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Two friends/colleagues will discuss Israel-Palestine Question Wednesday
Mar 16, 2012 | 666 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a teenager growing up in Jerusalem, Dr. Nahla Beier experienced the Israeli occupation of her neighborhood as her family was forced to flee during the 1967 war. As a Jewish teenager growing up in New York City, Dr. Sharon Joy went door-to-door, raising money for Israel during the 1967 war.

“How can we, who grew up in cultures with such dramatically opposed historical narratives, become such close friends?” Joy asked. “And if friendship and understanding can exist in this relationship, is it possible for others to overcome cultural conditioning? Could it be that a model of communication and understanding can end a cycle of suffering and war?”

Joy, assistant professor of music at Northwestern State University and, Beier, Arts English teacher at Louisiana School of Math, Science and the Arts, will share an open conversation from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 21 in the Second Floor Reading Room of Northwestern State’s Watson Library. Professor of History Dr. Greg Granger will moderate the dialogue, titled “Palestine/Israel: Reconciling Narratives Through Communication.”

Joy lived in Israel for four years in the early 1970s. Formerly a member of a Zionist youth movement, in recent years she has founded and facilitated a monthly Palestinian-Jewish Dialogue Group in Houston, participated in several joint Palestinian-Israeli projects in the Middle East and presented her research on such groups and projects at conferences and gatherings throughout the United States.

“People can only come to a point of understanding when they are able to truly listen to ‘the other’s’ narrative,” Joy said. “It is not always easy to hear narratives that oppose everything that one believes, but it is necessary. There can be great healing both in listening and in being heard. Only then can we move forward to find common solutions in which everyone will benefit.”

Beier engaged in many dialogues between Arab and Israeli academicians while teaching at Birzeit University in the Occupied Territories. In the United States, she has discussed as a panelist and guest speaker at Northwestern State, the Louisiana Scholars’ College, and Trinity Episcopal Church, among other topics, women in the Middle East, the plight of Christian Palestinians, and the history of both Israeli and Arab terrorism. She writes and occasionally publishes works of fiction and autobiography about growing up under occupation, and teaches a class on Arabic literature and culture at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in which she emphasizes the continuities between the Judeo-Christian and the Islamic traditions.

The solution to the seemingly insurmountable problems facing Palestine/Israel, Beier strongly believes, will not come at the hands of local or international governments, but only when the people of the area learn to value one another’s humanity above valuing ethnic, religious and political affiliations. Sharing personal narratives has to be a first crucial step in discovering common grounds, she said.

This event, sponsored jointly by Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and the Northwestern State University History Program, is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Joy at or call (318) 357-5754.

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