Unlikely Pair Unite Against Mideast Violence

A message reflecting the ongoing conflict is painted on a portion of Isreal's Separation Barrier in Qalandia, near the West Bank town of Ramallah.
A message reflecting the ongoing conflict is painted on a portion of Isreal's Separation Barrier in Qalandia, near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

On Friday, Oct. 23 a lecture depicting the lives of two women who live near Jerusalem was given at Daugherty Palmer Commons.

The lecture, titled “Jerusalem Woman Speak,” featured two women, Jala Basil Andani, a Palestinian Christian living in Beit Sahour, and Ruth El-Raz, an Israeli Jew from Jerusalem. The other woman scheduled to participate in the lecture was unable to attend because the United States government denied her visa clearance.

After a brief introduction by Michael Cain, where he addressed how after the events of September 11, the United States has had stricter policies on allowing visa clearance for those arriving from Muslim countries, the first speaker began telling her story of what it is like to be a Palestinian Christian.

Andani, a retired Palestinian schoolteacher who resides in Beit Sahour, spoke of how she has lived in a Palestine under Israeli occupation since 1969 and how that has affected her life. She said that the people of Palestine are trapped because their “freedom of mobility is limited,” due to all the checkpoints that have been set up by the Israeli government.

Andani spoke of the various checkpoints that those who live in Palestine have to pass in order to move into Israeli occupied land. “[The checkpoints] have a bad impact on our humanity, on our souls,” she said. She said that she took an early retirement so that she would be able to work more actively with non-profits groups in her town to further Palestinian rights.

She spoke of how the walls and checkpoints built to keep Palestinians away from Israeli occupied territory hurt their freedom and how it has also had economic consequences. Olive trees, which are the number one export of Palestine, are being left untended to because the wall separating the villages separates Palestinian farmers from their land. “Farmers cannot pick crops on their own land,” said Andani.

El-Raz, a psychotherapist, sculptor/painter, and political activist from Jerusalem was born in London and moved to Israel in 1959. She began her talk by stating that she is “not anti- Israel or anti- Palestinian, but pro human rights.” El-Raz is involved in several organizations, including the group Women of the Checkpoint. Members of the group go to the checkpoints and observe what is occurring and then publish what they see on their website.

El-Raz spoke more of the political side of the conflict between Palestine and Israel and how Israel has encroached on the UN treaty. She also spoke of how many Israelis do not know what is actually occurring in Palestine. “A very large population of Israel doesn’t know what is going on in their name,” said El-Raz.

When the floor was opened up for questions, many people asked about the conflict on the Gaza strip. Both women discussed how after the Israeli government removed their forces form Gaza, Palestine has essentially starved, since the people are unable to export or import because Israeli forces surround them.

“It is like a prison where prisoners can live their lives, but all the important points in and out are guarded,” said El-Raz.

The lecture was a discussion on these two woman and how they dealt with the Human Rights issues of Palestine and Israeli as opposed to what their religions where.

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