star twitter facebook envelope linkedin instagram youtube alert-red alert home left-quote chevron hamburger minus plus search triangle x

Academic Series on the Historical and Political Context of the Israel-Hamas War

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has brought immense suffering and anxiety to people in Israel, the Gaza Strip, the surrounding region, and all over the world. The conflict has come to college campuses and divided us.

Our role as an institution of higher education is to educate and foster informed and respectful dialogue on complex issues. The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy have collaborated to create a series of events that will take place during the spring semester of 2024. These events are designed to illuminate the historical, political, cultural, and narrative background of the Israel-Hamas war. We have intentionally created forums that represent multiple perspectives, humbly recognizing that there are many viewpoints on this long-standing conflict. We invite all CMU students, faculty and staff to join us.

Schedule of Events

The Possibility of Peace | Jan. 31 | 5-7 p.m. | Simmons Auditorium A, Tepper Building

Rula Hardal and May Pundak will share their experiences as Palestinian and Jewish members of A Land for All, an organization advocating for peaceful resolution in the region.

Moderated by Nevine Abraham, assistant teaching professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages, and Michal Friedman, Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of History.

Rula Hardal is the co-executive director of A Land for All. Hardal is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Van Leer Institute and the Forum for Regional Thinking. She has taught political science and social work at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, the Arab American University in Ramallah, University of Osaka in Japan and University of Lisbon in Portugal. Hardal is an activist in several initiatives to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a board member of Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, based in Haifa. She also serves as a political commentator on local and international television channels.

May Pundak is the co-executive director of A Land for All. A feminist lawyer, activist and social entrepreneur, Pundak has worked at the New Israel Fund, directed the Polyphony Foundation, helped establish a legal team to support political struggles in East Jerusalem and co-founded an educational dialogue group program for Jewish and Palestinian teenagers in West and East Jerusalem. Pundak is a graduate of the Mandel School of Educational Leadership and a graduate of Harvard University's Leadership, Community Organization and Activism course. She holds a degree in public and international law, with an emphasis on human rights, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Register for The Possibility of Peace

Mapping the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict | Feb. 15 | 5 - 6:30 p.m. | McConomy Auditorium, Cohon University Center

Laurie Z. Eisenberg, teaching professor emerita in the CMU Department of History, will provide an overview of the history of the region's borders and populations, including how they have changed over time, from the beginning of the conflict in the 1880s until the present day.

Get details for Mapping the History...

Competing Narratives: Small Group Book Discussions 

Multiple dates in March, times and locations TBA

Join one of several small groups of students, faculty and staff in discussing Neil Caplan’s book “The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories, Second Edition.” There will be six options for book discussion groups on campus, each led by an expert faculty member. Discussions will explore the contested Palestinian and Israeli narratives of events and aim to move readers beyond assigning blame to wrestling with the complexities and contradictions of the conflict. Is there a chance for peaceful resolution?

The first 200 registrants will receive a free e-copy of the book.

Two additional discussion sessions will feature a meal and conversation with Caplan. Registration for these options is limited.

Caplan taught in numerous Canadian institutions, including the Humanities Department of Vanier College from 1973 to his retirement in 2008, and he instructed sessional courses in political science and history at McGill, Concordia and Queens universities. 

Register for Competing Narratives

Misinformation in Times of Conflict | April 1 | 5-6:15 p.m. | Hamburg hall, A301

Zeve Sanderson, executive director of New York University's Center for Social Media and Politics, will lead a discussion and Q&A session on the role of social media in the Israel-Hamas war. Participants will explore which sources of information have been reliable and how misinformation has impacted the conflict.

Register for Misinformation in Times...

Exploring History and Culture Through Food 

We are postponing the April 18 event “Exploring History and Culture Through Food,” part of the Academic Series on the Historical and Political Context of the Israel-Hamas War. We are working to reschedule the event and will share this information once available.

Join Nevine Abraham, assistant teaching professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages, and Michal Friedman, Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of History, as they share lessons from co-teaching their semester-long Grand Challenge Seminar titled “Israeli and Palestinian Food Cultures” and spring 2023 travel with students to Israel and the West Bank. Sample food from the region and learn more about the common threads that exist between cultures.


Nevine Abrahan


Assistant Teaching Professor of Arabic Studies
Department of Modern Languages

Neil Caplan

NEIL Caplan

Author of "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Histories"

Laurie Eizenberg


Professor Emerita
Department of History

Michal Friedman

Michal Friedman

Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies
Department of History

Rula Hardal


Co-Executive Director
A Land for All

May Pundak


Co-Executive Director
A Land for All

Zeve Sanderson


Executive Director
NYU Center for Social Media and Politics

Organizing Committee

Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Ramayaa Krishnan, Dean of the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, thank the following committee members who provided thoughtful counsel on event topics, speakers and logistics.

  • Nevine Abraham, Assistant Teaching Professor of Arabic Studies, Department of Modern Languages
  • Dareen Basma, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, Climate and Equity, Heinz College
  • Sharon Carver, Associate Dean for Educational Affairs, Dietrich College
  • Laurie Eisenberg, Teaching Professor Emerita, Department of History
  • Michal Friedman, Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of History
  • Ayana Ledford, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dietrich College
  • Alexandra Lutz, Senior Director, School of Public Policy and Management, Heinz College
  • Daniel Silverman, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy and Technology (CMIST)
  • Abby Simmons, Associate Dean of Communications, Dietrich College
Please check the series website for more details.