Speakers (in alphabetical order)
Amani Alkhatahtbeh is the founding editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.net, a blog aimed at eliminating stereotypes surrounding Islam and promoting the place of Muslim women in Western societies.
Alkhatahtbeh’s dedication to building bridges across different religious and cultural communities has been recognized in a New Jersey state resolution honoring the top community service pioneers in the state. She was a Lloyd Gardner Fellow and a Women’s Leadership Scholar at Rutgers University, where she conducted multiple independent studies on the Arab Spring and Middle Eastern politics. She ran into trouble with The Daily Targum, Rutgers University’s daily newspaper, and trustees, which decided that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
Alkhatahtbeh is a blogger for the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, DC. In June 2014, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee named her its media relations specialist. She is a regular speaker at events on political and social issues.
Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian-American lawyer and human rights advocate. As the daughter of an Israeli-born Palestinian, she is also a citizen of Israel. Arraf received her Bachelors degree from the University of Michigan, and her Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law, where she focused on international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2001 Arraf co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is co-editor of the book Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement. Arraf was one of the initiators and organizers of a delegation of American lawyers to Gaza in February 2009, and co-authored the report on their findings, "Onslaught: Israel's Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law." She is the former chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, and from August to December 2008, led five successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip to confront and challenge Israel's illegal blockade. Arraf was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and was traveling with it when Israeli forces lethally attacked it on May 31, 2010. She was one of the six Palestinian Freedom Riders who, inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights Freedom Rides of the 1960s, attempted to ride segregated Israeli settler public transport. In 2012 Arraf helped conceive of and launch the Witness Bahrain initiative, an effort to provide human rights observers on the ground in Bahrain. She was arrested by Bahraini authorities and deported for her work. She currently resides in the United States with her husband, Adam Shapiro, and their two young children, both of whom she gave birth to in Israel so they would have Israeli citizenship and be allowed to visit and claim citizenship in their homeland.
Jeffrey Blankfort is a photojournalist and radio host. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Since the 1960s his photographs have appeared in major publications in the U.S. and around the world. During this past Black History Month, an exhibit of his photos of the Black Panthers from 1968 and Palestinians taken from 1970 to 2004 was on display at the African American Art and Cultural Complex in San Francisco. It was his first trip to Lebanon and Jordan in 1970 to take photos for a book on the Palestinian struggle (Palestine: the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Ramparts Press, 1972) that led to his involvement in their cause.
Blankfort became a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine and a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East, and was editor of its publication, The Middle East Labor Bulletin (1988-1995).
He currently hosts a twice-monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California where he now lives.
Richard Anderson Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes, including Achieving Human Rights, Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East with Howard Friel, and The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq.
In 2001 Falk served on a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories with John Dugard, a South African professor of international law based in Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Kamal Hussein, former foreign minister of Bangladesh.
In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”
Falk has written for The Nation, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, CounterPunch and the Palestine Chronicle. He is a member of the editorial boards of The Nation and The Progressive.
Paul Findley served the 20th District of Illinois during 11 terms in Congress, from 1961 to 1983.
Findley wrote the very first book to analyze the pervasive influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on U.S. politics, policy, and institutions from the perspective of Congress. Carefully documented with specific case histories, They Dare To Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby reveals how the Israel Lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections.
First published in 1985 and reprinted several times since, the book criticizes the undue influence AIPAC exerts in the Senate and the House, and the pressure AIPAC brings to bear on university professors and journalists who seem too sympathetic to Arab and Islamic states, or too critical of Israel and its policies. Findley is co-founder of the Council for the National Interest.
Dima Khalidi is the founder and Director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS), and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Her work includes providing legal advice to activists, engaging in advocacy to protect their rights to speak out for Palestinian rights, and educating activists and the public about their rights.
Khalidi has a JD from DePaul University College of Law with a concentration in International Law, an MA in Comparative Legal Studies from the University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. Prior to founding PSLS, Khalidi worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) as a cooperating attorney on the Mamilla Cemetery Campaign, drafting a petition to United Nations officials to act against the desecration of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
As a volunteer and an intern at CCR, she also worked on numerous cases that sought to hold Israeli officials and corporations accountable for Israeli violations of international law, including Belhas v. Ya’alon; Matar et al. v. Dichter; and Corrie v. Caterpillar; as well as on CCR’s Guantanamo Bay docket. As a law student, she interned with the People’s Law Office in Chicago, helping win the acquittal of a Palestinian-American on major federal criminal charges. Prior to studying law, Khalidi worked at Birzeit University, heading a research project on the role of informal justice mechanisms in the Palestinian legal system. She has advocated on Palestinian rights issues in media forums such as the New York Times, the Jewish Press, The Real News Network, Mondoweiss, Huffington Post, Law and Disorder Radio, and Radio Tahrir. She is fluent in Arabic and French.
Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz and a member of its editorial board.
Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor.
He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper.
Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996.
His book, The Punishment of Gaza, was published in 2010 by Verso Publishing House in London and New York.
Reza Marashi joined the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in 2010 as the organization’s first research director. He came to NIAC after four years in the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs.
Prior to his tenure at the State Department, he was an analyst at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) covering China-Middle East issues, and a Tehran-based private strategic consultant on Iranian political and economic risk.
Marashi is frequently consulted by Western governments on Iran-related matters. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic, among other publications.
Seth Morrison has held leadership posts in various local, regional and national Jewish organizations, starting in college as a youth leader in Young Judea. He is currently active in Jewish Voice for Peace, serving on the DC Metro Chapter Steering Committee and on the national Congressional Outreach Committee.
In 2011, Morrison resigned from the Washington, DC Board of the Jewish National Fund in protest over Israel’s repeated evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.
He chaired the Washington, DC Metro Chapter of J Street in 2013 before becoming active in the BDS movement. His op-eds supporting Palestinian and Bedouin rights have been published in The Forward, The Jerusalem Post and +972 Magazine.
Professionally, Morrison is a consultant specializing in marketing and strategic planning for both for- and non-profit organizations. Previously he was the SVP & General Manager of CTAM, a trade association serving the cable television industry. As a marketer, Morrison has been responsible for major local and national marketing, PR and social media campaigns for the cable television industry and non-profit organizations.
Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the U.S. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative, he has written a book about his journey called The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. The book covers Peled’s family history since his grandparents immigrated to Palestine in the early 20th century.
Peled’s maternal grandfather was a signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence; his father was a general in the Israeli army; in the 1970s his father pioneered the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and eventually met with Yasser Arafat. In 1997 his sister lost her daughter in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Peled is a contributor to several online publications that deal with the Middle East and authors a blog, mikopeled.com, dedicated to tearing down the separation wall, and advocating the creation of one democratic state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians. He travels regularly to Palestine/Israel, where he speaks and works with the popular resistance. Peled has been arrested several times by the Israeli authorities for his activities.
Educated in Israel, the UK, Japan and the United States, Peled holds a sixth-degree black belt in karate. For 23 years, he ran a martial arts school that was dedicated to teaching leadership skills and non-violent conflict resolution through martial arts. He also taught classes to Palestinian children in the West Bank.
Dr. Paul Pillar is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Center for Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He also is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and an Associate Fellow of the Geneva Center for Security Policy. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including chief of CIA analytic units, covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia.
Dr. Pillar also served in the National Intelligence Council as one of the original members of its Analytic Group. He has been Executive Assistant to the CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence, and Executive Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and was deputy chief of the center from 1997 to 1999. He was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution in 1999-2000. Dr. Pillar was a visiting professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University from 2005 to 2012.
Dr. Pillar received an A.B. summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, a B.Phil. from Oxford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and served on active duty in 1971-1973, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. He is the author of Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process (Princeton University Press, 1983); Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (Brookings Institution Press, 2001; second edition 2003); and Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform (Columbia University Press, 2011). He writes a blog at The National Interest.
Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. foreign and military policy. He has written five books, including Perils of Dominance, Imbalance of Power and The Road to War in Vietnam.
His most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. The book highlights the impact that the United States’ alliance with Israel had on Washington’s turning the International Atomic Energy Agency into a tool of its anti-Iran policy. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story.
His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, CounterPunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service.
In 2012 he was awarded the Martha Gelhorn Prize for Investigative Journalism by the UK-based Gelhorn Trust.
Porter currently publishes Iran policy analysis in
Middle East Eye.
Porter currently publishes Iran policy analysis in Middle East Eye.
Former Congressman Nick Joe Rahall II, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, represented West Virginia in the U.S. Congress from 1977 to 2015. When he was elected, the 27-year-old became the youngest member of Congress.
Rahall was one of only 8 House members to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq in 2002 that preceded the Iraq War.
Rahall has repeatedly expressed concern about America’s relationship with Israel, stating, “Israel can’t continue to occupy, humiliate and destroy the dreams and spirits of the Palestinian people and continue to call itself a democratic state.” He has affirmed that America’s interests would be served by getting the peace process back on track, and regretted the U.S. vetoes of U.N. resolutions against Israeli settlement building.
The Congressman pressed the State Department to end a ban on travel to Lebanon until the ban was finally lifted in 1997. Rahall also expressed concern over a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict without adding language urging restraint against civilian targets. Rahall helped draft a resolution that urged “all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure.”
M.J. Rosenberg is a writer, primarily on matters relating to Israel. He is a regular contributor to The Nation and Huffington Post, with his writing widely reprinted throughout the world. He has special expertise on the Israel Lobby, having been employed by several pro-Israel organizations between 1973 and 1975 and 1982 and 1986. His last post was as editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report and as senior adviser to then-Executive Director Thomas Dine.
He also worked on Capitol Hill for a total of 15 years as legislative assistant to Rep. Jonathan Bingham (D-NY) and as Appropriations Committee staffer for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), specifically handling her work on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, where she was a leading advocate of the Israel aid package. He also served as chief-of-staff for Edward Feighan (D-OH) and as speechwriter for Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). Rosenberg also spent three years as a Clinton political appointee at USAID.
Following Rosenberg’s years of government service, he went to work as Washington director of the Israel Policy Forum for 9 years, then as a Middle East writer at Media Matters For America.
Rosenberg’s opposition to AIPAC, which followed a successful tenure there, stems from his strong support for the “two-state solution” and his belief that it is the Lobby and the government of Israel that is responsible for its failure to be adopted. He is also, in his words, “appalled” by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, as most recently evidenced by the “indefensible and horrific” Israel war on Gaza in the summer of 2014.
Alice Rothchild is a Boston-based physician, author and filmmaker who since 1997 has focused on human rights and social justice in the Israel/Palestine conflict. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in psychology and studied medicine at Boston University, followed by a medical internship at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, and an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Her early political interests involved opposing the Vietnam War, and working for women’s reproductive rights and health care reform. She was involved in the first edition of Our Bodies Ourselves and practiced ob-gyn for over 30 years in the Boston area. Until her recent retirement she served as a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard University’s Faculty of Medicine.
In 2003 Dr. Rothchild began co-organizing health and human rights delegations to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. She writes and lectures widely and is the author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience (Pluto Press, 2007, second edition 2010, translated into German and Hebrew), and On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion (Just World Books, 2014). She directed a powerful documentary film, “Voices Across the Divide,” which premiered at the 2013 Boston Palestine Film Festival.
Dr. Rothchild was named one of ten “Jewish Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International, and has won numerous awards. She is an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, Workmen’s Circle Mideast Working Group, and the Gaza Mental Health Program.
Ahmad Saadaldin is a filmmaker/producer, creative writer, actor, and grassroots organizer.
He is dedicated to sharing untold stories in order to raise awareness and create positive change. Through grassroots organizing and filmmaking, he does his best to bring attention to deserving topics.
Using Kickstarter, Saadaldin raised $84,000 to produce the historic epic television show “Salahadin.”
He produced and directed the short documentary “Refugees of Kurdistan” for Aljazeera’s English website with filmmaker Nick Armero.
As a public relations major at the University of South Florida, Saadaldin organized the largest grassroots campaign in the university’s history and collected more than 10,000 signatures calling on the school to divest endowment funds from corporations complicit in human rights violations (#USF4HumanRights).
Internationally acclaimed author and media critic Dr. Jack G. Shaheen is a committed internationalist and a devoted humanist. His lectures and writings illustrate that damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Arabs, blacks, and others injure innocent people. He defines crude caricatures, explains why they persist, and provides workable solutions to help shatter misconceptions.
Dr. Shaheen, a distinguished visiting scholar at New York University (NYU), served as a CBS News Consultant on Middle East Affairs from 1993-98. As a professional film consultant, he has consulted with writers and producers such as writer-director Stephen Gaghan on Syriana (2005), and producer Chuck Roven on Three Kings (1999), as well as with Coca-Cola’s creative team. He is a 2013 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which pays homage to those individuals who have distinguished themselves in the cultural mosaic of America.
Shaheen has given more than 1,000 lectures in nearly all 50 states and on three continents. In cooperation with the U.S. government, Dr. Shaheen has conducted seminars throughout the Middle East. He also consulted with the United Nations, the Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and New York City’s Commission on Civil Rights.
Shaheen’s new book, A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture, features telling photographs of materials from the Jack G. Shaheen Archive at NYU. His book and a special traveling exhibit documents U.S. popular culture representations of Arabs and Muslims from the early 20th century to the present. NYU’s Shaheen Archive contains more than 4,000 images, including motion pictures, cartoons,and TV programs, as well as toys and games featuring anti-Arab and anti-Muslim depictions.
His other books are: Nuclear War Films, The TV Arab, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, the award-winning book [and DVD] Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, and GUILTY: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11. His writings include 300-plus essays in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, as well as dozens of chapters on stereotypes in numerous college textbooks.
Dr. Shaheen, an Oxford Research Scholar, is the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards; he holds degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Missouri. He has appeared on national network programs such as CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Nightline, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, and The Today Show.
Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) in Washington, DC. He is the author of two unofficial histories about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee–America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: AIPAC from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal. Smith is also the author of the books Divert!, Spy Trade, Deadly Dogma and Visa Denied, and editor of the book Neocon Middle East Policy.
Jeff Stein of The Washington Post designated Smith “a Washington, DC author who has made a career out of writing critical books on Israeli spying and lobbying.” Nathan Guttman of The Jewish Daily Forward recognizes Smith as leading a public effort to “call attention of the authorities to AIPAC’s activity and [demand] public scrutiny of the group’s legal status.”
Smith has initiated lawsuits against the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency under the Freedom of Information Act for public release of files officially acknowledging Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and unprosecuted weapons-grade uranium diversions from the United States.
Helena Cobban has covered the Middle East as a reporter, author, researcher and blogger, including as a columnist for The Christian Science Monitor. She has a long history of advocating for the equal rights for all peoples of the Middle East to be honored and respected on the basis of international law. Cobban believes there must be a cessation of war and all forms of violence, including military occupations and other forms of institutional violence. In 2010, she founded Just World Books (www.justworldbooks.com) with the goal of expanding the discourse in the United States and globally on issues of vital international concern. Its published authors include Richard Falk, Miko Peled, Gareth Porter and Alice Rothchild.
Janet McMahon is the managing editor at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She earned her B.A. in English at Reed College and has a graduate diploma in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. She is an expert on the Israel Lobby and pro-Israel political action committees (PACs).
McMahon co-edited Seeing the Light: Personal Encounters With the Middle East and Islam, and Donald Neff’s 50 Years of Israel, both compilations of feature articles from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She also edited Stealth Pacs: Lobbying Congress for Control of U.S. Middle East Policy by Richard H. Curtiss. In addition to her editorial duties, she has written special reports on Israel and Palestine, and has contributed articles to special issues of the Washington Report on Iran, Tunisia, Cyprus and Libya.
Delinda C. Hanley
Delinda Hanley is the executive director and news editor at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Before joining the magazine in 1996, Hanley spent decades in the Middle East, studying in Lebanon, volunteering with the Peace Corps and later working in Oman and Saudi Arabia.
From 1990 to 1996 Hanley worked as a researcher, editor and writer for Empire Press (now Weider History Group) and Sovereign Media.
Hanley writes for the Washington Report on an array of topics, including Muslim- and Arab-American politics and civil rights issues. Her articles have also been published in the Arab News, the Minaret, Islamic Horizons, Jewish Spectator and other publications.
She is the winner of the NAAJA 2011 Excellence in Journalism award for her dedication to accuracy and professionalism.
Askia Muhammad is the news director of Pacifica Radio’s WPFW, the DC area’s station for “Jazz & Justice.” Muhammad is also a poet and photojournalist. He has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio and for Christian Science Monitor Radio.
Muhammad served as editor of Muhammad Speaks and as head of the Washington office of The Final Call, the official newspapers of the Nation of Islam. He is a columnist for The Washington Informer, a Washington weekly newspaper that seeks to “educate, empower and inform” its readers, and author of the book Behind Enemy Lines. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Nation, The Baltimore Sun, and The Chicago Tribune.
Muhammad has devoted four decades of his life to covering the stories and issues largely missed or misreported in the corporate-owned media. In the 1960s he worked to overcome racism in America and in 2003 began advocating against the war in Iraq. Today he supports talks—not attacks—on Iran. His objective and insightful coverage of war, racism, poverty and inequality from a global perspective has made him a legend. His quiet mentorship of young journalists working to join his profession has made an impact on the media for generations to come..
Dale Sprusansky is the assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. He reports on the U.S.-Israel relationship and it's impact on the Palestinian people and the broader Middle East. Sprusansky received his B.A. in Political Science from Stetson University in DeLand, FL. He has lived in Egypt and traveled extensively throughout the region.