Can We Talk About Palestine?

Join us for an event about free speech and censorship featuring Viet Thanh Nguyen, Mohammed el-Kurd, Radhika Sainath and Nathan Thrall.

Dec 14, 2023

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Join us on December 14th for “Can We Talk About Palestine?” Panelists Viet Thanh Nguyen, Mohammed el-Kurd, Radhika Sainath and Nathan Thrall will discuss free speech, journalism and censorship in a conversation moderated by D. D. Guttenplan and hosted by Katrina vanden Heuvel. The accepted parameters of debate on the Middle East have drawn far narrower amid banings, cancellations, firings, violent rhetoric, and even prosecutions of those standing against the horrors in Gaza. Students have been doxxed and lost jobs for expressing pro-Palestinian viewpoints, writers and journalists have been banned from speaking. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen had a major New York City appearance canceled after he signed an open letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. At the same time, anti-semitic incidents have skyrocketed and many Jewish students report heightened fear and harassment. How to respond? How can we preserve freedom of speech and debate on issues where feelings run very high and people feel their identities are under attack?  This virtual discussion will include ample time for audience questions and comments. The event is free of charge, registration is required. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won many awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His other books include Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award), Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America, The Refugees, and The Committed. Nguyen has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, among others. The Sympathizer is being adapted into a forthcoming TV series for HBO directed by Park Chan-wook. Mohammed El-Kurd is the Palestine correspondent for The Nation. In 2021, He was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine. He is best known for his role as a co-founder of the #SaveSheikhJarrah movement. His work has been featured in numerous international outlets and he has appeared repeatedly as a commentator on major TV networks. His first published essay as Palestine correspondent, “A Night with Palestine’s Defenders of the Mountain,” was shortlisted for the 2022 One World Media Print Award. RIFQA, his debut collection of poetry, was published by Haymarket Books in October 2021. He is the recipient of awards including the Arab American Civil Council’s “Truth in Media” Award (2022) and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation (2023). Radhika Sainath is a senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, where she oversees the organization’s casework on free speech, censorship and academic freedom. Together with the Center for Constitutional Rights, she brought a landmark lawsuit against Fordham University after it refused to grant club status to Students for Justice in Palestine. Sainath is a frequent commentator on media outlets including MSNBC, Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera English, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Jezebel, Politico, the Village Voice and more. Her writing has appeared in The Nation, Jacobin and Literary Hub. Nathan Thrall is the author of A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy (Metropolitan, 2023), which was named a best book of the year by The New YorkerTimeThe Economist, the Financial TimesThe Irish TimesThe New Statesman, and Booklist, and was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. His previous book, The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine, was published by Metropolitan in 2017. His essays, reviews, and reported features have appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Guardian, the London Review of Books, and The New York Review of Books and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He spent a decade at the International Crisis Group, where he was director of the Arab-Israeli Project, and has taught at Bard College. Originally from California, he lives in Jerusalem.

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