Speakers

Daoud Nassar

Daoud Nassar, aDaoud_hat Palestinian Christian farmer, is Director of the Tent of Nations Project on his family farm, 6 kilometers from Bethlehem.   His one hundred acre farm is surrounded on three sides by Israeli Settlements, and below by the Palestinian village of Nehalin.   It is on this farm that the family strives to maintain a haven of peace and brother / sisterhood.  International visitors join together to plant trees, harvest olives and fruit, teach at the Women’s Education Center and pusue a just peace through non-violent activities.  Since 1991, the family has managed to maintain its legal claim to the land they have owned since 1916. On May 19, Israeli forces bulldozed the family’s groves destroying several hundred trees.

 He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the Bethlehem Bible College, and Master’s degree in Business from the Bethlehem University.  Mr. Nassar has traveled to the United States twice each year since 2007 and spoken at nearly 300 venues under the sponsorship of Friends of Tent of Nations North America. In June 2013, he was invited to preach at the well known Riverside Baptist Church in New York City.  For more information on Tent of Nations, go to tentofnations.org.

Jeff Halper

Dr. Jeff HalHalperper is the Co-founder and Director of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He was born in 1946 in Hibbing, Minnesota, attended Macalester College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel’s strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He is the author of three books. In 2006 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHS’s work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity.”

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolition is a human rights and peace organization established in 1997 to end Israel’s Occupation over the Palestinians. ICAHD takes as its main focus, as its vehicle for resistance, Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and within Israel proper. ICAHD was awared UN Economic and Social Council Special Consultative Status in 2010.  For more information on the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, go to icahd.org.  To watch Jeff describe the work of ICAHD, click here.

Jehad Adwan

Jehad AdwJehadAdwanan was born in Gaza and worked there as a nurse until 1998. During that time he spent a year in an Israeli prison. He came to the University of Minnesota in 1998 and earned a PhD in nursing. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Nursing at the University.  He recently returned from a trip to Gaza to visit family and friends.

Ibtesam Al Atiyat

Ibtesam-Al-AtiyatIbtesam Al Atiyat, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Olaf College, teaches The Arab World,Introduction to Sociology, Sociological Theory and Global Interdependence. She started teaching at St. Olaf late in 2009 after teaching at the German Jordanian University and the UN International Leadership Institute in Amman, Jordan; the Freie Universitaet Berlin in Germany and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. AlAtiyat is a native of Jordan, and has received her BA and MA degrees in Sociology from the University of Jordan. Her PhD was received from the Freie Universitaet Berlin Germany.

Souheil Ailabouni

DSC01864Dr. Souheil Ailabouni is a retired Family Physician from Farmington, MN. He was born in Palestine. He and his family lived through the Nakba and the wars that followed. His small village in northern Palestine was the scene of a terrible massacre in 1948. He will recount stories from his family and his own personal experience.

Stephen Bennett

StephenBennettStephen Bennett is a PhD student at the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, and received his masters degree in history at Illinois State University. He specializes in media studies, the history of Palestine-Israel, media representations of the Middle East, critical race theory, and memory studies. He previously worked as an editorial intern and researcher at the Institute for Jerusalem Studies in the occupied West Bank and attended the Palestine and Arabic Studies program at Birzeit University.

Phil Benson

PhilBensonPhil Benson is an attorney whose private practice consists entirely of representing whistleblowers in qui tam lawsuits in federal courts around the country. He is a member of the Alaska, California and Minnesota Bars. When he’s not representing whistleblowers, he serves as a co-director of the MN Break the Bonds Campaign and as a MN coordinator for Friends of Sabeel, North America. He is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild and serves as the DFL Outreach and Inclusion Officer for the 6th Congressional District.

Chuck Lutz

Chuck Lutz has visited Israel/Palestine eight times, five of them as leader of peace-seeking pilgrimage groups. He has served as Minnesota’s grassroots coordinator with Churches for Middle East Peace, a national consortium of 24 Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant agencies that focus on U.S. policy. He is co-author (with Robert Smith) of “Christians and a Land Called Holy: How We Can Foster Justice, Peace, and Hope” (Fortress, 2006). Chuck’s Minneapolis congregation, Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, has had a sister-parish relationship with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, since 1989. In his professional career Lutz spent 40 years in communication and social-justice assignments with Lutheran and ecumenical agencies.

William Plitt

Bill_headshot_2010_PalestineBill Plitt is an elder in his Presbyterian Church and has served as Chair of the Mission Coordination Committee for the National  Capital Presbytery, as well as serving presently as Vice Moderator of the Israel Palestine Mission Network (PCUSA). In 2006 he traveled for the first time to Israel/Palestine with Interfaith Peacebuilders which has its roots in the Fellowship for Reconciliation, a long time advocacy organization for human rights.  After visiting both sides of the “wall”, he joined with Mark Braverman, an American Jew; and Bill Mims, a Quaker, to found Friends of Tent of Nations North America (FOTONNA).  The non-profit supports the work of the Nassar family on their 100 acre farm just 6 miles southwest of Bethlehem where people from around the world come to build bridges of peace, and plant seeds of hope.

Ilana Rossoff

Ilana Rossoff is a member of MN Break the Bonds, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and the ad hoc Steering Committee of National Students for Justice in Palestine. She is an alumnus of Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine who pushed the College Board to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation in 2009.

Karen Schraufnagel

Karen Schraufnagel is an anti-Zionist Jew who traveled to Palestine in 2011 as part of a delegation for the Stop the Jewish National Fund campaign. She organizes with that campaign, the Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights and Socialist Action.

Sylvia Schwarz

Sylvia2Sylvia Schwarz is a St. Paul resident. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Minnesota in engineering and works as an engineer in St. Paul. Sylvia is the Jewish daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and victims. Like most American Jews, she did not question the purpose or morality of Israel until the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982 when Israel, and specifically Ariel Sharon were implicated in the killing of some 3,000 Palestinian refugees. The same year as that massacre she met and later married a Palestinian refugee who was born in Jaffa and was three years old when he was expelled from his home. He grew up in Lebanon and immigrated to the US in 1969.
Sylvia has been active in Palestine solidarity organizations since about 2006 and is a member of the Core Team of Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign.

David Van Wylen

DaveVanWylenDave Van Wylen is a Professor of Biology at St. Olaf College who also currently serves as the College’s Sustainability Catalyst.  During the Fall 2008 semester, he taught a course entitled “Water and the Middle East” while leading 17 students on St. Olaf’s Term in the Middle East program.  He teaches an on-campus version of this course entitled “Water: Precious, Precarious, Problematic” and frequently talks with church/civic groups about his passion for a greater understanding of the water-related challenges we currently face and what is being done to address them.
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