Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Visa Denied for Palestinian Trainer in Nonviolence,
Hekmat Bessiso-Naji, Scheduled to be in US Speaking Tour
Visa Denied for Palestinian Trainer in Nonviolence
Partners for Peace Demands Explanation from State Department
Hekmat Bessiso-Naji a Palestinian Muslim woman from Ramallah,
scheduled to speak as part of the Partners for Peace Jerusalem Women Speak:
Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision, Tour -- “Muslim, Jewish and
Christian Women Offer Perspectives on Building Peace Between Israelis and
Palestinians” -- has been denied a visa by the U.S. Consular office in
Jerusalem. This is the 16th Jerusalem Women Speak tour.
Department denied Ms. Bessiso-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
3-week (Oct. 3 - 25) speaking tour in the United States.
Founder of Partners for Peace, states, “ This action is not in keeping with
President Obama’s stated policy of hearing all voices – it undermines his
Administration’s efforts to reassure Palestinians their voice will be
Ms. 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
During 2002 - 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
She holds diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an
Educational Development Institute in Gaza and is working on a B.A. 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 4 children.
The Partners for Peace Jerusalem Women
Speak Tour will continue with two speakers: Ms. Jala Basil Andoni, a
Palestinian Christian retired teacher from Beit Sahour near Jerusalem
and Ms. Ruth El-Raz, an Israeli Jew, psychotherapist,
sculptor/painter, political activist from Jerusalem.
founder of Partners for Peace, lived in Jerusalem in 1956 with her husband
who was a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps and spent many years in the
Middle East. Now retired, she lives in Washington, DC.
Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared
Oct. 3 - 25, 2009
A just settlement of the
Israeli/Palestinian issue is key to peace throughout the Middle East and has
far reaching ramifications for the rest of the world.
settlement activity and, in the midst of a continuing closure of Gaza,
the lack of a Palestinian coalition are perhaps the biggest stumbling
blocks to an eventual peace,
Today, about 300,000 Israelis live among
about 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. An additional 180,000
Israelis live in east Jerusalem neighborhoods built since Israel captured
the area in the 1967 Mideast war.
Partners for Peace is hosting a
tour of three women - a Palestinian Christian, an Israeli Jew, and a
Palestinian Muslim - who have lived the realities of this conflict their
Speakers for the National Jerusalem Women Speak Tour:
Ms. Jala Basil Andoni, a Palestinian Christian retired teacher from Beit
Sahour near Jerusalem
Ms. Ruth El-Raz, an Israeli Jewish psychotherapist,
sculptor/painter, political activist from Jerusalem
Ms. Hekmat Besisso, a
Palestinian Muslim Community Trainer in nonviolence from Ramallah
Bio material below.http://www.partnersforpeace.org
witnessed decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the intermittent
attempts to rekindle peace talks. Together they have made a commitment to
share with American audiences how this conflict has affected them and their
families, their work for a peaceful future and what must be done to
make peace possible.
The October 2009 tour is the Sixteenth National
Jerusalem Women Speak Tour organized by Partners for Peace since 1998.
Audiences have been eager to hear the women’s presentations and to learn
that even today in the midst of today’s ongoing conflict there are
Palestinians and Israelis willing to travel together to discuss the
If there is to be real and lasting peace, everyday people such
as these will make it happen.
Interviews, radio and TV talk
shows appearances, editorial board meetings ... are currently being
scheduled and may be arranged by contacting Peter Wirth, Partners for Peace
Media Consultant, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 315-476-3396.
Partners for Peace is an NGO
based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to help bring about a just and
lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The JWS Tours
have visited more than 120 communities in 32 states and the District
of Columbia, speaking in educational institutions, faith communities, and
Washington, DC - Saturday, Oct. 3
Burke, VA & Baltimore, MD - Sun., Oct. 4
Gaithersburg, MD - Mon., Oct. 5
Winchester, VA - Tues., Oct. 6
Charlottesville, VA - Wed., Oct. 7
Richmond, VA - Thurs., Oct. 8
Harrisonburg, VA - Fri., Oct. 9
Winchester, VA - Sat., Oct. 10
Lynchburg, VA - Mon., Oct. 12
NC - Tues., Oct. 13
Asheville, NC - Wednesday, Oct. 14
Charlotte, NC - Thurs., Oct. 15
Charlotte, NC - Fri., Oct. 16
Atlanta, GA - Sat., Oct. 17
Athens GA - Mon., Oct. 19
Washington, DC -
Wed. & Thurs., Oct. 21& 22
Annandale, VA - Thurs., Oct. 22
Island, MD - Fri., Oct. 23
Washington, DC - Sat., October 24
Annapolis, MD - Sun., October 25
For details on speaking engagements
in the above cities go to
A Muslim Palestinian originally from Gaza , Ms. Besisso – Naji, 40, now
lives in Ramallah.. She works as a Community Trainer. Her main task is
to organize, carry out, train, and evaluate nonviolence training projects.
She has also worked for AFSC (Quakers), Save the Children USA, Defense for
Children International, the Jerusalem Media Communication Center.
PARTNERS FOR PEACE
With diplomas from Al Azhar University and Kann’an Educational Development
Institute in Gaza, Ms. Besisso is working on a B.A. in Social Work from
Alquds Open University. She also has certficates from the University
of Louisville and the University of Kentucky .
She married first at
17 and raised 5 children. In 2003 she divorced and in 2005
remarried and moved with her children , to Ramallah. She and her husband,
Naji, now also have a son. Since leaving Gaza in 2005, she has been unable
to return, even when her sick mother died in 2006, or to see her eldest son,
who after returning to Gaza, now remains confined there.
2005, Ms. Besisso – Naji spoke to audiences in the U.S. and Europe.
Ruth El Raz
Ruth El-Raz, 76, a resident of
Jerusalem, was born in England. In 1954 she married and moved to Israel to
live on a kibbutz. Divorced after several years, she left Israel to
study in France and England, first sculpture, then social work.
Firmly on Israel’s side during the 1967 6-day war, believing that in 2 years
Israel would be out of the Occupied Territories, she returned in 1970 to
study social work and fight the developing militarism in Israel.
El-Raz describes herself as a psychotherapist, a sculptor/painter, and a
political activist. From 1972 through 1987 she worked at the Hebrew
University. She currently works as a therapist at the Counseling Center for
Women in Jerusalem, which she helped found. She is active in several
Israeli organizations working for peace, including ICAHD, Bat Shalom, Women
in Black and Checkpoint Watch. She is also the proud mother of a delightful
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
Jala Basil Andoni
Jala Basil Andoni, 61, lives in Beit Sahour, a
town east of Bethlehem. She was studying English literature at the
University of Jordan when the six-day war broke out in 1967 and was
separated from her family for two years. In 1969, she returned to
become the first female teacher with a B. A. teaching English in the
Israeli troops imposed curfews on Palestinian
cities and villages when the Gulf War started. People were imprisoned in
their homes and schools shut down. During that period of time she couldn't
continue her studies due to the restrictions of movement placed upon
Palestinians by the occupation.
The busy mother of 2 boys and 2
girls, she was appointed supervisor of English Language in Bethlehem
District in 1996. Convinced after the second Uprising that the only
way to peace was to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, she
retired early from the School District to spend more time on
peace building activities. She currently works with the Wi'am Center for
Reconciliation, the Arab Educational Institute (AEI), and the Alternative
Information Center (AIC),†supporting and empowering women.
For additional biographical material go to
702 S. Beech
Syracuse, NY 13210
1250 4th Street, SW, Suite WG-1
Joan Drake, PfP Board member
Hekmat K. Bessiso