- American of Palestinian descent and a Professor at Hastings Law School
- Speaks frequently around California to peace groups and liberal Jewish groups, and is featured at pro-Palestinian events
- Charges that Israelis “stole” Palestinian land
- Strongly supports the Palestinian "right of return"
Bisharat is an American whose father – a Palestinian Christian –
emigrated to the United States to attend college before the 1948
Arab-Israeli War broke out. Several years later, in 1954, Bisharat
was born in Topeka, Kansas. He went on to earn an MA in history from
University, a J.D.
Law School in 1983, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle East
Studies from Harvard University in 1987. After serving four years as
a deputy public defender in San Francisco (1987-1991), Bisharat
joined the faculty of the Hastings Law School, where he has taught
since 1991. In
1989 he published the book Palestinian
Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank,
which is about Israel’s impact on the Palestinian legal profession.
recent years, Bisharat has been a consultant for the Palestinian
In 2001 Bisharat began speaking publicly
about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and writing op-ed pieces against
U.S. policy in Iraq. In these writings, he denounced America's
invasion of Iraq as a “jihad” that was being driven by powerful
Israeli-Jewish influences on American politics; he condemned
sanctions against Iraq as a form of genocide; he pleaded for the
of return”; and he extolled
the International Court of Justice for its ruling against Israel’s
construction of a security fence in the West Bank.
2004 Bisharat wrote
that Israel was guilty of oppressing the Palestinian people with “a
smothering matrix of closures, curfews and checkpoints”; that
Israel had “caused unemployment to soar to more than 70% and
threaten Palestinian children with malnutrition”; and that Israeli
settlers were engaged in a “campaign to seize and colonize yet more
Palestinian land.” While he does not consider suicide bombings to
be morally justified, Bisharat rationalizes them as the tactics of a
“desperate” people seeking “to slow the colonizing [Israeli]
According to Bisharat, Israel's creation in
1948 was a “catastrophe”
where powerful Zionists “stole Palestine” for their own selfish
ends. Consistent with his support for the Palestinian “right of
return,” Bisharat advocates the creation of a single,
Arab-majority, Arab-dominated state for Arabs and Jews.
he places most of the blame for the ongoing Mideast crisis on Israel,
Bisharat believes that it is incumbent upon the Jewish state to make
a gesture of contrition as a preliminary step toward reconciliation
between the warring parties. He frequently entitles his talks “The
Power of Apology and the Palestinian Right of Return,” arguing that
“a sincere Israeli apology” for the “moral
debt” it owes “would be a milestone toward reconciliation
that no Palestinian could ignore.”
early 2009, Bisharat condemned “Operation
Israel's military response to an eight-year terror campaign during
which Hamas-affiliated militants in Gaza had fired more than 8,000 rockets and mortars at
civilian communities in southern Israel.
retribution for Israel's alleged human-rights violations and war
crimes, Bisharat supports local, national, and international boycotts
against the Jewish state, calling them “both necessary and
Today Bisharat lectures widely at northern
California events hosted by leftwing organizations, Jewish and
non-Jewish alike. He sometimes teams up for these talks with Joel
Benin of Stanford University’s Middle East Studies Department.
Among the groups at whose events Bisharat has lectured are the
Solidarity Movement, the World Affairs Council of Northern
California (whose executive director is Barbara
Lubin), the National
Lawyers Guild, and South Bay Jewish Voices for Peace.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.