Oct. 15-16: Jerusalem Women Speak Tour in Charlotte

Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One shared Vision speaking tour highlights the nonviolent efforts of Palestinians, Israelis, and citizens of other nations to end the occupation of Palestinian territories.

Thurs., Oct. 15
7:00 PM
Providence Day School in the Auditorium

5800 Sardis Rd
Charlotte, NC 28270
(704) 887-6000

Fri., Oct. 16
6:00 PM
Providence Baptist Church

4921 Randolph Rd
Charlotte, NC 28211
(704) 366-4030

About the speakers:

Jala Basil Andoni

Jala Basil Andoni, 61, a Palestinian Christian, and a former English teacher, lives in Beit Sahour, a town also called the Shepherds’ Field, to the east of Bethlehem.

She was studying English literature at the University of Jordan when the six day war broke out in 1967. This marked the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank resulting in separation from her family for two years. In 1969 after her graduation, she rejoined her family and became the first female teacher with a B. A. teaching English in the Bethlehem District.

During that period of time she couldn’t continue her studies due to the restrictions of movement placed upon Palestinians by the occupation. In 1990, the Gulf War broke out. Israeli troops imposed curfews on Palestinian cities and villages. People were imprisoned in their homes and schools shut down. Teachers from the neighborhood assembled and taught lessons at home.

After 5 years her son was able to obtain a scholarship and study computer science in the USA. Her youngest son is studying dentistry at the Arab American University in Jenin, in the north of Palestine.

The busy mother of four children, 2 boys and 2 girls, she was appointed supervisor of English Language at The Directorate of Education in Bethlehem District in 1996.

After the second uprising in 2000 she was convinced that the only way to peace was by building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, not by building walls and fences. She retired early from the School District in 2003 to have more time to participate in peace building activities.

She currently works with the Wi’am Center for Reconciliation and the Arab Educational Institute (AEI) in Bethlehem, and is a leader of the women’s group at the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Beit Sahour. Her work includes supporting and empowering women.

She affirms that Muslims and Christians are living together peacefully in the Bethlehem area, and work together on non-violent efforts and actions such as candle light vigils, marches and prayers near the wall.

Ms. Andoni believes strongly that peace in the region depends on American involvement.

Hekmat Besisso-Naji

A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza , Ms. Besisso – Naji, 40, currently lives in Ramallah.

Her parents came from rich families who became refugees after the 48 – 49 war. Her grandfather often remarked that he felt sorry his grandchildren were raised poor while he had land, home and a business before the war.

She is an only child and, as such, it was her parent’s dream that she marry and have a family; so she married at 17 and raised 5 children.

She believes it is important to work hard to improve herself and her society. Ms. Besisso – Naji has worked for several international and local organizations including: American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center, and others.

After earning diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza, she is working on a B.A. in Social Work from Alquds Open University. She also earned a technical training certificate in Field Research and Project Coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky .

In 2003 Ms. Besisso – Naji divorced and in 2005 remarried and moved with her 5 children to Ramallah. In 2006, she and her husband Naji were blessed with a baby boy.

Since leaving Gaza in 2005, she has not been able to return and was unable to visit her sick mother in 2006 before she died. Mustafa, Ms. Besisso’s eldest son, returned to Gaza in 2006 for a visit and has not been able to receive a permit from Israeli authorities to leave Gaza since.

During 2005, Ms. Besisso – Naji spoke to audiences in the U.S. and Europe through Peace x Peace, Joining Hands Against Hunger (a Presbyterian Church initiative) and the Faculty for Israeli – Palestinian Peace.

She currently works as a Community Trainer, where her main task is to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training and other projects.

Ruth El Raz

Ruth El-Raz, 76, a resident of Jerusalem, was born and grew up in England. She was born asking questions about differences: income, class, race, religion. She started studying political science in London, but in 1954 married and moved to Israel to live on a kibbutz. After divorcing and living in the artists’ village, Ein Hod, for several years, she left Israel to study in France and England, first sculpture, then social work.

She was firmly on Israel’s side during the 6-day war, believing that within 2 years Israel would be out of the Occupied Territories. She returned to Israel in 1970, studying social work and fighting the developing militarism in Israel. In 1972 she was accepted for a field placement at the Hebrew University, and stayed there as a staff member until 1987. She has a masters degree in social work from Rutgers University.

Ms. El-Raz describes herself as a psychotherapist, a sculptor/painter, and a political activist. She currently works as a therapist at the Counseling Center for Women in Jerusalem, which she helped found. She is also a board member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and Bat Shalom, the Israeli side of Jerusalem Link, a joint Israeli/Palestinian women’s peace organization. She is a founding member of Women in Black and participates in weekly vigils. As an active member of Checkpoint Watch, she goes with others twice a day to monitor the attitude of soldiers towards the Palestinians as they pass through various checkpoints between Israel and the Occupied Territories. She is also the proud mother of a wonderful 34 year old daughter, who served in the Israeli army in 1992.

Ms. El-Raz has been on several speaking tours to the U.S. and Europe, and, with a Palestinian partner, represented Jerusalem Link at the first UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Partners For Peace
1250 4th St. SW WG-1
Washington DC 20024

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