In 2004, construction began in Jerusalem on the local branch of the Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance, designed by the leading American architect, Frank Gehry. The museum is now being built over the remains of what had been the largest and most important Muslim cemetery in Palestine, which had been in continual use from the time of the Crusades up until 1948.
The clash between the two competing claims to the same site offers a paradigmatic case to explore and rethink the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, since all of the elements of the larger conflict are also in play in the struggle over this specific site.
Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian, Washington Post, Haaretz, The Nation, Sydney's Sun-Herald, Melbourne's Age, Brisbane's Courier Mail,ABC Unleashed, Amnesty International Australia, Adelaide's Advertiser, The Bulletin, Znet, The Big Issue, Counterpunch and many others.
Loewenstein contributed a major chapter to 2004's best-seller, Not Happy, John! on the Hanan Ashrawi affair. His best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question, was released by Melbourne University Publishing in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award.
He was a contributor to the 2008 Verso Books release, A Time to Speak Out: On Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity.
His second book, The Blogging Revolution, on the Internet in repressive regimes, was released in 2008 by Melbourne University Publishing.
He writes regularly for online magazines New Matilda and Crikey and is a board member of Macquarie University's Centre for Middle East and North African Studies. He is an Honorary Associate at Macquarie University's Department of Politics and International Relations.
He is the co-founder of advocacy group Independent Australian Jewish Voices and contributed to Amnesty International Australia's 2008 campaign about Chinese Internet repression and the Beijing Olympic Games. Loewenstein appears regularly on radio, TV, in public and at universities discussing current affairs and politics.
Professor Saree Makdisi is a professor of English Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books on British Romanticism, his area of expertise. He also writes on contemporary Arab politics and culture.
Saree Makdisi is the nephew of the late Edward Said and the grandson of Anis Makdisi, a distinguished professor of Arabic at the American University of Beirut.
Widely published in his academic area, Makdisi has also written many commentaries on Palestine for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, London Review of Books and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In 2008, Makdisi published his book Palestine Inside Out: Everyday Occupation. The book combines the personal experiences of daily life under occupation with an analysis of how the occupation functions as a whole.
Saree Makdisi, author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, argues that one ulterior motive for Israel's separation barriers is to "render Palestinians invisible to Jewish colonists." Makdisi shows photos demonstrating how Israel attempts to disguise the walls.