Students describe summer dialogues at Al-Quds

October 16th, 2014
Source: The Brandeis Hoot
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A group of Brandeis students shared their experiences from spending five days this summer in Israel, with students from Al-Quds University, a Palestinian institution with campuses in Jerusalem, Abu Dis and al-Bireh on Tuesday, Oct. 7 in Pearlman Lounge. The trip was sponsored by a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant, funded by the Davis United World College Scholars Program. Two Brandeis students, Catie Stewart ’15 and Eli Philip ’15, were the recipients. The event was cosponsored by the Brandeis Democrats and the departments of Peace, Conflict and Co-existence Studies (PAX), sociology and Social Justice and Social Policy (SJSP).

Their project, “Brandeis University—Al Quds University Student Dialogue Initiative,” strove to create the basis for a long-term student dialogue between the two universities. The core of the project, the five-day intensive trip, included a tour of a Palestinian city to visualize life in the West Bank, a day at Al-Quds to engage in conversations between students and Al-Quds professors and discussions about how to continue to dialogue in the future. On the third day, a Heller School graduate from the program in Coexistence and Conflict, met the group and helped to facilitate a dialogue about a further relationship between the two universities.

Four Brandeis students shared their personal stories about the experience of connecting with the Al-Quds students and being on their campus.

“I couldn’t get my head around how it would be to go to school every day and not know if you might walk into a pile of tear gas,” said Mitchell Mankin ’16, referring to a day that the group experienced tear gas on the Al-Quds campus this summer. “Here we have students protesting when the dining halls get converted, so what would we do if we had tear gas canisters going off on South Street?”

Another student, Elizabeth Villano ’16, described her experience as “the summer of opposites.” She spoke about how her understanding of Israel was formed by growing up in a conservative, Jewish community and how some of this changed when she went on Birthright, a free trip to Israel for young Jewish adults, this summer.

“When we talked about the conflict, which wasn’t often, it was referred to in very broad terms,” said Villano. “They very specifically told us to call the Wall a ‘security fence.’”

Nathan Young ’15, an observant Jewish student, spoke about his experience of interacting with the students from Al-Quds. Though he was hesitant to wear his kippah and tzitzit, traditional items of Jewish clothing worn by men, he recounted a story about he was later relieved to hear that they were actually expecting him to do so, because they wanted him to feel comfortable around them.

Naomi Hornstein ’15 shared a personal story about her grandparents who were refugees, and how this connected her with a handful Palestinian students who also identified as refugees.

“I understand now that the identity of a refugee holds many meanings,” Hornstein said. “This is important in understanding the Palestinian narrative, as well as contextualizing my own identity.”

In 2003, then Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz and Al-Quds president Sari Nusseibeh created a partnership to, “improve the administrative and infrastructure capacities at Al-Quds, one of Palestine’s nascent civic institutions; strengthen academics and offer opportunities for faculty, staff and students at both institutions and educate the campuses about the advantages of cooperation, goodwill and understanding.” The partnership was supported early on by the Ford Foundation, that gave $1 million in funding to sustain academic and administrative exchanges between the universities, as well as documenting the partnership’s development through videos, photographs and publications.

However, in November of 2013, the partnership was suspended after a rally took place at Al-Quds. The events of the protest were described as “glorifying portrayals of hatred and violence that are antithetical to the institutional values of both Brandeis University and Al-Quds University.” Nusseibeh issued a statement after the demonstration, that was published in both Arabic and English, condemning the events of the protest. Lawrence called the statement “unacceptable and inflammatory” and also suspended Nusseibeh from the advisory board of the International Center of Ethics, Justice and Public Life.

Stewart and Philip, among others involved with the project, hope that somehow the partnership can be restored because they believe their experiences from this summer demonstrated a relationship of acceptance and the power of effective dialogue.

“We believe that only through mutual understanding on an individual level can we change policies on a larger scale, and thus that meaningful dialogue between students from a Jewish-sponsored university and students from a Palestinian university is an important step—both practically and symbolically—in shaping a more peaceful future between Jews and Palestinians,” the proposal stated.

Faculty involved with the project include Professor Susan Lanser (ENG/WMGS/COML) and Professor Daniel Kryder (POL), both of whom have traveled extensively to Al-Quds and have been among the leaders of the partnership. Lanser noted that President Lawrence is supportive of student efforts to keep the conversation going and mentioned that the administration is “well-aware that our work will continue.”

Professor Gordon Fellman, chair of the PAX Program, was also in attendance at the event and commended the group of students for their efforts.

“I just wanted to say how incredibly proud I am of this group,” Fellman said. “I am bursting with pride to what you have done.”

Philip said that they are currently working toward fostering more dialogue and hopes that there will be more exchanges between the two universities in the future.

“In terms of next steps, we are building a broad coalition of students, campus groups and faculty to show support for the partnership with Al Quds University, and encouraging President Lawrence and the administration to officially reinstate the partnership,” said Philip. “We’re excited by the large and diverse turnout at our launching event, and hoping President Lawrence will show leadership and take bold steps moving forward.”


Professor Gould’s play at the New England Youth Theater

October 8th, 2014

Professor Peter Gould of the PAX department has been working on directing a play at the New England Youth Theater!
Written by John Synge
Directed by Peter Gould

Sponsored by Trust Company of Vermont

Performances: October 10-19
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm

Adult $13, Student $9, Senior $11

In 1907, Irish playwright John Synge shocked all of Dublin with his new,
wildly funny drama set in very rural Ireland. He called it “Playboy of the
Western World,”back when “playboy”meant a fun, athletic young man, and the
western world was a rocky, slimly populated tidal flat that seemed like
the whole world to its simple inhabitants. In 2004, Peter Gould directed a
zany, physical production at the old NEYT. This October, Peter and a fine
new troupe of young senior actors bring “Playboy of the Western World” to
life again on the NEYT stage, with music and dance and a vintage-style box
set built by Rick Barron and his tech students. Don’t miss it: this play
is the source and inspiration for all the great Irish comedies that have
followed it over the past one hundred years.

For more information, visit


laura's cast photo

Davis Peace Prize Project Talk

October 1st, 2014
One of our Davis Peace Prize summer projects involved a trip to Al Quds University in the West Bank to meet and build relationships with Palestinian students. Next week, the students who participated in this dialogue initiative will be talking about their experiences to the Brandeis community. For more information, take a look at their Facebook event page.


Adam Hochschild

September 30th, 2014

Adam Hochschild, an award-winning journalist and the author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africs, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-18, and other books, will be coming to Brandeis this October 13th from 3:30 to 5:00 in the afternoon in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall.

Hochschild spent most of his career writing about human rights and social justice, and is currently a lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. This October, he will be delivering a public lecture about the public debate in Great Britain over the outbreak of World War I.

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 will be available for purchase and signing.

New minor offered by Brandeis!

September 29th, 2014

Did you know Brandeis has a new minor through the Ethics Center? It’s named “Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation.” Fore more info, visit their website.



Meet the Majors

September 23rd, 2014

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US Institute for Peace – online class offerings

September 22nd, 2014

USIP recently expanded its offerings by launching the USIP Global Campus, which features a series of facilitated online courses. These courses are designed to enable interactive and collaborative learning experiences within a broad-based classroom of students representing a diversity of backgrounds and countries. USIP faculty and experts will directly connect and network with participants in the course and those participants will be able to network as well. Some of their classes include Strategic Peacebuilding and Conflict Analysis.

For more information on their courses, check their website!


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Experiential Learning Peacebuilding Expedition

September 19th, 2014

Outward Bound Peacebuilding
is a non-profit organization that inspires and challenges leaders in divided societies to work together to build peace. Outward Bound Peacebuilding uses experiential learning techniques to encourage compassionate leadership, develop skills in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and foster respect and trust amongst a network of change agents from around the world. Please find below the details of the 2015 Practicum, and an attached flyer for dissemination to your community.


Please contact me if I can provide any further information at either or 347-746-0461. We greatly appreciate your help.


Best regards,

Ana Patel, Executive Director

Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding

Dates: January 2 – 11, 2015 (arrival on Jan. 1st)

Location: Piedras Blancas, Costa Rica Participants will fly into San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)


What is it?

Designed for young professionals and students who want to get out of the classroom and apply their leadership and conflict resolution skills. PEP is a program that combines a unique outdoor experience with experiential learning techniques in a multicultural environment.


Resolving conflict needs a deep understanding of others and nature can create a safe space for experiencing different perspectives. Peace begins with me.

Birikit Terefe, 2013 PEP Participant from Ethiopia


What does the program include?

The 10-day experience will include hiking and backpacking through the Costa Rican rainforest, a homestay and service project with a local Costa Rican family, an overnight solo camping experience, waterfall rappel and conclude with a day at the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education, U.N. mandated University for Peace, in Costa Rica. Along the journey participants will learn and practice leadership skills, challenge their own perspectives, explore relevant peacebuilding topics, and develop meaningful relationships with participants who share similar commitments to peace and human dignity.

For more info, visit

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President of Ghana to speak at Brandeis

September 19th, 2014

The President of the Republic of Ghana, John D. Mahama, will present a talk at Brandeis on Monday, Sept. 29, 12:45-1:45 pm, in the Carl J. Shapiro Theater, Shapiro Campus Center. The talk is free and open to the Brandeis community.

In his address, “The Promise of Africa,” President Mahama will discuss recent and current growth and development on the African continent and the need for the international community to support and encourage these new development achievements. He will highlight Ghana’s efforts to attain economic growth and reduce poverty in charting a sustainable course as a stable middle-income country.

Tickets are required to attend the talk and are available at the Shapiro Campus Center box office during the following hours: Monday-Friday, 12-6 p.m. and Saturday 12-4 p.m. The box office will be closed Sept. 25-28 for Rosh Hashanah. Tickets are limited and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. One ticket will be issued per Brandeis ID.

Please note that security measures will be in place. No bags, cameras, video cameras, or signs or banners will be allowed in the theater. The Secret Service may also implement other restrictions. Doors will open at 12 noon.

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management’s Sustainable International Development program is sponsoring President Mahama’s talk as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. President Mahama will also meet with President Frederick M. Lawrence and attend a lunch with faculty, staff and students.


Karpf Hahn Peace Grant

September 15th, 2014

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