Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Three Women of Jerusalem

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Three Women of Jerusalem

Article excerpt


"I decided to bring three extraordinary women who did not know each other but lived in or near Jerusalem," Jerri Bird told audiences in 10 U.S. cities in September. "I decided to have these Palestinian and Israeli women talk about peace, because you know the men have made such a mess of it," she quipped.

The fourth annual Partners for Peace Tour began Sept. 12, the day after the terror attacks on New York and Washington. For 17 days, at more than 50 appearances, these three women faced audiences intensely interested in the relationship between the peace process and the targeting of America.

The three included Michal Shohat, general secretary of the Meretz Party and the only woman to repeat the tour from earlier years; Jean Zarou, a widely known Quaker leader from Ramallah who speaks around the world on the subject of Palestine; and Rawan Damon, an outstanding graduate of Birzeit University who has published two books on the experiences of the 1948 refugee children. The women were encouraged to say anything they wanted to the American audiences they faced.

Ms. Shohat, accompanied by her teenage daughter, Hedar, was due to land at Kennedy Airport only minutes after the attacks on the World Trade Center. She was diverted to Boston and traveled by train to Washington the next day. Ms. Damon was caught in Chicago and joined the group in North Carolina some days later.

Despite the Sept. 11 disaster, the schedule was adhered to, except for two major cancellations--by NPR's Diane Rheem Show and public television's News Hour--caused by the need for up-to-the-minute reporting on the crises.

The women addressed audiences at synagogues, churches, World Affairs Councils and Councils on Foreign Relations, and at universities across the country, from Evanston to Boston, Philadelphia to the Triangle area of North Carolina to Indiana University at Bloomington. They met with newspaper editorial boards in most cities they visited, and local television shows, some an hour long, featured the women during what turned out to be a critical period in U.S.-Mideast relations.

Audiences ranged from 500 at Philadelphia's Mission Shalom Synagogue to 150 at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations on the North Shore in Evanston, Illinois. …

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