By Safa Javid, CUNY Queens College and Talya Zalipsky, UC Berkeley
In light of current events in Israel and Palestine, we want to bring together American students of various religious and ethnic backgrounds in order to process the polarizing moment we are witnessing. For years, we have heard people argue that this apparently never-ending war and occupation are too complex to understand, too long-standing to approach as a newcomer, or too sensitive to speak on. Our hope is that in coming together we can equip students with the information, the language, and the confidence to speak from their values on the violence, human tragedy, and injustice we see in the news every day.
Our program will include a 90 minute session with Ghaith al-Omari and Yossi Klein Halevi, 45 minutes of which will be a moderated discussion followed by 45 minutes of Q&A and further discussion among students. Together, we will try to process the atrocities we see, how we arrived at this point, the international and regional actors whose interests contributed to maintaining the occupation for this long, the internal politics of both Palestine and Israel, and our role as Americans in relating to this issue. This project is funded by the Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Program, who are funding many projects like this one for ongoing efforts and initiatives on the Middle East and more.
About the speakers:
Ghaith al-Omari is a senior fellow in The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship and the former executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine. He served as advisor to the negotiating team during the 1999–2001 permanent-status talks in addition to holding various other positions within the Palestinian Authority.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Together with Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University, he co-directs the Institute's Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), which teaches emerging young Muslim American leaders about Judaism, Jewish identity and Israel. His first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, tells the story of his teenage years as a follower of the militant rightwing rabbi Meir Kahane, and his subsequent disillusionment with Jewish radicalism. His latest book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, is a New York Times bestseller. This is the first attempt by an Israeli author to directly address his Palestinian neighbors and describe how the conflict appears through Israeli eyes.