Chestertown, MD, September 30, 2003 — Washington College's Goldstein Program in Public Affairs presents “JERUSALEM WOMEN SPEAK: THREE WOMEN, THREE FAITHS, ONE SHARED VISION,” a panel discussion on peace in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine, Thursday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Hynson Lounge. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
Organized by Partners for Peace, a non-profit organization which seeks to educate the American public about key issues in the quest for peace and justice in the Middle East, the “Jerusalem Women Speak” discussion brings together three panelists from Israel and Palestine: Yehudit Keshet, co-founder, Machsom Watch;
Rawan Damen, activist, writer and film maker; and Mai Nassar, professor of English, Bethlehem University. Designed to bring directly to Americans the voices of women from the Jerusalem area who live in the midst of the conflict, “Jerusalem Women Speak” tours have sought to reach the general public through World Affairs Councils, interfaith gatherings, universities and colleges, retirement communities, youth centers, and business and professional clubs since 1998.
Yehudit Keshet is a Jewish Israeli and co-founder of Machsom Watch, a women's human rights group committed to witnessing and documenting acts of abuse against civilians by Israeli soldiers at police and military checkpoints. She is currently writing a book on her experiences with this group. Born in South Wales, she is the daughter of Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. In 1958 Ms. Keshet left home to be a “pioneer” in Israel, but has lived in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. West Jerusalem became her permanent residence in 1974. Ms. Keshet's employment experience includes four years at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and seven years at the Israeli Institute of Talmudic Publications. From 1989-1993, she worked as regional director for a major immigration organization, the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. In 1984, she founded The Tradition Center, a cooperative, multi-cultural puppet theater that works with sources common to Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. Regarding the conflict, she believes “the only lasting solution can come when Israel recognizes the equal rights of Palestinians to self-determination, statehood and dignity.”
Rawan Damen, a resident of Ramallah, is a Muslim Palestinian, and at age 24, works as a children's rights activist, a documentary film maker, and author. Her film on Easter in Jerusalem, Waiting for Light (2001), was entered in the Milano, Chicago and IAMHIST Film Festivals in 2003. Her published books are Palestinian Children Before 1948 (1994), Expulsion in the Memory of Children (1997), and Our Schools in the Court of Justice: The Students Ring the Bell (2000). Damen obtained her M.A. in communication studies, with distinction, from Leeds University, UK, in 2003, and her B.A. in media and sociology from Birzeit University, West Bank, in 2001. Damen and her sister acted on their hopes for peace in 1995 by studying Hebrew with Jewish adults in Israel. They were the only adolescents, the only Muslims, and the only Palestinians enrolled.
Mai Nassar is a Christian Palestinian who was raised in the West Bank town of Beit Jala, where her family has lived for centuries. During the 1948 war her family fled to Jordan. They returned to their land years later, but parts of it were taken for building Jewish settlements following the 1967 war. During the past three years, Ms. Nassar's home in Beit Jala has been bombarded several times during battles between the Gilo settlement and Beit Jala. She and her family have managed to avoid physical harm during these skirmishes, but much of their personal property has been lost. Ms. Nassar has been a professor of English at Bethlehem University in the West Bank for 13 years. In 1995, she participated with Israeli and Palestinian educators in a program at Ohio University sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency. She also took part in an exchange program in conjunction with George Mason University in the summers of 1996-1998. The program explored the possibility of implementing a Conflict Analysis and Resolution program at Bethlehem University. She writes of the conflict, “We need different types of education for both groups [Israeli and Palestinian] in order to make both accept and adjust to having their two states live peacefully on one land.”
“Jerusalem Women Speak” is sponsored by Washington College's Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, established in honor of the late Louis L. Goldstein, 1935 alumnus and Maryland's longest serving elected official. The Goldstein Program sponsors lectures, symposia, visiting fellows, travel and other projects that bring students and faculty together with leaders in public policy and the media.