* Member of Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies
* Supports the Columbia campus chapter of the Hamas-inspired BDS Movement
Nora Akawi was born in 1985 in Haifa, Israel. She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 2009, and a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) in 2011. Since 2012, Akawi has been the director at GSAPP’s Studio-X in Amman, Jordan, which describes itself as an “experimental design and research” platform that “brings together Columbia GSAPP students and faculty with practitioners, researchers, and students from the Arab World to critically reflect on the role of architecture education and practice in times of mass displacement, dispossession, and destruction.” Since 2014, Akawi also has been an adjunct assistant professor at GSAPP in New York City, where she teaches “graduate history/theory and visualization courses on borderlands, forced displacements, and counter-narratives.” And in 2017, she began teaching in GSAPP’s Water Urbanism department as well, on “water infrastructures and inequalities along the Jordan valley.”
As a member of Columbia’s Center for Palestine Studies, Akawi supports the campus chapter of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to permanently destroy Israel as a Jewish nation-state. Moreover, Akawi and fellow BDS activist Bryan Boyd, who teaches anthropology at Columbia, are co-directors of a “digital mapping of Palestine” project.
On March 24, 2015, Akawi retweeted a pro-BDS article titled “What is the Role of Academia in Political Change? The Case of [BDS] and Israeli Violations of International Law.”
In March 2016, Akawi signed a petition by which “Columbia University Apartheid Divest” (CUAD) – an alliance of Columbia students belonging to Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine – stated that in order “to support Palestinian human rights,” the University should promptly “end its investments in Israeli Apartheid” by terminating all of its financial ties to the Jewish state.
On March 24, 2016, Akawi retweeted a Mondoweiss.net report titled “Israeli Soldier Filmed Executing Wounded Palestinian Man in Hebron.” Neither Akawi’s post nor the accompanying report made any mention of the fact that the wounded man was a terrorist who had just stabbed an Israeli officer.
On May 13, 2016, Akawi tweeted a link to an “important interview” in which BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti spoke about what Akawi characterized as the Palestinian “struggles for social justice against [the] Israeli racist colonial regime.”
On March 6, 2017, Akawi posted to her Facebook page a link to an article stating that a “Palestinian youth activist and writer” had been “assassinated by invading Israeli occupation forces” in the West Bank city of el-Bireh. Neither Akawi’s post nor the article mentioned that the dead man was a heavily armed BDS activist named Basel al-A’araj, who belonged to a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, and who had opened fire on Israeli police just prior to being shot.
In May 2017, Akawi posted to her Facebook page a link to a story about “courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners” who, as leaders of the “Palestinian struggle for liberation,” had recently staged a hunger strike in order to draw attention to their “humanitarian demands.” But neither Akawi’s post nor the accompanying article noted the fact that the hunger strike had been initiated by the incarcerated Palestinian terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, and that most of the other 1,000+ hunger strikers had likewise been previously convicted of terrorism charges.