Last month, Mathilda Nassar ’15, Shaina Lidd ’15, and Leah Weinstein ’18, along with professors from various departments, met to discuss the possibility of hosting an Israel-Palestine Peace Month in the spring. In just one short month, they have secured several speakers, a band, and faculty-wide support for this endeavor.
Mathilda, a native-born Palestinian from the West Bank, approached Shaina and Leah, both of whom have an intimate connection to Israel, and shared her vision of hosting a peace month on campus next semester. Together with professors such as Dr. Willingham, Dr. O’Keef, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Mallavarapu, as well as help from Rev. Chris Bowen, Dean Chisom, Dean Fetrow, and Mark Petersen, they made this vision into reality.
The Israel-Palestine Peace Month of 2015 involves a series of activities to raise awareness of the conflict and need for a lasting and just peace between Palestine and Israel. Running from March 20th through April 20th, it is a month to promote peace and coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, and between Arabs and Jews. Several events will take place during the month that will serve to educate students about some of the issues of this conflict. These events include Palestinian and Israeli speakers, movie screenings, a concert, and a rally for peace. It is our hope that, through these events, students will become more engaged and seek solutions to the conflict.
Mathilda, an international relations major with a concentration in peace and justice studies, deeply identifies with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and peace. Her dream is to one day be a part of negotiating a permanent peace deal between Palestine and Israel. Shaina, an international relations and religion double major, has connections to Israel through her Jewish heritage and wants both sides to be able to coexist in peace and security. Leah, also an international relations and religion double major, took a gap year and spent six months of it in Tel Aviv studying progressive Judaism, social action, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture. She hopes to have a career in diplomacy and/or social action in the region.
While these three have different views on various aspects of the conflict, they agree that a lasting and just peace between Palestine and Israel is the only way forward. This vision is what led them to take the initiative on organizing Roanoke College’s first ever Israel-Palestine Peace Month. To join or support this initiative, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.