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GEORGE BISHARAT Printer Friendly Page




 


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  • 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"



George Emile 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 Georgetown University, a J.D. from Harvard 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. In recent years, Bisharat has been a consultant for the Palestinian Legislative Council.

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 Palestinian “right 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.

In 2004 Bisharat wrote in CounterPunch magazine 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] juggernaut.”

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.

Because 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.”

In early 2009, Bisharat condemnedOperation Cast Lead,” 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.

In 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 justified.”

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 International 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.

 

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