Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hanan Ashrawi Speaks at University of Michigan

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hanan Ashrawi Speaks at University of Michigan

Article excerpt

HANAN ASHRAWI SPEAKS AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

As Palestinian poet and University of Michigan Professor Anton Shammas introduced the famously articulate Dr. Hanan Mikhail-Ashrawi, he suggested, perhaps not wholly in jest, that she might someday be the president of Palestine. The suggestion was warmly received by the hundreds who came to hear her at the Rackham Auditorium of the University of Michigan on Oct. 15.

The event had an awesome, perhaps unprecedented, list of sponsors, including the University's Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Center for the Education of Women, Center for Russian and East European Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Department of History, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Department of Political Science, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, International Institute, Office of the Provost, Program in Comparative Literature, Women's Studies Program, and the Palestine Catastrophe Committee.

Listening to Ashrawi, one is immediately captivated by her ability to articulate the issues that have confronted the Palestinians since 1948. The lack of articulation of the Palestine problem is perhaps almost as responsible as mainstream U.S. media bias in favor of Israel for skewed American public perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. (A bias that, fortunately, has largely disappeared in Europe and elsewhere in the world.)

"Strength comes from the people," said Ashrawi. "It is dangerous when one side internally believes it is powerless." Ashrawi, a frequent critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA) while simultaneously maintaining regular personal contact with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, was referring to the perception that the Palestinian negotiators negotiate from a position of complete weakness. …

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