to ongoing human rights activism within the United States on this important issue.

Event Organizer/Sponsor: Binghamton Political Initiative

Co-Sponsors: Amnesty International, Middle Eastern Cultural Association, Experimental Media Organization/Student Action Collective, BU Turkish Student Association, Chinese Student and Scholar Association, Sociology Graduate Student Organization, Global Music and Dance Society, Muslim Student Association of Binghamton, Graduate Vice President for Multicultural Affairs