12:30 pm12:30

Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag discussion and book talk with Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu-Baker

"Coffins on Our Shoulders" provides an original analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, combining the unique perspectives of Israeli Jews and the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Written jointly by an Israeli anthropologist and a Palestinian family therapist, the book merges the personal and the political as it explores the various stages of the conflict, from the 1920s to the present. The authors weave family history into a sophisticated multidisciplinary analysis of the political drama that continues to unfold in the Middle East. Offering an authoritative inquiry into the traumatic events of October 2000, when thirteen Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli police during political demonstrations, the book culminates with a radical blueprint for reform.

"A fascinating work. Rabinowitz and Abu-Baker succeed not only in challenging many basic assumptions and stereotypes about the victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also in undermining much of the public discourse on the Palestinian minority inside Israel"
– Salim Tamari, Director, The Institute of Jerusalem Studies

Dan Rabinowitz is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University and Khawla Abu-Baker is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Science at Emek Yizrael College.

12:30 pm12:30

Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag discusson and book talk by Suad Amiry

Suad Amiry provides an original, ironic, and humorous look at the day-to-day absurdities and agonies of being a Palestinian living on the West Bank from the early 1980s to the present day. She recounts her frustrations with West Bank life, including having her one month visitor’s permit torn up on her wedding day, as well as the joys of meeting her husband and hanging out with friends. The book also describes the bombardment of Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah, the curfews, and the destruction of the historic district of Nablus.

"Extremely funny…[the book] provides unique insights into life under occupation. This powerful little volume should be required reading for American neocons and all those involved in prosecuting the war on terror. Amiry’s acute ear for gossip makes it almost a kind of Palestinian ‘Desperate Housewives’."
– The Sunday Times

Suad Amiry is an architect and the founder and director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation, in Ramallah. She studied architecture at the American University of Beirut and at the universities of Michigan and Edinburgh, participated in the 1991-93 Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in Washington, DC, and from 1994-96 was assistant deputy minister and director general of the Ministry of Culture in Palestine. She was awarded Italy's Viareggio-Versilia Prize in 2004 for this book.

12:00 pm12:00

Conversations with Middle Easter/North African Poets

  • 303 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University

Presented in cooperation with the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures

Join Palestinian poet and writer Nathalie Handal, Egyptian poet, educator, and activist Matthew Shenoda, and Iranian poet and translator Sholeh Wolpe in a discussion on poetry, politics, history, and decolonization.

Each poet will discuss the challenges and advantages of being a Middle Eastern-American/North African poet in today's climate, teaching Arab American/North African and Middle Eastern Literature, and what fuels their work. Discussion open to audience.

7:00 pm19:00

An Evening of Egyptian Films with Director Hala Galal

  • 612 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University

An Evening of Egyptian Films with Director Hala Galal

Reception to follow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (754 Schermerhorn Extension)

Free and open to the public

Please join Egyptian director Hala Galal for a screening of her documentary “Women's Chit Chat,” about generations of feminist women in Egypt. Galal is one of the key figures in the founding of the independent production company SEMAT, which has been responsible for making some of the most interesting short and documentary films coming out of Egypt in recent years, as well as training young filmmakers and producing a film magazine. She is also currently working together with Syrian director Omar Amiralay on starting a new film school that will be traveling throughout the region.

Along with "Women's Chit Chat," two other films, both by woman directors and produced through SEMAT, will be shown at this special evening of Egyptian films. These are a short film called “The Elevator” and a short documentary called “Do You Know Why” about a teenager trying to break into the world of film acting.

This special event takes place in the context of ArteEast's first CinemaEast film festival, which will take place at the Quad Cinema from November 4 to 10. In addition to a screening a selection of films from throughout the region, ArteEast will offer a number of workshops with visiting filmmakers and critics from the region, dealing with a range of issues such as cinema of trauma and the independent documentary.

Sponsored by ArteEast, the Middle East Institute of Columbia University, the Columbia Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Columbia Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures, and Turath.

12:30 pm12:30

Islamic Movements in Saudi Arabia

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

By Pascal Ménoret

Presented in cooperation with the Alliance Program

The author of the recent book The Saudi Enigma,Pascal Ménoret will discuss the recent history of Saudi Islamic movements, from the emergence of Muslim Brother activism in the 1960s, the religious and cultural developments of the 80s, the politicization and repression of the 90s, and the recent reformulations of Islamic “activist capital,” from violent militancy to electoral participation. Ménoret explores the multiple purposes of Saudi Islamic movements, analyzing the various strategies they use to get around the authoritarian closure of the public space and the “top-down modernization” schemes imposed by the Saudi state.

Pascal Menoret is a Research Associate at the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences in Sana‘a, Yemen. He has worked at the French Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and served as an advisor to the Minister’s Board at the French Ministry of Communication and Culture.

12:30 pm12:30

The Saudi Strategy for Dominance of the Petrochemical Markets

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag discussion with Jean-Francois Seznec

Dr. Seznec, prominent expert on the Persian Gulf, will discuss the strategy that Saudi Arabia has adopted to become as dominant in the petrochemicals market as they are in the oil market. He contends that the Saudis are likely to become the largest producers in the world, displacing German producers and other large Western firms. This economic battle is taking place mainly in China, which in itself has important political and strategic ramifications.

Dr. Seznec has been an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute for 19 years. His research centers on the influence of Arab-Persian Gulf political and social variables on the financial and oil markets in the region. He is Senior Advisor to PFC Energy in Washington, DC, has published and lectured extensively, and is interviewed regularly by the national and foreign press.

12:30 pm12:30

Back to 1975 and All that: Iran, Iraq, and the Shatt al-Arab

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag discussion with Richard Schofield
Department of Geography, King’s College, University of London

The Shatt al-Arab river – which forms the southernmost part of the boundary between Iran and Iraq – has proved one of the most troublesome territorial divides in the Middle East. A boundary definition before 1975 caused many disputes between the two states, while an agreement reached in 1975 was called into question by Iraq as a prelude to its invasion of Iran in 1980. Doubts about the exact status of the river boundary persist today.

Richard Schofield, prominent geographer and expert on the Shatt al-Arab, will discuss this delicate border dispute and explore the degree to which Iraq recommitted itself to the 1975 agreement in the aftermath of its invasion of Kuwait. He will also discuss how resolution of the issue could best serve prospects for economic rejuvenation and reconstruction in the area, and boost regional cooperation between Iran and Iraq.

12:30 pm12:30

Jerusalem Becoming Muslims: 638-785 AD

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag talk and discussion with Dan Bahat

Dan Bahat, for many years the Official Archeologist of Jerusalem, will discuss the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638. He will explore relations with Christians in the city, the arrival of Jews into Jerusalem and their settlement patterns, subsequent events on the Temple Mount, and Christian spiritual references to the Muslim conquest.

Dr. Bahat is currently the archaeologist of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and its tunnels and has excavated many sites in Jerusalem, including Herod's palace. Widely published, he has received many awards for his work in Jerusalem. He teaches archaeology at the University of Toronto and Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

8:00 pm20:00

War, Occupation, and Democracy: American Strategy in the Middle East

  • 304 Barnard Hall, Barnad College, Columbia University

A talk by Azmi Bishara

Palestinian Member of the Israeli Knesset since 1996, Leader of National Democratic Assembly, and Celebrated Writer and Intellectual

Introduced by Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Director of the Middle East Institute, Columbia University

12:30 pm12:30

Reform, Youth, and Technology: Observations on the Recent Elections in Iran

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag talk and discussion with Hossein Derakshan

A prominent Iranian blogger (, Hossein Derakhshan went to Tehran last June to observe the presidential elections. Aside from the process of the elections and its surprising result, he saw that a new wave of young but realistic reformists is subtly changing the political dynamics both inside and outside the reformist camp in Iran.

Showing pictures and videos he took during the trip, Derakhshan will discuss the signs of this change and suggest how the world can best help the new movement.

12:30 pm12:30

Syria Today: Challenges and Prospects for Regorm

  • 1118 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

A brown bag talk and discussion with Ayman Abdel Nour

Ayman Abdel Nour, respected Syrian economist, politician, and ruling Baath party member, will discuss the economic and political dynamics at work in Syria today and the status of the reform measures which accompanied President Bashar al-Assad's coming to power five years ago. Abdel Nour is the founder of, a website banned within Syria, which publishes a daily newsletter and provides a unique forum for political dialogue and debate.

Sponsored by the Center for International Conflict Resolution, the Middle East Institute and the Media in War and Peace student group.