– We will be hearing from the students who have participated in
dimensions of this program. Let just say very briefly at the outset, my own understanding and
deep, deep conviction is that education is a moral enterprise. What we do and how we teach, what we teach, who we
teach, matters a lot. And I have the privilege of being here at the Harvard Divinity School, and my own training is
as a social ethicist. And the privilege I’ve
had to be able to engage in this initiative with
remarkable colleagues that I’ve just mentioned
and the incredible students, that we’ve had a chance to
explore the fundamental questions that this initiative
invites us to consider has been a remarkable privilege. And I just can’t thank the Sousou’s enough and thank the opportunity that all of you have helped make possible to participate in this project. So the Religion, Conflict,
and Peace Initiative, as I said, is a four-year initiative, and our aims for it were
to give students here, graduate students from
across the university, an opportunity to think, first of all, what I call a long thought. Some students, as you know
event at the master’s level, so much of our lives here
in education is fragmented. So we wanted to provide an initiative that allows people to participate
in a long conversation that is related, that they
can dip into and out of, depending on schedules,
and convictions, and time. But the initiative itself is set up so that some people could
have a full year engagement, a full year experience, with thinking about these intersections of religion, conflict, and peace through four different opportunities. The first is a fall course called Religion, Conflict, and Peace that is open to anyone at the university across the university disciplines. The second is a J-Term course, which is an intensive
21-day immersion experience in Israel and Palestine, which you’ll hear very much about tonight from our students’ experiences. The third is an internship that people who are on the J-Term course have the opportunity to
do an internship seminar with me in the fall to then
prepare and make a proposal to work in the region for the summer that is also funded by the Sousou’s, an opportunity to work in
the region in the summer with an individual or
a foundation relevant to their own professional
work and their own vocation. And then a series of
symposia and opportunities for scholars, practitioners
from the region, to come here to Harvard, which we’re going to be
hosting four different ones this next year, this next academic year. So the opportunity for us, the idea of this exchange of ideas, of delving into a complicated
set of challenges. We’re focusing this project
on Israel and Palestine. What seems like an
intractable set of challenges, we believe deeply a more capacious and nuanced understanding of
religion can help provide tools that will break the binary ways that these conflicts
are often represented. Right, wrong, good,
bad, the simplistic ways that we often represent not
just this conflict but others, and that religion becomes, because it’s such a powerful
force in human experience, to be able to have a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding
of religion opens up the opportunity to think
about the power of religion in this particular
context and more broadly in people’s experiences and their lives. You’ll hear language from our students about this term structural violence. I just want to day a word about that before I then talk about the narrative arc of the course and then turn
this over to my colleagues. Central to this course
and to all the courses that all of us who are involved in this initiative
promote is the conviction and the centrality of the recognition that structural violence exists and that is harmful to all people who are engaged in that context. So structural violence or those structures that
allow for the opportunity for limited access to goods and services for some segments of society. Whereas others have more privileges. It can be legal as in legal structures such as apartheid in South Africa. It can be social as in the situations where access to quality healthcare, access to quality education is limited. So it’s not legal but it’s
actually socially binding. So structural violence
in the form of any number of challenges where social
inequity is itself reproduced at a structural level and goes beyond just individual intention or agency is a central dimension of this course and the belief, this entire initiative. And the belief that
structural violence diminishes our capacity as human beings to live and flourish and reach the potential that we can cultivate
together if we can break the back of structural violence. So the challenge for
all of us is to be able to recognize where
structural violence exists and then to think of really generative and creative ways of what
it means to work together to think about diminishing
its impact and its power. The fundamental through
lines of the course are a complex understanding of religion. My colleague Atalia Omer who will speak to you in a moment who is a professor at Notre Dame and a graduate
of the Divinity School here where she got her doctorate. She has coined the phrase
hermeneutic, citizenship. Where she looks at what does it mean for us to think of a more capacious and rich, and inclusive understanding of citizenship that
really takes into account all of the communities
that are often marginalized or not recognized when we
think about citizenship in any context. And she’s done ground breaking
work on this very question related to the
Israel-Palestinian conflict. The second, another third narrative arc of our work is Marshall Ganz’s
work on public narrative. The power of stories. The importance of
recognizing diverse stories of hearing diverse stories. Of recognizing that is the diversity of our communities and the pluralism and the rich diversity within communities that is an incredible
and important resource for all of us to really promote and engage in human flourishing. So Marshall Ganz’s work on narrative has been central. And you’ll hear these
reflections when the students present their brief
representations of their learning. And so these are through lines throughout these whole experiences. I want to just say for those
of you who are students here we hope that you’ll pay attention and get involved with us next year. Because this is a second,
the third, and fourth year of this program. We have two more years. We hope that you will be inspired to participate either through course work or to coming to more of our public events. Potentially to join us
on the J-term course. The richness of this experience
for us has been profound. I can’t even begin to tell you. Even for me with my incredible privilege of being able to teach
at a place like this with students like many of you. This has been one of the highlights of my own professional experience. So again, without further ado I’m going to turn this over to my
colleague Atalia Omer and then she will
introduce Hillary Rantecee and then we’ll move into. We’ll see a short video that one of our students put together and then we’ll hear brief presentations from several of the
students in the J-term. Thank you again, all of you for coming. And I’ll turn it over to Atalia. (applause) – Good evening it’s
wonderful to be back here at the HDS. And thank you Professor Moore
for really the kind words that you said and for including me in this incredible J-term
that you’ll hear about today. So. Don’t worry, I’ll just
speak extremely briefly. So one thing that was very important and that we stressed throughout
and that we processed together as a group, the
faculty and the students. Is that it’s not enough
to go there, to Palestine and Israel and see because
one needs to examine one’s own positionality and the very lens the very prisms through
which we see what we see. Because it’s very. So one of the big issues that we needed to denaturalize in terms of
interpreting what we are seeing is that the security paradigm. So seeing Palestine, seeing the West Bank, seeing checkpoints through
the security paradigm. This of course invites again, a discussion of structural violence, deep examination of Orientalism, putting what we see and the particularity of the contents within deeper historical outlook. So now the hermeneutics of citizenship that you heard a little
about really inform the kind of choices that I help making in shaping the schedule,
in shaping the itinerary. With an understanding
that it’s very important to foreground and actually very unique. It’s the unique dimension of
the J-term of the program. To foreground voices in the margins. Especially of Israeli
society because in the case of the Palestinian voices the realities of marginalization and
oppression are self evident in many respects. And so this notion of the hermeneutics of citizenship involves both critique. This is where the level of analysis of structural violence comes into play. But also constructive. With my work I refer to it as care taking. So you can be a critic and a caretaker. And it’s important to be both at once to think constructively and reimagine the relationship of identity to space. So it was the hermeneutics of citizenship that informed some of the choices we made. We met an Ethiopian-Israeli
Jewish activist who recognized the interconnection between their struggle
against police brutality and African American struggles. And also the possibility, the potentiality of the interconnections and solidarities with Palestinians. So we saw that. We met a Mizrahi, so Arab
Jewish activist single moms. A single mom, one. Who illuminated the moment
where it was a protest in south Tel Aviv. So not a usual stop in
Israel-Palestine trip. That involved kind of
solidarity action among Mizrahi single moms, and asylum seekers. Recognizing the interconnections
between deportation and gentrification. So it was important to see
some interesting connections. Now centralizing structural violence as Professor Moore indicated,
helps us illuminate the possibilities both of new imagination, the constructive aspects, the new story, that new possible
stories and imaginations. But also moments, we got
glimpses into moments that kind of, complex friendships. So when we met with an
Israeli, Jewish Israeli guy who is activist in Ta’ayush
which is this movement. Movement will be probably
an overstatement. But in any case, a group of
people who are deeply committed to accompanying Palestinians
who in the southern hills of Hebron in particular,
who are under constant threat of demolition of their villages, their houses, and attacks by Israeli Jews. And it was really important
to hear his reflection but also really amazing
to see the friendships that manifested
spontaneously when we visited in one of the villages where
he often engaged accompaniment with Palestinians. So, but one thing that I wanted and that will be really the last point that I wanted to underscore. Beyond the choices of
the voices that we heard with respect to, not
all the Israeli voices, the Jewish Israeli voices that we heard but many of them. Beyond that it’s important to understand that the other framing of this course of narratives of
displacement and belonging when it’s oriented by the
concept of structural violence really puts the narratives
who are recognizing all their authenticity and they’re meaning and their realness. It really offers kind
of an ethical compass to avoid, this is my
story, this is your story, and this is his story,
and this is her story. So focusing the discussion
through the lens of structural violence
which has been very, very challenging and very difficult. Really brings to the
foreground the ethical compass. And generated in many
of us questions about constructive possibilities, new meanings, new imaginations, new solidarities. The complex friendships
that we witnessed by the guy who’s name is Guy. (laughing) From Ta’ayush. So it’s been such a privilege for me to be a part of this team. It’s especially an incredible privilege and personal, it was a
personal journey as well to be on this journey
together with the students and together with Hillary Rantecee. I think that in our own conversations we modeled possibilities
of complex friendships. (laughing) So yeah, so with this, Hillary. It’s yours. (applause) – Thank you, Atalia. I will keep this extremely
short because I’m in the way of you actually
hearing the presentations of the students. But I wanted just to share very briefly that is has been an honor for me also, to be part of this very creative
and very important project and emphasizing Professor
Moore’s focus on moral learning that I think sometimes at Harvard, it’s not always part of
what our learning is about. So for me it’s a privilege
to part of this project and an honor. So what I want to share is very brief and it’s about the
course that the students are going to share about. And it’s about learning in context and the idea of learning in context is so different than
learning in the classroom. You know we had done
readings before going. We had explored different texts. We looked at theories but
learning on the ground and seeing things in our own
eyes is very, very different. Learning in context is different because in this situation in
particular you’re learning from people who are enduring
and living the situation as it’s ongoing. So we were able to see things but also to hear from people and their experiences and how they manage. Do they see? Some people choose not to see. So we were also able to see that. And we see that here,
you know with privilege and power and so on. But we were able to see that. But we also were able to see people who were challenging us to actually see. They were stepping out
and taking a stance. In some instances putting
their bodies on the line. In others, just in their own profession in their own way making a statement. Whether they were artists. We met with hip hop artists. We met with writers, with journalists, with politicians, NGO leaders, architects. Just a whole range of people. And I think that also is
something that we can learn. That in every profession that we can be in we have a role to play. That as individuals even if we’re not in positions of power we also
have agency to change things. And we were challenged. I mean, you know, the last
two days we were there, I thought, we’re all very tired. And one of the people we heard from was an 82 year old woman who is an activist. And the students were
like, whoa we’re tired but look at this 82 year
old Palestinian woman who has lived through all of these things and she’s still out there doing it. And so I think the
examples of people living their lives and doing what they believe in is just an inspiration. And an honor for us to witness but also I hope a challenge for us to also maybe follow in those footsteps. So for me it was a wonderful experience to be part of this. Now this is course you will hear about all the different things that we’re seeing and maybe not everything because we had like 62 engagements. Or 61, you know, meetings. And so it was very intense. It was very intense for all of us. It was very painful for many of us. And I think in many ways that was also part of the learning, to feel the pain. But as Atalia was sharing about lots of the Israeli voices we heard, we also heard many Palestinian voices. And I think whether they
were Palestinians living in the West Bank or
Palestinian citizens of Israel. And the concept of
(speaking foreign language) which is steadfastness. The concept of resistance. But also, I think, the
concept of co-resistance. And that is of both
Israelis and Palestinians who are co-resisting a structure
that is killing people. So I think for me that was inspirational. But that’s also me speaking. I think the students will speak to their own experiences,
to their own lessons that they learned from this. This is such a unique experience. I’ll just give you a short glimpse. We had 50 applicants from
across Harvard graduate schools to this new course no
one had heard of before. We selected 16 participants from seven different graduate schools. So very different professions
coming in conversation in this course. We had about seven
nationalities represented in this course. We had multiple religions represented in the course. And so there was diversity in our group. And that was also part of the learning. I think there was a lot
of challenge there, right? And for me that was something that I hadn’t thought
of before going on this. I was naive enough to
think that the experience is just seeing and hearing from people. But seeing how we interfaced and interacted and
learned from these people was also part of our learning. And so I will stop here
because I think you’ll get a sense from the students and they also, you will hear the diversity
with what they’ve learned. They all had different
lessons from their experience and I thank you all for coming
and joining us this evening. (applause) Okay, Bridget. You’ll also see the town. – Just going to show a five minute video that we made about the trip. (light music) – [Dalia] Going to Palestine and Israel for my J-term class was
a surreal experience. I don’t think I ever thought I’d have the opportunity to participate in course where I could explore such a wide variety of narratives with such a smart
and diverse group of people. There were times when
I felt uncomfortable. There were times when I felt challenged. And there were times
when I felt so touched by the generosity of the
people that we encountered. (speaking in foreign language) I have to say that in
thinking about my vocation as a learning experience designer, it provided me with a great opportunity to think about what makes for
a powerful learning experience and a huge part of that
is situated experience. Which we got to get hands on. Given that we were given
the context necessary to truly understand and
begin to wrap our minds around the course content. – [Bridget] We spent
three weeks meeting people in cities like Haifa,
Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Rawabi, and communities like
Ebhode, Efrat, Mulhare, the Tent of Nations, and
the Aida refugee camp. – Okay, and if you look at the big map you can see that we’re in the
heart of the city of Hebron And where we are standing over here we can really see the security. The security council,
you know what I mean. – [Bridget] We met activists, artists, politicians, professors, lawyers, farmers, and community leaders in order to gain a more complex
understanding of life in Israel and Palestine. We met Mizrahi Jews, Ashkenazi
Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Haredi Jews, secular Jews. People who had made Aliyah. Jerusalemites, Bedouins, Drews, Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinians citizens of
Israel, Muslims and Christians. And we came to better understand the diversity among this population. Relying upon Johan Galtung’s
typologies of violence we made examining structural violence the focus of our experience. In doing so we were able to begin to dismantle our binary notions of what is good or bad in the
Israeli-Palestinian context. And to see how the occupation as an example of structural violence, harms everyone in this setting. – [Tim] This one group
that we talked with, with Parent Circle
where there were parents where their children were killed that they recognized that
the problem was the system and there was one Israeli man that even mentioned, I will not use my victim hood to victimize others. And this was someone who
had his daughter killed in one of the Intifada’s. And to see him talking right beside a veiled Palestine woman was so powerful. How they were both working
to end this violence that hurts everybody. – [Sarah] One of the most valuable aspects of this course for me was
getting to be in conversation and community with such
a wonderfully interesting and diverse group of people. It wasn’t just that I got
to hear the narratives of 62 different people in organizations in Israel and the West
Bank filtered through my own understanding and world view. But that I also got to
learn from how my classmates and colleagues perceived
different narratives as well. – [Manami] The visceral feelings
and very raw emotions I had when were in Israel and the West Bank are the constant reminders
that we have so much work to do in this world. I know I alone cannot make changes so I look forward to
working together with people who believe in deep, pragmatic solidarity, greater justice and peace in this world. Our J-term learning in context, narratives of displacement and belonging in Israel and the West Bank was such a powerful and transforming learning experience that it continues to influence the way I see our world everyday. (applause) – So that film. While I’m speaking those
students who are going to present could you just
come up and sit down here. So that we’re ready to just
move right through that. (applause) I just want to say that
video was created by one of the students on the trip, Bridget. (applause) So that was her contribution
in her learning. So Sophia if you, when students are ready to come up if you could come
up and just say who you are and what school you’re from. And then go ahead and present. And Sophia you’re going
to begin, so thank you. I’m going to, I think
probably come up here because the room is so wide and
people won’t be able to see. That’s okay, yeah? Do exactly what you did. – Hello, everybody thank
you for being here. My name is Sophia Saulus and I’m a master’s in
public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School. I’ll excuse myself because
I have to leave very soon. But I still wanted to share with you what this class and this trip meant for me and still means for me. So I’ll read something. And I forgot to say that I’m Colombian which is a very important
part of who I am. You will have to write
a reflection everyday. Everyday a reflection. Oh no, please don’t. These Divinity School people. (laughing) It is 11:00 P.M. I’m physically
and emotionally exhausted. The day was long and
after only two days I feel as if I had been here for one month. Today I cried, I laughed,
I felt compassion, I felt anger, I questioned
myself, I was grateful. I am very tired. Do I really have to write
a reflection, really? But words started flowing
and then came the tears. And then came the deep
necessity to share these words. I once dreamt of becoming journalist. I used to write and really enjoyed it. But I then realized that as much as I love telling stories
I wanted to change the stories I was telling. I wanted to become a doer. But there is something deep inside me that constantly asks me, why
is it that you aren’t writing? When are you going to write again? In this trip I connected
with many parts of myself and my identity that had been forgotten. Hidden under the pragmatism
of the economist, the practicality of the policy maker, the daughter of the agnostic parents, the grand daughter of the grand parents that don’t talk much about their past. And this was the perfect
chance to reconnect with the story teller. So now I’m grateful that I was pushed to write a reflection. Don’t tell anyone I haven’t
finished all of them. But that is precisely why I
want to turn my reflections into a chronicle in different numbers that will be published
in a digital magazine. I want to finish. I want the world, my world,
to see a bit of what I saw and spark some curiosity
and empathy around what is happening in a corner of the world that seems remote but is
much closer than we think. And I will share a bit of
what I will start sharing. (speaking in foreign language) Leave, leave fast, we have to run. Anywhere. Anywhere where they will take us. Leave with two bags,
pack whatever you can. Take the key, don’t forget the key. We’ll be back. Do you have the key? The right to return, who’s right? What does it mean to return? Where do we return to? This is the story of the
Palestinian families leaving Lifta. It is the story of Hans
and Lily, my grandparents leaving Vienna with
thousands of other Jews. It is the story of almost
seven million Colombians that were ripped off their land. Ruthlessness, land, return, belong. Belong here, belong there, belong nowhere. (speaking in foreign language) Belong. (speaking in foreign language) April 9th, 1948. April 9th, 1948. April 9th, 1948. Here they call it a tragedy. The Nakba. We call it. (speaking in foreign language) Through these 10 corners
of the world burned on the same day and you
saw it, you witnessed this. Did you read about the Nakba? This is a letter to my grandfather. Have I listened enough? Have I asked enough? Have I truly listened to
all the voices in Colombia? Probably not. That is my task now, I guess. I have thought a lot about what you would think about Israel, about the occupation. From your experience, your own exile, your atheism, your own pain. From your love for books. From your deep commitment
to justice and democracy. I would love to talk to you
about what I’m learning, thinking, turning around. 25 days or six months. After leaving Bogota,
I am sitting in a plane that just left Tel Aviv. We’ll cross the Atlantic and in 12 hours we’ll arrive in Toronto. I have many images,
emotions, and information in my body, my mind, and my heart. Sometimes mixed, sometimes
collapsed, sometimes superb. I’m excited to get to my house to have a room just for me. It is very comforting
to feel that I have made Cambridge a place that I want to return to despite the minus 10 degrees Celsius that are waiting for me. And I can’t help thinking of
you on a boat by yourself. Having no where to go. Colombia, Spanish, the tropics? (applause) – Why are you looking at me? Hello everyone, thank you for being here. My name is Manami Woodshi. I’m a graduate student at
Harvard Medical School. I’m a physician by training
and I’m currently studying global health delivery. So soon after, probably
a few days after we came back from the trip I came
across an academic blog written by a researcher at
London School of Economics and Political Sciences. LSC, which was entitled,
“A Trip to the West Bank Between Graffiti, Deprivation,
Struggle, and Resilience.” And I was particularly interested to learn the author’s perspectives
since she described the Palestinian peoples
daily suffering and struggles in terms of access to
healthcare or lack thereof. I studied and practiced
medicine in various parts of the world. Both so called, global south and north. Whether that is an appropriate
way of describing the world. But my profession, not
work, involves delivering quality healthcare to those people in impoverished places
throughout the world. With emphasis on social justice approach. So how the author described health. The disparity and the inequality among the Palestinians in the
occupied Palestinian territories and the way she spoke against racism and the ongoing systemic
violence really resonated with me in many ways. So this, I knew that this was a very politically sensitive article and I appreciated the
author took her stand. And I also have a handful of both Israeli and Palestinian friends and colleagues who are very dear to me. But I decided and I took a risk, and decided to post this
blog on my social media page. And I didn’t really expect any response from anyone because
its usually people tend to avoid any controversial stuff. But to my surprise, within
an hour I actually got a response, a comment
on this post from one of my Israeli friends. With whom I had a opportunity
to meet in Jerusalem during our trip there. She’s also a physician. We met during our medical
training in Hungary. And she currently works
at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem. Which is one of the most
prestigious and advanced tertiary hospitals in Israel. I visited her at the newly
renovated medical center and she happily gave me
a tour inside a hospital. She really seemed so proud to work there and I was so happy for her. And she also told me about
the history of the hospital and I learned about Hadassah which is the Women’s Zionist
Organization of America. Women’s Zionist Organization of America which is the largest Jewish organization and also the largest women’s organization in the United States. My friend is an Ashkenazi Jew. She was born and raised in Jerusalem by religious parents. Her father is originally from the US but migrated to Israel
when he was a young adult. I enjoyed the visit with her. It was a very brief visit,
but it was a really nice time. We had a nice time together. So she posted this comment on, and reading her comment. And I had to really digest and think about how I would respond to her. And this process really
was a good intellectual and emotional exercise for me to reflect on why I had decided to
participate in this J-term program in the first place. And this process reminded me also why I so deeply care about my profession and vocation as a global
health practitioner, a well being advocate, and
also a human right activist. So if you don’t mind I
will read you her comment and I’d love to hear
what you’d think, okay. Manami, my dear friend. It was wonderful to see you in Jerusalem and to catch up, however briefly. I must comment on this blog and the beautiful yet disturbing pictures you’ve shared of your busy time here. I’d like to initially point out that I am certain your
objectives are pure and true. I am old enough to remember
the time before Al Salak wars and easily the time before the wall when buses were blowing up
all around Jerusalem everyday. I personally was in earshot
of nine such bombings and close enough to run to
treat the wounded in one. The wall was not intended to
keep good, honest people out. It was intended and has proven efficient in keeping Palestinian terrorists out. As you saw on your visit I work in a Jerusalem hospital
alongside Palestinian Muslims, and Christians, Jewish, and other doctors. We treat everyone, including
Palestinians, even terrorists. The Palestinian doctors I work
with do not live in poverty. And that is an understatement. They come from Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem, you name it. And I am upset we cannot
be proper neighbors because of politicians on either side who benefit from spreading hate. I was so upset when I could not attend the wedding of a fellow doctor
in Ramallah a while back. But it’s dangerous for Israeli to visit Palestinian cities now. Unlike how it is portrayed in this blog, the segregation is not based on racism. My doctor friends have
permits to enter Israel with their cars and can travel freely with the Palestinian license plate. I, on the other hand, cannot
enter Palestinian towns. With the hate that is promoted
by Palestinian authority parentheses, from young aging schools by paying stipends to
families of terrorists and by naming streets and
schools after terrorists and outwardly promoting
the killing of Jews. Parentheses ends. I’ll literally be taking
my life in my hand by crossing a check
point in that direction. So context is what is important. And what is greatly lacking here and I am afraid in much of the
Palestinian so called cause. A great woman once said, if the Arabs would lay down their weapons at that moment there will be peace. If we lay down our weapons
that will be the end of Israel. Thank you. (applause) – Hello everyone, my name is Pablo and I’m a master student at the GSD,
at the School of Design. And I’m happy to share with you a couple of my experiences and what
this course has meant to me. And it hasn’t been a course, it hasn’t been a field trip, but it’s been really a powerful and transformative experience. And I would define it as a door. It’s been a door to the
context and the region. It’s been a door to
the people living there and their stories that are difficult, that have been emotional,
that are important stories to hear and to be told. And it’s been a door also to meet all my wonderful classmates that now are friends. And that our bond in this
experience will last very long. And also to their minds and their hearts in this context. It’s been also a door to myself and within me to think about what it means to be human and confront many of the questions that we all go through. I would like to share with
you a specific experience. So as we’ve heard already. We’ve heard many different
stories, many narratives. But I would like to share with
you one, a specific story. We met with Combatants for
Peace, an organization. And we met with two members
of this organization. One of them identified
himself as a Palestinian and the other one identified
himself as an Israeli. But what united them is that
they had lost family members due to the situation. And what was really powerful
about this experience is seeing them, the way
that they interacted with each other, that
they treated each other. The day that they were holding each other. And for me this is
something that is really has stuck with me and has left me thinking that peace is not only a word, it is not only an idea, but it something that one has to embody and
it’s in the daily relationships and the daily interactions. So I think that has left me thinking that if we want to do
something about this world it’s something that we can do everywhere and we can all have a role
to play in making this world a better place. (applause) – Oh, okay. Hello, my name is Jaime Drucker and I’m a third year MDiv student here at the Divinity School. I also work over at the Harvard Hillel as their director of
undergraduate programming. And, woof, this is very difficult. And that is sort of the point. One of the many points. There’s such bravery involved. I’m actually giving myself
a compliment right now, in people being able
to share their stories. We’ve heard this number
many times, 62 meetings. We met with more than 62
people, made up those meetings. Who were able to translate
both from many other languages and just from the
experiential to the verbal. What their realities were in a way that was concise or as
intelligible as could be. And of course with any
effort of translation, as you’ve heard people who
don’t just speak English were on this trip and spoke just now. That’s, it’s more than just language. It’s experience, it’s hard to translate. So. And even for a group of students, we’re 16 diverse students
but we’re all at Harvard. We’ll all grad students. We’re all pretty well educated. We couldn’t always make
ourselves understandable to one another. And then as we’ve heard from a lot of us coming back, it was really hard to make ourselves understandable to our communities when we came back. So just to give you a snap
shot of what those 62 meetings could look like in one day. One day we. One day we went to a
settlement called Efrat where we met with a man
who’s a settler there. We went on a bus tour of his community and then he invited us into his home and shared his experiences. We then went to Yad Vashem which is a major Holocaust memorial museum. And then we went to Rawabi
which is an amazingly beautiful community of Palestinians, have a beautiful, beautiful community of hope and ingenuity for
Palestinian community. And then we went back
to the hotel in Ramallah and talked about it. Or tried to. In my opinion, you can ask all 16 of us plus our people on our
trip who staffed it. We all walked away from that differently. As we do from every experience. In my opinion we never recovered from that conversation as group. Because I don’t think that we were able to make ourselves
understandable to each other. And just to speak for myself,
I don’t think I was able to recover from that conversation. I don’t think I was able to
make myself understandable and I wasn’t able to understand what people were experiencing. It was confusing for
me to figure out my own evolving Jewish identity
that is so much in process. To go and be in a settler’s home and not agree with settlements
but feel very at home with the Judaica and they’re
preparing for Shabbat and to go to Yad Vashem and
feel like this is something that happened to my people and if this happened again
it would happen to me. To go to Rawabi and be so stunned
by this unbelievable feat. And then to go be in a
very confusing community of people who I care about
and want to understand deeply. On Shabbat in Ramallah
where I can’t, you know, do much other than have
some wine with friends at the dinner table. And say a couple blessings. So it’s very hard for us to understand or explain our experiences. We’re trying our bravest. But that’s all I’ve got. (applause) – Wow, thank you. I have to echo everything Jaime has said. In many ways she’s captured
the sentiments I want to express so well. This trip was hard. It was really difficult. There were nights where
I went to bed crying. There were mornings where I
didn’t want to talk to anyone. I think for me the biggest
takeaway from this trip is that peace isn’t some finish line. It’s a process. And we’re all individually, each of us, on our own journey and
somewhere along on that process. And it requires patience and
listening, and understanding. For me I grew up in a very,
in a Muslim household. Palestine is a huge part of my upbringing because a lot of Muslims in the diaspora have taken it on as
their own personal cause. It’s something that unites all of us. It’s something that we all
feel so much outrage over. And growing up, going to
Berkeley as my undergrad, BDS is huge there and I
was very much involved in all those movements
and continue to be so. But this course, coming
into it, I had no idea what to expect. In meeting all these diverse people from such different
backgrounds and perspectives. For me this trip was so unique in that it did make me recognize
that there is a binary. There is a simplistic binary
that I was also part of. That I have solely, through this trip, have kind of moved away from. And what that’s enabled me to do is to try to at least
start to try to understand perspectives that I could
not listen to or hear before. That I didn’t have the
ability to hear before. And it’s been a really hard process that I’m still grappling with today. The trip has in many ways
not really ever ended for any of us. We say this all the time,
but it really hasn’t. And I think for me what’s really hard is communicating what I’ve learned to those who I really love. And doing it in a way
where you still recognize that there are power imbalances. That there is such a thing as justice that’s being denied to
people in this region. But to do that in a way, I think. (sighing) That is a just peace and what
that can possibly look like is something that this trip has given me that I couldn’t ever
really repay you guys for. So thank you so much. We’ll move onto the next speaker. (applause) – Yeah. Greetings, greetings, greetings. I’m going to do this thing here. Okay. Good evening everyone. My name is Azmera Hammouri-Davis. If you were to ask me that a year ago I probably would have said Azmera Davis. And I would have left
out the Hammouri part. In large part because I
didn’t know what that meant. Growing up my mother said,
you grew up in Hawaii don’t worry about your Arab heritage. You don’t need to know. But she’s an artist herself. So she created songs
called, “Shalom Ya Habibi.” (laughing) And I memorized those songs growing up. And she grew up in
Laguna Beach, California. And she was the youngest
daughter of Marwan Hammouri who came over to California and married a white American
woman, my grandmother, who raised me and my
three siblings in Hawaii. Marwan Hammouri who left Hebron in 1961. And who created a life for himself. He was the oldest of 11 children. The only one to get an associates degree. He did the thing that I later would learn is a normal Arab thing,
where you own gas stations in Laguna Beach. So I grew up hearing
about my mother’s father who died when she was 14. And knowing all the lyrics to. (singing in foreign language) Peace, that’s right. (laughing) And here I am growing up in Hawaii to two parents who are so
eclectic and eccentric. And that’s not even addressing my father who, his father was an African American who went to the military
and served in World War II and married a woman who’s
father was African American and served in the military. And who’s mother is
German and from Germany. So my father grew up in
Munich, Germany until seven. Grew up in Harlem, New York
as an African American male. Met this eclectic rebel woman and they had three kids in Hawaii. And here I am. I came to Harvard Divinity School through something called the Diversity and Explorations program. I went to undergrad at the
University of Southern California and I studied visual and performing arts, critical studies, along
with social science and psychology. I’ve been in this deep pursuit
of trying to understand what it is that motivates people to do the things that they do. And how do they express that? I grew up around art. I despised art because I judged it. My parents are artists
and they didn’t have it all together, I’m
not trying to do that. And I came on this trip. I came into HDS with no idea that I would learn
anything about Palestine. That this trip would even
open itself up to me. And through friends of friends of friends who were involved in different organizing that I admittedly had no participation in outside of, I knew the black experience. I could tell you about
the black experience. Palestine was invisible. So for me, and I’ll
try to keep this short, sweet, and succinct. It’s not short, sweet,
and succinct at all. And some of you in the room
know parts of this story. Senior year of high school in Hawaii. My senior year my senior
project teacher, Glen Waters, said hey if any of you want to write letters to pen pals in Palestine at the Ramallah friend school,
you can get credit for it. And I was like, okay dope,
cool for sure, maybe. I don’t know anything about it but cool. So I tell my mom, Azmera
what are you doing? Azmera, ugh, no. You don’t need to know. You need to be careful. People can read your
emails, dah, dah, dah. Completely paranoid about
Arab stigmatization in the US. I’m like, you’re from Hawaii, calm down. You don’t know anything. (speaking in foreign language) And you don’t even fully
know what that means. But you know that means like,
shut up, be quiet, let’s go. You know. But I get a kick out
of messing with my mom. So I’m like, oh that’s that response. Okay, I’m going to do that then. Okay. So senior year I had a little interest. Ah, okay I have this pen pal, cool. Then I go to USC. Junior year I do this independent study and I’m exploring identity. So want to understand
identity construction for students of African and Arab descent. I want to attempt to
understand these names that I carry. What does my name mean? Azmera Adonai Anesa Hammouri-Davis. These parents here they’re
just giving a work. In Portuguese you say. (speaking in foreign language) Like what the hell? So I mean. I’m like, good god. Okay, so. So senior year at USC
I create this project called break the boxes. I do spoken word poetry and
I do this Afro-Brazilian martial art called Capoeira. Capoeira is rooted in a history of resistance, resilience,
through movement and expression. Poetry is narrative story
telling in it’s own form. So break the boxes emerges. I come here, a friend tells
me about this program. I do this program, thank you. We’re in Hebron. My mom sends me images of the land that her father still has in Hebron. I had met with my aunts in California who told me about how they left in ’73. So I send them pictures
of Al Shoe-Ahada Street which was the street which
was the main marketplace and economic space for stability
for Palestinians at time. And she says why is it so
desolate, why is it so empty? And I realize, I get, I
don’t know how to tell her. She hasn’t been here since ’73. As we’re coming back
people are getting ready to go on the bus, go to
the bathroom real quick. And I decide okay, I’m going to ask these local store owners,
hey have you heard of the Hammouris? I want to know who are these people. Have you heard of the Hammouri’s? What, what do you mean? What do you mean? Of course, of course I
know who the Hamori’s are. Of course they’re one of
the first families here. Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. You know the first governor of Hebron he was a Hammouri, dah, dah, dah. I said, oh okay, cool, cool, cool. And Jaime’s right next to me actually. I was like, okay cool. He’s like, why do you want to know? My grandfather he was. Ah, you’re a Hammouri? Mohammed, she’s a Hammouri. And (trilling). And so there’s this excitement. There’s this really genuine excitement for oh folks, you know some people are making their way back. They want to know about
diaspora and lineage and this is where your people are. And it excited me. So from that point on, my orientation for the trip was I’m going ask folks and see who can tell me
what about the Hammouri’s. I end up learning that this name that I carried such shame around or invisible-ized, didn’t know much of, is actually something
I have to be proud of. That carries so many
stories of resilience, of persistence. And that’s just one piece. And I’ll promise I’ll wrap it up. The other piece is
tying it back to my mom. Growing up this song, “Shalom Ya Habibi.” Part of the lyrics I never understood. She said, my grandfather
rescued 59 Jewish families. He said he’d do it all over again. He’d help his brothers
no matter what color because often created under. ♪ The most high ♪ ♪ With different walks, different talks ♪ ♪ Different ways of life♪ But what our cultures can teach each other is to stop being vultures that fly. ♪ To forgive and forget ♪ ♪ So together we can let
our fret go to rest ♪ ♪ And go on living, living♪ And so I never understood the history or what she’s talking about. What do you mean, your grandfather rescued certain Jewish families? Aren’t you all the ones
that were oppressed and X, Y, Z. And it was there that the soldier who was apart of this organization
called Breaking the Silence who was a former IDF soldier and decided that he’s going to speak
out about the injustice and the inhumane violations
on Palestinian human rights that they were asked to do
as part of the military. He shared some history about Hebron. And about the 1929 expulsion and said, there were many, you
know the media will have you thinking this is a religious conflict. But in all truth Palestinians,
Christians, Muslims, Jews have lived here peacefully
for a very long time. This is not, and he goes on. And I say hey, were the
Hammouri’s, were they one of the families that, did they help their? Were they one of the
families that took some of their neighbors in
during that expulsion? Yes, yes of course! What do you mean! Oh my goodness they’re
really, dah, dah, dah. And he goes on and on. And Jaime’s right next
to me at this point. And I get relieved. Because I was like, oh man, okay cool. If this is the history I’m learning and it’s like oh you actually got a lot to be a little bit ashamed about. Like okay, you might want to erase that and not really talk much about that. For whatever it’s worth
and however I process and reconcile and make
sense of all the narratives that we’ve heard. The very, very rich
narratives of the dear, why am I forgetting his name? At the settlement that we met. Arti, yeah, right. For me as a performer
this trip has fortified the importance for me of using art and performance art as a way
to lift up those narratives. Those silenced voices. The people in the Bedouin villages who won’t have access to these spaces. And all these different
spheres of society. So that’s what I hope to do. To save you a long story short, this summer I will be
going back to Palestine and I’ll be doing break
the boxes Capoetic. So Capoeira and poetry. Capoetic social and
emotional justice workshops with this program, called
the I Know I Can program. Which some folks have been
a part of and are apart of. And I’m really thankful to be able to keep learning about this culture. So thank you. (applause) – Hi my name is Sarah Sturm. I’m a first year student
here at the Divinity School. And I want to start by thanking Jaime for naming something that
never really was said during the tail end of
our experience together. It was that something did
change after that night. We wounded each other
and not intentionally, but people left pretty hurt. And yet everyone still showed up. And that for me was a
really fundamental part of this experience was that
no matter how hurt people left that room the next morning
at breakfast everyone still showed up. With various levels of apologies and with various levels of comfort. But people still were
in that room together. And that was really an embodiment
of the one organization that I want to lift up to you guys tonight and share a little bit
about our experience of our visit to them. So when we were in Haifa we visited the Haifa Women’s Coalition. Haifa is a city in the north of Israel. It’s considered a mixed city. So there are Jewish Israelis
and then Palestinian citizens of Israel who live side
by side in this city. And what I found so incredibly powerful about our visit to the
Haifa Women’s Coalition was that it wasn’t just that they wanted a shared society. Or they wanted a shared society. They didn’t want to just coexist. They wanted to collectively create the future they were after. So we met with three women. Dana who is a human right’s lawyer. Paula, who in the context
of this story is a mother. And then Sharifa who is going to be the first Palestinian
deputy mayor of Haifa. What was so powerful
about seeing these women is that they’ve been
friends for over 20 years. They sit in the same room together. They care about each other’s children and partners and lives. And yet they disagree regularly on various issues that have
utter importance for them. The idea behind the
Haifa Women’s Coalition is to intentionally bring together women from different walks of life who are all Israeli citizens in Haifa. They very intentionally
included in their discussions and on their board Mizrahi Jews. So Jews of Arab descent. Ashkenazi Jews, an LGBTQ woman, and then a Palestinian woman. And they recognize and they
strived to make this public. They recognize that within
their circles they can’t do anything immediately
about the structural violence that effects the lives of
women outside of there. But that within their
community they’re going to try as much as possible
to disrupt those hierarchies and lift up the voices of women who have been silenced and perspectives who have been silenced. Seeing the physical embodiment of these three women together was one of a couple of experiences we had of seeing Israelis and Palestinians side by side. I don’t think I fully appreciated the weight of that until
we were talking about what does it mean for us to be here. And I realized that
our professors, Hillary and Atalia have an easier
time sitting side by side here at Harvard than
they do in either Israel or the West Bank. For them to be able to travel together on this experience was not the norm. For them to sit side by side
on the bus was not the norm. And so to see women and people
who continually showed up next to people who they’ve been told are their enemy, it was
really powerful for me. Thinking again about what it means to break down binaries and
one side against the other. So I really appreciated hearing them and their narratives and
the way they were willing to lift up the particular
narratives of each person and make those a collective reality of what the organization advocated for. So all of the women came to
the Haifa Women’s Coalition as feminists wanting to work towards the feminist struggle. But very quickly realized
that feminism isn’t something that is apolitical or
doesn’t take into account the realities of structural violence and occupation that looks at the political inequalities of Palestinians of citizens of Israel within Israel. And so they made all of those challenges and struggles part of
their collective struggle in a show of real solidarity. And they aren’t perfect. They had their moments of struggle. When Paula the American
Jewish Israeli’s son went into the army,
Sharifa had a really tough conversation with her about, do you understand how your son is a part of an organization that fundamentally threatens my community? That’s real tension. It doesn’t get much
more personal than that. And yet they continued
to show up day after day. And that is what I take
away from this trip. I take away all of the
disparate narratives we heard but then also the narratives
of people who sat together in a room, told their
stories individually, but recognized that they were
part of a collective reality. And one of the things
we talked a lot about was the idea that agency
matters, small actions matter. So all of these people weren’t
able to affect necessarily the larger structural violence or fix the things that
bothered them in that sense on a daily basis. But they were able through
their small interactions with others, through
their lives and through their relationships to start building more of that experience and that shared society that they wanted in Haifa rather than just a passive coexistence that didn’t address any of the inequalities. And so they aren’t perfect but I want to lift them
up to you in their tension and their willingness to
keep showing up at the table. And I would encourage any
students here next year to apply for the trip. We’ve given you the good and the bad but there is so much more good than bad. So don’t be turned off, thank you. (applause) – Hi. I need the. (murmuring) (laughing) – [Professor] Do you two want it up? – I think if we’re not
having a mic, I think I can. (murmuring) – [Azmera] I can project. – We could. (murmuring) Do you really need? We can hear. – [Staff Member] She said it’s okay. – Okay, okay. – [Staff Member] Speak loudly. – Jamming? – Yeah, Hamsa wrote a poem and I’m going to translate it. – [Professor] I am going
to ask you to use a mic because I don’t want to lose this. – Okay. It’s. And can I use this? – Yeah. Mic check one, two, one two. (murmuring) – Yeah, I am Hamsa Sipchee. I am a Moroccan student. I go to Harvard Law. (laughing) You know, people like this expression. Okay, I go to Harvard Law. I don’t hang out that
much at the Law School. I prefer the Divinity School. (laughing) – We prefer it. (laughing) – I actually wrote a poem to incorporate the different narratives that
really had an impact on me. I wrote it in Arabic because
it’s my native language. And because I think that
there is a tradition in Arab culture where
poetry is the best medium to express our vulnerabilities, our hopes, and our dreams. (speaking in foreign language) – In Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) Palestine is a land that
everyone sanctifies. History bends it’s knee
and time lowers it’s voice because it’s Palestine. And all listen to the Adhan
of the Dome of the Rock and all listen to the bells of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And all listen to the prayers
in front of the Wailing Wall. Palestine. We all listen to the wife of the martyr and the testimony of the settler and the dream of the pastor, and the prayer of the rabbi in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine a wall stands
arbitrarily separating the neighbor from his neighbor. And depriving the farmer
of his olive trees. The uncle’s house to
which the children used to go freely, is now behind the wall. Behind the checkpoint,
behind the gun, in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine there are military courts to which soldiers bring minors to tie their hands and
blindfold their eyes after humiliating their
mothers, fathers, and sisters because of course, they are a threat to the occupying state in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine an Israeli father weeps for his martyred daughter which left the river of life and
pierced the wall of death. Who can understand his pain
if not a Palestinian mother who can understand his pain
if not a Palestinian mother who lost her son for no reason. Is there any reason? In Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine Slomi is looking for his aunt because a hospital removed
her name, her color and smile from the records
of history in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine the streets of Lifta are still weeping for those who left but still have the keys. Some of them took refuge
in the city mosque. Elders, women and children. They did not know that
hatred would not stop in front of the doors of mosques. In front of the doors of churches. In front of the doors of synagogues. In Lifta, Hillary saw a
child, her father, crying and wondering when will I return to Lifta? In Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) In Palestine Lifta remembers. In Palestine everyone
remembers that every day has it’s Nakba that adds
to the Nakba of history in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) But in Palestine some hope
that there will be one state. Where the children of yesterday’s enmity will live in friendship. Where Ishmael and Issac will meet and pray in the alleys
of Hebron in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) But in Palestine Haifa is a shining city. You can see Hebrew and Arabic
dancing on electronic music. Youth come to forget war and occupation. Forget everything and live in the moment of eternal love, like
any youth in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) But in Palestine a man
wakes up every morning and remembers that he refused
to serve in the military. He was told, you are a traitor. You’re not an Israeli. He wakes up every morning
and goes to Umm Al Qura to visit his Bedouin friends in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) But in Palestine in the
heart of Bedouin villages, in neg of dessert, while everyone waits for the huge trucks which destroy homes and make it dust, children smile and play an ancestral game. In their dreams they
build Palestinian cities with beautiful schools and green gardens. In their dreams the
homes are not destroyed. In their dreams the
wall falls in Palestine. (speaking in foreign language) (applause) – Thank you all. We didn’t know what
these remarkable people were going to say and so it
was a gift to us as well. So I. Oh yes, you can sit down, I’m sorry. This is the close of our formal program and we did say this would end at 7:00. But what I’d like to do is just ask all the students who were
involved in this trip to please just stand
because many did not speak. And so I just would love you to stand so that if you have questions. If you’re in the audience and want to talk to any of the students
who were part of this or any of us who had the
privilege of leading this trip. Please, many of us will
be able to stay around to talk with you, to
eat more food, I hope. And we’ll just have a
chance to engage questions that you might have but we don’t want to keep people beyond 7:00. So could the students
stand please, please. Thank you all. Thank you very much. (applause)