March 22, 2019 at the National Press Club, Washington, DC


Keynote Speaker

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian novelist, poet and essayist. Her debut novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010), became an instant international bestseller and was translated into 28 languages. Her second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury, 2015), has likewise been translated into 26 languages. Abulhawa’s first poetry collection, My Voice Sought The Wind (Just World Books), was published in 2013, and she has contributed to several anthologies. Her third novel will be published first in German and then in Swedish, in the Spring of 2019. The English version will follow soon after.

In 2001, she founded Playgrounds for Palestine, a children’s organization dedicated to upholding the Right to Play for Palestinian children. Before her writing career, Abulhawa had a successful career as a researcher in biomedical science. She is the daughter of refugees from the 1967 Six Day War, when her family's land was seized and Israel captured what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem. She was born in Kuwait, raised between there and Jerusalem, then in the Carolinas, where she completed high school, university and graduate school. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter, their dogs and cats.

Keynote: Israel more than Apartheid.


Ali Abunimah is a journalist and the co-founder and executive director of the widely acclaimed The Electronic Intifada, a nonprofit, independent online publication focusing on Palestine.
A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, Abunimah is a frequent speaker on the Middle East, contributing regularly to numerous publications. He is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006) and The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books, 2014).
Abunimah has been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years, and was the recipient of a 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.
Saqib Ali served as a Democratic Party member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He represented District 39 from January 10, 2007 to January 12, 2011.
Since leaving the legislature, he cofounded Freedom2Boycott in Maryland, an organization of Palestinian Solidarity activists dedicated to preserving their constitutional right to boycott Israel and Israel's settlements.
Ali is a professional software engineer. In January 2019, Ali sued Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh over the state’s anti-boycott executive order. The anti-boycott measure, which denies government contracts to businesses that boycott Israel, was issued in 2017 after similar legislation repeatedly failed to pass through the state legislature.
Kathy Drinkard is a retired teacher and elementary school counselor. She has long been concerned about the suffering in the Palestinian territories and has been involved with her church on the issue for more than a decade. She has traveled to the region four times, most recently in the fall of 2018, a trip she helped plan. During her second trip, she spent 10 days in Nablus visiting an Anglican congregation that is in partnership with her church. Her third trip was to participate in a seminar, “Faith in the Face of Empire,” sponsored by the Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb and Bright Stars of Bethlehem.

She currently is chair of the Ministry for Middle East Peace and Justice at Grace Presbyterian Church in Springfield, VA.

Drinkard has assisted Jean Trabulsi and the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights on the issue of inaccurate Virginia history and social studies textbooks. She has attended the Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference for the last three years.
Walter Hixson is the author of a half-dozen books on the history of U.S. foreign relations. He has taught history for 36 years and is currently distinguished professor of history at the University of Akron.
Hixson’s books include American Foreign Relations: A New Diplomatic History (Routledge, 2016); American Settler Colonialism: A History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and U.S. Foreign Policy (Yale University Press, 2008); Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (St. Martin’s, 1997); and George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast (Columbia University Press, 1989).
Hixson’s forthcoming book, Israel’s Armor: The Role of the Israel Lobby in the History of the Palestine Conflict (Cambridge University Press, Spring 2019) is a groundbreaking history, using untapped source material, about Israel and its U.S. lobby’s impact on American foreign policy since 1948.
Martin McMahon is a graduate of Fordham Law School, and an experienced litigator who has tried cases all over America.

He has spent a number of years with the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, where he oversaw significant litigation matters in the Southern District of New York and in the Second Circuit.

He has had private practice experience, having been with Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn.

He set up his own law firm many years ago and is one of a handful of attorneys who has secured three punitive damages awards. He is dedicated to advancing the interests of the proverbial underdog – in this case, Palestinians, who the world has largely forgotten about and deem irrelevant.
James Metz retired after a career in information technology—working in both the public and private sectors. In 2013, inspired by a community discussion of Sandy Tolan’s book, The Lemon Tree, Metz and his wife Suzanne Hallberg joined with another couple to co-found Richmonders for Peace in Israel-Palestine (RPIP).

In 2016, RPIP joined forces with Freedom2Boycott-Virginia—now known as the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR)—to lobby against and defeat anti-BDS legislation that was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. Metz and Hallberg live in Richmond, VA.
James North is an independent writer, based in New York City, who has been reporting from Africa, Latin America and Asia for 44 years.
He is also a contributing editor at Mondoweiss, the website that covers “News & Opinion About Palestine, Israel and the United States.”
Over the years, North has written for The Nation, In These Times, and many other publications. He is also the author of Freedom Rising, a first-hand look at apartheid in southern Africa.
You can follow him on Twitter at @James North
Paul Noursi has been active with the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) since its founding in 2016.  He is also active with several other organizations working for peace and justice in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, the New Dominion PAC, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the Arab American Democratic Caucus of Virginia.  He was also a Barack Obama Delegate to the Virginia State Convention in 2008, a Bernie Sanders Delegate to the Virginia State Convention in 2016, and he has served on various Get-Out-the Vote and Democratic campaigns.
Noursi has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East, including Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.  He has a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Engineering Management, and is a licensed and practicing civil engineer with wide-ranging experience in land development and public works in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
Brad Parker, Esq. is Senior Adviser, Policy and Advocacy at Defense for Children International. Parker specializes in issues of juvenile justice and grave violations against children during armed conflict, and leads DCIP’s legal advocacy efforts on Palestinian children’s rights. Parker regularly writes and speaks about the situation of Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Before joining DCIP, Parker worked as a legal advocacy coordinator and staff attorney at MADRE, a New York-based international women’s rights nonprofit organization. He was the 2010-2012 Human Rights Clinical Fellow at the International Women’s Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, where he conducted fact-finding investigations, implemented advocacy projects and authored reports on a range of issues affecting women in Guatemala and post-earthquake Haiti.

Parker is a graduate of the University of Vermont and earned his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.
Grant Smith is the director of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). He is the author of the 2016 book Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America and Divert! Numec, Zalman Shapiro and the Diversion of U.S. Weapons-Grade Uranium Into the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program (2012).
Smith has also written two histories of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department's Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: AIPAC from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal.

Smith’s reports about the Israel lobby and Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to reveal official U.S. policy on Israel’s nuclear program appear frequently in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Antiwar.com news website.