Iowa State University Looks at Palestinian Perspectives

By Gillespie, Michael | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Iowa State University Looks at Palestinian Perspectives


Gillespie, Michael, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY LOOKS AT PALESTINIAN PERSPECTIVES

The Ames, Iowa chapter of the United Nations Association sponsored Palestinian students at Iowa State University's Memorial Union on Nov. 30, in an event titled "Palestinian Perspectives."

Betsy Mayfield, a Palestinian advocate, publicist, fund-raiser, and editor with extensive experience assisting institutions of higher education in the Arab world, organized and chaired the event.

Presenters were, from Jordan, Bassam Shehadeh, a Ph.D. candidate and research and teaching assistant in the ISU Physics and Astronomy Department, and Aref Al-Farra, also from Jordan, and an MBA candidate in the Business Administration Department.

More than 60 members of the ISU and larger Ames and central Iowa communities filled Memorial Union's Room 246 to overflowing. The event began with a showing of Columbia University professor Edward Said's 1998 BBC documentary, "In Search of Palestine."

"The situation in Palestine has deteriorated seriously," said Mayfield, "and far too few Americans are aware why." Mayfield echoed recent comments by Professor Said regarding the iron-like wall protecting American discourse about Israel, a wall that keeps criticism of Israel from entering the public discussion. "It is critically important that the Arab side be heard," she said, "because we hear the Israeli side all the time from our media."

Shehadeh presented a brief history of the creation of Israel and the occupation of Palestine from a Palestinian perspective.

"Prior to the establishment of the Zionist state, during the British Mandate of Palestine, moderate Arab leadership organizations proposed national unity governments no less than six times," Shehadeh said.

"The proposed national unity governments included representation for recent Jewish immigrants to Palestine," he explained, "but Zionists were seeking to create a Jewish state, and influential British Jewish organizations blocked the early proposals for inclusive and cooperative government in Palestine. …

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