Harvard Arab Weekend (Cambridge)

  • Sanders Theater 45 Quincy Street Cambridge, MA, 02138 United States

Harvard Arab Weekend (HAW) is the largest pan-Arab conference in North America, bringing together nearly 1,000 students and professionals to discuss key issues with the region’s most prominent politicians, business people, and civil society leaders.

THIS IS A TICKETED EVENT, $40 for students; $60 for professionals


Two Palestine-focused Panels
of Special Interest


10:00 - 11:20

PANEL: Taking Palestine Mainstream in US Media

Location: Sanders Theater

Over the last decade, support for the Palestinian cause has grown rapidly in the United States. This rise was due to several factors:

(1) The permeability of the new media has allowed for Palestinian perspectives to seep through to the American public. Photos and videos of destruction and injustice spread virally challenging existing narratives, while social media activists pushed Palestine to the forefront despite the noise of the 24-hour media cycle.

(2) Disillusionment with Israel’s policies in the occupied territories led to the reframing of the question of Palestine as a progressive issue of basic human rights. This reframing allowed for wide coalitions amongst oppressed/minority groups in support of Palestine.

However, the support for Palestine in the United States is mostly seen within leftist/progressive circles and in is not seen in the mainstream of American society. The ability to engage a wider public on the issue of Palestine will serve as a foundation for any re-examination of American foreign policy towards the region. This panel will delve deeper into understanding how to bridge Palestinian and American narratives on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Speakers:

- Ehab Al-Shihabi: Advisor to Director General, Aljazeera Media Network; Former CEO, Al Jazeera America

- Jake Chase-Lubitz: President, Palestine Advocacy Project

- Nada Bilbassy-Charters: DC Bureau Chief, Al Arabiya News

- Moderated by Professor Richard Parker: Lecturer in Public Policy & Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Center, HKS


Humanitarian Work
2:05 - 3:30

PANEL: Political Constraints on Access to Healthcare in Conflict Zones

Location: Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall (Graduate School of Design)

A continuous wave of wars has plagued the MENA region both physically and mentally. Apart from death counts and suicide statistics, a burgeoning emphasis is now being placed on the mechanisms of these political conflicts and how they affect the healthcare chain of supply and demand. 

Gaza’s hospitals and homes are still in shambles a year after the latest offensive. But relief efforts must also place emphasis on the enduring and glaring restriction on mobility that is the hallmark of the Occupation, which prevents medical students from traveling abroad to specialize and patients from accessing points of care. The political power vacuum borne out of the rift between Hamas and Fatah to fill the void of an independent nation has left the PA weak and unable to devote resources to the healthcare system. Hospitals and ambulances in Syria are being targeted by government and foreign forces alike, despite maintaining medical neutrality and treating victims on both sides. Extremist organizations that have gained territorial strongholds in Iraq have deliberately prevented humanitarian or medical aid from entering their domains. The displacement and uprooting of civilians from their homes as a result of these wars has caused one of the most severe refugee movements in modern history, rippling demographics across the region and the globe. 

This panel will examine the political and economic constraints on various players in the MENA healthcare system as a result of ongoing conflict. It will attempt to answer the question: What is it about being in a specific hostile political environment that precludes Arab patients from reaching centers of treatment, from getting quality care when in a healthcare facility, or living as healthy a life as can be lived while under constant threat of military siege? The panel embodies this year’s conference theme of “Building Bridges” by illustrating how political structures and conflict mitigate access to quality health care for Arabs in both long-term and acute crises. Healthcare is not just measured in mortality statistics or disease prevalence. National health systems are highly influenced by the political climate surrounding them, and as Norwegian physician and activist Mads Gilbert puts it, “Medicine and politics are Siamese twins.” Bridging these multi-sectoral arguments together will be essential in making the case for peace and change.

Speakers:

- Dr. Mads Gilbert: Medical Director, Clinic of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway
- Dr. Akihiro Seita: Director of UNRWA Health, Amman/Gaza
- Dr. Alice Rothchild: Physician and activist
- Dr. Rita Giacaman: Founder of the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University
- Dr. Steve Gilbert: Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders (INND)