Upcoming Conference: “International Law and the Israeli-Arab Dispute”

Upcoming Conference: “International Law and the Israeli-Arab Dispute”

Is there anything new or useful to say about “International Law and the Israeli-Arab Dispute”?  Well, a number of scholars (including Ken, Roger, and myself) will try to come up with something next Monday, May 17, during a conference at Northwestern University School of Law.  This is one of the few subjects intersecting international law where there is way too much writing, but not enough good writing. The agenda is below. Please feel free to drop by if you are in the area.



MAY 17, 2010

8-8:30 Breakfast

8:30-8:40 Welcome

Samuel Estreicher (NYU)

Eugene Kontorovich (Northwestern)

Larry Brown (CAMERA)

8:40-10 Occupation and Settlement

Avi Bell (Bar-Ilan, San Diego) Legality of Settlements and Settlers

Eugene Kontorovich (Northwestern) The Reality of Conquest: The Fate of Transferees in Occupied                                                                       Territory under International Law

10:15-12 Statehood and Refugees

Arthur Kent (Fordham) Myth of Right of Return

Julian Ku (Hofstra) Evolving Notions of Statehood

Jared Wessel (Skadden Arps) Collective Waiver of Right of Return

12-12:30 Universal Jurisdiction

David Moore (Brigham Young) Israel and the Exercise of Universal


12:45-2 Luncheon Discussion

Facilitator: Samuel Estreicher (NYU) The New Diplomacy of the Obama Administration

1:15-2:30 Use of Force

Kenneth Anderson (American) Proportionality in the Law and Ethics of War

Samuel Estreicher (NYU) Privileging Asymmetric Warfare

2:30-5 Issues of Factfinding and Bias

Roger Alford (Pepperdine) Legality of Arab Boycott of Israel

Jide Nzelibe (Northwestern) Provocateurs and Marginal Offenders

Jeremy Rabkin (George Mason) International Reponses to Civilian Casualties in Conflicts: A                                                                         Comparative Analysis

Nicholas Rostow (SUNY) The Goldstone Report

Ruth Wedgwood (Johns Hopkins) Facfinding by International Organizations

5-6 Q&A

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While I see several names that represent the Israeli views on this conflict I don’t see any name that represents the Palestinian or Arab view on this important issue.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Ali is right, and Julian’s assessment of the literature is rather tendentious as well. I would recommend at least the following: Benvenisti, Eyal. Legal Dualism: The Absorption of the Occupied Territories into Israel. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990. Benvenisti, Eyal. The International Law of Occupation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. Bisharat, Geroge. Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1989. Bowen, Stephen, ed. Human Rights, Self-Determination, and Political Change in the Occupied Territories. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1997. Boyle, Francis A. Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law. Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2003. Cohen, Esther Rosalind. Human Rights in the Israeli-Occupied Territories, 1967-1982. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1985. Falk, Richard and Burns H. Weston. ‘The Relevance of International Law to Palestinian Rights in the West Bank and Gaza: In Legal Defense of the Intifada,’ Harvard International Law Journal 32, No. 1 (1991): 191-204. Fischbach, Michael R. Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Gordon, Neve and Ruchama Marton, eds. Torture, Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel. London: Zed Books, 1995. Gorenberg, Gershom. The Accidental Empire: Israel… Read more »

Sameera Daniels
Sameera Daniels

Daniel Seideman, also an attorney, would have been a great addition because he is informative and entertaining. I heard him at a conference sponsored by the Middle East Institute.

Thanks for the references BTW.


 What’s more troublesome, to me,  is the idea that lawyers who are suppose to strive for justice and accord justice where justice is due refrain from doing so  when the issue is Israel/Palestine. Obviously the narrative of this conflict has been said and controlled by the Israeli point of view and its advocates or apologists. Even the Palestinian side of the narrative is being said by Israelis or pro-Israelis as evident in the Northwestern conference that Julian announced. Why is it, I often wonder, this site and many other legal sites, refrain from dealing this issue justice or balance?. Despite the Israeli repeated and flagrant violations of the International law in many areas and the fact it continues to occupy Palestinian territories, kicking native Palestinians out, Jerusalem included, still it gets a pass from the best legal minds on here. It is a shame really.

Patrick O'Donnell


I agree with you. However, I welcome and appreciate the fact that there are some Jewish Israeli academics (and Jewish academics in the US and elsewhere) that do speak out on behalf of the Palestinians in the OT as well as Arabs in Israel. I doubt they aim to displace Palestinian “narratives” and I would not hold them responsible for the fact that Palestinians are not accorded a more balanced role in the debate (there are other parties that should be held accountable, and they are indeed shameless).  

You ask questions that deserve answers and I have some thoughts in this regard…perhaps I can share them in the future where I blog. Some of the problems here have to do with persistent Orientalist stereotypes and related imperialist fantasies about the nature of Western civilization (of the sort, for instance, that the Zionists would bring to the barbaric bedouins of the desert).  There are more conventional political issues that complicate matters as well. Alas, they all add up to a failure to accord a place at the table for Palestinans, let alone a chronic inability to perceive matters from perspectives found throughout the Arab world (such as it is) and among the Palestinians in particular.

Sameera Daniels
Sameera Daniels

Ironically some of these stereotypes have been formed by British educated Middle Eastern and South Asian scholars. I grew up in their company. And so hope to write about my experience with them.

Both Patrick and Ali are correct in asserting that there is an imbalance in perspectives. In some other venues, it’s somewhat more so.