Political activist and famous lecturer Noam Chomsky along with researchers from The Lancet, one of the world's top medical journals, are coming to Madison April 5 to 7 as a part of the Middle Eastern Studies Program's event on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The development of this event began in March 2008 when The Lancet published a special issue on the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the medical concerns and issues involved with the violence.
"The Lancet is a prestigious medical journal. … Many people consider it to be the gold standard for studying civilian casualties," said Uli Schamiloglu, chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Program. "As far as I can tell, The Lancet is a very serious journal and … will be taken very seriously by a lot of people."
According to Jennifer Loewenstein, associate director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program, The Lancet publication is the first time any medical journal has undertaken systematic comprehensive study of health and medical care in countries under occupation.
Due to this publication, Loewenstein invited two of the researchers, Rita Giacaman of Birzeit University in Ramallah, West Bank and Graham Watt from the University of Glasgow and London's Royal College of Medicine, to come to the University of Wisconsin to give a talk on their research and medical experience in the field.
After the April 2008 attack on Gaza, she contacted Chomsky, a correspondent of hers for 11 years, to join the doctors. She asked him to offer a more historical and political perspective to "The Lancet" findings, specifically about the change in administration between former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama.
The event begins on April 5 with a talk from Giacaman, followed by a speech from Watt and a panel discussion at Edgewood College with both researchers and Chomsky on April 6 to discuss the issue of the intimidations tactics people use to silence debate in U.S. universities about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An example of this, according to Loewenstein, is the reaction The Lancet has received for its publication for "having dared" touch upon the issue of Israel and Palestine.
"As far as I'm concerned, the purpose of the university is not to avoid controversial subjects, but encourage public debate," Schamiloglu said.
Chomsky will give his keynote speech April 7 at the Orpheum Theater.
According to Lowenstein, Chomsky will be talking about "any changes he expects to see with the transition of administrations in the conflict, to give historical and political analysis as well as contemporary situation in Gaza as well as West Bank and also place in context the issue on health and human rights in the occupied territories."
"This is a serious subject. I don't want this to be some propaganda circus," Loewenstein said. "This is about medicine, medical research and nutrition. For Chomsky, it's about analyzing U.S. foreign policy from Bush to Obama on Israel-Palestinian conflict."
Tickets for the event go on sale today for $10 and can be purchased at Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative, the Orpheum Theater and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.