Women to Discuss Mideast Peace Prospects

Three women representing three faith traditions will speak at Eastern Mennonite University Thursday, Oct. 27, on their shared vision of a peaceful resolution to the protracted Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Sherene Abdulhadi, a Muslim Palestinian from Jerusalem, Roni Hammerman, a Jewish Israeli from Jerusalem, and Amira Hillal, a Christian Palestinian from Beit Sahour in the West Bank, will speak and answer questions in two settings – 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 in Martin Chapel of the seminary building at EMU and at 8:30 p.m. in the Common Grounds Coffeehouse in the University Commons.

The women’s appearance here is part of a two-week “Jerusalem Women Speak” tour of congregations, schools and civic groups in 15 cities across the United States. They are sponsored by Partners for Peace (www.partnernsforpeace.org), a Washington, D.C.-based non-government organization working on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, in cooperation with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), campus ministries and Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

“With the ‘war on terror’ it is more important than ever for Americans to understand the complex situation in the Middle East,” a spokesperson for Partner for Peace said. Policy decisions made in Washington, our personal safety and the increasing cost of energy, which affects so many aspects of our lives from the cost of transportation to heating our homes, are connected to the Middle East.

“A just resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian issue is in the interest of all Americans and will contribute to stability in a region of great strategic and economic importance to the United States,” he said.

Sherene Abdulhadi, a Muslim Palestinian

Sherene Abdulhadi
Sherene Abdulhadi

Sherene Abdulhadi, 30, was born into a Muslim family and raised in a secular household in occupied Jerusalem. In 1995, she graduated from Boston College, majoring in social psychology and women�s studies. She went on to earn her masters degree in conflict resolution and international development at George Mason University. Since that time, she has worked with a broad range of Palestinian businesses and NGOs on institutional capacity building and management consulting and has devoted her career to Palestinian economic development and the sustenance of Palestinian private sector.

Ms Abdulhadi has worked as a policy analyst for the Joint Palestinian-Israeli Economic Committee of the Technical Support Unit established in 1998 to work out mechanisms for managing issues related to the environment, labor, telecommunications, tax regulation, trade policy and other issues critical to Israeli and Palestinian cooperation.

She also consulted for various Palestinian organizations, most prominent of which is the Palestine Trade Promotion Organization (PalTrade). Working for PalTrade, Ms. Abdulhadi experienced firsthand the constraints imposed on the Palestinian economy by Israeli occupation policies.

More recently, Ms. Abdulhadi joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), West Bank and Gaza Mission, working as a trade and industrial adviser. Her work focused on the economic realities facing Palestinian trade and commerce following Israel�s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip.

Roni Hammerman, a Jewish Israeli

Roni Hammerman
Roni Hammerman

Roni Hammerman, 65, lives in Jerusalem where she heads the department of humanities at the Bloomfield Library for Humanities and Social Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Her father was active in the anti-fascist movement in Austria and spent time in the Woellersdorf concentration camp in 1934. After his release, he immigrated to Palestine where he met Ms. Hammerman�s mother who had moved to the British administered territory from Hungary.

Dr. Hammerman’s family moved to Vienna in 1947 before the establishment of the state of Israel. She was brought up in Austria, attended the University of Vienna and spent two semesters at the University of Moscow studying Russian language and literature. She received her doctorate in Russian from the University of Vienna in 1968 and returned to Israel the following year. She taught Russian literature at the Hebrew University for ten years before taking her current position in 1979.

Hammerman is actively involved in Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch), a women’s human rights monitoring group which observes and reports on the conduct of Israeli soldiers at military and police checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. She has worked in the Israeli Peace Camp for many years, and during the first Palestinian Intifada participated in a group monitoring the incarceration of Palestinian children at the Israeli Police Prison in Jerusalem. Most of the children were imprisoned for throwing stones.

Amira Hillal, a Christian Palestinian

Amira Hillal
Amira Hillal

Amira Hillal, 26, is the women�s project coordinator and administrative assistant for the Alternative Information Center (AIC). The AIC is a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization with offices in Jerusalem and Beit Sahour. Her work focuses on the dissemination of critical information and grassroots organizing skills. The AIC works to inform the Palestinian, Israeli and international communities about the current situation in Palestine/Israel.

The Women�s Project, which she coordinates, aims to educate Palestinian women about the social and political issues that shape their lives. The project helps the women open avenues of involvement and participation in Palestinian society and politics.

Ms. Hillal is married and her daughter, Maisam, is two years old. She dreams of moving freely through all of Palestine without any barriers and complications and to feel that she has dignity as a Palestinian woman wherever she goes. Her hope is that one day she will be able to take Maisam to the zoo. She has never been to a zoo because Israeli occupation authorities refuse to grant her mother the necessary permits to travel through the military checkpoints segregating Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

Hillal states that her close working relationship with Israeli colleagues in the AIC “reflects my belief that the Palestinian people�s ambition is to coexist with Israelis and to live in peace like human beings all over the world.”

Admission to the women’s presentations is free; donations will be accepted.

For more information, contact Matt Byrne or Jacob Pace (Partners for Peace).