Section: News

CSAD hosts Israeli and Palestinian peace activists for Q&A

Adnan Jaber and Michal Greenfield, activists from the Israeli-Palestinian non-governmental organization Tech2Peace, answered student and faculty questions on Monday in an event titled “A Conversation with Palestinian and Israeli Peace Activists on the Future of the Middle East.” The talk was co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) and organized by Kenyon alumnus Adam Singer ’96.

Jaber was born to a Palestinian Muslim family and raised in East Jerusalem. After graduating high school, he studied for a year in northern Virginia before returning home to study information technology at Arab American University in Jenin, a city in the West Bank. He graduated in 2017 and later joined Tech2Peace, which provides seminars, conflict resolution activities, career preparation and technology training to Israelis and Palestinians.

Greenfield, a Jewish Israeli, grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Israel in 2013, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. She started volunteering at Tech2Peace in 2020 after a friend recommended that she join the organization.

The talk followed a Q&A format, with audience members asking questions about Tech2Peace’s mission, life in the West Bank, what a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might look like and ways to engage in constructive dialogue about the issue. Jaber and Greenfield touched only briefly on the politics of the conflict, focusing instead on the importance of conversation and empathy.

“So much of the public discourse is focused on the suffering and the destruction, and this regurgitated trauma of repeating videos and testimonials and stories and facts that keep everybody feeling very angry, keep us wanting more of this work — as opposed to thinking of ‘what next?’” Greenfield said. 

Jaber emphasized that Tech2Peace does not take policy positions, but that the organization encourages participants in its seminars to present their own ideas for peaceful solutions.

“I’m trying to be not just putting my political views on the stage,” Jaber said. “Go to social media and you’ll find a lot of political opinions. We need to talk about the things that bring us together for a second.”

Both speakers grew up experiencing conflict within their own communities. Greenfield’s Israeli mother and American father disagreed on Israel’s right to exist, and Jaber made his first Jewish friend at the age of 22, an experience he said was common: “Everything I heard about the Israelis was not good things.”

Still, both expressed hope for a peaceful future. “[If] I don’t have hope, then I would be working on other stuff,” Jaber said.

The next event in CSAD’s spring lecture series, “The Life and Ideas of F.A. Hayek,” will take place on Jan. 30 in the Community Foundation Theater.

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