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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Three Jerusalem Women

Three Jerusalem Women

Three women who live and breathe the devastation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict come to UMass Boston on Thursday, October 12th, to tell us something. Most of us can only get philosophical about the turmoil in the Middle East with its cycle of violence that may appear without end in sight. Ghada Agee of Khan Younis, Palestine; Shireen Khamis of Beit Jala, Palestine; and Rela Mazali of Herzlia, Israel, want to tell Americans that not only is a solution possible and necessary, but also, that it can be one of peace and justice.

Professor Leila Farsakh, of the Sociology Department, who’s research focuses on the Middle East, political conflict, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, organized this event and thinks that it is important because it gives the UMB community the opportunity to become aware of the “realities of occupation” and to “get a feel of what’s happening on the ground, the media does not report what daily life looks like in Gaza.” Furthermore Professor Farsakh also sees this speak as a way to help the UMB community understand the nature of the Middle East conflict, which is “about land, not religion” and is “not between Jews and Muslims.”

Like Professor Farsakh, Shireen Khamis, feels that “although the US government is involved in the conflict, US citizens don’t understand much about the reality” of the “daily misery.” When interviewed, all of the women reported on the harsh ramifications on the daily life for everyone, young and old, male and female, living in the home of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Khamis, “To do anything [you] have to pass through check points – for school, the market, the University, and work. They have divided the country into pieces.”

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict tears at the fabric of family and presents special problems for women. Khamis explains that women “suffer from the practices of the occupation (and) like men, have to go through check points too and are being killed because Israeli soldiers don’t discriminate between armed soldiers and civilians. Women and children are dying.” According to Ghada Agee, the conflict has had terrible affects for women who have families because it threatens their ability to give protection to their children, denies their basic human right to leave the region and return home, and burdens them with more domestic responsibilities. Rela Mazali points to the consequences of living in such a highly sexist and militarized atmosphere, where women are subject to sexual harassment with a recent internal study showing that “over 80% of women experience some sort of sexual harassment during service.”

The Jerusalem Women hope that UMB students take a sense of awareness from the event and begin to “think about that part of the world and the problems they face.” They’re interested in students “raising questions,” while they see if what the women have to say matches the news. The women feel that it is important for American students to get “information that is real and outside of the media,” become “committed to looking on a regular basis for alternative information,” and maybe respond to the problem with other forms of activism, like making contact with local elected officials.

“Three Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision” is the twelfth of a series of tours organized by Partners For Peace, which is an organization based in Washington D.C. that strongly advocates the need to end occupation for the good of both Israelis and Palestinians in a way that encourages non-violence and civilian protection. The twelfth tour focuses on the New England area. More information about the women, the tour, and/or Partners For Peace is available at www.partnersforpeace.org. It was sponsored by the Political Science Department, the Honor’s Program, the College of Liberal Arts, Women’s Studies and the Sociology Department.

“Rarely the one who lives the story comes to tell it,” as Ghada Agee sees it, “(they) are here to speak up and send a message about life on the ground.”