On Oct. 17, the Biden Institute invited Kamran Bokhari, an adjunct political science professor at the university, to share insight with students and community members struggling to comprehend the situation. The event, titled “History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” was just that: a history lesson and a conversation.
Bokhari, an expert in geopolitical analysis of the Middle East, reiterated throughout the evening that the event’s purpose was not to debate or share opinions but rather an opportunity to learn.
“I know this is a very confusing time,” Bokhari said. “It’s confusing for me as well because even though I have studied this for a long time, it gets overwhelming … This conversation that we are going to have is going to help you, not just this evening, but moving forward, in terms of being able to process and make sense of things that you hear.”
In just 30 minutes, Bokhari recapped over a century of Middle Eastern history to a crowd of 165 university students, faculty, staff and community members. In his lecture, Bokhari mapped out how the territories still being disputed today have shifted since World War I.
To simplify the history for the audience, Bokhari organized the content of his talk into three topics: the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the intra-Palestinian conflict between Hamas and Fatah.
In an interview with The Review, Bokhari shared that, when preparing for this presentation, he used the same approach he uses with his course POSC 377: Arab-Israeli Politics. Rather than inundating students with dates and specific details, he wanted to provide a “strategic landscape” of the conflict.
“There’s a disconnect between what they’re hearing in the media and what they’re learning in class, so in both cases I wanted to bridge that gap,” Bokhari said.
The Biden Institute event was organized in less than a week following the unprecedented surge of violence between Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups and Israeli military forces on Oct. 7.
As a result, the event also fell within National Free Speech Week. Each year, the university participates in the annual celebration of freedom of speech and freedom of the press by sponsoring campus-wide events that promote self-expression and diverse viewpoints.