One of three women scheduled to speak on peace in the Middle East at LC tonight has been denied a visa by the U.S. government, but the talk will proceed.
Hekmat Besisso-Naji, a Palestinian Muslim woman from Ramallah, scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Monday in the Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center, has been denied a visa by the U.S. Consular office in Jerusalem. Her remarks may be represented by a video presentation.
“Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision” is the subject of the Gender Studies Program lecture, which is free and open to the public. The Jerusalem Women Speak tour, now in its sixteenth iteration, is scheduled throughout the East Coast.
The Partners for Peace Jerusalem Women Speak Tour will continue with two speakers: Jala Basil Andoni, a Palestinian Christian retired teacher from Beit Sahour near Jerusalem, and Ruth El-Raz, an Israeli Jew, psychotherapist, sculptor/painter, political activist from Jerusalem.
According to a Partners for Peace news release, the State Department denied Besisso-Naji’s visa despite the fact that she has been a visitor to the United States on a number of previous occasions. Partners for Peace is seeking an explanation of why a Palestinian professional who is currently employed in conflict resolution and nonviolence training, after building a career in the NGO nonproft sector and having been employed on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Save the Children-USA, has been denied a visa to travel on a three-week speaking tour in the United States.
Besisso-Naji, the mother of six children, is currently employed as a community trainer, organizing, administering, training, and evaluating nonviolence training programs and other projects in the Occupied West Bank. She previously worked for AFSC; Save the Children USA; Defense of Children International; and the Jerusalem Media Communications Center.
From 2002 to 2005, 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 holds diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development Institute in Gaza and is working on a BA in Social Work from Al Quds Open University. She has a technical training certificate in field research and project coordination from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky and currently lives in Ramallah with her husband and four children.
Jala Basil Andoni 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.
Ruth El Raz 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.