Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Columbia's Catastrophic "Nakba" Conference

Exit Zero blogger Mary Madigan bravely charted the "Nakba" waters last week by attending a faculty panel discussion on the subject at Columbia University. She wrote about the experience for Campus Watch and her article is posted today at Frontpage Magazine. Here's how it begins:
As Israelis look towards the future in their celebration of the nation's 60th birthday, some Palestinians cling to the past by commemorating what they call the "Nakba" or "the catastrophe." A faculty panel discussion held at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) last month and titled, "60 Years of Nakba—The Catastrophe of Palestine 1948-2008," was one of many similar lamentations held worldwide.

The tone from the outset was grim. Speakers acknowledged that another "Nakba" anniversary was confirmation that combined Palestinian and Arab attempts to eliminate the Jewish state have not succeeded.

Despite this, Columbia's controversial associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history, Joseph Massad, was upbeat. According to Massad, the Israelis have won military victories, but the "Palestinian resistance" has successfully rebranded them. Through 60 years of tireless propaganda efforts, the Palestinian term, "Nakba," has replaced "Israel's war of independence"; "apartheid" has replaced "Jewish sovereignty"; the "plight of the Palestinians" has replaced "the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland"; the "Palestinians" has replaced "the non-Jewish community of Palestine." And even in the culinary world, Massad claimed, "Palestinian Maftool" has replaced "Israeli couscous." (Like many of Massad's claims, the couscous issue is debatable. A recent visit to Whole Foods Market proved that Israeli couscous is still the preferred nomenclature.)

Massad's concept of victory reframed the event. It was no longer a dirge-like recitation of perpetual victimization, but rather a showcase—a preview of new trends in "resistance" propagandizing.
Continue reading "Columbia's Catastrophic 'Nakba' Conference"


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