Taught in Spring 2015 by Rebecca Stein and Erika Weinthal, “Israel/Palestine: Comparative Approaches” provided students with an introduction to the conflict through an interdisciplinary lens, including scholarship from the fields of anthropology, environmental studies, history, geography and cultural studies. Themes of the course included competing nationalisms, environmental politics and resource management, peace building, refugees and displacement, humanitarian crises and challenges, and representational politics. Students used primary sources to compliment their studies, including human rights reports and testimonials, natural resource policies, feature and documentary film, memoirs, political treatises, and maps. In addition to the course, several guest speakers came to Duke to speak about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, illustrating their own approaches.

Elle Flanders, “Visit Palestine: Change Your View – Socially engaged art in Israel/Palestine”

Elle Flanders is a filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. She was raised in Montreal and Jerusalem and holds both an MA in Critical Theory and an MFA from Rutgers University. She holds a PhD in Visual Arts and is an alumnus of the Whitney Independent Study Program where she mentored with Mary Kelly and Martha Rosler. Flanders’ work has been screened and exhibited internationally including: the Museum of Modern Art; Berlin International Film Festival; The Toronto International Film Festival, the MOCCA and the Incheon Biennial.Her collective art practice is Public Studio with architect Tamira Sawatzky. Their practice employs a diverse range of media resulting in large-scale public art works, films, immersive installations, lens-based works and socially engaged projects. Public Studio explores the intersection of art and architecture, urbanization and industrialization with a particular focus on landscape and the effects of war in the everyday.

Her most recent work includes: The Dialogues, a series of films displayed in public spaces — subways and advertising LED billboards — addressing revolution through the extraction of dialogue from the history of cinema Drone Wedding, an eight-channel film installation examining surveillance in the everyday, What Isn’t There, a 15-year ongoing photo installation project that documents Palestinian villages that no longer exist; Road Movie, a six screen installation on the segregated roads of Palestine that premiered at TIFF (2011) and the Berlinale (2012); and Kino Pravda 3G, a series of video installations addressing current public dissent and protests across the globe. Flanders also made the award-winning documentary feature Zero Degrees of Separation about Israel, Palestine and the queer international. She and her partner Tamira Sawatzky, are working on a new feature film: HarMageddon and several large-scale public art installations addressing public space and deterritorialization.

Amira Hass, “The Israeli Occupation and Jewish-Israeli Dissent”

Amira Hass is the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Territories. Born in Jerusalem in 1956, Hass joined Haaretz in 1989, and has been in her current position since 1993. As the correspondent for the territories, she spent three years living in Gaza, which served for the basis for her widely acclaimed book, “Drinking the Sea at Gaza.” She has lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah since 1997. The daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Hass is the only child of a Sarajevo-born Sephardic Jewish mother, who survived nine months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and a Romanian-born Jewish father. Hass was born in Jerusalem, and was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she studied the history of Nazism and the European Left’s relation to the Holocaust. Early in her career, she traveled widely and worked in several different jobs. Hass has been the recipient of several awards, including the World Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Reporters Without Borders Prize for Press Freedom, the Golden Dove of Peace Prize awarded by the Rome-based organization Archivo Disarmo, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award, and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

Sayed Kashua, “The Arabs in Israel: The Inaudible Cry for Citizenship”

Sayed Kashua is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, author, and journalist born in Tira, Israel, known for his books and humorous columns in Hebrew. Kashua is the author of three novels: Dancing Arabs , Let it Be Morning, and Second Person Singular (all published in English by Grove Atlantic). Kashua is winner of the prestigious Bernstein Prize. Kashua also writers a satirical weekly column in Hebrew for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. In a tongue-in-cheek style, Kashua addresses the problems faced by Arabs in Israel, caught between two worlds. He is the writer and creator of the hit Israeli TV show “Arab Labor,” now in its fourth season. In 2004, Kashua was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize in Literature. His novel Dancing Arabs has been made into a feature film, and premiered in 2014 at the Telluride Film Festival.

Jessica Montell, “Politics Aside: Promoting human rights and accountability in Israel-Palestine”

Jessica Montell served 13 years as Executive Director of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. She is now a visiting research fellow at the Hebrew University, Faculty of Law. Prior to joining B’Tselem, Ms. Montell worked at various Israeli social justice organizations, including the Israel Women’s Network, Shatil and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual. She has also served as a consultant to the US-based Lawyers Committee for Human (now Human Rights First). In 2011, Ms. Montell was selected by Ha’aretz as one of “the year’s 10 most influential Anglo immigrants.” Ms. Montell has a Masters degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She writes regularly in the Jerusalem Post and opendemocracy.net and is a frequent speaker and commentator on human rights, international humanitarian law and counter-terror policies.

Amer Marei, “Palestinian-Israeli Water Conflict: Facts and Figures”

Dr. Amer Marei is a Professor of Hydrology at Al Quds University. He graduated from Jordan University in Amman and from the University of Muenster in Germany. Dr. Marei established the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Currently, he is leading the Environmental Research Lab, in addition to leading the Quality Assurance Unit, at Al Quds University. Professor Marei participates in many regional projects across the the Middle East and has published and participated in publishing of more than 50 scientific articles. Professor Marei is a strong believer that education and cooperation between scientists and thinkers in the Middle East is the best way to bridge the gaps between all Middle Eastern nations. His research interests include hydrogeology, hydrology, and hydrochemistry, stable isotopes in groundwater, water salinity, artificial recharge, and environmental education.

Laila El-Haddad, “Gaza Kitchen: The Intersection of Culture, Politics and Violence”


Laila El-Haddad, co-editor of the recently published “Gaza Unsilenced” and author of “Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between” and co-author of “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey”, is a talented blogger, political analyst, social activist, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is also a contributing author to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, and a policy advisor with al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.