CPS Projects

Palestine & Law Series

The Center for Palestine Studies has developed a new project on Palestine and Law, which will consist of a series of panels with some of the world's leading legal scholars on Palestine. The aim of the series is to promote innovative academic thought on legal questions related to Palestine. The issues covered will include the state question, property issues, from possession to dispossession; the sphere of litigation; the legal status of the refugee; and regimes of imprisonment.

Distorting Justice? Israel/Palestine & U.S. 'Terrorism' Law

Monday, 6 May 2013, 3PM

Both supporters and critics have cited Israel as an example for the U.S. to emulate in combating "terrorism." How has Israel shaped -- either by example or more directly -- U.S. law and policy on "terrorism"? How has cooperation between the two governments affected the Palestinian diaspora in the U.S.? We will bring together litigators, analysts, and prisoners' advocates to explore these questions.

REMI BRULIN, Visiting Scholar, Journalism Institute, NYU
Remi Brulin's doctoral thesis (Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2011, highest honors) is on the birth and evolution of the American discourse on "terrorism." First at the Media, Culture and Communication Department and then at the Journalism Institute, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on media criticism, with a focus on political discourse and the definition of "terrorism." Currently, he is working on a related book and a series of articles.

MICHAEL DEUTSCH, Partner, People's Law Office of Chicago
Michael Deutsch is a partner in the People's Law Office of Chicago, and has been defending political activists and militants for over 40 years. His clients have included the Attica Prisoners, Puerto Rican Independentistas, those active in the Black Liberation Movement, and anti-war protesters. He was the lawyer for Palestinian-American Muhammad Salah who was tortured by the Israeli security police (Shin Bet) and yet acquitted in 2007 in U.S. Federal Court of RICO conspiracy charges. Mr. Salah, a U.S. citizen, was a listed as a "special designated terrorist," and was finally de-listed after 17 years in response to litigation.

Mr. Salah's case is documented in a two-part article appearing in the Journal of Palestine Studies (2008). Mr. Deutsch is presently representing U.S. based Palestinian organizer Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab-American Action Network (AAAN), who has has been under investigation by the U.S. Government for over two years.

NOOR ELASHI, Advocate for Defendants in the Holy Land Foundation Case
Noor Elashi is a writer and gluten free baker based in New York City. With a Creative Writing MFA from The New School, she has spent the past several years advocating for her father who was a defendant in the Holy Land Foundation case.

TAREK ISMAIL, Counterterrorism & Human Rights Fellow, Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School
Tarek Z. Ismail researches the intersection of human rights and U.S. counterterrorism policies affecting Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities in the United States, including racial profiling, selective prosecution, and the use of informants and sting operations in domestic preventative law enforcement. He holds a JD from Columbia Law School and a BA from the University of Virginia.

Respondent: DARRYL LI, Post-doctoral Research Scholar, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Darryl Li holds a J.D. from Yale and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard.

Kindly note, all non-Columbia University attendees must RSVP to palestine@columbia.edu by Monday, May 6th at 11AM.

Distorting Justice? Panel Presentations Distorting Justice? Q&A

Military Justice? Palestinians in Israeli Courts

How do courts render justice for Palestinians as residents of the Occupied Territories and as citizens of the State of Israel? We will examine litigation before both military jurisdictions in the West Bank and before the Israeli civil courts, including the High Court of Justice.


Lisa Hajjar, Associate Professor of Sociology, U.C. Santa Barbara, author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza (California, 2005).

Yael Berda, Ph. D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, Princeton University; author ofThe Bureaucracy of the Occupation: The Permit Regime in the West Bank (Tel Aviv, 2012).

Hedi Viterbo, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Law School; PhD in Law, London School of Economics (The Legal Construction of Childhood in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict); LLM (Tel Aviv).

Katherine Franke, Professor of Law. Columbia Law School;Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

Darryl Li, Postdoctoral Fellow, Committee on Global Thought (JD, Yale) (Ph.D., Anthropology, Harvard).

Palestine Studies Presentations Palestine Center Q&A

The State Question

I. The inaugural session on 5 December 2011 brought together legal scholars Susan Akram, Jamil Dakwar and Nimer Sultany to address "The State Question." While taking account of recent developments at the United Nations, their discussion covered wider issues connected with the history and current determinants of Palestinian state forms.

Susan Akram, Clinical Professor of Law, Boston University
Jamil Dakwar, International Human Rights Lawyer
Nimer Sultany, doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School
Commentary by Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University
Moderated by Brinkley Messick, co-Director of CPS and Professor of Anthropology

Part I: Panel Discussion

Part II: Q&A Session

Palestine & Law Series, The State Question, Panel II

This panel of noted legal specialists will examine the aftermath of the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations and assess the ongoing needs for democratization and political reform.


George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings. Author of "Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule."

Noura Erakat, Attorney, Adjunct Professor of International Human Rights Law, Georgetown. Co-Editor of Jadaliyya.

Victor Kattan, Lawyer, Program Director, Al-Shabaka. Author of "From Coexistence to Conquest."

Respondent: Ramzi Kassem, Professor of Law, CUNY.

Part I: Panel Discussion

Part II: Q&A Session

Oral History Project

CPS Supports Refugee-Youth Oral History Project in Lebanon

Bourj al-Barajneh camp, Beirut, Lebanon

Written by Kholoud Hussein and Rosemary Sayigh

In January 2010, a group of youth from Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon met to discuss a cultural project they would soon undertake.  Chairing the meeting were Ms. Kholoud Hussein, a camp resident with a long history of assisting researchers, and Rosemary Sayigh, anthropologist and oral historian.

The youth who attended decided to do an oral history recording project with the remaining elders of the camp community—known as the ‘generation of Palestine.’ They chose three particular topics for their interviews: 1) village customs and traditions; 2) special dishes and accents: 3) village economies and relations with towns.

The members of the first team of interviewers were: Eman Hajj; Naifi Hussein; Samah Hussein; Mustafa Khalil; Mohammad Mustafa; and Farah Shehadeh (see their profiles below). All are studying either at university or a technical training college, and some also work part time.  They began with training workshops with the help of Mahmoud Zeidan and Bushra Moghribi, both of whom have had long experience recording the experiences and memories of Palestinians in Lebanon. The team developed questionnaires and were ready to begin their oral history projects.

Kholoud Hussein, who has an exceptional knowledge of the residents of Bourj al-Barajneh due to her prior work with academic researchers, helped the team find individuals from different villages willing to record their memories. She also guided them through their first recording sessions. She took photos of those elders who permitted this, and later presented the speakers with bound copies of their interview, with their personal photos.

Once the recordings were completed the researchers transcribed and typed them. Through a workshop facilitated by the library of the American University of Beirut, and led by volunteer Hazem Jamjoum, the team created a website to display their research: Hekayat Jdudna.   

Financial support for the project – to cover the cost of recorders, typing, printing, transport, coordination, etc. – was provided by a local donor. The Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia supported the translation of the interviews into English. Both Arabic and English versions are displayed on the project website.

With the completion of the recordings, the team held an evaluation workshop. They also decided to carry out a second recording project on marriage and the way this key institution has changed since the ‘days of Palestine.’ This second round of interviews was completed in August 2011 and the translation work is ongoing. The members of this research team are: Hassan Awad; Eman Hajj; Samah Hussein; Mohammad Mustafa; Farah Shehadeh; Farah Wa’riya.     

The team of young oral historians will carry out a third recording project in September 2012, extending their research on change in marriage customs beyond Bourj Barajneh to three other camps in Lebanon (Ain Helwh, Wavell/Jalil, Baddawi).

Profiles of Young Oral Historians, Bourj al-Barajneh Camp, Lebanon

Kholoud Hussein: 43 years old, mother of two. Profession: research assistance, translator, coordinator of the ‘Young Oral Historians’.

Eman al-Haj Hassan: “I'm 20 years old and I'm studying business at the Beirut Arab University. I participated in this project to learn more about my country and let others know it. I would like to continue to know more. My hobbies are dancing, traveling, painting.”

Naifeh al-Hussein: “I was born on 21 February, 1991, in Bourj al-Barajneh camp. I'm studying sociology at the Lebanese University. I like reading, swimming and basketball.  I participated in the oral history project because I wanted to know more about our history, traditions and customs. It was a great experience to be a member of the group. I wanted to continue in the project, but I got married and had a baby.”

Samah al-Hussein:  “I am 22 years old and studied social science. I currently work as a teacher at an UNRWA school and as a social worker with the NGO the Arab Palestinian Center. I am from Bourj al-Barajneh camp in Beirut, Lebanon. I joined in this project because I felt that it somehow removes boundaries between me and my country, which I have never been to. The pictures that are stored in my mind are the sum of what I heard here and there, and what my grandparents told me. Through this project, I am able to recognize and define my origin and the place that I come from.  This is how the history of our country is passed down through generations, and this is how we can spread this history and information to other societies.  The coming back is never far. I hope to go back to our holy land soon, where me and my family can sit near the olive tree, tell stories, and share events about how we fought for a country that we didn’t see, but that we feel that it’s a piece of our heart.”

Mustafa al-Khalil: “I was born on 16 March 1987 in Libya, but moved back to Lebanon, and am now living in Bourj al-Barajneh camp. I’m doing a Masters in Electronic Engineering at AUL University, after doing a Masters in science at CCE. I participated in the oral history project because I wanted to know more about Palestine, about our traditions and customs, and to pass this information on to our generation. Through this project, I now know more about Palestine.”

Mohammad Mustapha: “I'm 21 years old, studying business in NBA. I participated in this project to increase my knowledge, and know more about my country’s traditions and customs. I would like to continue in this project.”

Farah Shehadeh: “I'm 21 years old. I'm studying interior design at the Islamic University of Lebanon. I participated in this project because Kholoud mentioned it to me. I was interested in these topics, and I would like to continue to know more about my country. My hobbies are: dancing dabkeh, learning Spanish, drawing and painting, traveling, hanging out, and taking pictures all the time.”

Hasan Awad: “I am 21 years old. I am in the Lebanese International University studying Business Management. I am participating in this project so that we can preserve and protect our traditions, habits and heritage. I want to be in other projects.”      

Farah Wa’rieh. “I'm 20 years old, I'm studying physiotherapy at the Siblin training center.  Kholoud mentioned this project to me, so I agreed to work in it because I find this important and interesting.”

Interviews by Eman Hajj

- Mariam al-Baytam(Sheikh Daoud)
- Um Adnan (Sohmata)
- Um Lutfi (Safad)
- Um Fathi (Tarshiha)
- Um Nafisi (Kabri)

Mariam al-Baytam (Sheikh Daoud)

Um Adnan (Sohmata)

Um Lutfi (Safad)

Um Fathi (Tarshiha)

Um Nafisi (Kabri)

Interviews by Farah Shehadeh

- Hajji Aysha Ibrahim Abu Sa’id (al-Kabri)
- Hajji Fatima Mahmoud Yasin (Shafr Amr)
- Hajji Um Farouk Shehadeh (al-Bassa)
- Hajji Um Mustafa al-Haysh (Kwaykat)
- Um Salah Balqis (al-Kabri)

Hajji Aysha Ibrahim Abu Sa’id (al-Kabri)

Hajji Fatima Mahmoud Yasin (Shafr Amr)

Hajji Um Farouk Shehadeh (al-Bassa)

Hajji Um Mustafa al-Haysh (Kwaykat)

Um Salah Balqis (al-Kabri)

Interviews by Mustafa Khalil

- Abdallah Hassan, Abu Hashem (Tarshiha)
- Muhammad Ibrahim al-Hassan (Kwaykat)
- Nimer Muhammad Ayoub (Sha’b)

Abdallah Hassan, Abu Hashem (Tarshiha)

Muhammad Ibrahim al-Hassan (Kwaykat)

Nimer Muhammad Ayoub (Sha’b)

Interviews by Muhammed Mustafa

- Shahada Yasin

Shahada Yasin

Interviews by Naifi Hussein

- Badour ‘Issa al-Dirbas (‘Alma)
- Muhammad Abdul-Fattah al-Moghrabi (‘Akka)
- Mariam ‘Awad, Um Muhammad (Kwaykat)
- Um Saleh Shaker (al-Kabri)
- Um Samir Hameed (Sha’b)

Badour ‘Issa al-Dirbas (‘Alma)

Muhammad Abdul-Fattah al-Moghrabi (‘Akka)
(The questions have been omitted from this interview.)

Mariam ‘Awad, Um Muhammad (Kwaykat)

Um Saleh Shaker (al-Kabri)

Um Samir Hameed (Sha’b)

Interviews by Samah Hussein

- Hajji Um Ahmad al-Tamizi (‘Amqa)
- Hajji Um Khayr (al-Nahar)
- Hajji Um Muhammad al-Owayti (al-Kabri)
- Hajji Um Saleh al-Khoubayzi (Kabri)
- Hajji Um Kamel al-Ali (Kwaykat)

Hajji Um Ahmad al-Tamizi (‘Amqa)

Hajji Um Khayr (al-Nahar)

Hajji Um Muhammad al-Owayti (al-Kabri)

Hajji Um Saleh al-Khoubayzi (Kabri)

Hajji Um Kamel al-Ali (Kwaykat)