One State Conference at Harvard: Analysis of Speakers and NGO Involvement
Harvard University student groups – Justice for Palestine, the Palestine Caucus, the Arab Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and the Association for Justice in the Middle East – have announced plans for a “One State Conference” (March 3-4, 2012). The program’s website states “our main goal is to educate ourselves and others about the possible contours of a one-state solution and the challenges that stand in the way of its realization.” Similar events, with some of the same speakers, were held at York University (Toronto) in June 2009.
The conference website acknowledges “the support of The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government), and The Sexuality, Gender and Human Rights Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government),” as well as “The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (Harvard University) and the Office of the Provost (Harvard University) for providing  financial support.” The university is also providing the venue for this political event.
As described in their biographies, most of the speakers are heavily involved in anti-Israel advocacy. The conference program features an activist workshop, in contrast to an academic or research framework in which different perspectives are presented. The panel “Building a Global Movement” asks “What is the role of academics and activists in promoting their vision?” Further activist language is present in the rhetoric describing the panels, such as for “The Right of Return and The Law of Return?” session, which includes the political assertion of “ethnic cleansing.”
As shown below, many scheduled speakers (from a small group of intertwined organizations including Electronic Intifada, Mada al-Carmel, and Jewish Voice for Peace) repeatedly use the language of the infamous 2001 Durban NGO Forum, denying the rights of the Jewish nation to self-determination. Such events represent the antithesis of constructive academic dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
Diana Buttu (Harvard Kennedy School/Harvard Law School Fellow)
Diana Buttu is the former spokesperson for the Negotiations Support Unit for the Palestinian Liberation Organization and was also involved in promoting the discredited advisory opinion against Israel’s security barrier at the International Court of Justice. Buttu has accused Israel of “war crimes,” “ethnically cleans[ing] 75% of the Palestinian population, ” “a massacre against Palestinian civilians,” and promotes boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. (Also listed as a conference speaker.)
Sa’ed Atshan (PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Sa’ed Atshan refers to Israel as an “apartheid state.” In 2010, he declared that Palestinians experience “an apartheid that is worse even than the South Africans experienced.” (Also a scheduled speaker.)
Ahmed Moor (MPP Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School)
Ahmed Moor writes for the Huffington Post and the Guardian, referring to the “Israeli apartheid regime,” and accusing Israel of forcing the United States into the Iraq War and “ethnic cleansing.”
Elisha Baskin (Harvard Kennedy School Research Associate)
In 2010, Elisha Baskin spoke at “Israeli Occupation Awareness Week” at Brandeis University, co-hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.
Electronic Intifada executive director Ali Abunimah is one of the most visible anti-Israel activists in the United States. He often calls for a “one-state” formula and routinely exploits apartheid rhetoric. Abunimah also offensively equates Israel to Nazi Germany, comparing the Israeli press to “Der Sturmer,” referring to Gaza as a “ghetto for surplus non-Jews,” and claiming that “Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”
Dalit Baum has ties to many anti-Israel NGOs, including the BDS organization Coalition of Women for Peace.and its “Who Profits?” campaign; “Boycott from Within”, Global Exchange (she directs “Economic Activism for Palestine”); Anarchists Against the Wall, Zochrot, and others. Baum testified as an “expert” in the kangaroo court held under the façade of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine.”
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli academic at the University of Exeter, is a supporter of BDS and violence against Israel, stating “I support Hamas in its resistance against the Israeli occupation.” Pappe’s article “Genocide in Gaza” refers to the “Palestinian resistance in front of Israeli occupation” and uses terms such as “imprisoning Gaza,” “massacres,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide politics” to describe the actions of the Israeli government. Ignoring hundreds of rocket attacks in 2007-8 – each one a war crime – he accused Israel of acting in order “to revenge itself on Gaza from the frustration regarding the war in the North last summer.”
Marc Ellis, affiliated with Baylor University, appropriates Jewish symbols and language to promote a radical post-colonial ideology. He ascribes to a “Jewish theology of liberation,” accusing Zionism of representing “Constantinian Judaism” – “colonialism and imperialism.” Ellis frequently employs Nazi analogies in reference to Israel: “what the Nazis had not succeeded in accomplishing…we as Jews have embarked upon;” “[t]o speak of the Holocaust without confessing our sins towards the Palestinian people and seeking a real justice with them is a hypocrisy that debases us as Jews.” At conferences hosted by the NGO Sabeel, Ellis reportedly “display[ed] images of a helicopter gunship flying out of the Torah to document how Israeli use of force and sovereignty has affected Jewish identity.”
Leila Farsakh supports a one-state framework and claims “[t]he area is heading to the abyss of an apartheid state system rather than to a viable two-state solution, let alone peace.” Farsakh also edited a book entitled “Commemorating the Naksa [a term which refers to results of the 1967 war] Evoking the Nakba,” which states that the security barrier “signaled the existence of the last apartheid regime of the 21st century” and says that Israel turned “the territories” into “incarceration camps” (Editor’s Note p.8). Farsakh teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Elaine Hagopian supports a one-state proposal and claims “Zionists [work] to demonize Palestinians and deny them their legal and moral rights.” She rejects Jewish historical claims to Israel and, in a book review, praised the deconstruction of “Jewish/Zionist mythological claims to the land dating back 2000 years before the alleged Jewish diaspora.” In 2010, Hagopian cautioned against Zionist control of the American government, warning against “[Zionist’s] well-known tactic of instigating Arab hostility to the U.S. for its support of Israel against Arab interests” and stated that “Israel increasingly developed the image of a strategic asset by offering to check its created Arab hostility to American interests.”
Harvard Law Professor Duncan Kennedy alleges “Palestinian… violent resistance to the military occupation is fully legal under international law” and paints Israel as an aggressor in Gaza, responsible for Hamas and other Gazan militant groups’ rocket bombardment of Israeli towns. Kennedy has accused Israel of “war crimes” and has called for a divestment campaign at Harvard.
Brant Rosen is the co-chair of Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council. JVP is on the extreme fringe of the political spectrum and is active in anti-Israel activities, including divestment, promoting BDS, and campaigning to pressure US President Barack Obama to suspend “military aid to Israel” in the wake of the “Free Gaza Flotilla.” Rosen accuses Israel of “systemic violence” against the Palestinians, and published an op-ed defending his support of the discredited Goldstone Report, stating he was “proud of the work [Judge Goldstone] has done… on the Fact Finding Mission in Gaza.”
Stephen M. Walt
Harvard Kennedy School of Government Professor Stephen M. Walt is the co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, based on the accusation that this “lobby” is manipulating U.S. foreign policy against American interests. In May 2011, Walt authored an article in which he accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
Nadim Rouhana , Professor of International Negotiation and Conflict Studies at Tufts University, is the founding director of Mada al-Carmel, an Israeli-Arab NGO involved in the “Haifa Declaration,” which refers to the “Zionist… colonial-settler project in Palestine,” calls for a “right of return,” expresses a one-state vision, and accuses Israel of “exploiting” the Holocaust “to legitimize the right of the Jews to establish a state at the expense of the Palestinian people.”
Sarah Shulman [sic]
CUNY Professor Sarah Schulman sits on the Advisory Board of the self-described Jewish Voice for Peace and is active in the BDS movement. In November 2011, Schulman published a widely criticized op-ed in The New York Times entitled “Israel and ‘Pinkwashing,’” in which Schulman trivializes Israel’s strong record on LGBT rights and attempts to paint the Palestinian Authority as accepting of homosexuality.
Boston College Professor Eve Spangler is also a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. In 2008, Spangler accused Israel of stealing Palestinian land and compared Israel to a neighbor who had reported her Jewish grandmother to Nazis in 1930s Austria. Spangler supports a one-state framework and a Palestinian “right of return.”
Nimer Sultany, a doctoral student at Harvard University, also refers to the Israeli “apartheid regime”, argues that “nonviolence should not now become the new dogma,” and that “it is hypocritical for Westerners to dismiss violent means altogether in the Palestinian case.” Sultany has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” has written extensively for Electronic Intifada, and has served as the head of the political monitoring project at Mada al-Carmel.
Boston University Law Professor Susan Akram accuses Israel of “substantive violation of international law” and claims “discrimination is… at the heart of Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian[s].” Akram is a strong and active advocate for the so-called Palestinian “right of return.”