Saturday, March 24, 2007

Palestinian-Israeli women tour on conflict resolution issues

Muslim, Jewish and Christian Women Tour the US Offering Perspectives on Coping with War and Building Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians

Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision
April 9- 26, 2007

Chicago Events: April 10 - 11
Does your audience know what it means to live in Palestine and Israel? Do they know what it takes to build peace after years of war, occupation and conflict? How often have they heard of Israelis and Palestinians working together to build a new future?Three women, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim, who are living the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can answer these questions and many more. These women bring their unique voices to the United States to call for an end to occupation and the ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. They will share their experiences and hopes for a just peace with American audiences.The women are working professionals, educators and activists, all involved in their own way in resolving the conflict and charting a brighter future for their region.Each woman lives the hardships of conflict and the tragedy of occupation in unique ways. Each has also witnessed decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the intermittent attempts to rekindle peace talks. They have made a commitment to address American audiences about their work for a peaceful future and what must be done to improve today’s deteriorating situation.

What does an Israeli of South African descent, whose parents were involved in the founding of the state of Israel, think of President Carter’s description of Israeli policy as “Apartheid”?

What does an Educational Consultant with the Palestinian Ministry of Education face when accessing schools and communities surrounded by Israeli settlements and checkpoints?

How has one Christian Palestinian family used their contested land as a means to bring Israelis and Palestinians together?

How do Palestinians and Israelis work together in spite of the ongoing violence and animosity that surrounds them?

These three women can address these issues and more. The three will travel together on a national speaking tour for three weeks (April 9-26) to address realities of the conflict – the loss of family, the demolition of homes, persecution, occupation, violence, the separation barrier currently being constructed in the West Bank, Israel’s unilateral “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, recent escalations of the conflict in Gaza and Lebanon, and more. They are here to demonstrate that working together for peace, while difficult, is possible.

The April tour is the Thirteenth National Jerusalem Women Speak Tour organized by Partners for Peace. The response to the tour in past years has been remarkable. Audiences have been fascinated and thrilled to hear their stories and see that even today in the midst of the ongoing conflict there are Palestinians and Israelis willing to travel together to talk about their lives, their fears, their hopes and their work for a just and sustainable peace.We refer to these individuals as “extraordinary ordinary women” for they are real women that deserve international recognition. If there is to be a real and lasting peace, everyday people like them will make it happen. The speakers for the Thirteenth National Jerusalem Women Speak Tour:

Huda Abu Arqoub, a Muslim Palestinian from Hebron, Palestine

Tal Dor, a Jewish Israeli from Haifa, Israel

Amal Nassar, a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem, Palestine

Photos availableInterviews, talk shows appearances, editorial appearances and community presentations are currently being scheduled. They may be arranged by contacting Partners for Peace. Partners for Peace is an NGO based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to help bring about a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is the thirteenth tour since 1998.

Chicago Schedule:Tuesday, April 10

12:00 – 2:00 PMPresbyterian Church of Western Springs5250 Wolf RoadWestern Springs, Illinois 60558Sponsored by the Presbyterian Church of Western Springs, the American Friends Service Committee and the Chicago Interfaith Work Group on Middle East PolicyLocal Media

Contact Person

Jennifer LewisPresbyterian Church of Western Springs

jlewis@presbyws.org708-246-5220 6:00 – 8:00DePaul University
Richardson Library, Rosati Room
2350 North Kenmore Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60614
Sponsored by Global Voices, the Islamic World Studies Program, the Women’s Center, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Department of Modern Languages, the Department of Religion, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Peace, Conflict Resolution and Social Justice and the Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning

Local Media Contact Person
Nicole Zimmerer
Global Voices773-325-7407

Wednesday, April 112:00 - 3:30 PMThe Chicago School of Professional PsychologyRm. 412325 N. Wells StreetChicago, Illinois 60610Sponsored by The Center for International Studies

Local Media Contact Person
Nancy Dubrow
Center for International Studies, Chicago
773-327-8817 (work)

5:00 – 7:00 PM

Northwestern UniversityMcCormick Tribune Center
Room - McCormick Tribune Center Forum
1870 Campus Drive
Evanston, Illinois 60208
Sponsored by The Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies and the Department of Women's and Gender Studies
Local Media Contact Person
Brian T. Hanson, Associate Director
Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies
Phone: 847-491-5058 Email:

Full schedule details available at

Speakers’ Biographies:Huda Abu Arqoub (Age 36):A Muslim Palestinian, Ms. Abu Arqoub is an Educational Consultant with the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian National Authority. A resident of Dura in the occupied West Bank, Ms. Abu Arqoub’s work takes her to schools throughout the district of Hebron where she documents the unique situation students and teachers face as they endure Israeli military and settler violence. She sees overcoming these daily injustices as a key component to peacebuilding and conflict transformation in Israel/Palestine. One of twelve children, Ms. Abu Arqoub was born in Jerusalem.† She is currently denied Jerusalem residency, however, and cannot travel freely to the city of her birth or visit relatives there because of Israeli-imposed restrictions.† Ms. Abu Arqoub’s family has lost 250 acres of land planted with olive trees and vineyards to Israeli confiscation and settlement construction. She has only visited the land once, in 1988, when her father took the family to see the property. Ms. Abu Arqoub’s parents are both teachers and she followed in their footsteps, obtaining her diploma for teaching English as a Second Language and a degree in Education and English Literature from Al Quds Open University in Palestine. A Fulbright Scholar, she now holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University in the United States.Ms Abu Arqoub is also active in grassroots Palestinian initiatives focusing on issues related to gender equality and human rights. She is a member of several local Palestinian organizations that work on empowering women to be more active in building a healthy society.† Ms Abu Arqoub’s advocacy has also brought her in contact with many international groups and she has worked with organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children International and the University of the Middle East Project.† Most recently, she has joined the faculty of AL Quds Open University as a part time professor in the Departments of Language and Social Studies. The land Ms. Abu Arqoub calls home is saturated with Jewish Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian territory.† As a result, Ms. Abu Arqoub works in areas that endure Israeli military and settlement policies that privilege Israeli Jewish settlers over the indigenous Palestinian population.† Her commitment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians necessitates her opposition to these Israeli policies, which she describes as apartheid.† Such policies will never result in peace, Ms. Abu Arqoub argues, because ultimately "human interaction is needed to bridge gaps created by distance, cultural difference and politics."Tal Dor (Age 29):A Jewish Israeli, Ms. Dor’s work urges her society to critically examine both its past and its present. For the past six years, Ms. Dor worked for Mahapach-Tagier, a joint Jewish-Palestinian grassroots organization developing leadership and social justice in disempowered communities throughout Israel. She left the organization last year after serving as Executive Director. She is also active in many other organizations, including serving on the Board of Directors of Zochrot, an association working to develop a critical consciousness in Israel of the history and current reality of the Israeli War of Independence and Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) in 1948.Ms. Dor was born in Haifa, on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Her parents were Zionist immigrants from South Africa, one of whom came in 1948 to fight in the war to establish the state of Israel. Her identity and activism have been influenced by South Africa’s struggle to overcome its own conflict. The challenge to come to terms with both her family’s Zionism and her South African heritage led Ms. Dor to search for new and creative ways to address the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.Ms. Dor graduated with a BA in Social Work from Tel Hai College and holds advanced degrees in Community Organizing and Facilitating Groups in Conflict. In 1996 and 1997, she served in the Israeli army as a trainer for soldier-teachers working with at-risk youth in Israel. The experience opened her eyes to the reality of poverty in Israel, but her political activism began several years after her service ended. Following the outbreak of the second Intifada in late 2000, Ms. Dor joined thousands of other Israelis in peace rallies and actions across Israel and in the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, she continued her work with the disempowered in Israel proper. In the fall of 2006, Ms. Dor moved to France where she is currently writing a book with Palestinian colleague Manal Al Tamimi. The book documents and analyzes their dialogues as two women activists against the occupation- one Israeli and one Palestinian.Ms. Dor's work draws important links between the struggle for peace and justice among Israelis and Palestinians and the struggle for a more just and equitable Israeli society. Her work with disempowered communities and at-risk youth in Israel informs her work with Palestinian colleagues and contributes to her analysis of the broader trends in the region. Ms. Dor believes that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is within reach, but to achieve that peace, political awareness and activism has to spread to a larger cadre and in an equal civic partnership between Israelis and Palestinians. "I don’t think we can speak about peace in a situation of occupation," Ms. Dor argues. "I believe we have to speak about justice, equality and ending the occupation. We cannot live at the expense of other peoples and speak about peace."Amal Nassar (Age 46):A Christian Palestinian, Ms.. Nassar is a physiotherapist for infants and a nurse at the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem. Concern for the next generation of Palestinians also extends to her volunteer activism. Ms. Nassar is a founding member of Tent of Nations- People Building Bridges, a project inviting Palestinians, Israelis and international visitors to take part in programs focusing on coexistence, peace and nonviolence. Her work with Tent of Nations is motivated by the belief that Palestinians and Israelis, especially young people, must participate actively in shaping their society and building a peaceful future based on principles of justice and sharing the land.Ms. Nassar and her family founded Tent of Nations on the 100 acres of land her family owns near Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. Her grandfather purchased the property in 1917 and moved his family from the Old City of Bethlehem, where his ancestors had lived for generations. The family lived in a cave that they extended into a full stone house and tended the fruit trees and vineyards they planted.Ms. Nassar’s land is now surrounded by four illegal Israeli settlements built after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. In 1991, the Israeli military left notices on the property announcing that it had been classified as Israeli "state land" and would be confiscated. Ms. Nassar’s family began a legal battle to keep their land that continues today. In 2002, Israeli settlers attacked her family. The settlers beat two of her brothers and entered their home to threaten her 65 year old mother at gunpoint. Meanwhile, the attackers uprooted 250 olive trees. Ms. Nassar’s family has never been granted compensation. In light of such assaults on her family’s very presence on their own lands, Ms Nassar views Tent of Nations as more than an educational project. It is also a form of nonviolent resistance against the confiscation of her heritage.Ms. Nassar’s father taught his children that the land is an integral aspect of their identity as Palestinians and dreamt that the property would become a meeting point for people from around the world. Today, thirty years after her father died, Ms. Nassar is working to make his dream a reality. She organizes programs for youth and women that focus on peace education and nonviolence. Meanwhile, she fosters an understanding in Palestinian children of the vital connection between their people and the land.Through her work, Ms. Nassar has forged lasting friendships with Israeli peace activists who join Tent of Nations activities and support the family’s resistance. Ms. Nassar stays in contact with them through e-mails and phone calls. She cannot visit them, however, unless she is granted a special permit from the Israeli military.Despite the enduring efforts to dispossess her and her family of their land and heritage, Ms. Nassar remains optimistic that Israelis and Palestinians will live together in peace. "My dream is to see the youth of Israel and Palestine working together for a better future and a better quality of life for both nations," she explains. "I am looking forward to our young generation living together in peace without hatred and with an understanding that we must work for a new society based on democracy and justice."

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